X Stands for Unknown

X Stands for Unknown

3.93 (88 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 219 pages
  • 137.16 x 215.9 x 25.4mm | 408.23g
  • HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 4figs.
  • 0246120746
  • 9780246120748

Review Text

Another collection of columns from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction: 17 pieces, 1982-83 - in the usual amiable, faintly soporific Asimov mold. His first topic is electromagnetic radiation - from Newton's discovery of the visible spectrum, through Maxwell's field equations, to cosmic rays (which are actually particles, not radiation). Next: silicon, an element closely related to carbon, and why there are no silicon lifeforms (the main reason is that silicon compounds are insoluble in water) - although, Asimov notes, computers based on silicon chips may one day challenge this assumption. In the section on astronomy: Halley's comet, due to reappear in 1986, and its historical reputation for foretelling dire events; the idea of the geostationary orbit, invented by Arthur C. Clarke; novas and supernovas; the slow realization, over the last few centuries, that Earth is not the center of the universe or, indeed, of any cosmic importance at all. Also on the agenda: the Fibonacci numerical series and the "golden section" of the ancients; Biblical cosmology; an examination of irrationality-in-general, and irrationality in science. Mildly informative, rather complacent, altogether bland: an average outing overall. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Rating details

88 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 30% (26)
4 39% (34)
3 27% (24)
2 5% (4)
1 0% (0)
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