What We Are Reading Today: The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood

Updated 08 June 2018
0

What We Are Reading Today: The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood

Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood has long been the doyenne of post-apocalyptic fiction. But as society becomes ever more mired in global concerns such as the march of AI, data theft and hyper-capitalism, Atwood’s ideas, which were once viewed as fanciful dystopian notions of the future, now appear as uncomfortable harbingers of a more-than-plausible reality.

In the first 10 pages of The Heart Goes Last, married couple Stan and Charmaine are living in their car in what has become a lost rustbelt America. A whole generation is trying to stay afloat in the midst of economic and social collapse. So when they see an advertisement for The Positron Project in the town of Consilience — a social experiment offering stable jobs and a home of their own — they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for this suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month, swapping their home for a prison cell. What could possibly go wrong?

Atwood artfully navigates the reader through an exhilarating journey into a world where the values of autonomy and self-identity have been blithely swapped for home comforts. Atwood asks: “Sustenance, but at what cost?” Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust and guilt take over and Positron looks less like a dream and more like a chilling prophecy.


What We Are Reading Today: How to Fall Slower Than Gravity

Updated 14 November 2018
0

What We Are Reading Today: How to Fall Slower Than Gravity

Author: Paul J. Nahin

Paul Nahin is a master at explaining odd phenomena through straightforward mathematics. In this collection of 26 intriguing problems, he explores how mathematical physicists think. Always entertaining, the problems range from ancient catapult conundrums to the puzzling physics of a very peculiar kind of glass called NASTYGLASS— and from dodging trucks to why raindrops fall slower than the rate of gravity. The questions raised may seem impossible to answer at first and may require an unexpected twist in reasoning, but sometimes their solutions are surprisingly simple. Nahin’s goal, however, is always to guide readers— who will need only to have studied advanced high school math and physics— in expanding their mathematical thinking to make sense of the curiosities of the physical world.
The problems are in the first part of the book and the solutions are in the second, so that readers may challenge themselves to solve the questions on their own before looking at the explanations. The problems show how mathematics — including algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and calculus — can be united with physical laws to solve both real and theoretical problems.

Historical anecdotes woven throughout the book bring alive the circumstances and people involved in some amazing discoveries and achievements.
More than a puzzle book, this work will immerse you in the delights of scientific history while honing your math skills.
Paul J. Nahin is the author of many popular math books, including In Praise of Simple Physics, Dr. Euler’s Fabulous Formula, and An Imaginary Tale (all Princeton).