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Technical Diving in Depth Hardcover – January 4, 2002
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About the Author
Bruce Wienke is an Instructor Trainer/Technical Instructor with the National Association of Underwater Instructors, has served on the Board of Directors (Vice Chairman for Technical Diving, Technical and Decompression Review Board Member), is a Master Instructor with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), and Institute Director with the YMCA, and is an Instructor Trainer/Technical Instructor with Scuba Diving International (SDI/TDI).
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Wienke is definitely (one of) _the_ expert(s) in this field, and to be sure $40 is a steal for this "textbook," but only if your goal with the book is to really nerd it up about diving physics.
Several previous reviewers have conjectured that they could not understand the material because it is too hard and Dr. Wieke is so much smarter than they are. No - the material is just presented badly. A good scientist can communicate complex ideas to any reasonably intelligent person if they try (e.g. Henry Bent's `The Second Law' and anything written by Richard Feynman). That is what a teacher does.
One of the most striking examples of the complete lack of organization of this book occurs right off the bat. There is a section on the First and Second Law of Thermodynamics but it comes after the presentation of the Ideal Gas Laws. WHAT? How could a physicist do this? Well easy, Dr. Wienke makes no effort to establish the relationship between the laws of thermodynamics and the gas laws which he should know are quite sequitur. He is just regurgitating material helter-skelter out of his old first year physics books. If the good reader wishes to learn basic physics, my old copy of Halliday and Resnick is a much better resource. And please do not try to learn any chemistry from this book, a couple of the equations are just plain wrong. But the sin of sins is that little of the technical material is ever related to practical aspects of scuba diving - there are few examples and no effort is spent on providing anyone who does not already know the science any sense of relevance. Gas Laws and indeed any of the concepts in this book would be easy to teach in the context of diving (even the equations) because all the available examples are practical, visual and relate directly to diving safety; you will find none of that here.
Dr. Wienke is responsible for much of the research leading to the algorithms used in dive computers to estimate the extent of tissue saturation of breathable gasses under pressure - extremely admirable and useful work. His work has changed diving much for the better. I bought the book looking for just this work (only to later find it all on the web). But even here, he does not come out and clearly explain the physical and biological problems or the mathematical approximations. The equations ramble about almost oblivious to each other and the reader. It made me wonder if the obfuscation was just careless writing or intentional. It also made me wonder if some of the previous reviewers were afraid to say that the emperor wears no cloths. In any event, I concluded that the book's editor had to be just too intimidated by the material to make any useful contribution to the final work. No one around Dr. Wienke knew enough about what he was trying to say to be able to tell him the book was a mess.
It appears that Dr. Wienke wrote this book as a text for a course in advanced technical diving. I suppose the book could serve that purpose but only to a very select group of students and much of the material would waste their time.
So this book has no real audience. The technical material is beyond anyone without the background in physics, chemistry or engineering that would give them access to the math and such technical folk will find much of the material a poor reflection of that which they are already familiar. Scientists should look for Dr. Wienke valuable contributions to diving science on the web and in the scientific literature. Non-technical folk should continue toward more advanced diving certification through approved courses. And I'm out 58 bucks plus shipping.
An authoritative decompression diving treatise is a rare find, and one describing various models in the smallest detail, speaking authoritatively and comparatively, is a rare specie.
Dr. Wienke's new textbook could easily be a classic in the field, joining the rank of A.A. Buhlmann as one of few textbooks detailing decompression diving. Buhlmann's text extended concepts developed by Workman, and Wienke describes his Reduced Gradient Bubble Model in relation to bubble models, but no recent texts I recall, compare most decompression models in one book [other than Wienke in prior paperback books.]
A discourse on decompression is but one component, albeit a core component, of this book. "Technical Diving in Depth", TDD, is an amalgam of assorted topics related to technical diving in general, with elements of oceanography, geology, astronomy-cosmology and physics _but_ whose price of admission is high: a terse writing style and unavoidable college level mathematics. The textbook is also a peek into a renaissance man who speaks expertly on many topics beyond the scope of his doctoral degree in particle physics. Coupled with Wienke's colorful author profile, this reader can easily explain the indulgence in a curious combination of topics, some discussions than veer off tangent, and the reuse, from prior books, of chapters or paragraphs. The attention to detail in the text is remarkable; with ne'er any errors in the mathematics provided, and typographical errors are exceedingly minor.
The depth Wienke dives into the topics may be considered an encyclopedic reference. The book could better be described as " A Reference Book _for_ Technical Diving." Thus, its critical to have a quick method to locate items discussed. While the book can, and should, be read cover to cover, thereafter it can be a chore to locate a topic one needs without an index or a table of contents. Encyclopedic information has its own character; it explains concisely and often just guides readers to more comprehensive sources, so readers are warned that it may sometime lack sufficient detail to be of practical value. The material Wienke provides is unique, and few items are duplicated in other vital references such as the NOAA or USN Diving Manual.
From the sheer volume of reused material, TDD maybe called an updated or 'second edition' of the 1995 text, "Basic Diving Physics and Applications," BDPA. A case can be made for presenting TDD as new work considering the updated text, some new material, reorganization of prior material, more relevant and extended referencing, subtle changes to equations, better layout and binding, sample problems with solutions, and an excellent index. Formatted thus, the new book appears as a better venue for material detailed in the older text.
If you own BDPA, TDD is an update built to last. Without an index, one had to remember acutely the location of a piece of information. The pages of my "Basic Diving" are falling apart. I estimate about 20% of "Technical Diving" has new material in decompression modeling [a bulk of which is a Wienke monograph circulating freely on the Internet]. The release of TDD is quite opportune. In 2002, we saw more decompression models report validation data, lay articles on decompression models, new software for divers to test models in real dives, and decompression software for palmtop computers to take to the field.
Comparing books again, subtle variations in some equation hint that other complex equations could be simplified. For example, Wienke chose to drop fC02 and fH20 in equation 10.7, p.202 compared to TDD p.76; in p.72 equation 4.15 Wienke drops water's specific density compared to TDD p.122. The resulting changes are, to knowledgeable readers, insignificant, but in reviewing other equations, one wonders what further simplification may be possible. A transcendent notion one gets for models is that precisions of formulas are inconsequential if they do not translate in physical effects in real dives. Such a notion is key to remaining skeptical about models, and their subsequent complex equations. Its ideal for writers of decompression models to speak from the point of diving such decompression models themselves, such as Wienke does, to 'fill the gaps' between what is surmised and what occurs.
Readers can successfully bypass derivations and, when available, go straight to working equations, most of which are algebraic. For those not so mathematically inclined, take confidence that much of the text is useful after ignoring its math. However, should Wienke choose to write a future edition, there is opportunity to expound topics substantially to widen this book's audience: referencing sources for charts, tables and graphs, further explain concepts, visual describe the math [Mo Value graphs from BDPA were eliminated in TDD, for example.] It would help for readers to read the appendix first, to get further grounding in basic concepts before starting from Chapter One.
So who is this book for? Of paramount value, anyone who wants to know the comparative anatomy of decompression models. By studying its calculations and assumptions, the reader, particular a technical diver, will understand the limits of the tables generated by programs and adjust their dives accordingly. If divers are equally intrigued by the escape velocity of the earth, the ecliptic plane, supercomputer history and a brief Einstein E=mc2 link [relatively speaking], yes, Virginia, its here too.
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