Years ago, I read a bit of advice in The Whole Earth Catalog, which said a great way to get up to speed on a subject you are interested in is to read a children's book about it. It's excellent advice, and I've made use of it many times over the years. My second grade daughter recently wrote a report on Frederick Douglass. I knew very little about Douglass, but she had a Scholastic book about him, so I read it in 20 minutes. I now feel like I know almost everything I will ever need to know about him, and I have a great deal of admiration for this American hero. If I had purchased an adult-level biography of Frederick Douglass, I don't know if I would have ever opened the book.
The best children's books are the ones that were published before 1970. After that, the illustrations started to get crappy, and the writing took a nosedive, too. There are exceptions, but I found it to be the rule.
Here's a winner from 1964: Why Satellites Stay in Orbit, by Sune Engelbrekston and illustrated by Lee Ames. It's a very short book that does a terrific job of explaining precisely one thing: why satellites stay in orbit. This is the kind of book my eight-year-old daughter can read and appreciate. It's also the kind of book I wish I'd read when I took physics in high school. Why couldn't my teachers explain how satellites stayed in orbit as clearly as this book did? Maybe they did, and I was just too busy reading Mad while the teacher was going over the subject.
Why Satellites Stay in Orbit is out-of-print, but copies can be found on Amazon for as little as 99 cents
Caltech theoretical physicist Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime, explains the concept of a “dimensions” at five different levels of complexity. Dr. Carroll sure has a big brane.
In 1936, the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was declared to be extinct. Yet in the last three years, there have been eight reported sightings according to Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. I hope it’s true. From CNN: While stories abound that some continue to live in the remote wilds of Tasmania, […]
Who doesn’t love a free meal? From Nautilus Live: During the final dive of this year’s Nautilus expedition season, our team discovered a whale fall while exploring Davidson Seamount off central California’s coast with researchers from Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The skeletal remains of the whale lying on its back are estimated to be […]
Do you own a Mac? Unless you’re using it for a paperweight, you almost can’t afford not to get the Magnificent Mac Bundle. It’s a roundup of some truly essential security and file management apps, bundled up with great photo and video enhancers. The best part is that all nine apps are potentially available for […]
As much as vaping has taken over the market during the last decade, there’s still a lot of questions about the technology, as well as health concerns that we’re just now finding out about. One thing you can say about smoking: You know exactly what you’re getting, especially when it comes to pipes that you […]
We can’t all go through life with just a pair of sneakers and flip-flops. Sometimes, you have to invest in a pair of high-quality dress shoes. However, you’ve probably discovered that high-end footwear almost always comes with eye-popping price tags. You’ve got to compromise on second-hand or just suck it up and take out a […]