I can‘t wait to dive into this one tomorrow.
I can‘t wait to dive into this one tomorrow.
“Like most ancient peoples, the Greeks were stargazers, and the Babylonians were the first masters of astronomy: they had learned how to predict eclipses. Thales, the first Greek astronomer, learned how to do this from the Babylonians, or perhaps through the Egyptians. ... With Babylonian astronomy came Babylonian numbers. For astronomical purposes, the Greeks adopted a sexagesimal number system and even divided hours into 60 minutes....” Pg 39
“Pythagoras himself fled for his life, and he might have gotten away had he not run smack into a bean field. There he stopped. He declared that he would rather be killed than cross the field of beans. His pursuers were more than happy to oblige. They cut his throat.” Pg 38
I‘ve wanted to read this book for a while, but I was a bit underwhelmed. The stories of patients are fascinating. It seems that Sacks did care about uncovering the mechanisms of the brain; however, he‘s hopelessly full of himself. He goes on philosophical rants for pages and pages. I‘m interested in the patients and their afflictions, not how well-read or clever Sacks thinks he is.
I got my newest book haul today!
Despite the dry, technical nature of the subject matter, this book was a page-turner. I was enraptured from beginning to end while the author discussed some aspects of life in Soviet Russia, the politics surrounding the reactor‘s design and details of the catastrophe and subsequent relief efforts.
“Inside the Sarcophagus, they were explorers on the frontier of an alien world, where they found gamma radiation fields scaling heights no one had witnessed before and strange new materials forged at temperatures of more than 10,000 degrees centigrade in the crucible of a disintegrating nuclear reactor.” Pg 339
“In that moment, the core of the reactor was completely destroyed. Almost seven tonnes of uranium fuel, together with pieces of control rods...were pulverized into tiny fragments and sucked high into the atmosphere, forming a mixture of gases and aerosols carrying radioisotopes, including iodine 131, neptunium 239, cesium 137, strontium 90 and plutonium 239–among the most dangerous substances known to man.” Pg 88
”The KGB continued to walk the wards of Hospital Number Six, interrogating the engineers and operators of the plant even as they began to lapse into comas and die.” Pg 265
“Only the fate of the crows that had come to scavenge from the debris but stayed too long—and whose irradiated carcasses now littered the area around the plant—provided any visible warning of the costs of ignorance.” Pg 248
I‘m almost to the section where he discusses the Elephant‘s Foot, an enormous radioactive mass of corium, a substance formed from reactor pieces, nuclear fuel, control rods and other components all melted together.
Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the 1986 Chernobyl accident, but this book really provides some harsh detail. The fear of reporting failures to superiors, the need to quell the smallest shreds of doubt even among officials—it‘s a fascinating read so far.
During the preparation of uranium fuel for use in a reactor, three workers sustained lethal doses of radiation. The story of Hisashi Ouchi is often talked about online, and this book gives all the gory details. A fairly quick read, be prepared for a candid account of how radiation affects the human body.
Executioner Calcraft...replied, ‘Well, I have heard it said that when you are tied up and your face turned to the Castle wall, and trap falls, you see the stones expanding and contracting violently, and a similar expansion and contraction seems to take place inside your own head and breast. Then there is a rush of fire and an earthquake, your eyeballs spring out of their sockets, the Castle shoots up in the air, and you tumble down a precipice.‘
It was a Tyburn tradition that ‘if, en route to execution, a strumpet should beg to have the condemned man as a husband, he would be reprieved and would then marry her, so that both sinful lives would be cleansed....‘ But one felon, about to have the rope placed around his neck, happened to catch the lascivious eye of a particularly unattractive woman in the crowd; turning to the hangman he exclaimed, ‘Dispatch me quickly, before I am begged!‘
James Botting, the London hangman of the day, was once jeered at by some youths loitering at a street corner. When asked why he did not verbally respond to their abuse, he commented drily, ‘I never quarrel with my customers.‘
Nor was he wrong in this judgement; ironically one of his tormentors...did qualify as one of his customers, being later found guilty of rape and...had the dubious pleasure of meeting Botting again — on the scaffold.
Guilty of murdering one of his crew, Captain James Lowry was another who had been sentenced to be hanged at Execution Dock but, unlike that of Captain Kidd, his corpse was to be coated with tar, trussed in a tight-fitting ‘suit‘ of iron straps, and suspended from a gibbet as a dire warning to all felonious mariners.
Another condemned seafarer...saw the blacksmith enter the...cell with his tape measure — and promptly dropped dead with fright.