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Mount Pocono, PA, United States | Member Since 2010

  • 2 reviews
  • 3 ratings
  • 231 titles in library
  • 25 purchased in 2014

  • Napoleon's Buttons: 17 Molecules That Changed History

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Penny Le Couteur, Jay Burreson
    • Narrated By Laural Merlington
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Napoleon's Buttons is the fascinating account of 17 groups of molecules that have greatly influenced the course of history. These molecules provided the impetus for early exploration, and made possible the voyages of discovery that ensued. The molecules resulted in grand feats of engineering and spurred advances in medicine and law; they determined what we now eat, drink, and wear. A change as small as the position of an atom can lead to enormous alterations in the properties of a substance.

    ANELLO says: "Wish one of the authors would have read this book"
    "Wish one of the authors would have read this book"

    Napoleon's Buttons is a well written book for a popular audience about the influence of organic chemistry and organic compounds on human history -- how rare is that! Like other books with similar content (e.g. The Disappearing Spoon), this book is structured to allow the listener stop and easily pick it up the flow later -- a good feature for commuters like me.

    Regrettably, Laural Merlington's mispronunciation of countless chemical and other scientific terms really detracted from what was overall a fine performance. Example: She seemed to have a little trouble with her "a" sounds; she pronounced lactase "LACT ahhhz" -- fine if you're speaking French, but in English we use a long "a" as in "ace" -- and estradiol "es TRAY deeyol" -- I had to hear this word at least three times before I figured out what she was saying. (People familiar with this steroid say it "es trah DYE ol" -- because it is an estrogen steroid with two -OH groups on the steroid (i.e. a diol)). Another example: At one point during the discussion of antibiotics, she pronounced para-aminobenzoic acid "p amnio benzoic acid" at least six times in two consecutive paragraphs, even though she had said it correctly at a previous point. The upshot of all this criticism is that either the narrator or one of the other folks in the studio should have been a person with a scientific background, who would have known (and more important, would have cared) how to pronounce these words. It would have been ideal if one of the authors had narrated.

    My one critique directed at the text itself is that the lengthy, preambular history of persecution of alleged witches in Chapter 12, on alkaloids, created an unnecessary delay on the way to the real content of this chapter: the historical connections to the compounds and their sources. This chapter would have stood up well on its own without the background information.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Neil deGrasse Tyson
    • Narrated By Professor Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Everything we now know about the universe - from the behavior of quarks to the birth of galaxies - has come from people who've been willing to ponder the unanswerable. And with the advent of modern science, great minds have turned to testing and experimentation rather than mere thought as a way of grappling with some of the universe's most vexing dilemmas. So what is our latest picture of some of the most inexplicable features of the universe? What still remains to be uncovered and explored by today's scientists?

    Christopher Anderson says: "Great Learning Experience"
    "An enjoyable short course"

    In contrast to the expansive delivery style he used in Cosmos, Dr. Tyson's easy-going lectures seem much more intimate, as if he's talking directly to you. It was a joy to listen to him on my long commutes. The six lectures ended far too soon.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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