What We Are Reading Today: ‘Avian Architecture’ by Peter Goodfellow

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Avian Architecture’ by Peter Goodfellow
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Updated 17 February 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Avian Architecture’ by Peter Goodfellow

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Avian Architecture’ by Peter Goodfellow

Birds are the most consistently inventive builders, and their nests set the bar for functional design in nature.

Describing how birds design, engineer, and build their nests, “Avian Architecture” deconstructs all types of nests found around the world using architectural blueprints and detailed descriptions of the construction processes and engineering techniques birds use.

Each chapter covers a different type of nest, from tunnel nests and mound nests to floating nests, hanging nests, woven nests, and even multiple-nest avian cities.


Book Review: ‘Dagon’ by H.P. Lovecraft

Book Review: ‘Dagon’ by H.P. Lovecraft
Updated 29 May 2024
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Book Review: ‘Dagon’ by H.P. Lovecraft

Book Review: ‘Dagon’ by H.P. Lovecraft

“Dagon” is a cosmic horror short story by H.P. Lovecraft that was published in 1919 and takes place after the First World War.

The narrator, a former prisoner of war, recounts a strange and disturbing experience after being rescued at sea.

After his ship is captured and he escapes on a lifeboat, the narrator finds himself stranded on an unknown island.

As he explores the island, he discovers strange, monstrous fossilized creatures and ancient ruins, coming to the realization that the island is situated on top of a sunken civilization, which had been below the ocean’s surface for eons.

The narrator encounters a massive, horrific creature that he identifies as the sea deity Dagon from ancient Philistine mythology.

The creature is part human and amphibious and appears to be the remnant of the island’s previous civilization. The narrator is filled with a sense of dread and madness as he realizes the full implications of his discovery.

“Dagon” is one of Lovecraft’s early classic stories that helped establish his unique brand of cosmic horror in the Cthulhu Mythos, a shared fictional universe that originated in the author’s works.

Lovecraft is a pioneer of the cosmic horror genre, a style of horror and dark fantasy that he helped develop and popularize in the early 20th century.

He taps into humanity’s fear of the unknown, the irrational and our ultimate insignificance in the face of the uncaring, unfathomable forces of the universe.

Lovecraft’s style has had a lasting influence on modern horror, science fiction and fantasy.


What We Are Reading Today: Quantum Field Theory, as Simply as Possible

What We Are Reading Today: Quantum Field Theory,  as Simply as Possible
Updated 29 May 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Quantum Field Theory, as Simply as Possible

What We Are Reading Today: Quantum Field Theory,  as Simply as Possible

Author: Anthony Zee

Quantum field theory is by far the most spectacularly successful theory in physics, but also one of the most mystifying.

“Quantum Field Theory, as Simply as Possible” provides an essential primer on the subject, giving readers the conceptual foundations they need to wrap their heads around one of the most important yet baffling subjects in physics.


What We Are Reading Today: Florapedia

What We Are Reading Today: Florapedia
Updated 28 May 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Florapedia

What We Are Reading Today: Florapedia

Author: Carol Gracie

“Florapedia” is an eclectic A–Z compendium of botanical lore.

With more than 100 enticing entries—on topics ranging from achlorophyllous plants that use a fungus as an intermediary to obtain nutrients from other plants to zygomorphic flowers that admit only the most select pollinators—this collection is a captivating journey into the realm of botany.


Book Review: The Elephant in the Brain

Book Review: The Elephant in the Brain
Updated 27 May 2024
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Book Review: The Elephant in the Brain

Book Review: The Elephant in the Brain

Published in 2017, “The Elephant in the Brain” is an insightful book that takes readers on a journey into the hidden motives that shape human behavior and influence decision-making.

Writer and software engineer Kevin Simler and professor of economics Robin Hanson take a deep dive into the subconscious factors behind people’s choices in life and what drives them to act a certain way. 

The book explores the idea that many human behaviors are influenced by hidden motives, evolutionary drives, social signals, and other unconscious aspects that the conscious mind fails to recognize.

Through various examples and case studies, the authors address the elephant in the room — the unspoken and unflattering secrets behind everything, from career choices and charitable contributions to laughter and attraction. They invite readers to question personal motives, choices, and biases and reflect on themselves. 

One of the book’s strengths is its interdisciplinary approach, which gathers insights from several fields, including psychology, biology, and economics, to draw a more comprehensive picture for the reader.

However, “The Elephant in the Brain” might be a challenging read as it explores ideas regarding the nature of human behavior that some readers might find uncomfortable.

Yet, the authors skillfully maintain an objective, non-judgmental tone throughout, encouraging readers to approach the topic with a mindset of self-reflection and intellectual curiosity.

“The Elephant in the Brain” is well-researched and a great choice for people interested in understanding the hidden drivers behind human decision-making.


What We Are Reading Today: Civilization in Transition

What We Are Reading Today: Civilization in Transition
Updated 27 May 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Civilization in Transition

What We Are Reading Today: Civilization in Transition

Author: C. G. Jung

‘The “Civilization in Transition” features Jung’s writings on contemporary events, especially the relation between the individual and society.

In the earliest essay, “The Role of the Unconscious” (1918), Jung advanced the theory that World War I was a psychological crisis originating in the collective unconscious of individuals.