What We Are Reading Today: Sea people by Christina Thompson

Updated 17 May 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Sea people by Christina Thompson

  • The book combines narrative with facts in a very pleasant proportion

Sea People is a wonderful book about how and when the Polynesians ended up in Polynesia. 

Piecing together a vast number of elements including history, science, mysticism, folklore, archaeology and ancient genealogies, author Christina Thompson creates a mesmerizing account of the Polynesian puzzle. 

The book combines narrative with facts in a very pleasant proportion, said a review published in goodreads.com. 

“The really impressive facet of this book is the underlying theme of how western understanding of a foreign culture changes over time. The evolution of anthropological understanding as a study in ideas changing over time is fascinating,” it said.

The book “is essentially about the way centuries of well-intentioned Europeans have approached Polynesian culture as if it was a puzzle to be solved,” said another critic in goodreads.com. 

Thompson “sympathizes deeply with her cast of curious outsiders; she is herself a Westerner married to a Maori,” the review added. 


What We Are Reading Today: Infinite Powers by Steven H. Strogatz

Updated 19 June 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Infinite Powers by Steven H. Strogatz

  • It harnesses an unreal number — infinity — to tackle real‑world problems

Without calculus, we would not have cellphones, TV, GPS, or ultrasound. We would not have unraveled DNA or discovered Neptune or figured out how to put 5,000 songs in your pocket. 

Though many of us were scared away from this essential, engrossing subject in high school and college, Steven Strogatz’s brilliantly creative, down‑to‑earth history shows that calculus is not about complexity; it is about simplicity. It harnesses an unreal number — infinity — to tackle real‑world problems, breaking them down into easier ones and then reassembling the answers into solutions that feel miraculous. 

Infinite Powers recounts how calculus tantalized and thrilled its inventors, starting with its first glimmers in ancient Greece and bringing us right up to the discovery of gravitational waves (a phenomenon predicted by calculus), says a review published on goodreads.com.

Strogatz reveals how this form of math rose to the challenges of each age: How to determine the area of a circle with only sand and a stick; how to explain why Mars goes “backward” sometimes; how to make electricity with magnets and how to ensure your rocket does not miss the moon.