Monday, March 27, 2023

Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity, by Carlo Rovelli (author), Simon Carnell (translator), Erica Segre (translator), Roy McMillian (narrator)

Audible Audio, January 2014

Another interesting and well-written book about quantum physics and the nature of the universe.

Rovelli has some good things to say about the importance of science, and reviews the history of physics, starting with Demosthenes first hypothosizing the atom. It's lively and interesting, and including fun details I had previously missed. Then we get to the meat of the matter. What is the universe really made of?

The two main theories of the universe, general relativity and quantum physics. General relativity works very well at the scale of the large, while quantum physics works very well at the scale of the very small. The problem is that they don't work well together. And with black holes and the beginnings of the universe, we really need them to work together.

The most popular theory for making them work together has been string theory. String theory seems to work well, but seems not to have the kind of evidence physicists would like to see. Rovelli is not a supporter of string theory, based on the lack of evidence problem. Here he talks about another theory, loop quantum gravity.

His discussion of it makes it interesting. I freely admit I do not understand the math necessary for physics, but Rovelli makes it conceptually interesting and at least seemingly understandable. He says it has more supporting evidence than string theory, while freely admitting there's plenty of room for that to change.

It's an interesting and enjoyable book.

I have to take the efforts of the translators on faith, of course, but the results are enjoyable to listen to, and the narrator does a good job. 

I bought this audiobook.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Killer Unleashed: (The Westport Mysteries - Chloe #1), by Beth Prentice

Beth Prentice, November 2021

Chloe is very surprised one day, when Betty, the nice old lady who lives across the street, says she's moving to a retirement home, at the insistence of family she's never previously mentioned. Because of this, she needs to surrender her beloved little dog, Theo, although the two have been inseparable until now. But she can't do it herself, she says. She's made arrangements with a woman at the local shelter, called Lucy, she says. Will Chloe bring Theo in?

Chloe is a people pleaser, and can't say no. But when she gets there, parked outside, Theo and his cuteness guilt her into deciding to keep him.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Love, Loss and Life in Between, by Suzanne Rogerson (author), Sandie Keane (narrator)

Suzanne Rogerson, January 2023

This is a collection of short stories about love, loss, grief, and moving on, in a variety of forms.

"Spirit Song" is about an elderly woman playing her lute for dying residents in the...hospice?..old age home?...where she lives herself. (My uncertainty is due to having listened to the audio, not read the print edition, where I could more easily have checked little details.) She knows when a person is dying, and insists on "playing them out" even when the nurses are worried she's overexerting herself. And she wonders, what is really on the other side? It's a really sweet story.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Your Brain is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time, by Dean Buonomano (author), Aaron Abano (narrator)

Audible Audio, May 2017

This is a book about time, both the physics of time, and how our brains understand and manipulate time.

Many animals have the ability to learn from experience, and to project how to hunt, hide from predators, and other things necessary for higher animals to survive in their relatively complex worlds. Humans are the only animals whom we are certain can reflect on the past, plan for the less immediate future, and imagine things that don't have a lot of connection to the real, immediate world. The list of animals whom we have some evidence may share this ability has expanded over my lifetime, but it still doesn't seem to be a common ability.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Short Tails: Chet & Bernie Short Stories, by Spencer Quinn

Forge Books, ISBN 9781250886910, June 2022

Everyone's favorite canine narrator, Chet, is back with more stories of his adventures with private investigator Bernie Little.

This time we have three short stories, and an excerpt from the most recent novel, Bark to the Future, which was still forthcoming at the time this was published.

"Upper Story" features Chet during the time he was living with Rick Torres, while Bernie is hospitalized after being seriously injured. We get a lovely look at how well-known and generally liked both Chet and Bernie are--even among some of the perps. We also learn that Bernie's condition was more serious than Chet was able to understand at the time. It's sweet and heartwarming.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Love on the Run, by Suzie Tullett

Bloodhound Books, March 2023

Divorced mother of teenaged twins Hannah imagines a blissfully relaxed month on her own, while twins Beth and Archie go on a vacation in France with ex-husband Carl and his new girlfriend, Monica. She's even taken the month off from her job to fully enjoy it.

She spends the first week cleaning and grocery shopping, and has a scarily clean house, more food than she'll be able to use before it goes bad, and nothing to do. Her friends, Liv and Mel, coax her into signing up for a charity "fun run," a 5K. She almost immediately regrets it, but it's not easy to back out.

Her mother bulldozes her into taking her Aunt Dorothy for a few weeks, because she's lonely and depressed with the recent death of her husband, Denis, and Janice (Hannah's mother) currently has her house in an uproar with renovations. Hannah has time on her hands... Hannah flatly refuses.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Anatomy of a Meet Cute, by Addie Woolridge

Montlake, ISBN 9781662504570, March 2023

Samantha Holbrook is a young doctor, starting a research fellowship at a hospital in San Franciso. Flying back to SF from her family home in Ohio, she responds to a call for a doctor to respond to an onboard emergency. Her specialty is obstetrics, not emergency medicine, but no one else is responding, so she does.

Turns out there's another doctor on board, who had headphones on and didn't hear the call. He also matches the totally inadequate description the flight attendant gave her, and it takes a few moments to figure out the patient is another guy just a couple of seats away.

The other doctor, Grant Gao, is a little older, and definitely more experienced, and their joint effort to respond becomes very embarrassing for Sam, even though she's ultimately the one who works out exactly which "magic mushroom" the patient is high on.

Later, much to her distress, she discovers that he's the senior research fellow at the hospital she'll be doing her research fellowship. Not her boss, but embarrassingly close to it.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Where the Water Flows, by Romola Farr

Romola Farr, ISBN 9798366879880, January 2023

The story starts with a natural disaster beginning in the small English town of Hawksmead, on the River Hawk. It then jumps back six weeks, as the primary characters are introduced.

Joel Redmond and Cadence Clearwater are two young American actors, arriving to begin their acting careers by studying at the Undermere School of Dramatic Arts--the USDA. They first meet on the train into Hawksmead, but Cadence isn't interested in getting better acquainted, for reasons we won't understand for a while.

Eleaonor Houghton is a retired opera singer, returned to her hometown to operate a tea shop--but an upsurge of a new coronavirus variant has limited activity. But Eleanor has a guest arriving, her godson, Joel Redmond. Ted and Heather run The Falcon alehouse, and have a few rooms above it. Cadence is staying there.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Encore in Death (In Death #56), by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Ericksen (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250878267, February 2023

Lt. Eve Dallas is summoned to the site of a high-end, A-list party hosted by stars of Broaday and Hollywood, because one of them has dropped dead, quite suddenly, with the scent of almonds around him.

Eliza Lane is an actor who has  winning awards, primarily on Broadway but also in Hollywood, for twenty-five years. Her husband, Brant Fitzhugh, is a knock 'em dead screen star, but has also performed successfully on stage. Fitzhugh is one of those actors who is personally liked by everyone, because he's so kind, so generous, so humane, so likeable.