Posted in audio book, history

Big history

My current book is forty-five plus hours so it will take me at least three or four days total. Technically this would be my longest book ever. The Outline of History by HG Wells was forty-four hours followed by The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer at forty-one hours.

So we can talk about a book I finished recently. Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present by Cynthia Stokes Brown. This was eleven hours and took less than two days. I was surprised at how detailed this book was, especially regarding the big bang. It’s a great read.

What I learned:

  1. Matter and energy are interchangeable but only at temperatures approaching a trillion degrees. (E=mc²). So matter is energy at rest when not at those ungodly temperatures.
  2. The inverse square law gives rise to the elliptical movement of the planets. This was calculated by Sir Issac Newton and published in his paper Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy in 1687.
  3. The Club of Rome commissioned an article entitled The Limits of Growth in 1972. This was a computer simulation of exponential economic and population growth.
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Periodic tales

Just finished Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey Williams. If you like chemistry you will love this book. He gives you background and discovery on most of the elements. A lot of good info on elements atomic number 92 and up especially. Its well done and intriguing.

What did I learn:

1. Smoke alarms use Americium (which is a byproduct of nuclear reactors, 95 protons) to give off alpha particles. These radioactive particles are used to complete an electric circuit. When smoke passes through it breaks the circuit and the alarm is set off. Furthermore smoke alarms are the only consumer product dependent on a man-made element.

2. Uranium (92 protons) is named after the planet Uranus. When they discovered the elements with 93 and 94 protons they kept the planet nomenclature going. Neptunium (93 protons) is named for Neptune while Plutonium (94 protons) was named for Pluto.

3. Marie Curie (see pic) is the first female and part of the first married couple to win a Nobel prize (1903). She was the first woman to earn a PhD from a French university. She is the first person to win two Nobel prizes (physics and chemistry). She helped discover radium and polonium. Her daughter also was a physicist and is a Nobel laureate. Note: they both died of blood diseases related to their work.

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Finished KL: A history of the Nazi concentration camps by Nikolaus Wachsmann. It was over thirty hours. Took me about three days. Its the most modern version of this subject I know of. It was very well researched and detailed. World War two was messed up. Lets not make that mistake again.

What did I learn:

  1. in Nazi Germany the camps were refereed to as KL (from the German Konzentrationslager). 
  2. the Sobibor, Treblinka and Warsaw uprisings.
  3. Sausenhausen British pound forging operations so they could be dropped over the UK to destabilize the pound.

Similar good book: The theory and practice of hell by Eugen Kogen