Recommended Books (for modern citizens)

  • I have only listed books which I have read and recommend in order to promote interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Why? I am very worried about the future of humanity.
    • On one hand, math and science grades in the west have been slipping for some time.
    • On the other hand, religion and religious extremism are on the rise which is one symptom of humanity's coming dark age
    • Many IQ charts (including these: one, two, three) show average IQ levels in Hong Kong and Singapore (score: 109) are a full eleven points ahead of the USA (score: 98). Remember that IQ tests are designed to a mean score of 100 but the USA is two points below that.
      • Notice that countries with high levels of religious extremism tend to have lower IQs while countries with the less emphasis on religion do better. This might be one reason why China is listed as the highest IQ (religion is not illegal in China but it is discouraged as a form of "magical thinking")
      • Religion is on the rise in North America where the "Christian right" masquerades as the "religious right". The religious zeitgeist has many parents buzzing about "home schooling" as well as replacing "secular public-schools" with "sectarian private-schools". This is great news if you want to produce a society of priests and ministers but will your children be able to pass college entrance exams? The truth of the matter is this: many religious Americans are ignorant of the fact that their Founding Fathers created the USA based on secular roots
      • Numerous high-tech multi-national companies located in Israel is one proof of the high IQ levels of people working there. So how is it that the average IQ of Israel so low (score: 95)?
  • The following book recommendations are presented in reverse-chronological order (I insert entries from the top into various sections as I read them)
  • Locate rare and out-of-print books: www.bookfinder.com
  • In 2018 I moved the content below from a single page into many smaller pages because Google continually pestered me about the single page content being too large for mobile browsers. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Three special science books by John Granville

Discovery of Motion - An Introduction to Natural Philosophy (2007) John Granville

Discovery of Motion science lover's "must have"  (533 pages)
link: https://www.amazon.com/Discovery-Motion-Introduction-Natural-Philosophy/dp/1934242985/

comments:

  • I have often lamented the passing of great explainers like Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan while wondering "where are their replacements?" John Granville is one such candidate and I find his writing style the correct mix of "meat and potatoes". Like Asimov, Granville includes a lot of supporting material and is not shy about publishing mathematical equations which you can skip over if you desire (but I suggest you do not)
  • Richard Feynman once said "really good books should always meant to be read twice". I feel that Discovery of Motion is such a book.
  • This book is sub-titled An Introduction to Natural Philosophy for good reason. The author begins by taking the reader from a speculative "natural philosophy" of a caveman to the actual "natural philosophy" of the early Greeks. He continues through the European Dark Ages bringing the reader to the present day where we use the word science rather than natural philosophy. If you have never been previously exposed to complete explanations for concepts like Zeno's Paradox then you will be in for a treat.
    • I had read Zeno's Paradox more than a half-dozen times before but those presentations now appear incomplete because I never got the point until now. In later chapters Granville employs Zeno to support the idea of limits (the on-ramp to calculus; don't worry, the math stays simple)
    • Your inner-nerd will soar while you read about Granville's modern experiment which repeats Galileo's work at Pisa (Granville only uses material which would have been available to Galileo with one notable exception: latex party balloons and paperclips)

Æther Drift (2015) John Granville (Ether Drift)

Discovery of Motion for serious consideration  (84 pages)
link: https://www.amazon.com/Aether-Drift-John-Granville/dp/1934242969/

comment: If you want to be intellectually stimulated for the tiny sum of $10 then buy this book. The only descriptive phrase which comes to mind is "very high signal-to-noise ratio". The "dialog" between Simplicio and JG are reminiscent of another great author

Nature hides her secrets in plain view (from the back cover)

This book is about a modern attempt to measure an æther drift. The tests were conducted between 2010 and 2013, but the preparatory work goes back to much farther than that. Your might not find it extraordinary that someone would repeat a classic old experiment, but you might well find the underlying reasons more than interesting ... and the results even astonishing.

In 1881, from April to August, A.A. Michelson conducted experiments to measure an æther drift relative to earth's motion in its orbit about the sun. To virtually everyone's amazement he found no first order drift. The existence of an aether was thought to be imperative to conduct light waves, and Michelson's results were simply beyond comprehension. There were other experiments, of course, all yielding the same results.

G.F. FitzGerald and H.A. Lorentz developed a theory that objects "shrank" when moving through the aether, but the explanation finally accepted (i.e. Einstein's Relativity theory) postulated the speed of light was the same regardless of the motion of any reference coordinates. Maintaining the principle of relative motion required time and space to become variables, and the classic function of an aether became incompatible ... and the aether was pronounced obsolete.

Be-that-as-it-may, this book reports an experiment that leaves little doubt an aether exists. Most astonishingly the theory is neither beyond comprehension nor even obscure. In fact it's obvious! ... and pretty nearly imperative. For more than a century this aether has been right before our eyes ... hidden in plain view. The thing we've all been missing is revealed in the Preface, and PART II of the book fills in the details.

Chapters:

  •  PART I - THE EXPERIMENT
    1. The Granville Interferometer 1
    2. Theoretical Expectations
    3. Data & Data Reduction
    4. Test Results
  • PART II - THE ÆTHER (or Aether, or Luminiferous Ether)
    1. Æther
    2. Photons 2
    3. Scientific Method I
    4. Scientific Method II

Subscripts:

  1. In order to repeat the Michelson-Morley experiment they built their own interferometer employing modern electronics:
    • an inexpensive Helium-Neon laser
    • a photo diode detector
    • a piezoelectric transducer behind one of the mirrors (modulated to minutely cycle the length of one light path)
    • a stepper motor to slowly rotate the platform
    • comment: my primary college education was as an Electronic Technologist so I found this part of the book "delightful"
  2. partial quote from page-51: Photons are electromagnetic waves as they occur at visible (i.e. light) wavelengths ...
        { skip a paragraph on antenna-length math from every RF engineer's handbook }
        At the frequencies of light (~5x1014 Hz) antennas shrink, of practical necessity, to atomic dimensions
        { more stuff is skipped over }
        ... the vibrating electron is a microscopic alternating current confined to atomic dimensions (i.e. the atom acts like an antenna) and the electromagnetic waves are generated according to Maxwell's equations.

comments:

  1. so the colloquial definition of photon could be redefined to mean "a packet of EM energy whose wavelength is less than the size of an atom"
    • therefore, longer-wavelength EM transmissions (Radio, TV, Wi-Fi) do not involve photons, per se (but perhaps this is a forest-versus-trees thing)
    • therefore, as soon as we use the word photon we are restricting the conversation to quantum mechanics (so the photon is only a quantum particle)
    • Einstein's 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect mentions photons only because Einstein is dealing with quantum mechanical effects (discrete wave packets)
  2. Food-for-thought:
    1. consider a ray of light moving through plain glass; forget about photons as waves for a moment and only think about them as particles; are they travelling between the atoms (captured then re-emitted) or is something else occurring?
    2. now consider a kilometer of multi-mode optical fiber (usually covered in an orange plastic sheath by the telecommunications industry). The telecommunications industry uses the word "mode" to mean "path" and these can be of different length (one path is straight down the middle while the longest path bounces off the reflective inside surface when the fiber is curved or coiled). Here, the signal is transmitted as a single digital pulse (square wave) but is received as a smeared out sign wave)
    3. now consider a kilometer of single-mode optical fiber (usually covered in a yellow plastic sheath by the telecommunications industry) where light never reaches the inside surface but is gently guided back to the middle due to a change in the incidence of refraction. One might suppose that the photons are moving between the atoms (captured then re-emitted), but a better theory (put forth in this book) is that atoms behave as antennas and the photons are guided along with almost zero loss

Concerning the Discovery of the Æther (2016) John Granville (Concerning the Discovery of the Ether)

Discovery of the Ether for serious consideration  (64 pages)

link: https://www.amazon.com/Concerning-Discovery-AEther-John-Granville/dp/193424290X/

This small book is dense with well written content supporting the author's hypothesis that the luminiferous aether is real. The author takes us on a brief excursion through European natural philosophy with stops at Descartes, Huygens, and Maxwell who also believed aether was real. The journey continues through Michelson and Morley, who's famous failed experiment proved that aether was not real (or at least could not be detected).

Chapters:

  1. The Æther Sea (or "Ether Sea")
  2. Gradient, Divergence & Curl (or Grad, Div and Curl)
  3. The Æther Mechanism (or "Ether Mechanism")
  4. Electrostatics
  5. Electromagnetism
  6. Inductance
  7. Electromagnetic Waves
  8. Matter & Mass?
comment: many people today throw around phrases like "space-time", "vacuum energy", "zero-point energy", "virtual particles", and "multiverse" never worrying about being labeled "crazy". By comparison, "a real ether" seems to be the least weird idea of all.

DSP (digital signal processing)

Understanding the FFT (1995/2000) Anders E. Zonst
Subtitled "A Tutorial on the Algorithm & Software for Laymen, Students, Technicians & Working Engineers"

Understanding the FFT highly recommended  for engineers (both software and electronic), hackers and nerds
  • Subtitled "A Tutorial on the Algorithm & Software for Laymen, Students, Technicians & Working Engineers", weighs in at 180 pages. I wish I would have owned a copy of this book ten years earlier because I would have saved considerable time and money.
  • quote from page 2: "for now we may say that this transform, in its discrete form, provides a mathematical tool of such power and scope that it can hardly be exceeded by any other development of applied mathematics in the twentieth century"
  • four chapters on DFT (Discreet Fourier Transform)
  • six chapters on FFT (Fast Fourier Transform)
  • ten appendices
  • demo programs written in PC-BASIC (a generic term for: MS-BASIC, GW-BASIC, BASICA, QuickBASIC, QBasic, etc.) are sprinkled throughout
    • modern hackers and nerds might wish to rewrite these BASIC programs in Python which allows for greater mathematical precision and range but without language implementation formalisms (think of Python as BASIC "take two"). Here are a couple of Python demos to get you started
  • see next book for demonstration software which you can copy onto your hard drive for direct execution by the MS-BASIC interpreter

Understanding FFT Applications (1997/2004) Anders E. Zonst
Subtitled "A Tutorial for Laymen, Students, Technicians, & Working Engineers"

Understanding FFT Applications highly recommended  for engineers (both software and electronic), hackers and nerds
  • This first edition of this book (1997) is subtitled "A Tutorial for Laymen, Students, Technicians, & Working Engineers", weighs in at 415 pages.
  • This second edition of this book (2004) is subtitled "A Tutorial for Students, Technicians, & Working Engineers", weighs in at 278 pages, and comes with a CD-ROM
Comment: I recently heard the following rumor about these two books: "someone had scanned them into PDFs then were selling copies online for $10". This might be one reason why you can buy these books for less than $10 each on Amazon when the back cover shows $29.95 and 34.95 respectively. Citrus Press (of Titusville, Florida) is owned an operated by a small group of retired engineers. Please help support them by purchasing legal copies from Citrus Press and/or Amazon
Supporting Software (both books)
  • All books contain example programs written BASIC so that Fourier concepts can be more easily demonstrated
  • Citrus Press (Titusville, Florida) has granted permission to me to freely redistribute their copyrighted BASIC source code.
    • floppy disk-1 (362k): CP-FFT-1.zip for Understanding the FFT (first edition)
    • floppy disk-2 (387k): CP-FFT-2.zip for Understanding FFT Applications (first edition)
    • CD-ROM folder-1 (928k): FFT2DSK.zip for Understanding the FFT (second edition)
    • CD-ROM folder-2 (1.2m): APS2DSK.zip for Understanding FFT Applications (second edition)
  • Mostly free, Vanilla (non GUI) BASIC interpreters for your FFT experiments:
    • GW-BASIC 3.23 (Microsoft editor/interpreter)
    • QBASIC 1.1 (Microsoft BASIC editor/interpreter)
    • QBASIC 4.5 (Microsoft BASIC editor/interpreter)
    • QuickBASIC 7.1 (Microsoft BASIC editor/interpreter/compiler)
  • Caveats:
    • the BASIC interpreters listed above are 16-bit programs which continue to work with 32-bit operating systems including Windows-7.
    • They can be made to work on 64-bit operating systems like Windows-10 by various methods. Here are three of many:
      1. download DOS Box: https://www.dosbox.com
        steps:
        • w10: create folder on the C drive (eg. C:\HACK)
        • w10: copy QBASIC.EXE and QBASIC.HLP to C:\HACK
        • start: DOSBox-0.74-3
        • type: mount C:\HACK
        • type: c:
        • type: QBASIC
      2. download QB64 from here http://qb64.org then recompile the author's source code
      3. creating a virtual machine (click here to see how)
        • You will need to go this route if you intend to run precompiled executables via BRUN45.EXE

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Neil Rieck
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.