Friday, March 14, 2008

Last Nights Reading

Through a whole series of unfortunate events Catherine and I didn't have a chance to read until about 8 pm last night. That's a half hour before her bedtime and not enough time to spend with The Elements: A Short Introduction or to start The Last Battle (we finished The Silver Chair last night).

Instead I picked up this book (Quantum Leaps by John Balchin):

I bought it a couple of weeks ago at the local used bookstore and have been wanting to read it ever since. It's the perfect book for short reads, containing two-pages on each scientist, philosopher or natural philosopher and goes from Anaximander to Tim Berners-Lee.

This was definitely a good read. The entries are really well written and offer just enough information to whet your appetite for more. It reinforced things Catherine had already touched on and I watched as she lit up with a smile when we were reading about Democritus and his atoms and when there was a reference to the periodic tab and Mendeleev in the Plato entry. There's nothing like wandering through what you think is foreign territory and suddenly seeing something familiar. That experience also reflects what seems to be an emerging theme of the book, not only who these people were and what they did but how their ideas and discoveries continue to shape how we think about things.

Definitely a great find and a fun resource.

NOTE: I'm sort of thinking about Origin of the Species for our next science read. I haven't read it, want to and now prefer reading out loud to reading silently (Maybe I'm an ancient Roman at heart). Has anyone out there read it to their kids (between say ages 8 and 11)? Did they enjoy it or was it just a lot of eyerolling on their part?


Anonymous said...

We did The Tree of Life by Peter Sis for our Darwin read aloud. I really liked this book, got it from the library.

For the more detailed stuff we let Bill Bryson take over with a "A short history of nearly everything" audiobook, then everyone could go about their business and not feel they *had* to listen. Plus Bryson makes this stuff *SO* interesting (as long as you get the version narrated by the english dude and not the one narrated by Bryson himself, that one was horrible once you had listened to the english dude IMO). From a review of A Short History: "One of the chapters includes a fascinating look at the life and work of Charles Darwin, distilled down to the intriguing parts and expanded upon with charmingly obscure odd morsels. Here's a good one: after reading Darwin's ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES, an editor of the British Quarterly Review politely suggested he write on a subject that might be of more interest to a large audience, say a book about pigeons."

Bryson makes us laugh and makes it fun, I don't know that me reading On the Origin of Species would have been nearly as interesting. I think I would have had mutiny perhaps.

PS: I am not seeing the pics you're putting up. Not the pic on this one (so I don't know what book you read), nor the "clickable link" on the post a couple entries ago. Maybe an ad blocker is blocking me or something... hmmmm....

Dawn said...

D'uh! I fixed it...Put the title and other in the post.

I've just been looking at the Bill Bryson book and I'll look for the english dude version.

Anonymous said...

That book looks great! Two page per item books seem to work here too. The library doesn't have it though, sigh... I need to start hanging out at your used book store.

I meant to tell you, I thought of you guys yesterday as we watched Mythbusters "lead balloon" episode. They had some blurbs on "platonic solids" as they came up with shapes to make a lead balloon out of.

Dawn said...

It really is a great bookstore. They have fantastic literature and history sections! It's in the Elmsdale mall if you're ever out this way.

Anonymous said...

Ah hah! It seems your book has been redone:
There are three variations on it.

Library still doesn't have it though... dumb library.

Anonymous said...

Oh! The same author does a book on explorers! Either "Great Explorers", "To the ends of the earth" or "from the equator to the poles" depending on where you look. seems to have a lot of his stuff. I feel a purchase coming on... and just who causes who spend money around here??? :-) (whom?)

Dana said...

I haven't read it to my children yet, but as I recall it is a pretty simple and straightforward book.

They enjoyed the excerpts I read, as well as what we read about the HMS Beagle.