Title: Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
Author: David Randall
Fun Fact: Just 24 hours without sleep will cause the neurons involved in decision making to slow down.
Review Summary: This book has achieved the holy grail of non-fiction: funny, approachable, well researched, and informative.
Sleep. Most of us love it, many of us don’t get enough of it, and none of us knows very much about it given the percentage of our lives we spend doing it. Even scientists don’t know that much about it, especially compared to their understanding of other basic biological functions. However, sleep research is becoming more popular and in Dreamland the author David Randall shares some of the latest findings. Continue reading
Title: Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity and the New Science of Ideas
Author: Richard Ogle
Fun Fact: Barbie was based on a doll of the main character in a smutty german cartoon which sold mainly in smoke shops.
Review Summary: Very abstract, academic approach to the topic of creativity with a few thought provoking insights but little practical advice.
Have you ever wished you were more creative? I certainly have and not just because it would be awesome if I could draw. As a grad student, one of the most challenging aspects of research is being able to come up with creative new ways to solve problem. As in many fields, that makes creativity not just a hobby, but a career promoting skill. This book is a synthesis of the latest research related to creativity, particularly major breakthroughs and works of artistic genius. Continue reading
My on-the-side non-fiction reading this week included two books by Malcolm Gladwell, Blink and The Tipping Point. Blink was well-written and accessible. The author shares many engaging anecdotes to facilitate his discussion of when our split-second decisions serve us well and when they go wrong. It’s not the most scientific book I’ve read (with less transparent support for the points the author makes than Click, for example) but does cite many scientific studies for those who care to delve more deeply into any specific claim. Continue reading
Classes started today and neither of my classes seem too difficult. Hopefully this means good things for my ability to continue blogging throughout the semester! This evening I had time finish Click, my 006 book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Like the author, I have to admit that I love data. And this book describes a data-miner’s dream. The author has information about the searches made and websites visited by 10 million users (!) and has demographic information for about a quarter of them. Continue reading
One book down, only about 998 to go! Wrong – Why Experts Keep Failing Us And How To Know When Not To Trust Them was a really interesting a read, a good start to the project 🙂 What shocked me most in the book was the finding that 2 in 3 high-end research papers are later refuted by other papers! As someone who will probably cite other scientists work a lot and perhaps pursue time-consuming projects based on this work, I found this kind of terrifying. Continue reading
My first thought looking at this section was to wonder if I’d wandered into the fiction section by mistake! Who knew that tales of chasing Sasquatch and interviews with politicians about government contact with aliens were categorized under 001 in the Dewey Decimal system? This category also included some collections of interesting facts and other books pertaining to the categories official label, “Knowledge”. Strangest of all was a book about “the allies of humanity”, which you can view here. It looks incredibly bizarre, but I might have to add it to my reading list since I don’t want to judge it too harshly until I’ve given it a chance.
For now, I’ve decided on an interesting looking book entitled “Wrong” and subtitled “Why Experts* Keep Failing Us – And How to Know When Not to Trust Them”. As a hopeful scientist-to-be, I think this could be really worthwhile read. I don’t know if I will agree with the criticisms in the book, but either way I’ll learn something! If not mistakes to be avoided than certainly something about public misconceptions about science. Starting out, I anticipate a little of both.
For those of you wondering what happened to 000: Having just finished my undergrad degree in computer science, I couldn’t bring myself to read more computer books for fun! So at least for the moment, I’m planning on skipping zero, but perhaps I’ll come back to it later.