The ancient Muslim empire in the city of Baghdad was the birthplace of the word (and the concept of the) algorithm. In the year 820 AD, a Persian genius named Muhammed ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi created the concept of the algorithm and algebra in an ancient book called Kitab al-Jebr. The book Kitab al-Jebr (later latinisedContinue reading “Ancient word of the day: Algorithm”
Nadir ˈnā-ˌdir (from Arabic) The lowest or worst point. The sunken place of great depression or degradation. Astronomically, it is the point to opposite to the zenith. Merlin by Ralph Waldo Emerson He shall not seek to weave,In weak unhappy times,Efficacious rhymes;Wait his returning strength,Bird, that from the nadir’s floor,To the zenith’s top could soar,TheContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Nadir”
Scottish Forensic Anthropologist and Professor Sue Black’s memoir about her life confronting death won the Saltire Book of the Year in 2018. Forensic anthropology (in case you are wondering) is the study of human remains in order to solve criminal cases. I was very excited to read this book. Yet the first few chapters ofContinue reading “Book Review: All that Remains: A Life in Death by Sue Black”
Fritz Kahn’s Der Menschen als Industriepalast by Henning Lederer. Fritz Kahn combined industrial and mechanical functionality with the working wonders of the human body. He was a creative genius whose work remained undiscovered for many years. Until a curious curator Uta Von Debschnitz unearthed them. Kahn was a Berliner who did well for himselfContinue reading “Fritz Khan’s painting Der Menschen als Industriepalast in dreamy animation”
Art Historian Jake Hartnell takes us on a macabre and enthralling journey from head to toe in the medieval human body. This is fascinating because, even though we share the same bodies as our medieval ancestors, we had wildly diverging beliefs about the inherent symbolic power of parts of our bodies and what could heal,Continue reading “Book Review: Medieval Bodies Life and Death in the Middle Ages by Jake Hartnell”
Creative non-fiction genius and nature writer extraordinaire Annie Dillard has won a Pulitzer Prize for her essay writing. She has a unique, warm and intensely spiritual, even transcendental way of writing that elevates her above most other writers. That’s big praise I know, but this is really great writing. She has the ability to probeContinue reading “Book Review: The Abundance by Annie Dillard”
Have you ever wondered where the original ideas in mathematics, astronomy, science, medicine, philosophy ever came from? The answers to these questions are in this remarkable history book that takes us on a tiki-tour through the highways and back alleys of some of the most vibrant and buzzing cities of the ancient world, where knowledgeContinue reading “Book Review: The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller”
I grabbed a copy of this book fully expecting to love it. The Mind in the Cave is packed with information about ancient history, anthropology, archaeology and the Lascaux and Chauvet cave complexes – some of my favourite subjects. Although I have to say that this book was written in a style that was confusing to read, difficult to wade through and some of the information didn’t make sense, even to this non-expert on the topic.
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings takes its cue from medieval bestiaries. Author and playful intellectual Caspar Henderson sets out to write a modern compendium of beasts, and show, in the process, that truth is a lot weirder than fiction. Forget about dragons, cyclops and faeries, the world of extant species such as the thorny devil, nautilus and puffer fish are enough to inspire wonder.
The last gasp of Victorian spirituality infused cutting-edge science with old-school mysticism. Theosophy was all the rage; Many weird and and wonderful ideas being developed at the turn of the century around death, ghosts, the fourth dimension filled the Victorians with a palpable sense of possibility.