The Notebook.

A bunch of possibly interesting things.

The Sixth Extinction - An Unnatural History & Nothing


Apparently I am far too lazy to keep this up to date, and therefore I will probably be coupling books up. Coulomb is slightly delayed, largely because I got bored with it - I will post the source code on github in a few days should anyone wish to look. S.E.R.O. is coming along well and I am tying it into Elora, which is basically Hermoine reinvented - it learns from me and the internet.

In the mean time I have been reading a bunch of books, namely 'The Sixth Extinction' by Elizabeth Kolbert and 'Nothing' by the NewScientist people. I am moving on to now read 'Life on the Edge - The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology' by Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden. Onto the reviews I suppose;

The Sixth Extinction


Price (As of writing): £8.99 on Waterstones.

Publishers Synopsis: 

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions of life on earth. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. Elizabeth Kolbert combines brilliant field reporting, the history of ideas and the work of geologists, botanists and marine biologists to tell the gripping stories of a dozen species - including the Panamanian golden frog and the Sumatran rhino - some already gone, others at the point of vanishing. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy and Elizabeth Kolbert's book urgently compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.


A very nice book. Covers some very interesting topics in very accessible ways and the author has a nice way of moving between topics - it all seems very fluid. Would prefer it if it went a bit more indepth into some areas, and some sections drag on a bit, but both are easily solvable - you can google for more information if necessary and the sections aren't so long that it gets unbearable if you aren't so interested in one. My favourite section was probably 'The Original Penguin'. I would recommend this book to anyone interested about biology, extinction, and ecology.

Nothing (2013 edition)


Price: £6.39

Publisher's Synopsis

Zero, zip, nada, zilch. It's all too easy to ignore the fascinating possibilities of emptiness and non-existence, and we may well wonder what there is to say about nothing. But scientists have known for centuries that nothing is the key to understanding absolutely everything, from why particles have mass to the expansion of the universe - so without nothing we'd be precisely nowhere.

Absolute zero (the coldest cold that can exist) and the astonishing power of placebos, light bulbs, superconductors, vacuums, dark energy, 'bed rest' and the birth of time - all are different aspects of the concept of nothing. The closer we look, the bigger the subject gets. Why do some animals spend all day doing nothing? What happens in our brains when we try to think about nothing?

With chapters by 20 science writers, including top names such as Ian Stewart, Marcus Chown, Helen Pilcher, Nigel Henbest, Michael Brooks, Linda Geddes, Paul Davies, Jo Marchant and David Fisher, this fascinating and intriguing book revels in a subject that has tantalised the finest minds for centuries, and shows there's more to nothing than meets the eye.


The book covers a lot - from the physical concepts such as the vacuum (and energy stored within) to animals doing nothing. It covers each in a nice amount of detail, and due to the multitude of authors writing it ends up being a very nice reading experience - you never have to 'put up' with the same author for too long. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get into any sort of science.