Kategoriarkiv: Books

Cities In Flight – James Blish

I have read another book in the SF Masterworks series, this time Cities In Flight by James Blish. This is actually four books that was later published in one volume. Therefore the combined book is quite long, over 600 pages and it took me a long time to read this because I think that parts of it was actually quite boring. But I hate to give up on a book so eventually I finished it. And parts of it is also very good. In the story there are two important discoveries that drive the story, the invention of anti agathic drugs (such that you don’t age), and spindizzes (anti-gravity drive). The book title come from that they actually fit entire cities with spindizzes such that they can fly to other star systems. The four books spans thousands of years and perhaps that put me off a bit because at times it felt like the book started from scratch and the only thing linking the past from the present in the story was the developed technology. Perhaps it would feel different if was four separate books. The original four books was published between 1955 – 1962 and James Blish died in 1975.

I rate this book 5/10 even though parts of it are much better than so.

My previous reads in this series are mentioned here.

Science fiction books

In periods I think it’s nice to read, and usually the past years I have mostly read fact books, but currently I have picked up an interest for science fiction. In the last month I have read three books all belonging to the Science Fiction Masterworks series. Using that in the selection process makes it more likely to get something good.

I have read:

The forever war – by Joe Haldeman (1974)
I Am Legend – by Richard Matheson (1954)
Eon – by Greg Bear (1985)

I would say all of them are nice books, and they are quite different.

The forever war – follows one man and the girl he loves through the wars ranging from the end of the 1990’s and many hundreds of years into the future (due to time dilation), and how this affects him. This novel was written in 1974 during the Vietnam war in which the author Joe Haldeman had been badly wounded. But that connection is not too obvious in the book.

I Am Legend – I just discovered that this book has turned into a film that had a premiere in December 2007. I did not know that until today when I just finished the book. It’s written in 1954 and tells the story of a man in the future (1976) who is left possibly as the only immune person to a disease from which everyone else either dies or turns into beings with vampire like behavior. The book is not so much about the bloody vampire or zombies (for which this book was one of the works which many following zombie/vampire works has taken inspiration from, for example Romero’s films), but instead focuses quite a lot on how it is to be so incredibly lonely. I think this was a good book, I have a feeling the movie is quite different, but I should probably watch now when I know it exists. As a side note the 2007 movie is actually the 3rd movie made from this book, there is also The Last Man on Earth from 1964 and The Omega Man from 1971.


Eon – Is probably the one I enjoyed the most, although at times the cold war influences could be a bit too much, it was quite a bit about Soviet vs. USA but in the early 2000’s . Bear plays around with some very imaginative ideas which make the read enjoyable and exciting. CGSociety had a competition about a year ago to make computer generated concept art and movie trailers for a movie for this book. However there is no movie in the plans that I know about.

Science fiction books

In periods I think it’s nice to read, and usually the past years I have mostly read fact books, but currently I have picked up an interest for science fiction. In the last month I have read three books all belonging to the Science Fiction Masterworks series. Using that in the selection process makes it more likely to get something good.

I have read:

The forever war – by Joe Haldeman (1974)
I Am Legend – by Richard Matheson (1954)
Eon – by Greg Bear (1985)

I would say all of them are nice books, and they are quite different.
The forever war – follows one man and the girl he loves through the wars ranging from the end of the 1990’s and many hundreds of years into the future (due to time dilation), and how this affects him. This novel was written in 1974 during the Vietnam war in which the author Joe Haldeman had been badly wounded. But that connection is not too obvious in the book.
I Am Legend – I just discovered that this book has turned into a film that had a premiere in December 2007. I did not know that until today when I just finished the book. It’s written in 1954 and tells the story of a man in the future (1976) who is left possibly as the only immune person to a disease from which everyone else either dies or turns into beings with vampire like behavior. The book is not so much about the bloody vampire or zombies (for which this book was one of the works which many following zombie/vampire works has taken inspiration from, for example Romero’s films), but instead focuses quite a lot on how it is to be so incredibly lonely. I think this was a good book, I have a feeling the movie is quite different, but I should probably watch now when I know it exists. As a side note the 2007 movie is actually the 3rd movie made from this book, there is also The Last Man on Earth from 1964 and The Omega Man from 1971.
Eon – Is probably the one I enjoyed the most, although at times the cold war influences could be a bit too much, it was quite a bit about Soviet vs. USA but in the early 2000’s :). Bear plays around with some very imaginative ideas which make the read enjoyable and exciting. CGSociety had a competition about a year ago to make computer generated concept art and movie trailers for a movie for this book. However there is no movie in the plans that I know about.c

When the sun dies… when will it get dark ?

Sometimes you hear that if the sun goes out it takes about 8 minutes until we notice it here on Earth as that is the time it takes for the light to reach us.

Sun

However this is not exactly true, it would be if the sun suddenly vanished or if the view was entirely blocked for some reason. But if you talk about the sun dying like a fire dies when there is nothing more to burn or like a light bulb dies out after you cut the power it will take much longer than 8 minutes for us to notice. So if suddenly the fusion process inside the sun stopped, how long would it take until there was no light ? Actually approximately a million years, and to a human that is quite a difference, so if the fusion stops I don’t think you should be very worried :-). However this was something that was mentioned in a radio program, it would be nice if could find a source on the net that mentioned this.

Number of atoms in the universe

I got a question about my last post. How can you calculate the number of atoms in the universe ? Looking around a bit I found two different ways of calulating (or estimate) it on wikipedia.

1. The horizon size of our universe is about 14 thousand million light years. If we neglect space curvature effects, the volume of visible space represents 4/3 π R3 = 8.8 × 1083 cubic centimeters. The critical density of the universe for this value of the Hubble constant is 3 H2/8 π G, which works out to be 1×10−29 grams/cubic centimeter or about 5×10−6 atoms of hydrogen/cc. It is believed that only 4 percent of the critical density is in the form of normal atoms, so this leaves 5×10−6 × 4×10−2 = 2×10−7 hydrogen atoms/cc. Multiplying this by the volume of the visible universe, you get about 1.7 × 1077 hydrogen atoms.

2. A typical star weighs about 2×1033 grams, which is about 1×1057 atoms of hydrogen per star. A typical galaxy has about 400 thousand million stars so that means each galaxy has 1×1057 × 4×1011 = 4×1068 hydrogen atoms. There are possibly 80 thousand million galaxies in the Universe, so that means that there are about 4×1068 × 8×1010 = 3×1079 hydrogen atoms in the Universe. But this is definitely a lower limit calculation, and ignores many possible atom sources.

So the first approach makes use of what we estimate the size to be and what we estimate the density of the universe to be, while the second makes use of the numbers of stars we estimate to exist and how many atoms a star consists of. Nothing is exact of course and both calculations are probably too low, but it gives you an idea about the numbers of atoms. Or does it ? Because there is no way anyone can really comprehend how large these numbers really are.

Night walking

I like to walk and usually I end up walking further than I would have guessed before if I had made a guess, but I never plan where I am going to walk, I just walk 🙂 Tonight I walked in the night and got home at around 1. Usually I do not walk that late, but today I did not really look at the clock. But it’s very nice to walk late now when it’s so hot during the day. I was even able to see some stars this night even though Oslo is quite bright you could at least see some of them. If you are in a really dark place far from the city you would be able to see somewhere around 4000 stars with the unaided eye ( the figure varies on location and source and many things ). There is a catalogue containing around 9100 stars that is visible for a person with good eyes here, that of course includes stars also on the southern hemisphere that can’t be seen from the northern hemisphere.

Otherwise I was visiting a music web site that I use to visit from time to time when I discovered that the javascript menus did not work there again in Opera. About a year ago I told them how to fix the problem, and they did. Unfortunately they seem to have upgraded the menus and now they are broken in Opera 9, however they work fine in Opera 8.54. Problem is that they use a menu software to generate the menus for them called Milonic. Unfortunately the milonic menus really suck. To generate a few simple menus they use over 1500 lines or 70kb of javascript, many sites use much more though but it’s still a mess. I planned to check what the problem was but I gave up after a while as I had other things to do.

Antikviteter

Min mamma tjatar att jag ska skriva på svenska, så det gör jag denna gången för att blidka henne :).

Jag har inte haft någon egen TV på ca 5 år, jag tycker man klarar sig ganska bra ändå. Men för att ändå kunna se några program så har jag den senaste tiden använt mig av svt’s hemsidor och där sett en del program. Av nån anledning så tycker jag det är intressant att se på antikrundan. Så idag tänkte jag kolla lite vad jag har för gamla saker egenligen. Det är ju väldigt lite men några få saker är det ju. När jag bodde i Uppsala 1998 så köpte jag 2 gamla böcker på ett antikvariat om astronomi. Den ena heter En färd genom verldsrymden och är skriven av Hjalmar Strömer. Hjalmar föddes 1849 i norra Jämtland. Han upptäcktes tidigt för sitt skarpa läshuvud och 1874 skrevs han in vid Uppsala Universitet där han började studera till präst. Han hette från början Nilsson i efternamn men under tiden vid universitetet bytte han efternamn till Strömer efter sin hemsocken. Han lämnade universitetet efter några få år på grund av problem med ekonomin. Men efter att ha mött en matematiker som såg hans begåvning övertalades han att återvända till Uppsala för att fortsätta med naturvetenskapliga studier. 1877 började han åter vid universitetet för att studera Astronomi. Som studiekamrat hadde han den blivande statsministern Hjalmar Branting. Men han fick snart lämna universitet igen på grund av brist på pengar. Men i början av 1880 talet reste han runt och föreläste om astronomi, och det var under denna tid han gav ut några böcker varav jag har ett exemplar. Den boken jag har är tryckt 1879 i Stockholm. Efter att ha gått från präststudier till naturvetenskap insåg han en del felaktigheter som spreds inom kyrkan och han kritisrade dessa i en del skrifter. Resultatet blev att hans popularitet dalade, de ekonomiska bekymren blev värre och hans hälsa påverkades. På julafton 1886 dog han i tuberkulos endast 37 år gammal.

Och man kan se i min bok att någon tidigare läsare inte varit helt nöjd med hur Strömer uttryckt sig. Första meningen i boken inleds med ”Mina Damer och Herrar”. Över de respektive tre orden ”Damer och Herrar” har läsaren antecknat 3), 2), 1), han menar alltså att boken borde ha inletts med herrarna före damerna. Om han gjorde nåt väldigt ovanligt som inledde boken med damerna först vet jag inte, men det kunde ju vara intressant att få veta.

Annars ser jag att jag betalade 50 kr för boken, och på internet hittade jag ett antikvariat där man kunde beställa samma bok för mellan 250-440 kr, så kanske jag gjorde ett bra köp. Men å andra sidan skulle jag inte tro den är så extremt ovanlig. Men det är fina färgillustrationer i den som är skyddade med ett tunt papper. Läsaren har också satt sin snirkliga namnteckning på första sidan. Jag har ingen aning om vad det står, varför skrev dom inte lite tydligare förr i tiden ? 🙂

Det var en stund sedan jag läste i denna, men jag bläddrar lite i den just nu och jag kan se hur han motsäger sig religionens bild. Att göra en liten planet till hela skapelsens första och största verk är ren dårskap skriver han i ett kapitel.

Kanske jag skriver om en annan gammal bok nästa gång.