Holiday Reading List 2012 / 2013

Holiday Reading

While some folks are enjoying days and days off this holiday season, some of us have to work (grumble, grumble, grinch, grumble..) but it doesn’t mean that we can’t take a little time to flex the old grey matter by indulging in some good books.

Thanks to Sara raiding my Amazon wish lists, these 4 books are going to make up the bulk of my holiday reading for the next week or two.

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed – Ray Kurzweil

Futurist, inventor and author Ray Kurzweil was recently hired by Google as their Director of Engineering , as such this book should be on the list for anyone with even a passing interest in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The bold futurist and bestselling author explores the limitless potential of reverse-engineering the human brain

Ray Kurzweil is arguably today’s most influential—and often controversial—futurist. In How to Create a Mind, Kurzweil presents a provocative exploration of the most important project in human-machine civilization—reverse engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works and using that knowledge to create even more intelligent machines.

Kurzweil discusses how the brain functions, how the mind emerges from the brain, and the implications of vastly increasing the powers of our intelligence in addressing the world’s problems. He thoughtfully examines emotional and moral intelligence and the origins of consciousness and envisions the radical possibilities of our merging with the intelligent technology we are creating.

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You – The Oatmeal

Everybody loves The Oatmeal, and Sara took a stab at in the dark guessing that I’d love this collection of some of Matthew Inmans most popular cat jokes. I’ve not yet read it, because Gabby (our 14-year-old) swiped it from me and brought it to “the pit of no return: (a.k.a. her room). I’m informed that it’s hilarious!

If your cat is kneading you, that’s not a sign of affection. Your cat is actually checking your internal organs for weakness. If your cat brings you a dead animal, this isn’t a gift. It’s a warning. How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You is a hilarious, brilliant offering of cat comics, facts, and instructional guides from the creative wonderland at TheOatmeal.com.

The Physics of Star Trek – Lawrence M. Krauss

In a book that (as a Trekkie) I’m ashamed to say I didn’t read when it was first published in 2007, theoretical physicist and Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, Dr. Lawrence Maxwell Krauss, dissects the science of Star Trek.

What warps when you’re traveling at warp speed? What is the difference between a wormhole and a black hole? Are time loops really possible, and can I kill my grandmother before I am born? Anyone who has ever wondered “could this really happen?” will gain useful insights into the Star Trek universe (and, incidentally, the real world of physics) in this charming and accessible guide. Lawrence M. Krauss boldly goes where Star Trek has gone-and beyond. From Newton to Hawking, from Einstein to Feynman, from Kirk to Picard, Krauss leads readers on a voyage to the world of physics as we now know it and as it might one day be.

Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel – Michio Kaku

Over the past year I’ve become a big fan of futurist and theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. It was his talks on Big Think that initially drew me in, so this book was an absolute must for me.

Teleportation, time machines, force fields, and interstellar space ships—the stuff of science fiction or potentially attainable future technologies? Inspired by the fantastic worlds of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Back to the Future, renowned theoretical physicist and bestselling author Michio Kaku takes an informed, serious, and often surprising look at what our current understanding of the universe’s physical laws may permit in the near and distant future.Entertaining, informative, and imaginative, Physics of the Impossible probes the very limits of human ingenuity and scientific possibility.