Houston Book Club - http://www.HoustonBookClub.com.
June, 2004 book club selection. Selected by Rashid S.
Scientist Challenges the Established Orthodoxy of Light
The first half of the book
is interesting enough, and the author attempts to explain
scientific phenomena related to the speed of light in easy-to-understand
terms. Such material is found in many magazines. I found these
comprehensible, and gained new appreciation for the issues
However, the second half is
not as satisfying or relevant to the topic. His references
to his personal life and feelings are tiresome after a while,
and I found the gratuitous vulgarity with which the final
chapters are peppered to be evidence of a sophomoric mindset.
Still, I suppose it's no worse than US Vice President Dick
Cheney's rhetoric in the Senate.
I did not find that the photos
of his friends, including his girlfriend, added anything of
value. To the world-at-large, few things are of as little
interest as the politics and intrigue intrinsic in just about
In short, while the first
half is of some interest, the author's writing reveals a pompous
and vulgar nature. I was a little annoyed that he frequently
compares himself to Albert Einstein, though he criticizes
him with every reference. This is consistent with his romantic
self-view as young innovator vs. stodgy oldsters.
The book was worth reading
for me, as I had very little familiarity with the Theory of
Relativity, much less VSL, so I am glad I was exposed to at
least a cursory treatment, but would have liked a different
approach to the writing, i.e. a different author, such as
Professor Stephen Hawking.
I particularly enjoyed this
writes ". . . we do not notice energy, but only variations
"In a popular
science account of [the concept that 1 gram of matter has
potential energy equivalent energy to 20,000 kg of TNT], Einstein
wrote "consider a phenomenally rich man who never parts
from his money. He lives modestly, and goes around spending
only small sums. Thus no one knows of his large fortune because
only variations in his wealth are perceptible to the
world. The large energy associated with the mass of objects
is very similar."
In short, the first half of
the book is as interesting as an article in Popular Science,
though the second half can safely be used in better ways (such
as to line the proverbial parakeet's cage).