The Science of Star Wars
Star Wars is full of amazing sights and mindblowing ideas. From desert planets under twin suns to lightsabers that can cut through seemingly anything, from protocol droids and moon-sized space stations to beings that can freeze blaster bolts in place and influence others with their mind, it’s a rich and fascinating universe. But how does the science work in the Star Wars universe, and how much of it can we apply to real-world advancements?
The Science of Star Wars tackles both of these ideas, exploring the length and breadth of Star Wars — from alien life to starship tech and more — explaining how physics, chemistry, and other scientific fields as we understand them fit the wonders we see on the big screen.
Brake and Chase do an admirable job of keeping the whimsy alive while confessing the unlikelihood of lightsabers and tractor beams and yet bringing a new appreciation to things like midi-chlorians, the much-maligned prequel explanation for the Force, which they liken to mitochondria in the cell.
If you’ve ever wondered how life could arise on Tatooine or how likely it is that there’s a cantina full of aliens somewhere in our galaxy, The Science of Star Wars is for you.
Mark Brake and Jon Chase
The Science of Shame: And Its Treatment
This is an intriguing and thought-provoking little book about the little voice in our heads that whispers (or shouts) that we are just not good enough _ the voice of shame. Shame, according to the author, is different from guilt, in that guilt is a feeling of wrongness about something one has done whereas shame feels that way about who one intrinsically is. Shame begins in infancy, even pre-verbally, when some trauma or abuse from a trusted caregiver leads a child to feel that they are not good enough to have the love and care they require but lack. However, compassion-based therapy, which helps explore patients’ childhood trauma, can bring healing and wholeness.
There is much to ponder in this book. Readers will appreciate the knowledgeable but accessible writing style that avoids jargon while staying firmly rooted in good science. It is easy to understand, but relatively little is said about the treatment aspect. This is understandable, as the author’s point is to convince a therapist audience that shame is not treatable through common behavioral modification therapies, but for lay readers it leaves one feeling rather hopeless that anyone can escape shame’s irrational but controlling mandates.
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America: Second Edition
This book is an excellent guide to birding for both experienced and novice birdwatchers. To help those just beginning this fascinating hobby, an extensive key to how to use the book, as well as tips for identifying birds and how to start, is included, as well as diagrams of the different feather groups; there is also a ruler printed into the front of the book for helping with sizing. This volume covers the birds west of the Rocky Mountains, in extensive and comprehensive detail. The bulk and beauty of the book is, of course, the pictures and commentary that identify the birds. These are grouped according to families and show birds of different ages, in flight and standing, their range, a description of their call(s), and other helpful identifying information. The pictures are beautiful and well-arranged, ordered so you can easily find the type of bird you think you have seen and make a more accurate identification, from songbirds and shorebirds to hawks and hummingbirds. Pocket-sized and in durable soft-cover, with glossy, thick, and beautifully printed pages, it is perfect companion for your bird-watching adventures.
Sex, Love and DNA: What Molecular Biology Teaches Us About Being Human
Sex, Love and DNA is NOT is a textbook on molecular biology. Certainly beyond a molecular biology book for dummies (and there actually is one with that title), Schattner’s scientific manuscript, the first he’s written for nonscientists, is directed toward those who not only want to learn the most recent advances in genetic research, but more importantly to develop a healthy understanding about its complexities.
Scientist, educator, and seasoned writer Peter Schattner takes a difficult topic and translates it into everyday language. Logically, the place to begin is to understand the essential components of molecular biology – proteins and DNA. Yet Schattner’s approach to “going over the basics” is contrary to what one may expect. For instance, Schattner opens with a question: can a protein save you from AIDS? To best answer that question, Schattner uses stories and anecdotes and then breaks it down to mini lessons, so to speak (and in this case, proteins — “the most important building blocks of life”), which is followed by molecular studies. If fact, what makes his book so attention grabbing is Schattner’s fastidiousness to that question-story-research design and by always raising questions that have universal appeal.
Although Schattner divides his book into six parts, the sections each build upon one another “to tell a unified story” about the aspects of being human. Schattner’s initial question about AIDS is, in a fictional sense, a clever narrative hook since it is not only a hot-topic issue, but it also leads itself into the area of genealogy, which offers the best answer to the question. The research that has been done on paternal and maternal analysis and DNA testing, for examples, is nothing less than fascinating. Amid the enlightenment, Schattner makes sure to raise awareness about another aspect of DNA testing regarding its moral and ethical ramifications, especially in the area of unborn children.
Schattner addresses a plethora of questions that range from memory, intelligence and various emotions to a whole list of diseases and the concept of longevity, as well as the environmental implications that may affect many of those topics. Particularly striking to the latest molecular research are topics on sexual orientation and gender. Schattner takes readers to a whole new level of scientific knowledge that goes beyond XY and XX chromosomes, the distinguishable male and female factors that many may remember from biology class. Studies consistently prove that gene variants within the chromosomes definitely produce feminine traits within men and masculine traits within women. While determinants of gender identity are still mystifying scientists, Schattner concludes that “although we may not yet understand the biological details of sexual orientation or gender dysphoria, biology has already taught us important lessons, and the most important is that people who are homosexual or bisexual or transsexual are in no way deviant or sick. Their challenges rarely stem from their intrinsic differences, but rather from the hostile attitudes and behavior they have been forced to face.”
Sex, Love and DNA is not only immensely absorbing and eye opening from one chapter to the next, but a tool that offers readers an opportunity to come face to face with facts that, if taken seriously, will lead to wholesome viewpoints toward the human race.
First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life
First Sight is not a cryptic title that connotes a spooky collection of all things psychic and paranormal. On the contrary, it reflects a title to a theory developed by Carpenter, which proposes that there is more normalcy to the psychic experience than one may expect. The reality is that the psychic experience, or psi, goes on all the time. Better defined as “the ability to affect physical events without touching them,” psi works through the unconscious processes and are actually our first sight – our first contact with the world, and where information is first gathered. Using the First Sight model that consists of two assertions about human nature and the structure of the mind, and the thirteen corollaries that explain those assertions, Carpenter presents to readers, as he states, “a revolutionary understanding of how each of us fits within the world and how we are put together within ourselves.”
Determined “to learn whether or not the stuff of parapsychology (psi) is real and if it is, how it works,” clinical psychologist and parapsychologist James C. Carpenter addresses a plethora of questions and draws from core findings of parapsychology and contemporary psychology research to get the necessary answers to back up his arguments. One key argument is that psi plays an active role in our memory, our perception, our motivation, and our creativity. To better understand how psi works, Carpenter explains that psi is divided into two parts, psychokinesis (the expression of psi information) and extrasensory perception (ESP, or the impression of psi information). Carpenter gives a practical application of that description through a simple example of a visual perception, run backward in sequence, of how psi works within every experience:
D. I see X (an attributed understanding of an experience), and I think about it.
C. Just prior to that, I experience a collection of sensations that I attempt to construe.
B. Just prior to that, sensations register subliminally.
A. Just prior to that, an extrasensory anticipation of the event (and/or a psychokinetic elicitation of the event) initiates the perceptual process.
While there is a major assumption held universally by parapsychologists, as well as critics, that “psi is a matter of unusual conscious experiences (such as precognition, clairvoyance, and telepathy),” Carpenter is careful to point out that the First Sight model specifically spells out that psi events are NOT about conscious and anomalous experiences, nor is psi a set of abilities or traits (like many psychics will claim). But rather its focus is on unconscious experiences. This is not to say that those conscious experiences are invalid. Rather people, as Carpenter states, ” who are prone to having many psychic experiences and who have some degree of control over their production would be expected to have a general intention to gain knowledge…and this intention should be relatively congruent at both a conscious and unconscious level and be consistent over time.”
Scientifically minded readers will quickly gravitate to First Sight. Carpenter’s thorough and technical analysis on a paradoxical topic sheds refreshing enlightenment not only in the field of parapsychology, but also a clearer understanding of the psychic experience in our daily lives.
The Ark’s Cargo: For the Love of Animals
Ark’s Cargo is a very in-depth and dear portrayal of a veterinarian’s route in achieving the peak of his animal dreams. This memoir and quasi travelogue is full of professional anecdotes and personal bonding experiences coupled with household responsibility and self-realization. Dr. Buisch pays extremely close attention to spirituality and expresses again and again his thankfulness to God because “you can be assured that amazing things can and will be accomplished” as such is the case of his heartwarming book and noble cause. Readers are privy to an array of intimate moments with the author, such as his education pathways, jobs post-veterinary school, unusual but fascinating career trainings henceforward, his marriage proposal and wedding, and ultimately, his assortment of global work assignments (some including his family unit and other successes shared alone).
Filled with zealous travel information and landmark history, Ark’s Cargo is rich with industry details, for example, about livestock, disease eradication programs, semen collection and quarantine stations, testing and health inspections, laboratory protocols and support, and more. We even explore life on a cargo ship as a fellow crew member escorting cattle across the North Atlantic, which renders the “scene from the biblical story of the flood that came shortly after Noah finished the building of his ark” and thus, marks the vast significance and weight of this ambitious title and the meaningful sequence of events. Most certainly a charming snapshot of the fruition of a creature-loving, fun-loving, adventure-seeking and policy-driven individual with a memorable journey to match, Dr. Buisch has the grasp of what it takes to measure and optimize performance in such a demanding and hands-on field, especially cultivating the personality and emotional response to contest with it.
Though Buisch remains modest and casual in his dialogue, with a great balance of technical language and the easy-to-read, he does not lose erudition for the sake of a showy culture. Ark’s Cargo is truly instructive and educational about veterinary passion and scientific task implementation, worship and duty, more so, the responsibility and exposure to “preserve the multitude of resources God has given us to enjoy” by honoring the rescue and recovery of animal inhabitants in its different milieus.