D. Wayne Dworsky has been composing stories since he was nine years old.
From his early twenties he has traveled all over the world in 23 countries
and all 50 states in the US. He's hiked the Alpse, The Rockies, Adirondikes
and The Catskills. In his quest to seek perfection in the cosmos, he's searched
the Earth for the most amazing, exotic, beautiful and enduring truths through his
science interests, which include geology, astronomy and mathematics. He's written
over 100 professional book reviews, has authored
more than 30 feature articles and podcasts an Internet
radio talk show.
He savors an intense love of science with deep interests in the universe, astronomy,
climate, Earth science and the cosmos. He assumes a similar interest in technology,
logic and mathematics.
Now D. Wayne Dworsky enjoys the platforms that support
his work in a monthly column, book reviews, feature articles and blogs.
He's climbed Grand Teton in Teton National Park
in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 1983, the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland in 1985 and
most of the established technical rock climbing routes in the Shawangunks in
New York State from 1982 to 1985.
In the new radio program he will host, Alpha Centauri & Beyond, which features his
sidekick, Christine Avoine, he engages his listeners with exciting talk about science,
science books, science fiction literature and science fiction movies.
"Live life by participating or it will pass you by." Too often we hear of people
complaining and putting off doing things, making excuses and procrastinating. I say,
get in the driver’s seat and take charge, control the reins, jump off your couch and
swing into action, dive into the cockpit and pilot your life. It’s only your actions
that propel you over the horizon and produce leave a legacy. Taking a passive stance in life
just drops you at the rear of the crowd. Take charge, take an active part in the
control tower and propel yourself forward. Remember, participate or life will pass you by.
Use the player below to listen to any of
the archived shows.
The Power of Habit By Charles Duhigg Nature & Science $28.00 373 Pages 82
A Deep Look Into Our Habits
Duhigg depicts a clever diagram to uncover why we do what we do. He does so by
identifying a craving, which gives us a cue, which leads to a routine, reinforced
by a reward. Using this ingenious paradigm, the truth about our habits unfolds.
The author suggests that by understanding the nature of habits, we can, as individuals
as well as corporate entities, change a person’s will or create a societal movement.
As advertisers, we can anticipate what people want before they know. Duhigg sees
habit as a powerful tool to appreciate individual and group direction, giving the
analyst a unique perspective.
Charles Duhigg has gotten around. He is currently an investigative reporter for the
New York Times. He is a winner of several prestigious awards. He regularly
contributes to This American Life, NPR, PBS’s News Hour and Frontline. He is a
young man with a great future, driven to unravel some of the mysteries that surround us.
The Power of Habit will open your eyes and clear the air—summer reading at its best.
The 4% Universe By Richard Panek Nature & Science $26.00 297 Pages 81
Where Is the Universe?
Richard Panek has gone on a quest to help understand the other 96% of the universe in
his new book, The 4% Universe. The book reads like a novel, dramatic and casual.
In addition to the many anecdotes sprinkled throughout the work, he pulls a zinger in
Chapter 10. He invokes The Curse of the Bambino, the Boston Red Sox team that hadn’t
won a World Series since 1918, having sold Babe Ruth the following year to the Yankees
that cursed the club since. He used this analogy to illustrate how it is impossible to
see dark matter using conventional means. Yet, you know it’s there. It’s only a matter
of finding the right medium to discover its true existence.
What has been revealed from intense curiosity on the part of scientists is some weird
things that appear to control the nature of matter and energy in the universe. These
are respectively, dark matter and dark energy, both undetectable with conventional
instrumentation. But, the author says, we are on the verge of discovering the right
medium in which to “see” these phenomena.
He lists rather bizarre examples to glimpse some understanding of the mysterious and
elusive aura of dark matter and dark energy to support how a vast universe can come
into existence. One of the more comical is the citing of 10 to the 500th power,
(That’s 10 with 500 zeros after it.), for the number of universes in our inflationary
bubble, according to Quantum Theory.
Although the author babbles a little, okay, a lot, those babblings raise brows and
invite us to reflect. It is a read that promises to load your mind with fresh ideas
and renewed spirit. Don’t miss this one—it’s a winner!
Reactions By Peter Atkins Nature & Science $24.95 200 Pages 80
It’s a Chemical Reaction!
The book is a little over-simplified. It bears a dazzling cover and an attractive
interior design, but offers rather nebulous content. The content however is stocked
with an intense treatment.
When most people hear the word reaction, the thought that comes to mind is people’s
reactions. That is not what the book is about. The subtitle, The Private Life of
Atoms, says it best and actually reveals the book’s purpose. The work is focused on
chemical reactions and catalogues them according to categories. For example, it
demonstrates several broad reaction categories: redox reactions, acid-base reactions,
exothermic, etcetera. It’s not a bad book for uninitiated science buffs, but for more
serious readers it’s more like a classroom textbook. It’s unfortunate because I think
Peter Atkins has a story to tell. He only lacks a more exciting medium in which to
tell it. This is not to cast a negative view of his hard work to put together a
fascinating read. The book is an easy read, clarifying many chemical reaction details
along the way. The highlight of the book, in Part III, illustrates how precipitations,
corrosion and catalysis are brought together in more complex processes such as photosynthesis.
The author is a gifted writer, which is quite evident in his other books.
The present work, however, is a simple dip in a familiar sea.
How to Build a Time Machine By Brian Clegg Nature & Science $25.99 307 Pages 79
The Real Science of Time Travel
Here’s the book the science reading community’s been waiting for, How to Build a time
Machine. Ever since H. G. Wells’ famous book, The Time Machine, made its appearance
in 1895, the science community’s been grappling with the possibility of time travel.
Even the celebrated Albert Einstein announced to the world early in his career, as a
theoretical physicist, that time travel was theoretically possible.
Consistent with his brilliant
observations of other great minds and their inquisitive nature, Brian Clegg expresses his
interpretations of Einstein’s space-time and H. G. Wells’ speculations of moving through
time. He captures the prospect of time travel in exquisite detail with comparable
tenacity as those great thinkers. The resulting vision will tantalize your instinct.
Of course, one of the enormous
problems of time travel involves running into paradoxes. When we start to consider moving
backwards or forward through time, along with the fact that we already exist in another
time frame, problems arise. In many situations they simply cannot be avoided.
If you travel back in time and accidentally kill your mother, does that mean you were
never born and therefore could not have traveled back in time in the first place? Or
if we move into the future and do something we contemplate in time past, does that mean
we must do what we contemplated from the past? Thinking about the way these paradoxes
contradict common sense tends to make understanding such a simple idea very confusing.
But the author does a marvelous job at ironing it all out.
Brian Clegg has distinguished
himself as an accomplished visionary in theoretical science, having written extensively
in several renowned publications. In the present work, he proposes an idea that others
might shun, but takes on the task with vigor and purpose, making reading about new
avenues in science worth exploring.
Amazing Science By Jason Gibson Nature & Science $17.99 Discs 78
An Amazing Adventure in Science
You will be dazzled by the light and clear presentation of science concepts that jump
off this disc in an amazing way. Amazing Science is reminiscent of the classic 1950’s
TV series, Mr. Wizard. For those old enough to remember, Ron Herbert hosted the
Saturday morning program, which taught a lesson on science.
Jason Gibson has put together a unique perspective to teach young children important,
basic science concepts in his newly released DVD series. The first disc of this
two-disc, volume 1 series, consists of 12 experiments and the second one, 11 experiments,
utilizing household items that any child can assemble. As children are encouraged
to duplicate the experiments, they become engaged with science concepts from the start
through hands-on participation. While the experiments teach scientific concepts, kids
have fun putting them together.
The presentations are wholesome and inviting, detailing the elements utilized to carry
out the experiments. The presentations are a little marred by hesitations and stuttering,
punctuated by “you know’s.” However, children may not notice them and be more affected
by the motivating style of the presenter. Although some of the presentations are rough,
each lesson will motivate and help mold a malleable, young mind. I believe Amazing
Science has an amazing future.
Perfectly Perilous Math By Sean Connolly Nature & Science $12.95 242 Pages 77
The Mathematical Puzzle Jungle
Here are 24 very readable and doable challenges, ideal for an unmotivated youngster.
This book is jammed with adventure, the kinds of settings that stimulate kids’ minds.
That’s the way to a kid’s brain—through fascinating stories, mysteries and adventures.
If I were ten years old, I would find //Perfectly Perilous math// irresistible.
The problems in the book actually dare kids, providing a reason to want to solve them.
We’ve come a long way from the days of boring tabular memorization and arbitrary
problem solving technique paradigms. Consequently, Connolly has found a trail that
leads directly into the minds of young people and taps their sensibilities with
challenges that inspire, motivate and teach.
The problems presented in this colorful edition jump out and embrace the reader
with excitement. The author also provides hints along the way that either deepen
the mystery or stimulate more complex thought processes. Either way, Connolly
takes you on a mental ride as thrilling as the roller coaster at Orlando Disney.
Evolving By Daniel J. Fairbanks Nature & Science $28.00 328 Pages 76
The Importance of Modern Evolutionary Processes
The author details evolution in a way that is refreshing and intellectually satisfying.
The entire book is a menu of evidence organized by categorical domains. This approach
gives the reader a special insight into the discoveries from recent and classical research
that concern the nature of why we evolve, and puts to the test the rigor needed to gain
One area particularly inviting is the chapter on evolution of our health where a
discussion and history of the evolutionary processes of HIV and AIDS ensues. The
reader is enriched with the knowledge extracted from the research and set in an
historical context so that the reader feels the sense of insight and continuity.
Professor Faibanks is a geneticist and multi-faceted visionary and scholar who has
indulged his intellectual prowess in other, related areas. They extend the importance
of the present volume in their own remarkably ways. He’s authored, Relics of Eden,
The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA, and coauthored two others.
Darwin’s Devices By John Long Nature & Science $26.99 288 Pages 75
How Do Robots Evolve?
A hundred years ago many scholars still doubted the existence of Darwinian evolution.
Yet, a few brave thinkers considered even more radical interpretations of our Earthly
existence. And now many are treading on the very fabric of sentience. Long speculates
on robotic—engineering evolvabots. He invites the reader into the stormy arena of the
fine line between science and science fiction. By endeavoring to understand how robots
might work, we are realizing what sentience means on a biological level as well. Long
is trying to figure it all out. And he is on the right track.
He’s a long time expert on tinkering with robotics. Long is a biorobotics expert and
professor of biology at Vasaar College. His two “pet” robots, Madeleine and Tadros,
have helped to provide New York Times and Washing Post Press coverage. He and his
colleagues have pioneered the emerging field of evolution biorobotics. In addition,
he’s taught evolution on the Discovery Channell and the history Channel. He also runs
research programs that endeavor to design, construct and evolve biorobots.
The book is rich. When you sink your teeth into its contents, you are enveloped in a
world seldom seen in science. Even though it might seem a little scary, robotics is
here to stay and Long is a driving force behind it. What we can expect from Long’s
work is eye-opening information that may lay clues to behavior to extinct species
and also pave the way for where we might be in the future. We can glean insight into
evolution, “By letting robots play the game of life.” The author’s work is invaluable
and very readable, stirring hours of stimulating, intellectual pleasure.
Bird Sense By Tim Birkhead Nature & Science $25.00 355 Pages 74
The Senses That Birds Use in a Life Hidden From Human View.
Describing the senses of birds provides an unusually informative insight into what it’s
like to be the creature. According to Berkhead, birds have a special knack of seeing,
hearing, smelling, touching, and otherwise feeling and sensing the stimuli in the environment. The author
found birds’ visual processing is 10 times as fast as humans. The three types of vision
allow birds, depending on whether predator or prey, to have evolved to deal with their
predicament. Apparently, birds of prey need binocular vision, like humans, to be able
to see depth, and calculate distances. Grazing birds that are often prey to birds and
other animals evolved ways to keep up. They’ve developed eyes on the sides of their
heads for a wider field not needing a field of depth. The birds eyes have additional
devices, which enable richer vision, faster image processing and give predatory birds
Most animals can either see fine detail or can quickly spot a moving target. Birds appear
to possess both with high visual acuity and intensely high processing power, like a camera
on steroids. In addition, it appears as though some birds, as owls, are designed like
sound receptors. Owls glide through the night air soundlessly, but acutely aware of
rustling sounds that small mammals make in the woods. They clutch their prey with deadly
talons before they even know it. Many large birds, such as Falcons have been known to
catch their prey on the wing, while docile birds like ducks remain sharply aware of
dangers from above with the senses nature has provided them.
Birds have to recognize calls, danger and prey animals. They have to persevere and
struggle to survive, to endure flight to reach new breeding grounds or hunting grounds,
or avoid becoming another bird’s lunch.
The author makes the reader feel invigorated by the constant flow of fresh, enlightening
material, enriching the overall discussions under each topic. He does so utilizing long
extensive resources, many long forgotten. Like The Private Lives of Birds by Bridget
Stutchbury, Bird Sense is a special volume—a gem that should be recognized as the hallmark
of bird studies.
The Self Illusion By Bruce Hood Nature & Science $29.95 349 Pages 73
Identify of the Social Brain
Bruce Hood’s The Self Illusion is an eye-opener of vivid proportion. I’ve been dreaming
of the day when some brilliant scientist will explore the brain in the manner that Hood
has. He takes on the illusion concept, coupled with visual effects, and incorporates an
inside look at such amazing constructs as free will and “Why You Can’t See Yourself in
Reflection.” His is a divine province where the self illusion is brought to life,
dramatically detailed so that we can get a glimpse, through the authors eye, at how
perception really works.
The work is literate, showing intense language skill to reveal an image well worth reading
about. His style is clear and his ideas are carefully drawn so that all the chapter
elements are tightly woven together in the chapter content to fortify an insightful
whole. The book takes the reader on a journey through the mind that explores how we
conceive identity in the self in our lives.
Hood believes that our choices in life came at a cost. His discussions in Chapter 4,
The Cost of Free Will, leads to the idea that we get used to behavior, like smoking,
drug use or abusive sex. After reaching a comfort zone we reach out for a higher high.
This sets the stage for what Hood sees as behavior. Hood describes a number of excellent
examples within the obsessive-compulsive behavior paradigm. In addition, he calls upon
many experts to discover the mechanisms that help define who we are and describe the
various other elements that involve free will. Read the book and get a reward greater
than what you can imagine.
Learning from the Octopus By Rafe Sagarin Nature & Science $26.99 294 Pages 72
Amazon Title: Secrets From Nature
At last, a voice rises from the depths of the vast bureaucratic doldrums to
address the most pressing issues we face today. Security expert and ecologist, Rafe
Sagarin, arrives with a unique perspective on what should be obvious about nature. He
teaches us exactly how to use natural resources that have evolved by nature to combat
changing and unpredictable world threats in his illuminating book, Learning from the
Octopus. He shows how each natural system works in punctilious detail, previewing how
we can save precious time, effort and money. He cleverly singles out the octopus for
having won the grand prize for both camouflage and defensive strategies. Here is an
animal worth studying and learning from.n, lawyer, author, professor and commentator,
Gary Hart, presents a praising preface that brings this delightful and insightful book
to life. The naturalist’s view of the world is so captivating that I wonder how long
this untapped resource can be neglected. As Hart notes, the tide is changing. The
enormous governmental waste patterns cannot be ignored forever. The greatest empires
that ever ruled the Earth lay in ruins, reinforcing the urgent need for a change towards
The politician, lawyer, author, professor and commentator, Gary Hart, presents a praising
preface that brings this delightful and insightful book to life. The naturalist’s view of
the world is so captivating that I wonder how long this untapped resource can be neglected.
As Hart notes, the tide is changing. The enormous governmental waste patterns cannot be
ignored forever. The greatest empires that ever ruled the Earth lay in ruins, reinforcing
the urgent need for a change towards effective action.
Sagarin’s emerging proposal of natural defense is featured on his road tour promotion
from Tucson to Washington, San Francisco, Seattle and Silver Springs, MD. One of his
biggest peeves is that despite access to high-tech security and nearly limitless resources,
humans have a poor track record. US reaction to security threats amounts to nothing
more than closing the barnyard door after the horse escapes. Millions of years of
evolution have allowed issues of security in the natural world to be addressed in the
most effective way. Animals are much more in-tuned to natural cycles and events than
humans are, anticipating disasters long before they occur. Sagarin invites the reader
to re-examine our ineffective bureaucratic maze and compare it to the much leaner, more
efficient natural system used by the creatures of nature. He is completely aware of
the natural rhythms and looks upon the simpler, cost-effective techniques that shelters
animal life and keeps nature in balance.
We need more progressive thinkers
like Sagarin to encourage us and guide us through a hostile world in the 21st Century.
With the help of people like Sagarin, we can be led into the future with a sense of pride
and security. Rafe Sargarin makes the mark and some—summer reading at its most enduring
and enriching best.
By D. Wayne Dworsky
Please keep abreast of the review postings. There are still 35 to go. Thanks for reading.
The Infinity Puzzle By Frank Close Nature & Science $28.99 420 Pages 71
Solving the Great Puzzle
Oxford University professor of physics, Fellow and Tutor in Physics at Exeter College,
Oxford, Frank Close, demonstrates outstanding scholarly work in his new book, The Infinity
Puzzle. While his thinking and writings broadens the general public’s awareness of
physics, the author takes you on an in-depth look at the concept of order in nature
from several points of view. He makes primary use of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED),
linking other theories to it.
In a powerful discussion of how the weak forces and strong forces act within the QED
providence, Close reveals a more spectacular picture. He uses several diagrams to
sort out the essential elements that illustrate each theory and then shows their
relationships. His enlightening reference among various theories to QED and how
these forces interact as part of the infinity puzzle within them blaze a trail.
The quest for an orderly universe, pursued by several other prominent thinkers, has
established a new order. Frank Close has inched closer than anyone else, resting on
the laurels of some of the Twentieth Century’s most decorated thinkers, including the
breakthroughs and support of Gerard ‘t Hooft, Peter Higgs, and James Bjorken. The deep
character and high caliber of the author’s brilliance flows through his prose with
effortless style. Even the temporary reprieve of references to common literary elements
as Cheshire Cat, Cinderella and an ugly sister, and the Looking Glass does not distract
the reader from Close’s more intimate, scientific tone.
Powering the Future By Robert B. Laughlin Nature & Science $24.99 223 Pages 70
How Much Time Have We Got?
QUOTE: "…unless the world rids itself of nuclear technology altogether…nuclear power
will remain in the background, disavowed by elected governments but nonetheless standing
by, ready to expand into the economic vacuum left as coal and oil retreat."
While politicians dazzle you with a promise of endless supplies of fossil fuel energy,
Robert Laughlin lays out a sober outline of powering the future. The clock began
winding down since the discovery of giant caches of crude oil, natural gas and coal.
Now that the end of such caches nears Laughlin hopes to prepare the political arena for
the wake-up call. This, he eloquently explains, is how we will rescue ourselves from
the disaster that will follow from the last drops of oil, the final puff of gas and
the end of the endless bricks of coal.
Already in the making are the many sources of renewable energy, including: solar,
wind, bio-diesel, manure gas, and nuclear power. In addition, Laughlin sees how we
can stave off energy starvation by investing in alternate fuel sources before the
real crisis begins. These are in addition to the already huge investment many
countries have made in nuclear energy plants. Laughlin feels that all sources of
energy must be exploited in order for sovereignties to exist. Even though many of
these ambitious programs are only in the formulary stages, he claims that we are
heading in the right direction thanks to government-driven incentives and the
feasibility of profit among private enterprises.
He seems to think that nuclear plants have the most promise. At the same time
our concerns of disposal of spent nuclear waste disposals pile up, Laughlin sees
how we can recycle it. Building scrubbing plants that will utilize the heat cast
off by spent power modules can be used for steam powered plants to generate electricity.
Laughlin paints a picture of the golden age of energy. He reflects assuredly
on the promise of a new age. An invigorating and inspiring read that will propel
your thoughts to our future.
Drive and Curiosity By Istvan Hargittai Nature & Science $ 338 Pages 69
What Makes a Scientist a Scientist?
With humor and clever twists that invite the reader to discover his world, Hargittai
reveals a careful examination of the drive and curiosity that underlie all that we do.
He achieves this by examining the motivation behind some of the most outstanding ideas
that have come forth from science in the twentieth century.
Hargittai talks about Drive and Curiosity as two separate things. He sites various
thinkers to treat each concept with distinct separation. It is only after he develops
the chapters that we see Drive and Curiosity as a united concept. He goes on to
explain how Drive and Curiosity lead to the many wonderful scientific discoveries,
including the double helix of the DNA strand.
Among these thinkers particular attention is focused on Dan Shechtman, the 2011 Nobel
laureate and discoverer of quasiencrystals; James D. Watson, the Nobel laureate and
co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA; Linus Pauling, the Nobel laureate
remembered most for his work on the structure of proteins; Edward Teller, accomplished
breakthroughs in understanding nuclear fusion; George Gamow, who devised the Big
Here is a read that will cause you to reflect on what makes a scientist a scientist
and discover unique things. It will grab your intellect and won’t let you go until
you feel inspired about what science does in the modern world.
Death and Oil By Brad Matsen Nature & Science $28.99 203 Pages 68
Pushed to the Brink
The grisly business of extracting oil from the Earth in order to sustain our
insatiable demand for its convenience exacts a rather steep price. Brad Matsen
brilliantly reminds us how steep by the dramatic telling of Death & Oil, the true
story of the Piper Alpha Disaster on the North Sea. Here is a heart-wrenching
drama you can never find in a fictional account.
Like many of his other books, Matsen’s style always reflects his love of the sea.
You perceive his tone throughout the book. You get to know just how alive his
spirit is as he attempts to unravel the entanglement of this disaster. Sadly, I
can feel the pain he must have known with the penning of each word of the present work.
The plethora of selfishness and greed fuses with societal pursuits in a blind eye.
As we read, we can smell the smoke, taste the fumes and feel overwhelmed by the
urgency to flea. Yet, there is no place for those poor souls to run. Finally, a
voice shouts out from the crowd, pleading with our sanity to at least listen.
Matsen unearths the true magnitude of the disaster, orchestrating the real story
behind the inept corporate management that underlies this tragedy.