Books by Charlene W. Billings

Released: Aug. 1, 1995

In the Science Sourcebooks series, Billings (Pesticides, 1993, etc.) meets the ``grand challenge'' of writing about the workings of supercomputers, the fastest, most powerful and complicated computers in the world. This is an admirable translation of incredibly complex technical information for young readers. Although slow-going for novices, Billings's explanations about the development of supercomputers, the mechanics of processing, and the structures of such systems make sense of the overwhelming world of computer science. The book's second half is by far the more tantalizing, dealing with how supercomputers will transform our lives in the years to come. The story of leading-edge researchers, and the five supercomputing centers in the US that support efforts to solve so- called grand-challenge scientific problems, makes for awe-inspiring reading. The only minor quibble is the organization; with so few books on this topic for any age group, Billings may be forgiven for not selling the sizzle (the applications of supercomputing) before the steak (the nuts and bolts of the hardware). A thoroughly researched, comprehensive overview of an incredible new world. (b&w photos, diagrams, index, not seen) (Nonfiction. 11+) Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1993

In the ``Issues in Focus'' series, Billings describes the origins and uses of pesticides; problems resulting from their residues; national and international regulatory agencies; and suggestions for a safer future. The fact that there are five national agencies and four international organizations charged with protecting the food supply is a measure of how complicated this topic is. The presentation here is also cluttered with undigested facts and minutia, making it even more difficult to sort out the more important ideas and concepts—included, for instance, are a table from the 1990 New England Apple Spray Guide (with average temperatures and hours of wet foliage necessary for apple scab leaf infection) and a list of the eight states from which contaminated milk samples were recalled due to a 1986 heptachlor contamination. Chapter notes, containing many references to professional journals, are also unfootnoted. A title on an important issue, then, that ends up out of focus. List of abbreviations; index. Photos not seen. (Nonfiction. 12+) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1991

Once over lightly: the frantic race to discover materials that exhibit superconductivity at higher and higher temperatures; today's attempt to make practical superconducting machines and circuits. Slightly marred by minor but irritating typos and arithmetic mistakes, and by jumping from topic to topic with little explication, but useful nonetheless. Many attractive, informative photos; index. (Nonfiction. 9+) Read full book review >