Media Roundup


The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence M. Krauss – You really need to be a Trekker to enjoy this. I’m not.

Entanglement by Amir Aczel – Very basic.  I didn’t learn much. A little disappointing.

The Positronic Man by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg  – I read this a long time ago and enjoyed it.  I thought I’d revisit.  I’m glad I did, because I had forgotten most of it.  I was surprised how deep it got into the ethical and legal issues we might face as AI is developed.

The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton – I don’t know how I missed this.  I’ve read a lot of Crichton, but somehow this one got past me.  This is a great book.  It’s really quite a story. Did you know they made this into a movie?  It was on Hulu, but it’s gone now. I can never figure out what’s going on over there.  Things just randomly disappear.  Sometimes they apologize.

Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays by Stephen Hawking – This is another one I’ve read before, but I’ve been on a Physics kick recently, so I thought I’d return to it.  It’ s a great format – a collection of essays.  Much of the important and difficult to understand material is repeated throughout the essays.

The Nature of Space and Time by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose – I uh… I don’t know… Just skip this.  That’s my advice.

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – Yeah, weird, I know!  I’m not sure what motivated me to pick this up. This is one of those books I was supposed to read in High School but never did.  I just paid enough attention to the talks in class that I could pass the tests and write whatever simple paper we had to write.  That was pretty much my standard procedure for all but 10th grade English, where the teacher (Mrs. Hansen) actually pushed us to think, so I did all the work.  Anyway, it turns out this is a pretty interesting story.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – So when you die, you go to heaven and one at a time you meet five people who influenced your life, and they sort of review your life with you and help you figure out why things happened the way they did and how you got there.  That seems at least as reasonable as any other mythology I’ve ever heard, and Albom is a good story teller.


At least in my case, the Year of Astronomy is a success.  It has really caught my attention and I’ve started listening to other astronomy related shows (in addition to the 365 days of Astronomy.)  I also started listening to a couple of shows about math, and of course, Science Friday.  Details below.

Astronomy Cast
“Astronomy Cast offers you a fact based journey through the cosmos. Each week Fraser Cain (Universe Today) and Dr. Pamela Gay (SIUE / Slacker Astronomy) take on topics ranging from the nearby planets to ubiquitous dark matter.”

Slacker Astronomy Podcast
“Slacker Astronomy wanders the byways of astronomy and science, looking for interesting stories, interviews and video. From hot astronomers to hot hypergiants, you never know what you’ll get when you tune in with the Slackers but you’ll never (ok rarely) be disappointed.”

“dansmathcast is a math variety show about the vast subject of mathematics. dan will podcast twice a month with feature stories, challenge problems, and clear explanations of the beautiful world of math. check out for podcast details, free lessons, problem contests, and other goodies!”  Note: This podcast is no longer being made, but the old episodes are still available.  I’m working my way through them.

The Math Factor
“A brief, weekly math conversation and puzzle, airing on KUAF 91.3 FM, Fayetteville Arkansas. Send your answers, comments, questions, puzzles, or cash, to!”

Science Friday
“Science Friday, as heard on NPR, is a weekly discussion of the latest news in science, technology, health, and the environment hosted by Ira Flatow.  Ira interviews scientists, authors, and policymakers, and listeners can call in and ask questions as well. Hear it each week on NPR stations nationwide — or online here!”

TV Shows

“Lie To Me” starts tonight on Fox.  “LIE TO ME, the compelling new drama from the producers of 24, stars Tim Roth (“The Incredible Hulk,” “Reservoir Dogs”) as DR. CAL LIGHTMAN, the world’s leading deception expert who studies facial expressions and involuntary body language to discover not only if someone is lying, but why. When someone shrugs one shoulder, rotates a hand or raises the lower lip, Lightman knows he’s lying. Based on the real-life scientific discoveries of Paul Ekman, the series follows Lightman and his team of deception experts as they assist law enforcement and government agencies to expose the truth behind the lies.”

“Trust Me” starts Monday on TNT.  “Eric McCormack ( Will & Grace ) and Tom Cavanagh  ( Ed ) return to series television in TNT’s TRUST ME , a sharp, witty drama series that centers on two best friends working as creative partners at a top-ranked Chicago ad agency. ” (more)

I plan on taking advantage of our Netflix subscription to catch up on Rome, Generation Kill, Eureka, The Shield, Penn & Teller: Bullshit, The Riches, 24, Rescue Me, Firefly, Dexter, Life,30 Rock, The Office, and Weeds.  Holy Crap.  Man, they need to stop making TV shows and give me a couple of years to catch up.

We started Weeds already because you can stream it from Netflix.

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