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Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s) 
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Post Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s)
The time has come to vote on our May & June 2004 book selection!


As always PLEASE DO NOT VOTE if you don't plan to read and participate on the message boards or at least in the chat room. We are a book discussion community and these poll are restricted to active members that actually read/discuss our book selections. Please respect this.

Also, it is VERY important that EVERYONE that does cast a vote either sends me an email telling me what book they selected, OR posts their choice right in this thread. You MUST do one of the two to have your vote count.

You can email me at chris@booktalk.org - be sure to include your BookTalk name so I know who you are. Thank you!

We have 3 choices in this poll. Please think hard about what book will be the most educational, entertaining, and worthy of discussion. No matter which book wins we will be asking either the author, or a representative of the author, to be our guest in the BookTalk chat room.




Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space - by Carl Sagan

From Publishers Weekly

In a tour of our solar system, galaxy and beyond, Cornell astronomer Sagan meshes a history of astronomical discovery, a cogent brief for space exploration and an overview of life-from its origins in the oceans to humanity's first emergence to a projected future where humans "terraform" and settle other planets and asteroids, Earth having long been swallowed by the sun. Maintaining that such relocation is inevitable, the author further argues that planetary science is of practical utility, fostering an interdisciplinary approach to looming environmental catastrophes such as "nuclear winter" (lethal cooling of Earth after a nuclear war, a widely accepted prediction first calculated by Sagan in 1982). His exploration of our place in the universe is illustrated with photographs, relief maps and paintings, including high-resolution images made by Voyager 1 and 2, as well as photos taken by the Galileo spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope and satellites orbiting Earth, which show our planet as a pale blue dot. A worthy sequel to Sagan's Cosmos.




The Fabric of the Cosmos : Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality - by Brian Greene

Amazon.com

As a boy, Brian Greene read Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus and was transformed. Camus, in Greene's paraphrase, insisted that the hero triumphs "by relinquishing everything beyond immediate experience." After wrestling with this idea, however, Greene rejected Camus and realized that his true idols were physicists; scientists who struggled "to assess life and to experience the universe at all possible levels, not just those that happened to be accessible to our frail human senses." His driving question in The Fabric of the Cosmos, then, is fundamental: "What is reality?" Over sixteen chapters, he traces the evolving human understanding of the substrate of the universe, from classical physics to ten-dimensional M-Theory.
Assuming an audience of non-specialists, Greene has set himself a daunting task: to explain non-intuitive, mathematical concepts like String Theory, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and Inflationary Cosmology with analogies drawn from common experience. For the most part, he succeeds. His language reflects a deep passion for science and a gift for translating concepts into poetic images. When explaining, for example, the inability to see the higher dimensions inherent in string theory, Greene writes: "We don't see them because of the way we see...like an ant walking along a lily pad...we could be floating within a grand, expansive, higher-dimensional space."

For Greene, Rhodes Scholar and professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, speculative science is not always as thorough and successful. His discussion of teleportation, for example, introduces and then quickly tables a valuable philosophical probing of identity. The paradoxes of time travel, however, are treated with greater depth, and his vision of life in a three-brane universe is compelling and--to use his description for quantum reality--"weird."

In the final pages Greene turns from science fiction back to the fringes of science fact, and he returns with rigor to frame discoveries likely to be made in the coming decades. "We are, most definitely, still wandering in the jungle," he concludes. Thanks to Greene, though, some of the underbrush has been cleared. --Patrick O'Kelley





The Future of Life - by Edward O. Wilson

From Publishers Weekly

Legendary Harvard biologist Wilson (On Human Nature; The Ants; etc.) founded sociobiology, the controversial branch of evolutionary biology, and won the Pulitzer Prize twice. This volume, his manifesto to the public at large, is a meditation on the splendor of our biosphere and the dangers we pose to it. In graceful, expressive and vigorous prose, Wilson argues that the challenge of the new century will be "to raise the poor to a decent standard of living worldwide while preserving as much of the rest of life as possible." For as America consumes and the Third World tries to keep up, we lose biological diversity at an alarming rate. But the "trajectory" of species loss depends on human choice. If current levels of consumption continue, half the planet's remaining species will be gone by mid-century. Wilson argues that the "great dilemma of environmental reasoning" stems from the conflict between environmentalism and economics, between long-term and short-term values. Conservation, he writes, is necessary for our long-term health and prosperity. Loss of biodiversity translates into economic losses to agriculture, medicine and the biotech industries. But the "bottleneck" of overpopulation and over consumption can be safely navigated: adequate resources exist, and in the end, success or failure depends upon an ethical decision. Global conservation will succeed or fail depending on the cooperation between government, science and the private sector, and on the interplay of biology, economics and diplomacy. "A civilization able to envision God and to embark on the colonization of space," Wilson concludes, "will surely find the way to save the integrity of this planet and the magnificent life it harbors."


Results (total votes = 13):
Pale Blue Dot - by Carl Sagan 8 / 61.5%  
The Fabric of the Cosmos - by Brian Greene 1 / 7.7%  
The Future of Life - by Edward O. Wilson 4 / 30.8%  

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them"



Mon Apr 12, 2004 9:14 pm
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Post Re: Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s)

This was really tough...I would be equally excited to read Pale Blue Dot and The Future of Life (and probably the other one if I took pains to look into it, but I thought that'd be counterproductive in making a forced choice :p )

So I chose Pale Blue Dot. And not just to placate Zach...really....

Nicole




Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:49 pm
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BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

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Post Re: Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s)
Hey! How was the convention? You should create a thread on the Roundtable forum and tell us about it. :)

Chris

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Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:03 am
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Post Re: Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s)
I voted for "The Pale Blue Dot" There is an extract from it somewhere on one of the Booktalk forums (don't ask me where) and it is some of the best writing I've read in a long time.

I would like to read Wilson; I haven't read any of his books ( :x shame on me) and I know I should, but I would rather have read "Concillience" or "Sociobiology".

Edited by: PeterDF at: 4/13/04 11:10 am



Tue Apr 13, 2004 10:10 am
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Post Re: Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s)
The Future of Life - by Edward O. Wilson

How long do I have to round up enough votes?




Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:48 am


Post Re: Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s)
Chris,

The convention was pretty good :) I'll try to make a post about it in the next day or two.

Hmm I guess this isn't so relevant to this thread, is it? :lol




Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:48 am
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BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

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Post Re: Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s)
Hestiasmissives

Check out the Calendar page to see how long the poll will be up. I usually show the poll duration on there. But...you have till Monday the 19th.

Chris

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them"



Tue Apr 13, 2004 1:26 pm
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Post Re: Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s)
Peter

Pale Blue Dot is an incredible book, and if it wins we'll be asking Carl Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, to join us for a chat. I'm just not sure what book I want to read the most, as all 3 look incredible. I'm going to have to pray on this. ;)

Chris

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Tue Apr 13, 2004 1:28 pm
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Post Re: Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s)
I voted for Pale Blue Dot, but if it wins, I hope we see EO Wilson on next time's poll.

I'll probably start reading How we believe soon, too...




Tue Apr 13, 2004 9:08 pm
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Post Re: Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s)
Zach

Quote:
I'll probably start reading How we believe soon, too...
We're almost done with it at this point! It's a rather quick read compared to many of our past selections, so you shouldn't have a problem getting through it in the next few remaining weeks.

Chris

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them"



Wed Apr 14, 2004 1:27 am
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Post Re: Official Poll - May/June 2004 Book of the Month(s)
I voted for Pale Blue Dot.

(I also put another hold on How We Believe so I can get it back from the person who got it back from me. :rollin )




Wed Apr 14, 2004 1:07 pm
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