A refreshing revision of contemporary cosmology that’s argued with careful precision and a notable measure of theoretical...




A challenge to the traditional theoretical account of the formation of the solar system. 

Seaver (The Birth of the Earth, 2014, etc.) argues that, despite its widespread acceptance, the standard theory of the development of the earth, sun, and galaxy is full of problems. It begins with a nebula, an “enormous cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other ionized gases,” and posits that its denser areas pull more matter into it as a function of “gravitational collapse.” However, this “gravitational instability,” Seaver contends, is unlikely to issue from cosmic dust and gas, or to produce the necessary density for the consolidation of matter that would lead to the birth of a planet. Instead, Seaver proposes “Mass Vortex Theory,” a new and impressively original way to conceptualize the emergence of planets and stars, and, by extension, the galaxy as a whole. The book also offers a variant interpretation of the initial physical and atmospheric conditions of Earth. The author’s hypothesis begins with a nebula, as well, but with a portion of it filled with metallic atoms—a "parent cloud" in which an "infinite-mass-density singularity" appears, which Seaver calls the "center singularity." This singularity, in turn, pulls mass toward it gravitationally, creating a vortex in which each protoplanet flows—until inertia displaces it from the vortex’s groove and it settles into its own orbit. As a result of the protoplanet’s spinning, an initial layer of heated condensation ultimately cools into a frozen ice shell around it—and this was the initial condition of the earth, according to the author.  With remarkable concision, Seaver rigorously presents an intriguing cosmological vision over the course of this book. However, it’s also rhetorically dense, and for uninitiated readers, its terminology will likely be intimidating. The author’s proposal offers a compellingly vast revision of the standard theory: Instead of the notion that "the sun is a single luminous sphere of plasma held together by its own gravity," for example, it substitutes "two current rings straddling a dense mass surrounding a singularity." Seaver also provocatively raises skeptical questions about the inadequacies of the conventional view and suggests empirical paths to verify the new one presented in these pages—for example, by making use of evidence of Jupiter’s ice shell. Overall, the presentation in this book is far too brief and quickly developed to be fully convincing. But Seaver freely, and without a hint of dogmatism, acknowledges the limitations to Mass Vortex theory—including its inability to conclusively demonstrate the existence of a center singularity, the initial nebula that began the process of planet and galaxy formation, or the pockets of metallic atoms within it. Moreover, the author articulately deals with the question of what counts as theory in the first place, given the dearth of verifiable information that we have about the genesis of planets and stars: “any theory of star system formation and planet formation requires an interpretation of evidence.” At the very least, however, Seaver has sufficiently demonstrated that this alternate interpretation warrants a hearing. 

A refreshing revision of contemporary cosmology that’s argued with careful precision and a notable measure of theoretical skepticism.

Pub Date: June 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9909550-2-3

Page Count: 186

Publisher: Kuhn & Seaver Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2019

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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