Category Archives: blog

Read the book — What are the Chances by Barbara Blatchley

It took me a while to finish the book, but I am glad that I happened upon it (by random chance?) at the local public library. I think I might buy this book for my dad, who has given himself an unofficial middle name of “Lucky”.

Overall, I found the topic fascinating. The author covered the topic from a neurological perspective, since she wanted to figure out what humans (and other animals) think are lucky events or unlucky events. She delved into determining what areas of the brain think about luck, and how that affects our behavior. In general, if humans paid more attention to their environment, they could make better predictions about what will happen in the future. By making better predictions, those people may feel luckier than those who do not pay as much attention to their environment. Thus, some might see luckiness as a learned skill.

A section on page 188 does a good job or providing a summary. I have bulletized some of the text in a paragraph.

  • There is nothing wrong with believing in luck.
  • Believing in and counting on luck can give you a feeling of control that you would otherwise be without.
  • Feeling in control can lead to “better performance, more success, and more favorable outcomes.”
  • It may lead to a stronger belief in luck the next time you are in a jam.
  • “Nothing succeeds like success.”
  • We have a strong tendency to repeat what has worked in the past.

While it is a little bit academic, the average person can just ignore the occasional scholarly references, but some people will enjoy digging deeper into the subject.

Small review of the book Ms. Adventure by Jess Phoenix

The full title of the book is Ms. Adventure: My Wild Explorations in Science, Lava, and Life.

She really did have some wild explorations. She does a great job of writing stories and weaving in pertinent details. I just wish she didn’t go to the state of Sinaloa in Mexico when she did. She tracked down a lost rock hammer by following a drug cartel vehicle to retrieve the item when it was probably extremely dangerous to do so.

She had some great adventures in Death Valley, at the volcanoes of Hawaii, a submerged volcano in the ocean near Hawaii, in Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador. This review at Amazon does a better job than I am doing right now.

I do wish she would have written more about her run for a House of Representative seat. Maybe she didn’t write about that because that didn’t have much action, and it didn’t work out for her.

I know several people who would enjoy this book, and I can’t recommend it enough if you enjoy travel and adventure books.

Short review of the book, The Discovery of the Universe, by Carolyn Collins Peterson

I was able to see a presentation by Dr. Peterson when she spoke at a meeting of the Denver Astronomical Club, November 2020. Since her book is not in any Colorado libraries, I ordered it for myself.

I found the book to be a great source of information concerning observatories all over the world. She provides a lot of information about the instruments and history of how and why they were constructed, what sorts of things the instruments were designed to observe, how much data they are gathering or plan to gather, and more.

I liked the chapter 7 on Observatories of the Future. It was a little more readable than the other chapters. As a Denver person, I am glad that she mentioned two DU observatories. They were historic Chamberlin Observatory on page 107 and the Meyer-Womble Observatory on page 213. She misspelled Chamberlin as Chamberlain.

She did have several other typos, such as confusing Purdue University using the word Perdue instead. I also feel that the book really could have used an index. For example, if I wanted to see what sections of the book covered observatories in Chile, I would have to search the whole book. If it had an index, I would be able to see what pages covered the large number of observatories in Chile.

Overall, I really liked the book. Now I may have to find some of the other books that she has written.

Two mini book reviews on comets, asteroids, and astrophysics

I’ve been reading a lot more books than usual this year, for some reason. I don’t read a lot, so it has been nice to get back into reading more books.

Catching Stardust: Comets, Asteroids and the Birth of the Solar System was really good. I really liked chapter 8 on the Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. I find it fascinating how the little Philae lander bounced around the comet before coming to rest in a low section. It was still able to do good and unique science on the way there.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry was written by Neil deGrasse Tyson back in 2017. I had been meaning to read it for a while, and it was a good quick read. My favorite chapter was the last one on the Cosmic Perspective. I liked this line:

The cosmic perspective opens our eyes to the universe, not as a benevolent cradle designed to nurture life but as a cold, lonely, hazardous place, forcing us to reassess the value of all humans to one another. (Page 206.)

History of the Science Library Domain

From 2001 till at least December 22, 2009, I had the domain set up in my personal space at the University of Denver as a URL redirect to:

Because of the way that DU redid personal website links (around 2006 or 2007), the internal links no longer work, so these are the internal pages at:

I also saved the content to the Archive at various times.

Then in 2009, I learned that I could have Tumblr host it as a blog, and I could have the URL redirect there instead of redirecting to my personal webspace at the U of Denver. But, Tumblr had a less than stellar reputation in the blogging world.

So, in November 2020, I moved ownership of the domain from Network Solutions to Reclaim Hosting. This is where you see the website now. I hope I can keep it here for more than another 10+ years.