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Albie's First Word: A Tale Inspired by Albert Einstein's Childhood
Albie's First Word: A Tale Inspired by Albert Einstein's Childhood
by Jacqueline Tourville
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.21
76 used & new from $6.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fairy-tale about a child with a dramatical physical twist, November 3, 2014
The book is beautiful. While the cute realistic illustrations could lead you to believe that it is a fairy-tale about the Little Red Riding Hood or a similar character, the actual actual child who is the hero of the story is a boy who would actually become much more famous than the Little Red Riding Hood. I won't tell you what this child was saying or excited about and what was his first word but you may guess (it is possible to make the right guess!) and read the book to verify whether your guess was right. As a good fairy-tale, the story has a happy end. An adult will be able to read the fairy-tale quickly, it will give much more quality time to a curious child, but the book looks so pretty - not only because of the tensor calculus that beautifies the cover - that every household with someone who likes science will feel luckier to have the book.

ASUS Official Folio Keyboard Case for MeMOPad Smart ME301 Series
ASUS Official Folio Keyboard Case for MeMOPad Smart ME301 Series
Price: $75.49
8 used & new from $70.16

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good product, difficult to remove tablet from the cradle, October 25, 2013
I received the Czech layout version of FolioKey today; it only differs by extra letters (with diacritics) written on the keys with digits or punctuation marks. The product looks professional, the magnets attaching the cradle in the "standing tablet" mode are exactly as strong as they should be, the response time is perfect, the Bluetooth just works, the recharging by microUSB is economic because it just works, and other physical properties are very good.

Well, I needed almost ten minutes to figure out how to actually switch to the Czech layout. In the right lower area on the screen, there is a keyboard icon whenever you are typing. You click at it by your finger and you may choose a keyboard like "ASUS keyboard Czech" to switch to the Czech layout of the physical FolioKey keyboard. When I switch it to "Hacker's keyboard" which is one that I normally use on the screen, it gives me the English U.S. layout for the physical FolioKey keyboard - which may be handy, anyway.

It's not too hard to figure out how to use it in the standing mode; and how to use it without the keyboard so that the keyboard is *not* at the bottom. It may also be at the bottom. Other users should think about it, the splitting of a connecting piece in the middle is a hint how to use it in these three ways.

The product only received four stars because: 1) I was a bit surprised that when used as a cover, it isn't kept closed but may be opened in the V-shaped way but that's in principle true for laptops as well (although it's harder to open them) so it shouldn't be a problem, and, more importantly, 2) I found it extremely difficult to remove the tablet from the cradle once it's in. In fact, it seems necessary to push on the top middle of the tablet as well, not just the left and right upper corners, as a 3-star reviewed suggested. I didn't do it so the case of the tablet itself scarily opened in the middle a bit (I could just "click" it back and it seems to work well), some pink paint was drilled out of the upper edge of the tablet's case, and I hurt my left thumb so that I could see some blood for a while! Unless the two of us are doing something silly, this is a rather serious design flaw. I will try to never remove the tablet again, at least not for quite some time.

Haven't tried whether the compass/magnetometer works fine in the (magnetized) cover.

Taxing Air: Facts & Fallacies About Climate Change
Taxing Air: Facts & Fallacies About Climate Change
Price: $7.99

35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pretty, comprehensive, playful, accurate review of the whole climate debate, July 12, 2013
It's a book that all people interested in the climate debate - beginners as well as those who think that they're already experienced - have to read. It's comprehensive, fun to read, accurate, avoiding oversimplifications and unscientific misconceptions that appear on both sides of the debates, avoiding and clarifying demagogy we often hear. It puts everything in the right context, gives the correct weight to all topics, and says many things that people on both sides (deliberately?) hide. And the conclusion is, of course, that it's irrational to fight the climate change.

The book immediately impressed me by the colorful illustrations on pretty much every page. They're playful, witty, full of colors and life, and they also quickly convey some key ideas.

Perhaps because it seems easier to read a 280-page book whose significant portion is filled with similar pictures, I couldn't resist and immediately started to read the book. Let me say in advance that about one-half of the pictures are jokes, often with alarmists' and (mostly Australian) politicians' faces; the other half are graphs and diagrams that explain serious scientific concepts and the cold hard data.

Now some facts. The book wasn't written "just" by Carter and Spooner. There are four other co-authors, economist Martin Feil and three others, who are co-responsible for the full content of the book. The authorship of individual sections isn't specifically mentioned but the preface explains what the other co-authors may have contributed.

At the very beginning, there is a page "Did you know that?" with some trivia that everyone should know - not only in Australia - except that it's normal for many people who are loud in the climate change debate to be ignorant about these basics of the interdisciplinary discipline. Some pages with a praise follow, and so does the table of contents. The preface by the authors occupies two pages.

The first substantial chapter-like passage is the Introduction - answering the question how a cartoonist got his idea. We're told that Spooner would also believe various things we used to be told. But a turning point was Martin Durkin's The Great Global Warming Swindle documentary six years ago. Spooner understood that the hysterical reaction by the alarmists - that played a key role in the introduction of words such as "deniers" to the debate - had to have a reason. Spooner understood that the scientific consensus was being referred to by the activists exactly because the actual scientific evidence didn't work and doesn't work for them. He spends some time by analyzing how bad it is to use labels and libels such as "deniers", analyzes ClimateGate, and other important events, with some special emphasis on what it meant for the material inspiring a cartoonist such as Spooner.

After this point, you may be looking forward to 12 nicely written chapters about (the wording below is mine):

* Basics of the weather and the climate (changes at all possible time scales, what drives them, who studies and understands them etc.)

* Inner structure of the alarmist movement (sky-is-falling quotes since the 19th century, history of the IPCC, movies, tricks and abuse of language and science by the advocates etc., is consensus science and does it exist, what scientists agree about)

* Historical weather and climate data (methods to reconstruct the past, proxies, and drivers of variation - Milankovitch cycles, ocean cycles, and others; temperature trends, cyclone energy non-trends, and so on)

* The greenhouse effect (the energy budget, lots of flows, greenhouse gases also cool, decelerating log dependence on concentration, misinterpretations in the media, temperature changes before CO2 on seasonal through geological timescales, estimates of sensitivity, six falsifications of the dominant-CO2 hypothesis, recent relative CO2 starvation, methane ozone as small players)

* Computer models (brief history, what they're based upon, deterministic vs empirical-statistical, haven't been validated against independent datasets so projections aren't real predictions, systematically overestimated warming rates, some graphs of GCMs and better and milder Scafetta's model, predicted human fingerprints aren't unique and are often absent in the measured data)

* Ocean's role in the climate (details on sea level rise measurements, global just for 20 years, no worrying trends, local vs global level, local is important for coastal planning, level affected by geoid, tectonics, sediments, ancient Roman port is 2 miles inland today, big capacity of oceans, exchange with the atmosphere matters, currents that survive, El Niño starts by less mixing in surface ocean, acidification won't occur - oceans won't ever be acidic)

* Other climate drivers (geothermal fluxes negligible, 10,000 times below the solar heating, except for near volcanoes, volcano ashes' temporary effect, a nice summary of Svensmark cosmic rays, Soon's and others' solar influences, why the small irradiance variations don't exclude the concept; ocean cycles from ENSO, Indian Ocean Dipole, and Pacific Decadal Oscillation, with maps, diagrams, and discussion of impact on weather, global and Australian)

* Specific climate questions in Australia

* Economics of carbon dioxide taxation (I will skip the details of this and the remaining chapters)

* Influence of such policies on the climate

* What alternative energy doesn't do

* Risk management in general

At the end, you find a glossary, acronyms, index, and - for you not to be distracted in the bulk of the text - the list of figures and their sources, recommended literature, and the information about the authors.

Now I can recommend you the book wholeheartedly. Honest, readable, clear, accurate, colorful, comprehensive, balanced, usable as an encyclopedia to recall the answers to the basic questions. Just buy it and read it.

Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell (In a Nutshell (Princeton))
Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell (In a Nutshell (Princeton))
by A. Zee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $70.09
59 used & new from $48.29

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A witty and wise introduction to general relativity, June 7, 2013
Anthony Zee - as Zvi Bern noted - decided to do something else than just to teach some technical material. His mission is make many readers fall in love with the physics of general relativity by having written this wonderful tome, Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell. Bern said that the goal wasn't to create new experts but Zee corrected him that he wanted to make the readers fall in love so deeply that they may dream about becoming experts, too. And the clearly enthusiastic Anthony had to enjoy the writing of the book, too.

I received this large, almost 900-page scripture on Einstein's theory a relatively short time ago. Obviously, I haven't read the whole book yet but I may have spent more time with it than most readers of this review (more than zero) so that I can tell you why you should buy it and what philosophy, style, and content you may expect.

It's a book addressed to a wide variety of readers, including very young ones (perhaps college freshmen and bright high school students) and amateur physicists. Experienced physicists and professionals may find some gems or at least entertainment in the book, too. Because of this goal, the book starts with elementary things such as the units including G,c,ℏ and Planck units, relativity even in classical physics, as well as basics of curved spaces, differential geometry, and so on.

The style is witty and somewhat dominated by words - and amusing titles. You may find lots of philosophical and historical remarks and stories from Anthony's professional life but the physics is always primary. And I mean physics, not rigorous mathematics. Zee is focusing on objects, phenomena, and their measurable and calculable quantities and the purpose of physics is to understand them and calculate them. So he spends almost no time with various picky issues - whether a function has to be smooth; whether one should use one fancy word from abstract mathematics or another. In fact, he considers the suppressed role of rigorous maths to be a part of the "shut up and calculate" paradigm that he subscribes to.

In some sense, you could say that the approach resembles the Feynman Lectures on Physics. It is very playful and the author is always careful to tell you things that are still fun and stop elaborating on details when he could start to bore you. So the book (probably) keeps its fun status at every place (it's true for the portions I have read). But Anthony Zee manages to penetrate much more deeply into general relativity with this strategy.

Once he goes through all the basics - which allow a beginner to start with the subject almost from scratch but which seem very entertaining for a reader who doesn't really need such introductions anymore - and he answers all the FAQs on tensors and lots of other things, he offers some of the simplest derivations of Einstein's equations and is ready to apply them.

It's useful to know what concepts are considered primary starting points by the author. I would say that Zee is elevating the concept of symmetries and the action - the latter allows us to formulate most dynamical laws in classical and quantum physics really concisely (although we know perfectly consistent quantum systems that don't seem to have any nice action; and the action always assumes that we prefer a particular classical limit of a quantum theory - and the classical limit isn't necessarily unique).

Concerning the applications, some of the historically important applications that were designed to verify the theory are suppressed in the book. But you get very close to the cutting edge, including the general-relativistic aspects of topics that are hot in the contemporary high-energy theoretical physics and the cosmological/particle-physics interface. So you may actually learn advanced topics about black holes including some Hawking radiation (including the numerical prefactors of the temperature; but the author doesn't go extremely far here; note that amusingly enough, the Hawking radiation is even discussed in an introductory chapter); large and warped extra dimensions; de Sitter and anti de Sitter space including a discussion of conformal transformations (although it doesn't seem like a full-fledged textbook on AdS/CFT); topological field theories; Kaluza-Klein theory (with extra spatial dimensions) and braneworlds; Yang-Mills theory (there's lots of electromagnetism in the earlier chapters); even twistor theory; discussions on the cosmic inflation and the cosmological constant problem; and heuristic thoughts on quantum gravity (some of them are more heuristic than the state-of-the-art allows us; but Zee's philosophy is that textbook shouldn't be composed exclusively of the totally established stuff ready to be carved in stone).

Using lots of witticisms and clever analogies, Zee also proves some things you wouldn't expect - e.g. that Hades isn't inside the Earth. The equivalence principle is compared to the decision of all airlines, regardless of the size (and the size of their aircraft), to fly between two distant cities along the same path on the map. Witty and apt.

Anthony is convinced that most authors are explaining things in unnecessarily complicated ways - in some cases, perhaps, they want to look smart by looking incomprehensible. That's not Zee's cup of tea. He enjoys to simplify things as much as possible (but not more than that). And he loves to formulate things so that the reader is led to the conclusion that things are simple and make sense, after all. For example, there is a fun introduction to the least action principle (light isn't stupid enough not to know the best path) and we learn that "after Lagrange invented the Lagrangian, Hamilton invented the Hamiltonian". It makes sense, doesn't it?

There's a lot to find in the book. Some readers say that the book is less elementary than Hartle's book but more elementary than Carroll's. Maybe. Anthony is more playful and less formal but there are aspects in which he gets further than any other introductory textbook of GR.

The book is full of notes, a long index, and simply clever (unsolved) exercises. The illustrations are pretty and professional. If you are buying books to see photographs of attractive blonde women with toys, you won't be disappointed, either.

Because the book is really extensive and even the impressions it has made on your humble correspondent in those several days are numerous, I have to resist the temptation to offer you examples, excerpts etc. because that could make this review really long by itself. Instead, I recommend you once again to try the book.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 18, 2014 7:52 AM PDT

Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World
Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World
by Lisa Randall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.88
179 used & new from $0.01

152 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top particle physicist reveals how she thinks, how they think, and how you may think, September 20, 2011
Several string theorists such as Brian Greene or Leonard Susskind and cosmologists such as Alexander Vilenkin have written popular books about physics but as far as I know, Lisa Randall is the only popular writer among the "high-energy phenomenologists", i.e. the theoretical particle physicists who think about Nature from the viewpoint of phenomena that have been observed or that may be observed in a foreseeable future (mostly at the particle accelerators).

And we, the readers, have been especially fortunate because the book about physics from the viewpoint of phenomenologists wasn't written by a random phenomenologist but by one of the most prominent ones. In fact, Randall was identified as the most referred to particle physicist - among both women and men, just to be sure - in a recent 5-year period. She remains extremely active and influential.

Knocking on Heaven's Door has two basic goals. One of them is to introduce the reader to the cutting-edge research in particle physics which is dominated by the LHC experiment. Collisions of protons inside the 27-kilometer ring on the Swiss-French border have interrupted decades of theoretical dominance and relative experimental impotence (even though the book describes some smaller colliders or LHC predecessors, too). Randall who constantly interacts with the experimenters offers us an exciting story of the LHC collider from its conception to the first femtobarn of collisions.

We learn how it was built, what it is composed of, how it accelerates the particles nearly to the speed of light, how it observes the products of every collision (in the detectors such as CMS and ATLAS) and identifies the particles that are born in the collisions, and how the resulting huge amounts of data are being processed by computers and statistical techniques to learn something new. However, we also learn many things about the human factor: who are the people who work there, how they interact with each other, how they assure their colleagues that they're right, what they like to cook, how the Americans differ from the Europeans, and so on. I am not aware of a competing book written in plain English that could give you the feeling of being an LHC insider. And the book covers not only the colliders but also experiments trying to detect dark matter on Earth and many others.

But the book has another, grander goal which is nothing less than to clarify how scientists actually think. Philosophers would call these issues "gnoseology" or "epistemology" but the content of their thoughts would be less tangible. Instead, Randall talks about the actual strategies and issues that are important and misconceptions that the laymen often believe. One of the key methods to organize our knowledge is the concept of scale: different basic objects and "effective theories" describing their mutual interactions are being used for different sizes or, equivalently, different energies per particle. For a particle phenomenologist, and not only for her, the laws of physics resemble a giant onion. The laws relevant for longer scales may in principle be derived from those at shorter scales. But the former are independent of many details of the latter and it is often useful to think about them independently.

These initial chapters about scale are no random musings. They're the essential skeleton on which particle physics (phenomenology but not just phenomenology) organizes the insights from the experiments such as the LHC. A related question is what it means for our knowledge to expand. The book does a very good job in explaining that the theories we typically use are approximate and aware of their own limitations; on the other hand, it means that when new phenomena and better theories are found, the older theories are not completely eliminated.

Randall's book also talks about non-physicists (in many cases, famous people from all walks of life whom Randall has met or whom she knows very well), their way of looking at the physical phenomena, and what a physicist finds funny about this looking. One example is the relationship between science and religion: Randall, who is obviously an atheist, doesn't stay on the surface. She is not satisfied with claiming that "religious people are silly" which is what many other books do (with a great commercial success) but she also tries to find the core differences. One of the major lessons is that scientists are able to live and work with ignorance or uncertainty about a particular issue; in fact, they view it as a part of their knowledge (especially if they know rather accurately where their knowledge ends). This point is often misunderstood by other self-described atheists whose thinking is actually religious and dogmatic in character.

For another example, a chapter is dedicated to the LHC doomsday scenarios which assume (or attempt to "prove") that the collider will create a black hole or another lethal object that will devour our blue planet. The book explains several different levels of evidence we have to be sure that such a catastrophe won't happen.

I forgot to say that the book also covers theoretical models (which are the focus of her first book, Warped Passages) that are being tested by the LHC, including the models with supersymmetry and especially extra dimensions for which Randall (and Sundrum) became particularly famous. The Higgs boson gets its well-deserved chapter as well. Randall compares the phenomenological, bottom-up approach to physics with the top-down approach favored by string theorists.

To summarize, it is a book about some very exciting and specific experimental developments that are underway combined with all the infrastructure one needs to place these experiments into their proper place and to interpret them correctly. Highly recommended to everyone who doesn't want to lose touch with particle physics and any cutting-edge science as of 2011. Randall is a multi-dimensional personality and so is her book: but I am confident that most readers may find a lower-dimensional projection of the book that will enrich the way how they look at the world.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 10, 2014 2:27 PM PDT

From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
by Sean M. Carroll
Edition: Hardcover
72 used & new from $3.97

204 of 392 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Another low in nonsensical pop science, January 7, 2010
In this book, Sean Carroll aims to connect the most mundane phenomena from the everyday life such as the scrambling of eggs to the most speculative concepts in cosmology such as bubble universes where time runs backwards. Of course, science has shown that no such relationship exists - even though it may be attractive for some really ambitious armchair physicists - so Carroll fails. But it may be interesting to look at this failure in some detail.

To make the book "cooler", Carroll has used various random characters such as Miss Kitty, a cat who hides under its sofa, and Brad Pitt who grows younger with time (as F. Scott Fitzgerald told him to do in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"). The storylines were largely absent and they didn't help to shed light on the highly controversial scientific points, either. The same seems to be true for several quotes - such as those from St. Augustine. I suspect that the author only wanted to superficially "connect" with the lay readers and broader audiences. After all, the same thing can be said about the title which is a mutation of the title of a famous novel by James Jones.

Carroll occasionally writes some things about physics of time that are correct. At any rate, the main scientific goal of the book is to argue that the irreversibility of the phenomena around us (e.g. that we get older and never younger) is a consequence of some details in the history of our Universe. We must live in a bubble Universe surrounded by other bubbles where time runs backwards and where many other logically inconsistent phenomena take place.

Carroll never shows why he thinks that the asymmetric scrambling of an egg is linked to any of those crazy speculations about our cosmic pedigree. In fact, we can't blame him for his failure. Nothing like that can be explained because no relation of this sort exists. Even for a good writer, it would be hard to demonstrate something that is so fundamentally untrue.

The irreversibility of time is related to the so-called second law of thermodynamics - to the increasing amount of disorder of any isolated physical object (increasing entropy). And this law can be proven and has been proven more than 100 years ago. The entropy of objects is related to the statistical properties of a large number of atoms (inside the same egg - the rest of the Universe and its history is irrelevant, because of the "locality" of the laws of Nature). Undergraduate students have been correctly learning that thermodynamics (gross observations about the heat, temperature, and irreversibility) may be derived from statistical physics (mathematics applied to many atoms) for a century. Unfortunately, Sean Carroll didn't listen to his teachers because he apparently thinks that thermodynamics is a consequence of some details in cosmology. He has missed the main point of statistical physics.

There is nothing unnatural (or even paradoxical) about the low value of entropy in the past. Quite on the contrary, it is a consequence of the second law that guarantees that the entropy increases. We know that the entropy used to be lower and we know that it agrees with all other laws of physics that have been empirically validated.

The proof of the increasing entropy due to Ludwig Boltzmann (who later committed suicide, being surrounded by people not unsimilar to Carroll himself who were unable to appreciate the depth and validity of his key insights into thermodynamics) also uses a pre-existing logical arrow of time but there is nothing wrong about it. The logical arrow of time - saying that we may remember the past and not the future - belongs to the logic of any conceivable world with "time" that qualitatively resembles ours. No world with "observers" can exist without it.

While the microscopic, exact laws of physics may be time-reversal symmetric (they don't distinguish the past and the future) or at least CPT-symmetric (ignore the acronym if you don't know what it means), the logic how we apply them in the presence of unknown data always "discriminates" the past from the future. For example, if you calculate the probability that a particle decays into a pair of particles and you don't specify the spins, you must sum the probability over the final spins (because you don't "care" about them) but you must average over the initial spins (because you don't "know" them).

Summing is something different than averaging - and the past therefore differs from the future. And this asymmetry - an extra denominator preferring a larger number of states in the future than in the past - automatically implies that the entropy increases. The role of "assumptions" and their "consequences" in logic is asymmetric. And in the same way, whenever there is any incomplete information, the past and the future play an asymmetric role, too - because by the very definition of the words, the past is described by the "assumptions" and the future is about their "consequences". Because there's no symmetry between the assumptions and their consequences, it's also impossible to mix the two arrows of time inside a bigger multiverse.

Also, in a striking contrast with Carroll's text, the methods to retrodict the past are completely different than the methods to predict the future. To predict the future is "straightforward" - quantum mechanics tells us the probabilities. However, to reconstruct the past, we must choose competing hypotheses, assign them with (somewhat arbitrary) priors, and do the logical inference. The answer - our retrodiction - is not unique. But when we do it correctly, we may see that the entropy in the past was lower than today.

Most of the mysterious properties of the bubble Universes discussed by Carroll are even more impossible than the ordinary "time machines" and "wormholes" from some conventional popular books. If there exists a contest looking for a professional physicist who prints and sells a book promoting the most scientifically nonsensical phenomena and relationships between them, Carroll is a new hot candidate.

The science in the book makes no sense and the purpose of the book is for the author to show how he can make science popular. Except that it isn't science and I guess that it won't get too popular, either, because the references to the popular culture are excessively cheap, chaotic, and out-of-touch even for highly undemanding readers. Finally, let me say that you should largely ignore the unhelpful votes under the unfavorable reviews because the author uses his blog to distort the public perception of this very strange book.
Comment Comments (48) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 7, 2014 10:42 PM PST

Global Warming False Alarm: The Bad Science Behind the United Nations' Assertion that Man-made CO2 Causes Global Warming
Global Warming False Alarm: The Bad Science Behind the United Nations' Assertion that Man-made CO2 Causes Global Warming
by Ralph B. Alexander
Edition: Perfect Paperback
33 used & new from $0.01

90 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm and revealing book about the great distortion of climate science, July 11, 2009
You might think that there are already many books about climate change on the market. But Ralph Alexander's book is special and unusually appropriate for both beginners and experts in the field because of its balanced attitude to the problem.

That doesn't mean that Dr Alexander ends up with a "mixed" answer to the basic question. Just like a majority of books on the subject, Dr Alexander makes the readers understand that the global warming alarm is almost completely an artifact of manipulation with the human psychology and with the data. But unlike the case of many other books, you will see that Dr Alexander is actually a mainstream scientist (and an applied scientist in the environmental sector) who cares about the good name and functioning of science. Years ago, he was inclined to believe the "general wisdom" about the problem. His diametrically opposite conclusions are a result of his long research of the problem. And his pride of a scientist has been hurt. Climatology has become an ugly example of a scientific discipline that has largely ceased to be scientific.

Dr Alexander determines that the "ring" and the international character of the IPCC, the climate panel of the United Nations, are the main drivers of the hysteria so the IPCC, its process, and its reports are the main players investigated by this text. He analyzes the history and structure of the IPCC and finds out that this panel is just a particular and heavily funded group of loud partisans and activists that is meant to defend a predetermined conclusion and that doesn't reflect the scientific opinion of the world's scientific community, at least its financially and otherwise unbiased part, and certainly not the available body of data. Lots of numbers about the percentages of the scientist who agree and disagree with various statements are included.

The following chapters are dedicated to the standard topics in this debate: an introduction to the enhanced greenhouse effect and why it cannot account for most of the climate variability; computer models as the main basis underlying the alarm and their flaws; the CO2 and temperature records and reconstructions, their comparisons, and their flaws (including the urban heat effect); cherry-picking in various "concerned" studies; the interactions with politics (in both directions); corruption of the conventional peer review process; the biased IPCC evaluation of the climate sensitivity (warming from CO2 doubling); the lag in the correlation showing that the temperature is a driver, not an effect, of trace gas concentrations; solar, oceanic, cosmic, and other natural drivers that have to be crucial (even though the author honestly says that science doesn't yet understand their precise and separate effects); the high possibility of a cooling in the 21st century.

A significant portion of the text is also concerned with the economic consequences of the alarm; the failures of the cap-and-trade systems in the past, the differences between various countries; and the false hopes in green, luxurious sources of energy.

The book contains many wise stories and analogies from the history, useful data from the present, some jokes, and black-and-white pages that summarize the IPCC claims and their flaws in various sections. Two appendices discuss the feedbacks and the effect of Pacific Decadal Oscillation. And indeed, Dr Alexander had to include some equations, too. The book has a short glossary, 30 pages of technical endnotes (including many references that don't disturb you in the main text), and an index. At any rate, it is quite an amazing piece of work that is fun to read - because of its detailed data, its convincing case, and warm style - and I wholeheartedly recommend you to buy it and read it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 21, 2010 5:11 AM PDT

Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know
Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know
by Patrick J. Michaels
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.09
119 used & new from $0.01

89 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moderate book filled with relevant information, January 31, 2009
It is a very nice book that is crowded with graphs and information.

At the beginning, Michaels announces that he will have to leave his school in June 2009 because the current conditions don't allow him to keep both his scientific integrity and the funding. You will find some embarrassing quotes by leading IPCC scientists and Al Gore. But then the real book begins.

The authors classify themselves as believers in man-made contributions to global warming but disbelievers in the climate apocalypse. Rationally speaking, I agree with them.

They explain that the moderate climate scientists such as themselves are being prosecuted. But the bulk of the book is made out of hundreds or thousands of graphs and their clear interpretations - about the temperature history (obtained by different methods), the number of hurricanes, sea level, ice volumes, fires, droughts, methane, refugees, and lots of other things.

The evidence that there is no reason for hysteria is overwhelming. Pretty much any major consequence of the "apocalypse" is clarified by real numbers in the book and the tricks used by certain people to create a false impression of a problem often become transparent.

At the end of the book, they describe the sociological mechanisms that allow the hysteria to flourish - e.g. scientists trying to guarantee funding for their teams. Nevertheless, they also explain that the sensible, "moderate" scientific papers are so consistent that their survival rate exceeds the mad papers, anyway. Their proposals what to do can be found in the last chapter. The book has an index and a couple of colorful pages on a high-quality paper in the middle. It was published by CATO. (click on the left) offers you a huge discount.

Recommended both as a book to read and as a very useful reference.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2009 3:34 PM PST

String Theory Demystified
String Theory Demystified
by David McMahon
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.93
103 used & new from $1.28

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A playful yet serious textbook on string theory, November 26, 2008
I actually love the book, its format, and its focus. Imagine that your task is to take Polchinski's textbook on String Theory and compress both volumes to 320 light pages or so.

You have to include some basics of GR, QFT, abstract classical mechanics but also the CFTs, bosonic strings, light cone gauge, T-duality, symmetries, RNS superstring, heterotic strings, D-branes, AdS/CFT, black holes. But you also add some material that was not yet fully covered in Polchinski's book such as tachyon condensation on D-branes and the speculative field of string cosmology, among others.

I think that if you realize your task well, you will end up with a book very similar to McMahon's book. As a kid or undergrad, I would actually love the playful format of the book, the icons and big headlines. In fact, I like it even now. It's the format that succeeds to attract the reader's attention and give him or her the (semi-realistic) feeling that the knowledge needed to fully master string theory is of encyclopedic character and "learnable" in a finite time.

Although the brevity of many explanations will clearly make it insufficient for all readers to understand the true origin of all results and steps, this is a book focusing on real, solid scientific arguments.

This is a simplified but technical, not popular, book that won't overwhelm you with postmodern philosophical babbling, trying to convince you that it can replace the calculations and lead you instantly to "big" conclusions without any hard work. It is a book that shows the actual correct calculations and derivations, albeit in a simplified form. Most importantly, the answers are pretty much universally correct, as far as I could check, and they uniformly cover the basic topics that are important for actual researchers in modern high-energy theoretical physics.

If you're a college student, high school student, or a mathematically skilled "semi-outsider" who is bright enough to learn advanced theoretical physics, please ignore the other reviewers who clearly have no idea what theoretical physics actually is, and buy this book. You may like it, too.

Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed
Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed
by Christopher C. Horner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.10
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323 of 380 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Global warming advocates are learning from Stalinist textbooks, November 12, 2008
During my years in the U.S. Academia, I experienced a couple of events related to the global warming propaganda that I found stunning. Scientists around me (including myself) were subjects of intimidation and disciplinary proceedings - or they were instantly fired - because of their skeptical views about the climate change (or even for skeptical results of their work).

Chris Horner shows us that those events were not coincidences. Environmentalism has become a new ideology that has replaced Stalinism and that is beginning to take over the Western world - a world that has enjoyed freedom and democracy for centuries. You will learn that Greenpeace is reading from Horner's trash, in order to obtain materials that they could find helpful in their propaganda war.

Do you know what's happening to the children at schools? They are being indoctrinated. In fact, they are expected to revolt against their parents who "cause global warming". Because the children have to watch scientifically unrealistic horror movies related to the climate, such as An Inconvenient Truth, many of them don't sleep well at night.

Many politicians are scared of the "momentum" that they demand "action" against the climate change, too. Scientists who don't join this irrational hysteria are being threatened, likened to criminals or even Islamic terrorists. Journalists produce piles of lies and distort scientific findings that are already damaged by biased peer review or full-fledged censorship.

This whole scary machine is moving in the direction chosen by the environmental activists who are always "ahead" of their followers. Right now, they want the "dissidents" to be censored or even arrested. Are their today's dreams going to become reality on the day after tomorrow? Meanwhile, there is no climate crisis. In fact, there hasn't been any statistically significant global warming at least for 13 years. But the society seems to be choosing a direction that is disconnected from any observations or science.

The similarity of the environmentalists' techniques with those of the Nazis and communists are far too obvious. If you live outside the Academia or other sectors of the society influenced by this movement, and you are not certain whether there is a reason to worry, read this insightful and shocking book because it can tell you what you might expect tomorrow unless we manage to defeat this new ideological cancer bubbling in the society.
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