Patience Is Hard

What I Have Been Reading

While I was not knitting due to my poor hand, I was reading, and I finished up two books. 

One was Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World, by Lisa Randall. It was a fascinating book, but I found myself just reading the words in a couple of places. You know how it is; you read the words and you can understand each of them, but you don't really understand what she's telling you. There were a couple places like that.

I disagreed with her about religion, surprisingly. I didn't realize I was so religious. She spends a chapter contrasting scientific and religious perspectives, and I thought I was all over the scientific perspectives, but I grew increasingly more uncomfortable about it. A lot of what she had to say came from being a scientist through and through. She's a theoretical physicist, for goodness sakes. I guess I am a little more whimsical on my outlook on life.

I loved her discussion of scale of matter in the Universe. Interestingly enough, I found this website on Facebook when I was reading it (and they say there's no God, pfft). 

She spends a lot of time talking about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and since this was my primary reason for wanting to read this book, I can tell you, I was not disappointed. It is magnificent in the way that works of art are magnificent. It's like building the Eiffel Tower and then putting it to work finding answers to questions about the nature of the universe. It is  a wonderful piece of machinery.

The Higgs boson, the strange subatomic particle that physicists have been trying to find, is one of the things that the LHC was built for. When Lisa Randall wrote the book, it hadn't been found yet; recently, I read an article that they are closing in on it, and physicists everywhere are totally excited, the way knitters are when they find yarn on sale.

I learned a lot from this book, I found it interesting, and I look forward to what is in store for future searches.

I also finished Ten Discoveries that Rewrote History, by Patrick Hunt. You may recall that the last time, I was about to enter King Tut's tomb. Well, I did; after that I went on to Machu Picchu, Pompeii, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Thera, Olduvai Gorge, and the Tomb of 10,000 Warriors in China. All were very interesting, and I may have bookmarked a few more books to read about Thera. I liked his discussion of Machu Picchu best of all. I think some places are magical, and it sounds like Machu Picchu is one. There wasn't, for me, the one-time teacher of world history, much that I hadn't heard before. But there were a few surprising gems, like most of our surviving Roman artwork is from Pompeii. That was pretty cool. I didn't know much about the Dead Sea Scrolls, like how many of them there are -- 850 to 1000! And I didn't know much about the Tomb of the 10,000 Warriors. It is amazing how that discovery has stimulated archaeology in China, and the technology was more advanced than had been known before it was discovered. I think as a whole, technology has always been more advanced than we knew, and discoveries like this prove it.

Now I'm reading Cryptonmicon, by Neal Stephenson, a work of fiction, for a change. It's got some mind-bending weirdness going on with a few characters, and it reminds me a little of Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon. Stay tuned.

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