[[ This file from Adra, http://www.mhada.info ]]

== Books 1 ==

by,

Martha Adams

[[ Return to the Top list. ]]

[[ Return to the Books 1 paragraph. ]]


These links reach to notes and observations paragraphs farther down in this file. If you're not yet familiar with the materials I've listed here, skip past this list to find helpful suggestions immediately below it.

This above list, alphabetized by author name, reflects my personal evaluations concerning some resources to support good thinking about space settlements. I can't do that evaluation for you the reader, or I shouldn't try to. I do, however, want to suggest certain ones I think are most-appropriate starting points. These authors are,

And if you say "...But that's not much about space settlements!" that's serious error. The error is large, and I sort it down to two key points:

Key Point 1. America is not a space-faring nation. If we were, we'd be there now. If you intend to reach Out There from an American base, you have got a big problem and for openers, you must know something of how that messy stew of politics, religion, corruption and ignorance, all works here in America. If you don't know something of this basic then you can certainly dream a lot but you will never corral the needed resources, set them to your objective, and achieve progress.

Key Point 2. Space is hard and all the money and resources you need to reach Out There, will never be found by you. (If recent history is any guide, more wars will be along shortly and those spasms really grab up money.) Thus getting there must be a minimalist effort. That effort must include analog experiments as pioneered by Robert Zubrin. And all the work and all you carry to Out There, must be thought thru and tested that you do and you carry what you need, and nothing more. How do you choose that?

(Here's a topic for some forward-looking computer gaming. 'Civilization,' reaching to the future.)

For which reasons, your productive work toward space settlements covers wide human topics and agendas from the roots of past and today's American culture, out to the challenges of everyone Out There living and working and reproducing in pressurized containers that are very small compared to usual life here on Terra.

(Here is a really central fact. Our evolutionary past reaching back some millions of years, includes nothing like this proposed future Out There. We cannot expect a lot of early success adapting our genetics, physiologies, and cultures to that very difficult and demanding environment that is the whole universe outside our local sky. Thus for a beginning, we'll need to fit the lifespaces we make to our today's human needs; the first step to that being, to know and to accept what those needs are. Which is in short, why many resources I mention here have no direct connection to a human future in space, yet I present them as essential for success there.)

What do you need to know to build off-Terra settlements? You need to know a lot of engineering, for living in space is a quantum jump in difficulty and risk beyond living here on Terra. Today's movement to Out There is like the change our ancestors did when they came up out of the ocean to live on dry land. But we are doing this ourselves. Out of our knowledge base of science and engineering. For this self-driven evolution, we must attend to what is the essential core of us as humans.

We need to think about the soft-sciences topics because living in space is much harder to do than here on Terra, and the environment is totally unforgiving. So no engineer who proposes to work in space settlements has a sufficient information background if he's equipped only with hard-sciences education.

That's why most of the books listed here aren't hard-science and engineering works.


========= Resources =========

Francis Bacon, Essays. About 1620 AD.

Francis Bacon's time was AD 1561 -- 1626. This time marks the beginning of about a century that changed the world by introducing a style of rational thinking appropriate to science and engineering. This style was not "invented" then: it has visible roots back to hundreds BC; but Bacon's time marks when it began to change from one of those topics philosophers debated, to become a central force making the future. Because, as things turned out, this rational, reality-based thinking yielded powerful results when applied. This was something new for its time; and as it became recognized, large consequences followed. These days many of us take such work and its results for granted: in Bacon's time, such reality-based effectiveness was something new.

However. Even today, large segments of the American population fail to grasp these basics Bacon outlined: see Wired magazine, 2007 May, p.60-61. Greta Lorge, May The Best Theory Survive. Topic: evolution. America's institutionalized ignorance and religion are enough, without fetching in militarism and political corruption, to account for America's failing in today's world. I wonder if these point directly to national collapse, if this goes on. Lorge's chart shows that America stands #29 among 30 countries with about 40% of its overall population knowledgeable enough about science to accept evolution thinking over faith-based religious ideology. This raises topics such as "...Sucker Bait?" and it supports my thesis that "America Is Not A Space-Going Nation." For further related informations, research "millennialism" and "rapture."

Bacon's works include a series of essays. These essays are my particular focus here. Their date is around AD 1620. For best effect, read slowly and try to feel, how did Bacon arrive at these words? This construction? Those results? As interesting as what made it to today and is relevant today, is what didn't yet was Bacon's best at the time.

(More work for you the reader, but if you do it you may find a large payoff from it. Deep between the lines, Bacon's words reflect the world in which he wrote them. Did he write in Latin, then? Four hundred years later, you see Bacon thru a series of windows, with distortion; yet much is there. In unhasty time, look for it.)

I believe one of the greater values available from Bacon's essays, is service as a medicine against so much in today's world that is hasty and poisonous. ...But, back to topic.

To read about Francis Bacon (who lived an interesting but difficult life), go to http://www.iep.utm.edu/b/bacon.htm/. To read Bacon's often-referenced essays, good examples of reflective thinking written about 1620 AD and not at all obsolete, go to http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext96/ebacn10.txt/.


========= o0o =========

Sheridan Baker, The Complete Stylist. Thomas Crowell Co., 1966.

Baker seems to me to have had an uneven career, but in this book, he made a masterpiece. I recommend to anyone seriously concerned about communication and writing, to find a copy of his 'The Complete Stylist.' The book seems to be out of print now, and for several years past. I don't know what business reality this reflects; but from the viewpoint of people working at words, it's bad. The whole book is interesting, but I thought one of Baker's appendices in the book, 'Rhetorical Devices,' was especially interesting and useful.

This is a book, like Bacon's Essays, to be read during unhasty time. Baker practices in the book, what he prescribes in it. The result is impressive. I know of one other book that works as well as Baker: it is Nathan Grier Parke, 'Guide to the Literature of Mathematics and Physics,' discussed elsewhere in these Web pages.

Not mentioned here (except in passing) is Strunk's Manual of Style, an old standby. That book is worth having in hand. It's an Authority, and thus useful sometimes. Baker wants close reading and study, and a handy place on your worktable or library shelf.


========= o0o =========

Encyclopedias: Wikipedia; Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Beware reading and television materials that "explain" topics with all the hard stuff left out. Beware predigested pap. I believe such materials are bad even for children. Keeping a personal Encyclopedia Brittanica in your home may not be too much of a good thing. Not too much for yourself, nor for your children. (Remember that children define 'hard' different from how grownups do!)

Wikipedia gets its own top-level node here in Adra, so I'll comment here mostly about E. Brittanica.

EB is The Old Standby of basic information resources. Others emulate it: as a child, I spent many hours over the "Book of Knowledge" volumes, so that little I heard in school was new to me. (This was not necessarily a good thing: school was boring.) With Web resources so conveniently at hand now, my principal use for the Brittanica is, once in a while, I go over to a library and spend some time relaxing with the delicious heavy prose there, so completely different from what I experience in this everyday world.

The EB most accessible to me is in the nearby town library. It's a 15th Edition, copyright 1993. (I think that points right away to a value of the Wikipedia.) (This library runs Windows, not Linux. I wonder what that costs in service, dollars, and security?)

Anyhow, this EB is made with its "Micropedia," its Volumes 1-12, ready reference works organized in the usual encyclopedia style: alphabetical by topic.

This EB's further volumes are its "Macropedia," its Volumes 13-29, a collection of nontrivial and rather deep pieces, again in Encyclopedia structure.

In my view, what I find in this EB is 'authoritative;' that is, it's not to be taken as 'Final Authority.' And that same text that I like to read, like a proof in mathematics, wants careful observation for what lies between its lines. In the EB, as anywhere else, the writer who writes a thing, writes also about himself (herself).

I've discussed Wikipedia in the node here that I reserved for it; but I want to partly repeat here what I said there.

The topic is, whether Wikipedia has any standing at all, compared to EB. In fact, it does; but the easy first impression that EB and Wikipedia are the same sort of thing, is false. They are in fact, very different; thus comparing the one vs the other is not apples/apples, but apples/oranges. If you use them each as needed, you will use them differently. I could say more on this topic, but if you are here as a worker and researcher, you will want to go and find it out for yourself. For serious work, you want access to both.


========= o0o =========

John Gribbin, The Fellowship. Overlook Press, 2005, 2007.

Elsewhere in my Web pages I talk about Francis Bacon without mentioning his contemporary, William Gilbert (the younger). Nor do I mention William Harvey there; and in fact, that focussed small piece of work misses a whole large story which appears in brief accessible form in Gribbin's 'The Fellowship.'

It turns out, having poked about for decades in history of science topics, I failed to see that in the 1600's much that had happened (including Copernicus and Bruno and Galileo) came together as a phase change in the character of some human knowledge -- it was a crucial time in the evolution of reality-based scientific and engineering thinking. Well, here it is, in one package: The Fellowship.

'The Fellowship' is the men (all men: such were the times) who came together to form the British Royal Society. The book is a history. I do not mention it here to direct you toward studying history of science. I mention it rather, as a powerful example of how men in their time came together and accomplished, against opposition, badly needed cultural change. Just as Tuchman's 'A Distant Mirror' reflects events of history into our own time, I think 'The Fellowship' offers much to the many disparate individuals and groups who are working to place settlements off Terra.


========= o0o =========

Rudyard Kipling, With the Night Mail. 1905.

Fantasy and science fiction are known by those who work in these fields to be closely related kinds of fiction. Rudyard Kipling's 'Jungle Book' is so widely known and accepted that it's rarely mentioned that 'Jungle Book' is, after all, fantasy. Even less known and acknowledged, is that Kipling wrote excellent science fiction.

Science fiction, as any literature must, reflects the technology of the times when it was written. Thus we can see what a really good mind did with the technology of 1905 in Kipling's With the Night Mail. For a good learning experience, likely to serve you well later, find and read some of Kipling's science fiction. As with so much good text, Gutenberg is the place to look:

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/29135, choose: plain text, us-ascii, 101 Kb, 'main site'.

As you read Kipling, reset your mind to 1905. The American Civil War is still an active public topic. Thomas Edison is at work in his New Jersey laboratory. The steam locomotive and the telegraph are high technology. Doyle is publishing Sherlock Holmes stories and people haunt newsstands for Doyle's next. Many people believe incredibly high speeds such as above 60 miles per hour, may be not humanly survivable. There is speculation about "horseless carriages." And as you read, observe Kipling's technological base, which he sets out in plain sight yet his good workmanship diverts you from it.

Some who work at science fiction place Kipling as the first "true" science fiction writer: strong opinions vary. Don't get into that issue. What's there, is there. Do mine this work of Kipling's for the richness in it -- and to study how he made it.

See the closely related Jules Verne entry here.


========= o0o =========

Raphael Littauer, Pulse Electronics. McGraw Hill, 1965.

Electronics grows from two principal roots (and several lesser ones). These central roots are applied physics and mathematical logic. Littauer seems to have been not at all appreciated when first published. When I purchased a replacement copy in 2005, the volume that I received was an unused, original edition copy (which I treasure). The strength and the market vulnerability of this book seem to me to arise both from the same root: that Littauer writes of electronics from an applied physics point of view. Apparently the majority out there does not think like Littauer. This time, the majority is very wrong. If you can find a copy of this book, which is certainly going to become rare, get it and cherish it.

And without haste, read it closely. Too many people think about electronics as a kind of dogma, and they miss basics. ("Which way does current flow?") Concerning its orientation to vacuum tubes technology, somebody may stand up and shout, "That book is decades obsolete!" Oh yes, I see that. But.

But, #1. You can say the same of Francis Bacon, for instance. The immense value of this book is the same as of several other resources that I mention here: it is, you get to see a great mind at its business, an alert and perceptive mind. And if you study out how the book is made, maybe later you can yourself accomplish something comparable. At least, for this space settlement work, you need all the good you can find.

And but, #2. If us humans eventually reach out to some of us living and working in space, think about power electronics. Things like high power klystrons and magnetrons, for instance, that require internal vacuum. Now think about even larger and more powerful such technology, built and operating in the natural vacuum of all space. Out There. I think I see a whole new "vacuum tubes" technology in that future. If that future happens.

So find a copy of Littauer for yourself, and read it closely. Its future may be very much larger than appears at quick glance today.


========= o0o =========

Niccolo Machiavelli, writings. Early 1500's.

We've all heard of Niccolo Machiavelli and of his evil writings. ("Machiavellian" does not signal approval of someone's character.) In fact, Machiavelli's writings reflect his times and experience, and his political theory seems much more realistic than "evil." Human nature and social power today aren't as different as one might wish from what Machiavelli wrote in his own time. For anyone with large objectives who applies management theory, Machiavelli is right up to date. His writings complement Winter-Berger's The Washington Payoff or the DVD Orphans of Apollo, both mentioned elsewhere in Adra.

Machiavelli's humor writings outline the social character of his times, amply illustrating my perception that reading well-made text is the next best option to a time-travel machine to visit other times and peoples. Who reads some of Machiavelli without at least surveying much of Machiavelli, commits error. (The careful reader also watches for signals within translated text, that it has been bowdlerized.) For a sample of Machiaveli's fiction writing, find Belphagor, The Devil Who Took A Wife. This is very rich fare, and like the works of Tolkein or Vance, it cannot be skimmed rapidly.

Machiavelli's writings are generally available. Be reminded, if you read too little of him thus finding too small a picture of what Machiavelli is all about, that's an error. (Similar error is achieved by reading too little of Freud.) My own hardcopy resource is The Portable Machiavelli, edited and translated by Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa, Penguin Books, 1979. It is a collection. It is an excellent and (in my view) necessary complement to academic management theory and to today's news events.


========= o0o =========

Guy Murchie, Song of the Sky. Houghton Mifflin, 1954.

Guy Murchie writes from the point of view of navigator aboard a large (for the times) cargo airplane powered by four reciprocating engines, that flies at 11,000 feet or so at airspeeds more than one hundred mph. Working from this not so boring environment, Murchie writes one of the very best books in my library. His style, work, and content illustrate technology and history melded into uncommonly readable (and enjoyable) text. Anyone writing for a technical or public audience wants to study what Murchie accomplishes and how he does it.

Further, the book itself illustrates workmanship with simple tools to good effect. Since this book was published (1954) the world has changed. ("Evolved" doesn't seem quite the right word; I think "grown" is off the mark.) Yet scholarly study and thinking remain accessible, if one can find examples to work from. Murchie shows the reader that 'elaboration' and 'content' are two different kinds of things.

For example, the book's drawings and diagrams seem all to have been done with a simple device that young people of these days may have never heard of. A Leroy pen. The result is a book with many richly meaningful illustrations free of unhelpful elaboration (no color nor halftones: easy to publish). A thing not much seen these days.

Also very good in Murchie, is his research and the accessibility of its results. Upon reading this book, you want to review its index for content and for how it was made. If you think you have it in you to write a technology oriented book or a thesis, start with your Murchie (a well structured and complete model); Knuth's TeX formatter; and an emacs editor. Seeking more than these, such as one and another of today's elaborate and sophisticated resources, is likely to complicate your work wonderfully and to negative net effect.


========= o0o =========

Nathan Grier Parke, Guide to the Literature of Mathematics and Physics. Dover Publications, 1958.

Parke's book is long out of print -- unfortunately. Perhaps its publishers believed it was obsolete. What is not obsolete about it, is its author provides a remarkable model of library research and thinking. He provides also, remarkably well made prose about his topics.

All that good stuff is in the book's Part I. Its Part II is the part of the book that would be obsolete now. You want this book for its remarkable Part I.

The reader does not need to be a hard sciences researcher to profit immensely from the first section of this book: Principles of Reading and Study. This Part I is completely generic; and it reflects what may become a lost art in these days of computer searching.

If I had not kept my original copy of this book, I would look for it in large research oriented libraries. The book is a gem: if you are developing a serious books library on your favorite topics, you will probably recognize, shortly after you open the book, that your library needs it for immediate close study and occasional refreshers later.


========= o0o =========

Mary Roach, Packing for Mars (Norton, 2010).

Be reminded us humans are each one of us, a biological system that works wholly by principles being researched in science based laboratories. We are none of us, "abstract" and "pure," unchanging in any basic sense. Thus Mary Roach, who has taken on some difficult books topics, is well suited to write this introductory book on humans in space.

Reading Roach improves the reader's resistance to those siamese twins, religion and ignorance, that afflict most of us raised in this American culture. We are taught as pre-rational children to have serious blind spots in our perceptions of ourselves; of others as we see them; of our lives, cultures, histories, and biology. Those blind spots, taken into space, will kill us there. (Not good here, either: look at America's politics or at its hugely expensive but low performing medical systems.) In Packing, Mary Roach looks at science and engineering researches into the possibility (earliest work) and technology (later work) of human life in space.

The engineering technology to get out space is a "relatively simple" field compared to what's required, when you get there, to live there. Which life will include surviving and working in a wholly different environment from any our human species began in. It will include sex in space, and the necessary consequence of sex in space: children growing and maturing into our next generation of people in space. How will we do that?

As much as I'd like to, I can't say how we will do that. Only that I expect a sure part of it is, with great difficulty. And that who succeeds against this difficulty, will for openers, understand the science and technology that underlies the work. But it's easy, and a killer error, to know this science and technology and imagine it's all there is. It's not, so get yourself a copy of Roach and study it closely. (And, a copy of Martha Stout, also mentioned here.)


========= o0o =========

Michael Specter, Denialism (Penguin Press, 2009).

It was only by an extraordinary effort that America mounted any serious effort to look out into space (Apollo); and as history shows us, Washington's reasons for doing this weren't very good nor forward-looking.


========= o0o =========

Henry Sticker, How To Calculate Quickly, Rapid Methods in Basic Mathematics (Dover Publications, 1955).

Where 'Basic Mathematics' is not mathematics at all. It is, rather, elementary arithmetic, approached from a different angle than I have seen in any schools. And a much better angle.


========= o0o =========

Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door (Broadway Books, 2005).

Elsewhere in Adra I've linked politics to the engineering challenge of placing new settlements off-Terra. I'm sure others beyond myself found that link surprising and unwelcome, as I did until I had had time to work on the topic. Now here is another nonobvious link. It will be no easier and no more welcome to students and engineers working at space than is politics. This link, without following it very far, brings the space worker into the depth psychologies -- the deeper and more dark parts of individual and social psychologies.

In this book, Stout writes about a certain kind of person. Whose frequency in the population, is not well known. This kind of person is known variously as a "sociopath" or as a "constitutional psychopath," among other labels applied by those trying to understand how such people function in society. The sociopath appears in historical and in folk literature. See (native American) the Trickster; see (in Batman) the Joker; see (to the Vikings) Loki. We need to think about the certainty that sooner or later, in the close, closed and sealed environment of off-Terra lifespaces, we'll find we have a sociopath among the people there.

The experienced and reasonable engineer may argue, "If such a person is so dangerous, how does he (or she) pass tests and safeguards, and wind up in space, anyway?" To which the short answer appears in Stout, that the difference that makes one person a sociopath and another not, is nearly invisible most of the time (even to mental health professionals), yet may be terribly serious in its consequences. Stout gives examples. A sociopath may follow a career in mental health, for instance, seemingly among those most certain to see the difference. And they don't. Read Stout to learn more about this strange and unusual kind of person.

If somehow we do not send a sociopath off to one of our Settlements, does that remove the risk? It does not, for who is or isn't so different from the usual, appears to develop before birth. Given us humans in space, human babies will be along directly. Which brings us to a whole new topic: how do us humans, having developed these past millions of years here on Terra, now go off-Terra and reproduce ourselves in that strangely and powerfully different environment?

And upon arrival of human babies in space, that some of them turn out to be psychopaths, won't be our major problem.

What's known about human makeup and psychology supports this thinking. After reading Stout, you may find yourself asking, "When we identify one of those people in that hard space environment, then what do we do with them?" (The earlier Eskimos in their hard environment, before European culture reached up into the polar regions, had an answer for this. Read Farley Mowat, The Snow Walker.)


========= o0o =========

John Strong, Procedures in Experimental Physics. Prentice Hall, 1938, many later printings.

In the 1940's, experimental physics was in large part an art practiced by some of this world's most talented and knowledgeable people. That all changed. What had been a field of laboratory equipment that seems almost uselessly simple today, expanded into amazing complexity and variety. Tomorrow's space traveler and settler will find a range of examples showing how earlier researchers used simple equipment with well-done thinking, to achieve the experimental results that so influenced today's world.


========= o0o =========

Frederick Jackson Turner, on The Frontier in America, as he observed and studied it around 1893.

Turner's 1893 paper opened an academic field of frontier studies, and today, it's one of the most basic works in print about the future development of settlements in space. See http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/22994. (My choice among options here is plain text, us-ascii, 733 Kb, click on 'main site'.)

Through history, frontiers around Terra have played valuable roles in world development. That's all changed now. Today, we have no frontiers here on Terra. We do have some very messy places which may, in time, push some kinds of development. But we don't have frontiers here today.

This has consequences. As I view the news out of Washington, I think we're seeing those consequences. That's a whole another (very large) topic, it's not the current business here. Which current business is, if we are to gain the benefits again of having frontiers, we must have those frontiers somewhere else. Off-Terra. Turner is required reading for space settlement workers for two reasons:

1) The local (i.e., here on Terra) social and economic consequences of having lost our frontier, and;

2) When we start building those off-Terra settlements, they won't look like the nice pictures posted out to venture capitalists and to the general public. Their character, their technology, their sociologies, will all echo a frontier character and settlement builders want to recognize and understand what that character will expectably be.

I first found Turner mentioned in Zubrin's book, The Case for Mars. Zubrin discusses Turner in a late chapter in Case titled "Epilog." In my view, this is a mistake: it makes Zubrin's very good book, less than it could be.

Turner's paper belongs in the beginning of the book, where it could be titled, "Prolog." The rest of the book would then be restructured in light of Turner's paper and of the (bad) general state of things here in America. We are, in my view, at an Asimovian crisis with only two likely outcomes. These are, we build viable settlements in space within the next one or two decades -- or we do that never. A new "Epilog" in the book would outline the two possible futures we will choose one of.


========= o0o =========

Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues..., and others.

Books over time, are often 'adjusted' or made from their beginning, to reflect some elements from the majority cultural beliefs prevailing when they were written. Translators and publishers may selectively 'adjust' or omit authors materials, and when they do this, they don't seem often to advise the readers of their materials that some modification has been perpetrated, I mean made, upon them. For this reason, when you read any older book, good practice is to scout around a little about the book's history. Books "for children" are especially candidates for this sort of abuse. When you read Verne, do look for a very recent translation of him.

I do not see Verne's science fiction work as more significant than Kipling's -- both were brilliant and extraordinary workers -- but for whatever reason, Verne's work is better known than Kipling's. However. For serious reading, you want recent translations from Verne's French to today's American, because earlier translations were too-much influenced by their times (beware bowdlerized and "improved"!), and they are notoriously badly made.


========= o0o =========

Robert Winter-Berger, The Washington Payoff. Dell Books, 1972. Out of print, but good copies are available thru used-books resources you can find here in cyberspace.

Be Reminded, that about now might be a good time for you to visit and study in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology. This branch of philosophy deals with character of knowledge and truth; and of how informed people test writings for presence (or absence) of these qualities. Which will interest you when you start reading Winter-Berger. His book certainly reaches into some of Washington's deeper and darker corners, and what does it mean to yourself and to your work?. That old book, today?

I see this book as the basic textbook about How Washington Works. You won't feel better about America after reading it; but if space settlements concern you then you must know something of the deeper workings of this place you must (somehow) put them Out There from. (See also, the video Orphans Of Apollo.)

A review of this book appears in http://www.nybooks.com/articles/10179. Skip down to the paragraph that starts, "Many people -- probably a great many -- will...."


[[ Return to the Books 1 paragraph. ]]

[[ Return to the Top list. ]]

=========================== EOF ===========================