A commendable exploration of the technology and ideas supporting our wireless world.

An Illustrated Guide to Mobile Technology

A comprehensive history of mobile technology.

It’s easy to take mobile technology for granted given how seamlessly it is woven into modern life. As first-time author Date explains, wireless communication has gone from “ubiquity to invisibility.” In this timely book, Date pulls back the curtain on the history of mobile innovation and lays bare its complex evolution. While the book is thematically centered on the hand-held communicative device, the investigation is historically far-reaching, beginning in the 19th century with considerably cruder gadgets that presaged the wireless world. Date walks the reader through these earlier, more primitive iterations—Alexander Graham Bell’s photophone, radio, and the whole cosmos of “hub-and-spoke networks”—until he finally gets to the iPhone, “the logical culmination of over 200 years of discovery and innovation in mobile telephony.” The wide-ranging study covers not only the technology, but its commercial applications, so readers will learn a lot about the way wireless technology has situated itself in various industries, including health care, finance, and the military. Readers also encounter surprisingly actionable information regarding what makes an app successful as well as an extended discussion of “Time Division Duplexing,” which “gets both parties in a conversation to send and receive on the same carrier frequency channel.” Given the book’s forays into technical aspects, its prose is remarkably clear. Along the way, the book is spangled with photographs of innovators and old-school technology—some of it comically clunky—as well as accessible graphics that help explain complex technical concepts. The investigation also explores the very nature of innovation itself and its part in “the desire of human beings to freely communicate over long distances without being tethered to wires and cables.” In fact, one wishes the author invested a bit more in this subject and the more expansive societal implications of this new technology. Still, this effort remains an impressively panoramic account and a thoughtful one at that.

A commendable exploration of the technology and ideas supporting our wireless world.

Pub Date: March 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5084-9612-0

Page Count: 364

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A quirky wonder of a book.



A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...


Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

Did you like this book?