Tag Archives: holmes

Change Is the Only Constant – Ben Orlin


Change Is the Only Constant

The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World

Ben Orlin

Genre: Mathematics

Price: $14.99

Publish Date: October 8, 2019

Publisher: Running Press

Seller: Hachette Digital, Inc.

The next book from Ben Orlin, the popular math blogger and author of the underground bestseller Math With Bad Drawings. Change Is The Only Constant is an engaging and eloquent exploration of the intersection between calculus and daily life, complete with Orlin's sly humor and wonderfully bad drawings. Change is the Only Constant is an engaging and eloquent exploration of the intersection between calculus and daily life, complete with Orlin's sly humor and memorably bad drawings. By spinning 28 engaging mathematical tales, Orlin shows us that calculus is simply another language to express the very things we humans grapple with every day — love, risk, time, and most importantly, change. Divided into two parts, "Moments" and "Eternities," and drawing on everyone from Sherlock Holmes to Mark Twain to David Foster Wallace, Change is the Only Constant unearths connections between calculus, art, literature, and a beloved dog named Elvis. This is not just math for math's sake; it's math for the sake of becoming a wiser and more thoughtful human.

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Change Is the Only Constant – Ben Orlin

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The Philosophical Breakfast Club – Laura J. Snyder


The Philosophical Breakfast Club

Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World

Laura J. Snyder

Genre: History

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: February 22, 2011

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

“[A] fascinating book…about the way four geniuses at Cambridge University revolutionized modern science.“ — Newsweek The Philosophical Breakfast Club recounts the life and work of four men who met as students at Cambridge University: Charles Babbage, John Herschel, William Whewell, and Richard Jones. Recognizing that they shared a love of science (as well as good food and drink) they began to meet on Sunday mornings to talk about the state of science in Britain and the world at large. Inspired by the great 17th century scientific reformer and political figure Francis Bacon—another former student of Cambridge—the Philosophical Breakfast Club plotted to bring about a new scientific revolution. And to a remarkable extent, they succeeded, even in ways they never intended. Historian of science and philosopher Laura J. Snyder exposes the political passions, religious impulses, friendships, rivalries, and love of knowledge—and power—that drove these extraordinary men. Whewell (who not only invented the word “scientist,” but also founded the fields of crystallography, mathematical economics, and the science of tides), Babbage (a mathematical genius who invented the modern computer), Herschel (who mapped the skies of the Southern Hemisphere and contributed to the invention of photography), and Jones (a curate who shaped the science of economics) were at the vanguard of the modernization of science.   This absorbing narrative of people, science and ideas chronicles the intellectual revolution inaugurated by these men, one that continues to mold our understanding of the world around us and of our place within it. Drawing upon the voluminous correspondence between the four men over the fifty years of their work, Laura J. Snyder shows how friendship worked to spur the men on to greater accomplishments, and how it enabled them to transform science and help create the modern world. "The lives and works of these men come across as fit for Masterpiece Theatre.” — Wall Street Journal "Snyder succeeds famously in evoking the excitement, variety and wide-open sense of possibility of the scientific life in 19th-century Britain…splendidly evoked in this engaging book.” — American Scientist "This fine book is as wide-ranging and anecdotal, as excited and exciting, as those long-ago Sunday morning conversations at Cambridge.  The Philosophical Breakfast Club  forms a natural successor to Jenny Uglow’s  The Lunar Men… and Richard Holmes’s  The Age of Wonder.” — Washington Post

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The Philosophical Breakfast Club – Laura J. Snyder

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Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense – Bob Holmes


Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense

Bob Holmes

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: April 25, 2017

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

A journey into the surprising science behind our flavor senses. Can you describe how the flavor of halibut differs from that of red snapper? How the taste of a Fuji apple differs from a Spartan? For most of us, this is a difficult task: flavor remains a vague, undeveloped concept that we don’t know enough about to describe—or appreciate—fully. In this delightful and compelling exploration of our most neglected sense, veteran science reporter Bob Holmes shows us just how much we’re missing. Considering every angle of flavor from our neurobiology to the science and practice of modern food production, Holmes takes readers on a journey to uncover the broad range of factors that can affect our appreciation of a fine meal or an exceptional glass of wine. He peers over the shoulders of some of the most fascinating food professionals working today, from cutting-edge chefs to food engineers to mathematicians investigating the perfect combination of pizza toppings. He talks with flavor and olfactory scientists, who describe why two people can experience remarkably different sensations from the same morsel of food, and how something as seemingly unrelated as cultural heritage can actually impact our sense of smell. Along the way, even more surprising facts are revealed: that cake tastes sweetest on white plates; that wine experts’ eyes can fool their noses; and even that language can affect our sense of taste. Flavor expands our curiosity and understanding of one of our most intimate sensations, while ultimately revealing how we can all sharpen our senses and our enjoyment of the things we taste. Certain to fascinate everyone from gourmands and scientists to home cooks and their guests, Flavor will open your mind—and palette—to a vast, exciting sensory world.

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Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense – Bob Holmes

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How Green Is the New Samsung Galaxy S9?


Are you in the market for a new smartphone? The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ models have been available for just over a month. But before you commit to an upgrade, let’s walk through their eco-friendliness.


The new Galaxy smartphones still have an aluminum shell, but use a stiffer aluminum alloy to make it more durable. Other smartphone manufacturers have switched to glass, which is more prone to scratches and cracks.

The S9 and S9+ are both registered with Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Gold status based on their use of recycled content and limited use of toxic metals like cadmium and mercury.

Samsung packages the new models in 90 percent recycled paper fiber (no expanded polystyrene) and uses recycled content for the plastic packaging. Both models come with a paper quick-start guide, but to reduce their use of paper, the full manual is available online only. It’s no surprise that Samsung has won awards for designing its products with recycling in mind.

Samsung Galaxy S9 in Lilac Purple. Photo: Samsung

Power Management

Samsung claims that the Galaxy S9 can last 12 hours using a wireless connection, and independent tests comparing the S9+ and the iPhone X demonstrate that the Galaxy will last longer. Longer battery life means less times charging your phone, and more time before the battery needs to be replaced. This is a significant factor since you can’t replace the battery yourself.

The charger uses a USB Type-C port, the same port technology used by more than 40 different smartphones. This means if you’re upgrading from an S8 or switching phone brands, it’s likely you can use your old charger or share chargers within your family.

Shelf Life

The average American upgrades phones every 18 months — but this upgrade rate isn’t based solely on the consumer’s desire for the latest features. After two years, the software provider typically stops providing updates, making the phone more susceptible to security breaches.

Samsung recently announced that it will guarantee three years of software updates for the S9 enterprise edition, which puts it on the same level as the Google Pixel 2. If you take care of the phone, it should last a long time.

End of Life

When you’re ready to upgrade to the S10 (or another phone), you can rest assured that your S9 has a huge recycling market. Samsung offers a mail-in recycling program for all its portable products, but you can also trade it in for credit toward the purchase of a new phone through your service provider.

In 2016, Samsung recalled and recycled 4 million of its Galaxy Note 7 tablets because of battery issues. Here’s hoping the S9 avoids any recalls and that Samsung continues moving in the right direction with its sustainability and recycling practices.

Feature images courtesy of Samsung

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How Green Is the New Samsung Galaxy S9?

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Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day – Diane Ackerman


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Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day – Diane Ackerman

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Can Greenwashing Ever Be Good?


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Can Greenwashing Ever Be Good?

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We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We?

I recently saw an article going around about how much land we would need to power our country with solar energy, and I was blown away — to say it’s a small amount is selling it short. According to Elon Musk, we only need a couple of counties in Texas with a couple of thousand rooftops — or just 0.6 percent of our land — and we’d have renewable energy for the whole country.

I couldn’t get over how simple that sounds, so I did a bit more research into solar energy facts to find out why we aren’t doing this, like, yesterday.

First things first, Elon Musk isn’t wrong and isn’t oversimplifying a grossly difficult task, but he does gloss over the meaty problems of our current energy situation in this country. So what’s standing in our way of solar power for all?

The Problem with Permits

My natural first question after reading the article is why aren’t we installing solar panels on everyone’s roof? The answer in a nutshell: permits. At this point in solar technology, you can’t just hop on down to Lowe’s and grab a couple to install yourself. The biggest problem that I came across in my research was lack of solar companies and lack of neighborhoods that were cleared to be able to have solar panels. In order for the solar panels to work, they need to be connected to a main battery and circuit system, and a lot of these are not set up for your average American.

If you do live in an area that is capable of solar energy, you need to get a consultation from a solar company. They give you your options based on square footage, and then you start the installation. Since solar panels are not cheap, you won’t start reaping the benefits until down the line. Your energy bill will be lower, and you will get a tax credit and write-off, but you’re also going to be paying off those panels. I think the aspect of not seeing the financial benefits of solar panels more quickly scares a lot of people away.

Finding the Land

My next question was if roofs were our only option for solar panels — why not all the unused acres in this country? There are more and more solar fields being built every year, but it’s a slow process. One of the main aspects that I didn’t think about until I started googling all of this was the facilities. If you build a giant field, you’re going to need to hook it up to giant batteries, and the rest of the power system for that town, and subsequently the rest of the country. You’ll need to build facilities for the workers and roads to get all the equipment to and from the build site. You have to pay all the workers and hire multiple people to oversee the project.

Another very big concern is animal habitats and American Indian land. The government would have to purchase a plot of land to fit all these solar panels and facilities without ruining anything in the process. Based on the current situation in North Dakota, these types of things are not easy or quick. That’s so much time and effort that I feel like a lot of people wouldn’t vote for it because they see it as wasted money.

Inspiring Others to Care

That brings me to my last question: Why does no one care!? I think the biggest problem is the talk of climate change in general. Too many people think it’s something they get to choose to believe in or not. Science has already proven it’s real, it’s here, and it’s getting really, really bad. Once more people acknowledge we need to take action now, we’ll start to come together a lot faster to help this process move along.

I truly believe your average American isn’t going to deeply care about a topic unless he or she gains something in return. If you’re reading this and are wondering about just that, let’s break it down.

There are three types of solar energy: photovoltaic, solar heating and cooling, and concentrating solar technology. Photovoltaic are the typical solar panels you see on roofs to produce electricity for homes and businesses. Solar heating and cooling are panels that do just that, heat and cool. They are used for things like hot water, space heating and cooling, and pool heating. Concentrating solar technology are the panels you usually see in giant fields off the freeway. These curved mirrored panels collect the sun’s energy and convert it for turbines or engines to create energy to store for a rainy day. Along with the federal investment tax credit, a lot of states and counties offer rebates or incentives as well.

Elon Musk has also created a battery wall to help Americans transition inside their homes. I’m hoping that this, combined with more awareness, will help us move faster toward the teeny tiny part of America that should be covered in solar panels.

If you want to help get solar energy more prevalent in your town or community, contact your local government and ask what they are doing to make this happen.

Now that you’ve learned a few solar energy facts, are you ready to make the switch to solar power? Here are 9 crucial steps to prepare your home. 

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Latest Posts

Audrey Holmes

Based in Music City USA — Nashville — Audrey Holmes is on a personal journey toward zero waste. She admits to watching otter videos on YouTube way too much and having an unhealthy obsession with matcha. Speaking of green, read all about her zero-waste journey on her blog,

Green Blue Marble.

Latest posts by Audrey Holmes (see all)

We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We? – November 4, 2016
3 Ways To Eliminate Food Waste Before It Reaches The Compost – October 6, 2016
4 Creative Eco-friendly Transportation Options – August 19, 2016

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We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We?

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The New York Daily News Just Doubled Down on Its Attack on the NRA

Mother Jones

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Yesterday, the New York Daily News put up a controversial cover that I thought was pretty good. Today, they are out with another cover that, I’ve got to say, is a bit much for me. It calls the alleged perpetrator of Wednesday’s massacre, Syed Farook, a terrorist (accurate!) and Robert Dear, Dylan Roof, Adam Lanza, and James Holmes terrorists (also accurate depending on your specific definition!), but then in the right hand corner it labels Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, a terrorist.

Now, look, I’m not fan of the NRA, but they’re not a terrorist organization and I don’t think that term should be bandied about all willy-nilly. From 2001 to 2003, this shit happened all the time. Terrorists! Terrorists! Terrorist! Terrorists! It is not helpful. It stirs frenzy and panic in a population of people primed for frenzy and panic. We should use that term when it really makes sense, not just for political groups we disagree with.

But, on the other hand, just today Senate Republicans at the NRA’s behest voted to kill a law that would make it harder for terrorists, felons, and mentally ill people to buy guns. It’s also worth noting that most gun owners don’t even support the NRA’s radical agenda. So it’s not like I’m saying the NRA is a bunch of peachy keen cats deserving of sainthood or anything.

Relatedly, my colleague Julia Laurie spoke to a number of national news organizations about how and when they decide to call a “killer” a “terrorist.” Give it a read. Fascinating stuff.

Excerpt from – 

The New York Daily News Just Doubled Down on Its Attack on the NRA

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BREAKING: James Holmes Found Guilty in Aurora Massacre Trial

Mother Jones

Three years after he killed 12 people and injured 70 more in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, a jury has found James Holmes guilty of first degree murder.

The jury concluded that Holmes was not legally insane at the time he committed the crimes, despite evidence of mental illness. Holmes’ mental state will come into play again in the penalty phase of the trial, in which jurors will hear testimony and decide whether he is eligible for execution.

Which raises the question: How crazy is too crazy to be executed? Here’s how capital defense lawyer and occasional Mother Jones contributor Marc Bookman put it in a remarkable essay with precisely that title:

There is no simple answer to this question. State courts across the country have struggled to define “intellectual disability” (also known as mental retardation) since 2002, when the Supreme Court ruled that retarded people are exempt from capital punishment. The high court has also banned the execution of anyone who was under 18 at the time of his crime, but no court has ruled that severe mental illness makes a person ineligible for the death penalty.

The Supreme Court’s latest foray into the issue involved the case of Scott Louis Panetti, another Texas death row inmate. Panetti, a diagnosed schizophrenic who killed his in-laws, defended himself in court wearing a purple cowboy suit. As if that weren’t enough, he asked to subpoena Jesus, John F. Kennedy, and the pope. While the justices didn’t offer any clear standard on how crazy is too crazy, they suggested that severe mental illness might render someone’s “perception of reality so distorted” that he cannot be constitutionally executed.

As it stands, a person cannot be put to death if he or she is deemed “insane,” but that’s a narrow legal distinction. Whether at trial or on the eve of execution, an insanity defense hinges on a defendant’s inability to connect his crime with the consequences. Absent that connection, neither deterrence nor retribution is served by execution. As the legal scholar Sir William Blackstone put it more than 200 years ago, madness is its own punishment.

Almost every state now utilizes some version of what is known as the M’Naghten Rule. Daniel M’Naghten, an Englishman, was put on trial in 1843 for fatally shooting a civil servant he apparently mistook for the prime minister. He had delusions of persecution, and a number of doctors testified that he was unable to hold himself back. When the prosecution produced no witness to say otherwise, M’Naghten was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He spent most of the rest of his life at the State Criminal Lunatic Asylum in London’s Bethlem Royal Hospital, which locals pronounced “Bedlam.”

Thus was coined a word we associate with chaos—and it was chaos that ensued when M’Naghten was acquitted and the public took the verdict poorly. What emerged amid the outcry was the generally applied law that an insanity defense would only be available to someone who cannot understand the “nature and quality” of his act.

In a more recent piece focusing on the Panetti case, staff reporter Stephanie Mencimer digs deeper into the high court’s thinking, and demonstrates in a followup analysis why it is so difficult, once a case gets to this stage, to reverse momentum toward a verdict of death.

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BREAKING: James Holmes Found Guilty in Aurora Massacre Trial

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Chattanooga Attacks Kill 5 People Including Gunman

Mother Jones

On Thursday morning, a gunman shot and killed four Marines after opening fire at two separate military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The attacker, identified as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez by both NBC and CBS, was also killed. Authorities are currently investigating the shootings as a possible act of domestic terrorism.

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The gunman reportedly first opened fire Thursday morning at a military recruitment facility. The attacker then traveled to a Navy reserve center roughly six miles away and opened fire again. A police officer was also injured.

This is a breaking news post.

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Chattanooga Attacks Kill 5 People Including Gunman

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