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James S.

  • 19
  • reviews
  • 77
  • helpful votes
  • 74
  • ratings
  • The Cryotron Files

  • The Untold Story of Dudley Buck, Cold War Computer Scientist and Microchip Pioneer
  • By: Iain Dey, Douglas Buck, Alan Dewey
  • Narrated by: William Hughes
  • Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

The riveting true story of Dudley Buck - American scientist, government agent, and Cold War hero - whose pioneering work with computer chips placed him firmly in the sights of the KGB. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Prelude to the current state of quantum computing

  • By James S. on 10-21-18

Prelude to the current state of quantum computing

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

Reviewed: 10-21-18

Having firsthand experience in the now "burgeoning" sector of superconducting microelectronics technologies (large-scale quantum computers are right around the corner!), I had already known of Dudley Buck's development of the cryotron. I knew nothing more of him, though. It's great to learn that he was a major influencer, and in some cases likely a primary inventor, of so many of the technologies we take for granted today; and have yet to take for granted, as they are still under development.

The book gives quite a bit of background regarding military technologies, as well as associated propaganda, during the cold war era.

The book is non-technical, detailed in scope, and is narrated very well by William Hughes.

  • How the Laser Happened

  • Adventures of a Scientist
  • By: Charles H. Townes
  • Narrated by: Keith Sellon-Wright
  • Length: 8 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4

In How the Laser Happened, Nobel laureate Charles Townes provides a highly personal look at some of the leading events in 20th-century physics. This lively memoir, packed with firsthand accounts and historical anecdotes, is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the history of science and an inspiring example for students considering scientific careers.   

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great for aspiring physicists

  • By James S. on 10-06-18

Great for aspiring physicists

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

Reviewed: 10-06-18

This book parallels Big Science, the book about Ernest Lawrence's time at Berkeley, as they both talk a lot about the full range of a scientific career, from attaining the PhD to retirement. Plenty of non-technical discussion about the MASER, LASER, interesting astrophysics utilizing both (coming from someone who finds it a challenge to get interested in astronomy), and a lot on considerations for proper patent protection. The book also goes into plenty of detail regarding day-to-day administrative difficulties being a scientist, and the author's significant involvement with the US gov't.

The book is very well written and narrated. If Audible members were to ignore the date this book was written, I think it would get similar marks as Big Science.

  • Connecting the Dots

  • By: John Chambers, Diane Brady
  • Narrated by: Allan Robertson, John Chambers - introduction
  • Length: 8 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32

Legendary Silicon Valley visionary John Chambers, one of the world's greatest business leaders, shares the playbook and philosophy that transformed Cisco into a global tech titan and now inspires a new generation of leaders. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • How Cisco changed my life!

  • By Brad Downey on 10-11-18

Soft business and personal skills from many angles

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

Reviewed: 10-04-18

Writing this book obviously was the author's labor of love. A lot of practical lessons are relayed through business and personal stories. In his life, the boundary between these business vs. personal categories was often non-existent by design; this was his way of showing compassion to all, as all people [of relevance] in either category were considered family.

He also discusses many of the most important points regarding activities in the business domain that were key in the success of Cisco, as well as other business-related lessons learned before he joined Cisco (his time as IBM and then Wang). I was surprised to learn that he was so successful as a CEO likely because of, rather than despite, his lack of technical training. This really hits home the extreme value of nurturing soft skills.

He ends with a discussion of his current investments as a venture capitalist, and puts more into explaining these endeavors than I would have expected.

I think this is a great book for anyone interested in business case studies, as well as anyone wanting practical motivational reminders as you pursue your own ventures.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • AI Superpowers

  • China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order
  • By: Kai-Fu Lee
  • Narrated by: Mikael Naramore
  • Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 325
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 274
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 273

In his provocative new book, Dr. Kai-Fu Lee - one of the world’s most respected experts on artificial intelligence - reveals that China has suddenly caught up to the US, the leader in AI, at an astonishingly rapid pace. Building upon his longstanding US-Sino technology career (working at Apple, Microsoft, and Google) and his much-heralded New York Times Op-Ed from June 2017, Dr. Lee predicts that Chinese and American AI will have a stunning impact on not just traditional blue-collar industries but will also have a devastating effect on white-collar professions.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Compelled to listen at 2x speed

  • By Greeny on 09-26-18

Controversial, otherwise even-handed; non-tech

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

Reviewed: 09-29-18

Be mindful of why people are giving this book low votes: I'm sure many westerners will find Lee's tone in this book somewhat condescending with respect to Chinese dominance over the rest of the world. But look past the condescension, and you might find great value here. He gives an up to the minute, non-technical report of technologies relating to AI, and China's rapid developments in the area since its overnight adoption of AI in 2013. He offers an overall even-handed perspective, despite his exaggerated Chinese nationalism, with emphasis on the benefits and advantages China has gained, and will continue to gain, by copy-catting, pirating, and cheating.

Lee's discussion on the pros and cons of universal basic income (UBI) trivialises its complexities. And I completely disagree with what I took to be his opinion of what careers will mean to humanity in the near future; his opinion leans toward the creation of more caring, dutiful work that citizens are to be tasked with in order to justify their base pay. I lean more heavily toward allowing and incentivizing people with the freedom to innovate cutting-edge and worthwhile products and ideas, rather than treating work as tasks that all citizens on UBI are dutifully obligated to complete. This seems to be the major difference in the majority mindset between the Free World and Communist-type Nations.

Overall a worthwhile book, despite the exaggerated Chinese nationalism (this might be a pro for Chinese listeners).

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Autonomy

  • The Quest to Build the Driverless Car - and How It Will Reshape Our World
  • By: Lawrence D. Burns, Christopher Shulgan
  • Narrated by: George Newbern
  • Length: 11 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 77
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 77

In Autonomy, former GM executive and current advisor to the Google self-driving car project Lawrence Burns offers a sweeping history of the race to make the driverless car a reality. In the past decade, Silicon Valley companies like Google, Tesla, and Uber have positioned themselves to revolutionize the way we move around by developing driverless vehicles while traditional auto companies like General Motors, Ford, and Daimler have been fighting back by partnering by with new tech start-ups. It’s not a question of whether the self-driving car will disrupt the automobile industry; it’s a question of when and how, and who will win the race.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Easy listen, non-technical perspective

  • By James S. on 09-14-18

Easy listen, non-technical perspective

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

Reviewed: 09-14-18

It seems to be a fairly even-handed history and analysis of autonomous automobiles, though not complete. Lacking any technical details, which could be good or bad depending on your taste. Also lacks details regarding the extent of entrenchment in old ways of doing business in Detroit.

Can't expect everything from someone writing about a rapidly-evolving technology. I'm just happy someone from the inside took the initiative to write about the current state of affairs for autonomous vehicles.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Through Two Doors at Once

  • The Elegant Experiment That Captures the Enigma of Our Quantum Reality
  • By: Anil Ananthaswamy
  • Narrated by: Rene Ruiz
  • Length: 7 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33

The intellectual adventure story of the "double-slit" experiment, showing how a sunbeam split into two paths first challenged our understanding of light and then the nature of reality itself - and continues to almost 200 years later. Through Two Doors at Once celebrates the elegant simplicity of an iconic experiment and its profound reach. With his extraordinarily gifted eloquence, Anil Ananthaswamy travels around the world, through history and down to the smallest scales of physical reality we have yet fathomed. It is the most fantastic voyage you can take. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent exposition of the conundrum

  • By GLYNN A on 08-14-18

Great explanations, far exceeded my expectations..

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

Reviewed: 08-26-18

Though it touches on only a small subset of physical phenomena, this book has surprising depth and breadth, and can be used both as an experimental lab manual for each of the experiments explained, as well as a book on the philosophy of physics.

The author refers to the same basic experimental setup for each new story (interference of wave-particle paths), and makes it into somewhat of a joke for repeating the same thing for each new story; but really this book has much more breadth than its title suggests. He gives great explanations for just about all types of interference relevant to quantum mechanics, and weaves into each story a lot of great background info on the philosophy of the physics and the physicists involved.

I was literally in tears by the end of this audible (not literally), that's how good it was!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Third Door

  • The Wild Quest to Uncover How the World's Most Successful People Launched Their Careers
  • By: Alex Banayan
  • Narrated by: Alex Banayan
  • Length: 8 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 902
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 812
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 812

The Third Door takes listeners on an unprecedented adventure - from hacking Warren Buffett’s shareholders meeting to chasing Larry King through a grocery store to celebrating in a nightclub with Lady Gaga - as Alex Banayan travels from icon to icon, decoding their success. After remarkable one-on-one interviews with Bill Gates, Maya Angelou, Steve Wozniak, Jane Goodall, Larry King, Jessica Alba, Pitbull, Tim Ferriss, Quincy Jones, and many more, Alex discovered the one key they have in common: they all took the Third Door.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This story saved my future...

  • By Laurimar Melendez on 07-08-18

Persistence, hard work, and hustle..

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

Reviewed: 08-18-18

I was hesitant to buy this one for a while, because I was skeptical that an average kid with little to no experience in life could have gained any sort of truly profound insights after hustling and hacking a few random, short-term experiences. But it turned out to be worth the Audible credit!

I consider Alex's hustling and hacking to be "legitimate", in that he doesn't come across as pretending to be someone he's not, or making broad claims about having skills or knowledge he doesn't have. (Not that I totally disagree with the "fake it 'til you make it" mantra, but I have no respect for what I perceive to be the Tim Ferriss model of taking this mantra to the extreme.) Aside from his lack of compassion toward his parents' sacrifices to put him in a position to get a great formal education (which, btw, he could've also hacked to his specifications if he had even tried), I really appreciate his can-do hustling.

Though I think he did a relatively good job at narrating his own story, the audible would've been much better without the over-dramatization of way too many elements of the stories. The stories themselves were good enough on their own.

  • Einstein and the Quantum

  • The Quest of the Valiant Swabian
  • By: A. Douglas Stone
  • Narrated by: Gabriel Vaughan
  • Length: 11 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41

Einstein and the Quantum reveals for the first time the full significance of Albert Einstein's contributions to quantum theory. Einstein famously rejected quantum mechanics, observing that God does not play dice. But, in fact, he thought more about the nature of atoms, molecules, and the emission and absorption of light - the core of what we now know as quantum theory - than he did about relativity.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • educational and fun

  • By Amjad on 12-04-13

Best Audible on modern physics

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

Reviewed: 08-09-18

I just listened to this again after cycling through as many other physics Audibles as are available, and I can say without hesitation that this one is the best in terms of modern physics concepts that all undergrad physics students learn. Nothing too complicated, but plenty of useful conceptual discussions.

  • Now

  • The Physics of Time - and the Ephemeral Moment That Einstein Could Not Explain
  • By: Richard A. Muller
  • Narrated by: Christopher Grove
  • Length: 10 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 437
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 382
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 377

You are reading the word now right now. But what does that mean? What makes the ephemeral moment now so special? Its enigmatic character has bedeviled philosophers, priests, and modern-day physicists from Augustine to Einstein and beyond. Einstein showed that the flow of time is affected by both velocity and gravity, yet he despaired at his failure to explain the meaning of now. Equally puzzling: Why does time flow? Some physicists have given up trying to understand and call the flow of time an illusion.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Worth the listen

  • By Amazon Customer on 10-04-16

Great insights in real physics; some "metaphysics"

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

Reviewed: 07-30-18

This audible is definitely worth a listen if you want to gain further insights into fundamental physics. The author, who is a highly-cited physicist in his practice, doesn't go super deep into any one topic, and not all critical topics of relevance are covered; but he does give what I consider to be really good, extensive explanations regarding entropy, quantum particles/fields, quantum gravity, etc.

It might fizzle out somewhat in the end; but it's not because of topics irrelevant to physics. He ends up digging further into borderline-metaphysics than most of his intended audience might appreciate, assuming that audience to be science-minded people who only respect falsifiable hypotheses. But eventually physicists will have to explain the borderline physics that he mentions. Besides, he never suggests pursuing any studies that can't be tested and falsified, so it's not "spiritual clap-trap".

  • The Lightness of Being

  • Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces
  • By: Frank Wilczek
  • Narrated by: Walter Dixon
  • Length: 6 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 96
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 84
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 83

Our understanding of nature's deepest reality has changed radically, but almost without our noticing, over the past 25 years. Transcending the clash of older ideas about matter and space, acclaimed physicist Frank Wilczek explains a remarkable new discovery: matter is built from almost weightless units, and pure energy is the ultimate source of mass. He calls it "The Lightness of Being." Space is no mere container, empty and passive. It is a dynamic Grid, modern ether, and its spontaneous activity creates and destroys particles.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • WHY is he WHISPERING???

  • By Scott on 11-30-14

Highly underrated!

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

Reviewed: 07-26-18

I have a much deeper understanding of physics in general after having listened to this. Prof. Frank's explanations are clear and concise. Like any book of this type, it is not complete, but it helps to complete the picture in my head.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful