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Apollo's fire : a day on Earth in nature and imagination

by Michael Sims

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Apollo's fire: a day on earth in nature and imagination   (2012-01-06)


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by wppalmer

Review of Apollo's fire: a day on earth in nature and imagination by Michael Sims published by Viking of London in 2007

Reviewer: W. P. Palmer

The author information on the book's cover states that Michael Sims is `acclaimed for his witty and original take on the natural world.' There are certainly some original and entertaining parts of the book, but overall these are few and far between! There is far too much pointless verbiage. The power of the author's scientific explanation is limited. For example, take the section explaining the effect in terms of global warming or cooling of jet engine contrails on high flying aircraft. The author expands on several general principles correctly, but the examples provided do not appear to follow the logic of the principles the author established.

There could be numerous scientific reasons why the theory and practice differ, but although interesting the section needs revision. I have asked several people to read this section (pp. 100-102) and they all find that there is something amiss.

I was interested in learning about Luke Howard (pp. 95-96) as I had not come across him previously. Similarly I found that the Galileo story (pp. 207-216) good, particularly his last discovery (p. 215). Generally the book is bitty- good in parts, like the curate's egg. The connecting theme of the `phaeton' travelling across the sky does provide an integrating theme, as such integration is greatly needed.

In general, I would not be in a hurry to purchase this book.


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