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QUANTUM SUPREMACY

HOW THE QUANTUM COMPUTER REVOLUTION WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING

An informative and highly entertaining read about the computing revolution already underway.

A renowned physicist explains the mind-blowing potential of quantum computing.

Translating complicated scientific concepts into language that lay readers can understand is an art. Kaku, a professor of physics at the City University of New York, is one of the best practitioners. He has written numerous books on advanced science, technology, and mathematics, including Parallel Worlds, Physics of the Future, and The God Equation. In his latest, the author delves into the emerging field of quantum computing, which certainly could “change everything.” As he writes, “quantum computers can tackle problems that digital computers can never solve, even with an infinite amount of time.” The key is that quantum computers utilize atoms arranged in precise patterns to vibrate in unison instead of using chips or transistors. Kaku examines the underlying physics of quantum mechanics, encountering a variety of colorful figures and scientific disputes along the way. Integrating these principles into functional computer systems was enormously difficult, but the project eventually came together. In the past few years, tech companies have poured billions of dollars into research and development. The first generation of quantum computers is here, and one of the leading companies, IBM, even provides public access through the internet. At present, quantum computers require massive cooling systems and superstable environments, but further research might address these problems to make them more widely available. Kaku examines how quantum computing could profoundly affect biotechnology, medicine, energy, food production, and environmental modelling—virtually every aspect of human activity. One problem, however, is that quantum computing could render every computer security measure effectively obsolete. The author pauses occasionally to provide summaries, which is important given the inherent complexity of the subject. As always, Kaku’s enthusiasm is contagious, and this latest book is an important guide to a crucial part of the tech future.

An informative and highly entertaining read about the computing revolution already underway.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780385548366

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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THE BACKYARD BIRD CHRONICLES

An ebullient nature lover’s paean to birds.

A charming bird journey with the bestselling author.

In his introduction to Tan’s “nature journal,” David Allen Sibley, the acclaimed ornithologist, nails the spirit of this book: a “collection of delightfully quirky, thoughtful, and personal observations of birds in sketches and words.” For years, Tan has looked out on her California backyard “paradise”—oaks, periwinkle vines, birch, Japanese maple, fuchsia shrubs—observing more than 60 species of birds, and she fashions her findings into delightful and approachable journal excerpts, accompanied by her gorgeous color sketches. As the entries—“a record of my life”—move along, the author becomes more adept at identifying and capturing them with words and pencils. Her first entry is September 16, 2017: Shortly after putting up hummingbird feeders, one of the tiny, delicate creatures landed on her hand and fed. “We have a relationship,” she writes. “I am in love.” By August 2018, her backyard “has become a menagerie of fledglings…all learning to fly.” Day by day, she has continued to learn more about the birds, their activities, and how she should relate to them; she also admits mistakes when they occur. In December 2018, she was excited to observe a Townsend’s Warbler—“Omigod! It’s looking at me. Displeased expression.” Battling pesky squirrels, Tan deployed Hot Pepper Suet to keep them away, and she deterred crows by hanging a fake one upside down. The author also declared war on outdoor cats when she learned they kill more than 1 billion birds per year. In May 2019, she notes that she spends $250 per month on beetle larvae. In June 2019, she confesses “spending more hours a day staring at birds than writing. How can I not?” Her last entry, on December 15, 2022, celebrates when an eating bird pauses, “looks and acknowledges I am there.”

An ebullient nature lover’s paean to birds.

Pub Date: April 23, 2024

ISBN: 9780593536131

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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