"Audio Publishers, Please Take Note!" First, I agree with others that this book is an excellent introduction to aspects of modern physics. Instead of beginning with relativity, it uses very interesting historical episodes to place Einstein's famous formula within the larger history of the science of energy and mass, which makes a lot of sense. But I am writing mainly to note the reading, which should be a model for other publishers. Far too many Audible books are read by professionals at top speed or with histrionic overacting. This casually paced, natural reading is a tremendous aid in comprehension. Today's "media professionals" simply do not trust the written word and feel they must "add value" with dramatic antics, youthful over-enthusiasm, and the highest possible number words per second. Like restaurants that insist on cranking up the music they are terrified that someone might get bored. Some topics require a bit of chewy comprehension and this reading sets an ideal standard for such.
When I take the hatchet to a book I’m usually happy if others offer a second opinion. After all, writing books is hard work and books are usually harmless artifacts at worst. In this instance I find myself in strong disagreement with the previous reviewer, though I can appreciate what he’s saying. The title is indeed misleading, and some parts of the book can strike you at first as pseudoscientific mumbling. But that is a mistaken assessment. This is not a book of science or explanation of quantum theory. It is best described as a series of philosophical essays on aspects of quantum theory with a distinctly phenomenological slant. The chief influence is the French existentialist Merleau-Ponty, along with some (largely unacknowledged) points from Husserl on music. This sounds unfathomable, but it is fairly straightforward. The best sections of the book explore the paradoxes of light and visibility, Goethe’s theory of color, and a very interesting, to me, discussion of the paradoxes entailed in geometric concepts of points and lines. It is true that the author can sound a tad cosmic here and there as he dwells on duality and the ineffable. At times he sounds like he is taking Western Science and Cold Cartesians to task. But many card-carrying quantum physicists and cosmologists are not far behind him in that respect. At its best the book can be (the pun seems inevitable) an illuminating discourse on the mysterious nature of light. I enjoyed most of it and have listened to a few sections over again with intellectual pleasure. It isn’t for everyone, as the other reviewer makes clear. But for those with a speculative bent, I recommend it as an interesting accompaniment to one of the standard audiobooks on quantum theory. The reading is easy on the ears, rather pleasantly quiet and meditative.
The book is a fun read for cooks and foodies. The topics are based on curious food questions that the author answered in his "Food 101" column in the Washington Post. It is about food chemistry with food facts and a wry sense of humor thrown in. If you enjoyed the first book "What Einstein Told His Cook," you'll like this one (also called "What Einstein Told His Cook 2"). Whether you use the tips or not, they're interesting to know (such as chilling an onion first and using a sharp knife to minimize crying or adding cream to your coffee sooner rather than later -- yes, there was a study conducted to measure if there was a difference). Another example is the topic on cake mix instructions -- various temperature settings depending on the type of pan you use. His advice - toss it all out the window. While metal conducts heat faster than glass and a dark colored pan more so than a light colored pan, no two ovens are the same. At the end, you'll just have to stick a toothpick in it to know for sure.