Infinitesimal, Consider Phlebas, Longitude, and What If? - Book Club #1 | Summary and Q&A

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April 6, 2016
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Simon Clark
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Infinitesimal, Consider Phlebas, Longitude, and What If? - Book Club #1

TL;DR

Simon shares his thoughts on several books, including "Infantes" by Amir Alexander, "Consider Phlebas" by Iain Banks, "What If" by Randall Monroe, and "Longitude" by Dava Sobel.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the central theme of "Infantes"?

While the book focuses on the mathematical concept of breaking curves into straight lines, it explores the historical and long-lasting cultural impacts of authoritarianism in Italy and England.

Q: How does "Consider Phlebas" differ from typical sci-fi novels?

Unlike many sci-fi stories that feature protagonists who impact the overarching situation, this book focuses on personal interactions and contrasts between a communist utopia and a warlike theocracy, providing a fresh perspective.

Q: What makes "What If" a valuable read for scientists or aspiring scientists?

"What If" offers a collection of problem-solving approaches that are highly relevant to science interviews. It showcases the process of tackling questions and provides a fun and engaging read for science enthusiasts.

Q: What is the main focus of "Longitude"?

"Longitude" explores the invention of maritime clocks and how they revolutionized navigation by enabling sailors to accurately determine their east and west positions, preventing frequent accidents at sea.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • "Infantes" by Amir Alexander explores the historical and cultural impacts of the mathematical concept of breaking curves into infinitely small straight lines, highlighting the differences in how Italy and England responded to this idea.

  • "Consider Phlebas" by Iain Banks is the first book in the Culture series and offers a dense and vividly imaginative hard sci-fi world filled with personal interactions and contrasting ideologies.

  • "What If" by Randall Monroe is a collection of fascinating and fun responses to scientific questions, making it a great resource for problem-solving and preparation for science interviews.

  • "Longitude" by Dava Sobel delves into the invention of maritime clocks, which helped sailors determine longitude and avoid disasters at sea, providing an interesting and light read.

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