Tuesday, December 08, 2009

How to survive Christmas

That grim spectacle of familial strife and forced collegiate jollity, Christmas is barely more than a couple of weeks away. So how to endure it for another year?

One possible recourse may be Michael Heller's new book, Ultimate Explanations of the Universe. Polish physicist, philosopher and priest, Heller offers a critical guide to all the big philosophical issues in cosmology: eternal universes, cyclic universes, the heath death of the universe, quantum creation out of nothing, inflation, the anthropic principle, cosmological natural selection, theories of everything, and multiverses. Whether Springer Verlag will get around to publishing this book before Christmas, however, is another matter.

Speaking of slipping publication dates naturally brings us to Autocourse 2009-2010, the glossy annual review of the Formula One year. This publication was at its peak in the 1970s and 1980s, when it combined lengthy and informative Grand Prix reports with superb photography. Sadly, in the years since it degenerated into a rather insipid publication, low on information, and padded with the most average of photography. Last year's annual, however, was a significant improvement, with excellent and detailed team-by-team assessments provided by Mark Hughes, and Simon Arron taking over responsibility for the race reports. If the word-counts haven't been hacked again, this should be well worth reading over the fetid period.

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