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TRESPASSING ON EINSTEIN'S LAWN

A FATHER, A DAUGHTER, THE MEANING OF NOTHING, AND THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING

Beautifully written and hugely entertaining, this book is a heartfelt introduction to the many mind-bending theories in...

Part science writing and part memoir, this adventurous fact-finding romp takes readers across the landscape of ideas about the universe, calling on the expertise of the biggest names in science—and also the author's lifelong partner in her pursuit of the meaning of everything: her father.

Gefter, an MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow and founding editor of CultureLab at New Scientist, is a crafty storyteller and journalist; she describes how she jump-started her career by crashing physics conferences and faking her way into interviews with world-famous physicists. Fueled by an insatiable curiosity about how the universe could be at once governed by the laws of cosmology (which define large-scale properties of the universe) and also by the laws of quantum mechanics (which define the behavior of microscopic particles), the author embarked on a scientific scavenger hunt while chasing leads across time and space. Gefter makes even the most esoteric concepts—and there are a lot of them in this book—lucid and approachable. From string theory to the multiverse to the holographic principle, the author's exuberance for physics and the possibility that cutting-edge theories may lead to a new understanding of "reality" is evident in her passionate prose. Underlying the joys of scientific pursuit is the author's formative relationship with her father, who first asked the big question—"How would you define nothing?"—that inspired her yearslong quest to define how "nothing" and "everything" can be explained by the forces that govern the universe. What she discovered about the new frontier of quantum cosmology and the importance of the role of the individual observer is astonishing and awesome, and Gefter's book is a useful presentation of this thrilling ontological shift for a general audience.

Beautifully written and hugely entertaining, this book is a heartfelt introduction to the many mind-bending theories in contemporary physics.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53143-8

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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