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Philomath

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  • How to Change Your Mind

  • By: Michael Pollan
  • Narrated by: Michael Pollan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 103
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 93
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 93

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of How to Change Your Mind, written and read by Michael Pollan. When LSD was first discovered in the 1940s, it seemed to researchers, scientists and doctors as if the world might be on the cusp of psychological revolution. It promised to shed light on the deep mysteries of consciousness as well as offer relief to addicts and the mentally ill. But in the 1960s, with the vicious backlash against the counterculture, all further research was banned. In recent years, however, work has quietly begun again on the amazing potential of LSD, psilocybin and DMT. Could these drugs in fact improve the lives of many people?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A stunning summary of all things psychedelic

  • By Anonymous User on 07-04-18

What happens when the ego leaves

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-10-18

In a typical Michael Pollan engaging style the history and experience of psychedelic substances is brought to the forefront. From Magic Mashrooms, to LSD, MDT, and MESCALINE. These are chemicals produced in nature that tap in to the depths of the mind.

The author explains these hallucinogenics and the life changing experiences it produces in people that take them, for the most cases positive. They have been banned from scientific study for over 40 years where they went underground, but now are making a resurgence as an alternative in psychotherapy, and proving to have a wealth of benefits in studying the mind.

This book also shows the struggle between the science and the use of the psychedelic drugs for the study of the mind, and their use as vehicle for spiritual journeys ones that reveal the mind and consciousness as only one aspect of many states. The ego is always in control. As the author explains this “the ego” somehow deflates and in some cases fizzles away providing an experience of oneness with everyone and everything.

When Silicon Valley is micro-dosing for creativity one wonders what else this is good for. A well written book about a subject that has been taboo in society and science for far too long. A highly recommended read.

  • When the Wolves Bite

  • By: Scott Wapner
  • Narrated by: Scott Wapner
  • Length: 8 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 480
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 425
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 423

The inside story of the clash of two of Wall Street's biggest, richest, toughest, most aggressive players - Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman - and Herbalife, the company caught in the middle. With their billions of dollars and their business savvy, activist investors Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman have the ability to move markets with the flick of a wrist. But what happens when they run into the one thing in business they can't control: each other?  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great Story But Glitches

  • By Anonymous User on 06-03-18

Big whales with big egos

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-09-18

What happens when ego comes to play in two opposing investment titans. This book reveals the financial battle behind Carl Icahn an investor mongol with a net worth of more than 20 billion and Bill Ackman head of one of the largest investment funds controlling 10s of billions of dollars.

The book is an eye opener to say the least. It discusses some of the unsavoury positions the big sharks will go to, to make money and crush their opponents. All under the banner of public good, and investor confidence. The era of activist investors has arrived.

Herbalife on the other hand was the company in the middle. Targeted for destruction by a billion dollar short for what appears to be a pyramid structure business, and supported by big investors taking a long position for its value and money making machine.

There was no justice in the end. Only vengeance, and a whole load of propaganda, by people just wanting to make money. At this level the wolves take their positions and then influence the outcome. Except in this case you had two wolves on either side, preparing us for half a decade of financial bloodshed.

This book is an insight into the behaviour of such men, and the Wall Street cabal. Highly recommended and entertaining.

  • Dawn of the Code War

  • America's Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat
  • By: John P. Carlin, Garrett M. Graff
  • Narrated by: Kevin Stillwell
  • Length: 16 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 82
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 71

The inside story of how America's enemies launched a cyberwar against us - and how we've learned to fight back. In this dramatic audiobook, former assistant attorney general John P. Carlin takes listeners to the front lines of a global but little-understood fight as the Justice Department and the FBI chases down hackers, online terrorist recruiters, and spies. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Master class

  • By Robert ONeill on 10-20-18

Cyber war, hackers, and the future of the internet

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-02-18

John P Carlin is a US civil servant he was the Assistant Attorney General (DOJ). He was also chief of staff for FBI Director Robert S. Mueller. It is therefore expected that his narrative is biased to what some might consider American exceptionalism.

Regardless, his experience at the front line of economic, and geopolitical cyber warfare is as good as they come. It is incredible that such little investment has gone into cyber security when the risks are as large as they seem. I am writing this review just as news of a hack on Largest Hotel Group compromised over 500 million customers personal details in a span of 4 years. As with the Sony hack, this is an all too common occurrence lately, even affecting Facebook, Google and many others.

The internets backbone was not built with security in mind, but ease of use. We are finding out the costs of such a free and open network where criminals are always ahead, and the policing and regulation is inherently playing catch-up, and reacting to more and more sophisticated attacks. The realm of what used to be a hacker society is now being used by governments to disrupt rival nations, where no one's hands are clean, and proof is hard to come by.

Whether its a pre-emptive attack on military installations, an economic attack to steal technology, or just vandals and blackhats disrupting the system, we are in the age of technical vulnerability and its up to the individual entities to secure themselves, without much help from government who are lagging behind in the know-how as well as financial support.

This book is extremely informative about the governments role in the cyber realm, where they are and where they should be. It is highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Consciousness Instinct

  • Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind
  • By: Michael S. Gazzaniga
  • Narrated by: David Colacci
  • Length: 9 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24

How do neurons turn into minds? The problem of consciousness has gnawed at us for millennia. In the last century there have been massive breakthroughs that have rewritten the science of the brain, and yet the puzzles faced by the ancient Greeks are still present. In The Consciousness Instinct, the neuroscience pioneer Michael S. Gazzaniga puts the latest research in conversation with the history of human thinking about the mind, giving a big-picture view of what science has revealed about consciousness. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Consciousness through the lens of Neuroscience

  • By Philomath on 12-01-18

Consciousness through the lens of Neuroscience

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-01-18

Michael Gazzaniga is at the forefront and a leading scientist and researcher in cognitive neuroscience. His work on split brain patients has changed out concept of the mind within the brain, and our perception regarding identity.

In this context his attempt to provide a hypothesis on consciousness can be described as the closest science can come to explaining the Hard Problem of Consciousness.

The book takes us through a history of philosophy and science relating to the mind and the brain the dualism of Descartes, the reductionism schools and modern science, the quantum world of complementarity, and finally the authors proposal as to what the mind is and how it relates to the brain.

The author brings a new perspective to consciousness, one that accepts the possibility of a subjective system that cannot be reduced producing qualia analogous to other instincts. He proposes consciousness as an instinct evolving out of necessity to improve our survivability in complex situations. A continuum which he suggests is very likely present in different ways and degrees in all living things.

This book is highly recommended and a must read for anyone interested in the subject.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Einstein's Shadow

  • A Black Hole, a Band of Astronomers, and the Quest to See the Unseeable
  • By: Seth Fletcher
  • Narrated by: Sean Pratt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

Einstein’s Shadow follows a team of elite scientists on a historic mission to take the first picture of a black hole, putting Einstein’s theory of relativity to its ultimate test and helping to answer our deepest questions about space, time, the origins of the universe, and the nature of reality. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • solid and insightful, but unfulfilling conclusion.

  • By Brian Alegria on 12-09-18

The ever elusive black hole

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-12-18

The race to discover a Black Hole is a long, strenuous, very expensive and anything but assured venture.

This follows a group who are obsessed enough to prod into the unknown and how result oriented, and timeline dependent funding clashes with the trial and error approach of Cosmology, where nothing is assured except sleepless nights.

Finally when everything works, it’s still an ambiguous science where many theories can fit the results. Something is definitely there, but what is it?

A book about perseverance and passion, interesting for those Black Hole chasers but others need convincing. Recommended Cosmology read.

  • Three Roads to Quantum Gravity

  • By: Lee Smolin
  • Narrated by: L. J. Ganser
  • Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30

In Three Roads to Quantum Gravity, Lee Smolin provides an accessible overview of the attempts to build a final "theory of everything." He explains in simple terms what scientists are talking about when they say the world is made from exotic entities such as loops, strings, and black holes and tells the fascinating stories behind these discoveries: the rivalries, epiphanies, and intrigues he witnessed firsthand.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Physics still in trouble

  • By Philomath on 11-09-18

Physics still in trouble

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-09-18

I first came across the author Lee Smolin through his 2006 book, The Trouble with, which I thought deserved merit, because it highlighted the detachment of modern particle physics from reality and criticising the ever elusive and continuously evolving mathematical hypothesis of string theory.

I had purchased this book without realising it was written prior to his 2006 book. It becomes quite evident that the author is struggling to reconcile theories which are not testable and therefore unable to be falsifiable.

Can science produce work that no one can conceive experiments for testing them. In this book Smolin is still optimistic, but what else can a person who spent most of his life think. I believe there is more hope than reality. Physicists are satisfied with mathematical theories that explain reality and less concerned with experiments at this scale.

The book explains three roads to quantum gravity, an effort to unify quantum theory with relativity, but the roads could very well be more than three, and very long indeed before any unifying theory can be experimentally tested.

The author writes well on subjects that are usually nearly impossible to understand, and for this I must give him credit. Recommended to those that want to understand today’s complicated physics without mathematical knowledge.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Gene Machine

  • The Race to Decipher the Secrets of the Ribosome
  • By: Venki Ramakrishnan
  • Narrated by: Matthew Waterson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30

Everyone has heard of DNA. But by itself, DNA is just an inert blueprint for life. It is the ribosome - an enormous molecular machine made up of a million atoms - that makes DNA come to life, turning our genetic code into proteins and therefore into us. Gene Machine is an insider account of the race for the structure of the ribosome, a fundamental discovery that both advances our knowledge of all life and could lead to the development of better antibiotics against life-threatening diseases. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The breathtaking complexity a molecular machine

  • By Philomath on 11-08-18

The breathtaking complexity a molecular machine

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-08-18

This is not just an autobiography of Nobel Laureate Venki Ramakrishan, a structural biologist who has been recognised for his work on the Ribosome, the complex molecular living machine that produces proteins.

It is a unique inner glimpse at the specialised fields of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics, the people behind it, the fast paced advancements, competition, collaboration, politics, and the high stakes game of decades work coming to fruition.

If you were amazed by the mRNA Translation videos on ytube, showing the smallest most complicated living machine made of a million atoms, you will be even more amazed at the decades amount of work it took to achieve this knowledge.

This is also a story of modern science and what it takes to be at the top, and some of its shortfalls when it comes to recognition. So many people contribute for only a few to be recognised.

An incredible book. Highly recommended for its fascinating story, and the depth of science involved. Top Marks!!!

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • On the Future

  • Prospects for Humanity
  • By: Martin Rees
  • Narrated by: Martin Rees, Samuel West
  • Length: 5 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36

Humanity has reached a critical moment. Our world is unsettled and rapidly changing, and we face existential risks over the next century. Various outcomes - good and bad - are possible. Yet our approach to the future is characterized by short-term thinking, polarizing debates, alarmist rhetoric, and pessimism. In this short, exhilarating book, renowned scientist and best-selling author Martin Rees argues that humanity’s prospects depend on our taking a very different approach to planning for tomorrow.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Science, the future, and great wisdom

  • By Philomath on 10-29-18

Science, the future, and great wisdom

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-29-18

Very few scientists still alive have achieved the status and credibility of Sir Martin Rees. At the age of 76 he is still considered in his prime. This puts him at a privileged position of being one of the wisest scientist alive.

This book is advice from a person without an agenda, peer pressure, or allegiance to any group. It is meant for normal people as well as scientist. It provides a view of the scientific forest without being blocked by the trees. Rees does not disappoint in with his clarity of thought, scientific knowledge and the responsibility facing us.

The author does not shy away from predictions. The world is changing so fast no one is looking at the horizon. While great things can be achieved with the plethora of scientific discoveries, some of the risks may very well have an existential risk on humanity, and are highlighted clearly and concisely.

This book is a must read for scientists, politicians, and anyone with influence. It is also for us to contemplate and push for a future that can sustain humanity as we reach a crossroad for which we may not rewind.

A highly recommended read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand

  • By: Marcus Chown
  • Narrated by: Marcus Chown
  • Length: 5 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Did you know that you could fit the whole human race in the volume of a sugar cube? Or that the electrical energy in a single mosquito is enough to cause a global mass extinction? Or that we are all, in fact, living in a giant hologram? Or perhaps, most importantly of all, out there in the universe there are an infinite number of copies of you reading an infinite number of copies of this? 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonders of the Universe

  • By Philomath on 10-18-18

Wonders of the Universe

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-18-18

Regardless how many times I hear the incredible unknowns of the universe it’s always just as fascinating.

This author brings this story in his own words and adds his own little perspective of wonderment which I found engaging.

Recommended to all those that can’t get enough of the infinite wonders of physics and the universe.

  • This Book Will Blow Your Mind

  • By: New Scientist
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6

What's the nature of reality? Does the universe ever end? What is time, and does it even exist? These are the biggest imagination-stretching, brain-staggering questions in the universe - and here are their fascinating answers. From quantum weirdness to freaky cosmology (like white holes - which spew out matter instead of sucking it in), This Book Will Blow Your Mind takes you on an epic journey to the furthest extremes of science, to the things you never thought possible.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Becoming Greater

  • By Joe Correia on 01-18-19

Fascinating Fringes of Science

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-09-18

The book provide the knowledge, we know we know little about, in a wide spectrum of scientific fields. It provides it in an engaging and easy to understand snippets, trying and succeeding to a great extent in informing the reader about advances to understand the unknown in the nutshell.

Different parts of the book may be more interesting depending what part of science intrigues the reader. Personally I found the subjects at the end a lot more mind boggling and intriguing.

Recommended as easy scientific reading, and don’t hesitate to move to the next chapter.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful