Thursday, May 6, 2010

Book Life 10: Following the Dead...Presidents, That Is...and How to Blow Up the World

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

This is one of those books that has been on my "to read" list since it first came out--around 2005. At one point, I think we had it out of the library; Anna read it, but I was managing that god forsaken store in Talladega at the time, so....Anyway, Vowell covers the Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley assassinations in an amazingly funny way. Along the way, you learn all kinds of strange information while also following her on her road trips to the historical sites associated with each of the deaths. I don't particularly know what to say about this one except that it was an excellent and quick read, and her other books are on my "to read" list for the next break. Fun Fact: Sarah Vowell was the voice of Violet, the daughter, in the Pixar movie, The Incredibles.

E=mc^2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation
by David Bodanis

When I told my friend Sam that this was a great book, he gave me "the look". You know, the "I'm sure it's great but wow what a geek are you" look lol. While I do read quite a lot of material on astrophysics, etc. that can be, frankly, over my head in places, this isn't one of them. Bodanis wrote this book as a way of explaining Einstein's equation to people who may or may not be familiar with physics, without sounding like he's trying to talk down to you. I loved it. He takes the equation apart and gives the history of each component, which was awesome, because though I kind of get what the whole equation does, I never knew the background of the pieces. For instance, I never knew that there were two women so influential in discovering and researching ideas that made the theory of relativity possible. I also never knew that Heisenberg, of the famous Uncertainty Principle, was basically a flaming Nazi; he was in charge of the Third Reich's atomic bomb program. And I don't mean he worked for them under duress and had serious issue with their actions; he once told a colleague that he knew about the concentration camps, but what can you do, you need the labor. o.0 All in all, of any of this interests you, pick up this book, regardless of whether you are a physics nerd. The chapter explaining how the atomic bomb actually works is worth it on its own.

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