Viewing entries posted in January 2013

Bill Streever Names the 5 Hottest Places in America

January 25, 2013

For people who think 90F is mild, Bill Streever put together a list of five of the hottest (and sometimes dangerous) sightseeing opportunities and activities, in the U.S.

#5 is the Brookhaven, NY Super Collider:

Scientists have found a way to create and measure temperatures present within moments of the Big Bang. How? By accelerating ions of gold and lead to close to the speed of light and then guiding those ions into a head-on collision. In 2012, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, an hour or so by train from New York City, achieved temperatures of 7 trillion degrees. This is far from the hottest temperatures of the Big Bang, which exceeded 1032 degrees (that would be a 1 followed by 32 zeros), but it is hot enough to end the lives of protons and neutrons, reducing matter to a quark-gluon soup with characteristics that surprised the best and brightest theoretical physicists. And now the collider near Geneva, Switzerland, often known as the CERN Collider (after the initials of the particle physics research organization behind the collider), may have exceeded that record. Visitors are not normally allowed into the collider tunnels, but both facilities offer tours and explanations of what they are doing. For thermophiles with a streak of geek, a collider visit should not be missed.

For the other four, check out Publishers Weekly.

Posted by waleslit on January 25, 2013  |  Permalink

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The Daily Beast Names Heat, by Bill Streever, a Hot Read

January 16, 2013

Heat: Adventures in the World's Fiery Places by Bill Streever (Little, Brown, Jan 2013) is one of this week's hot reads, according to The Daily Beast:

Bill Streever has now covered the full spectrum. As he did with his previous book, Cold, Heat reminds us that our survival depends on maintaining ourselves within a very narrow range of temperature, but Streever has gone ahead and surveyed the extremes, up to 7 trillion degrees Fahrenheit, the highest temperature ever created in a laboratory, using supercolliders that recreate the heat just after the Big Bang. Heat changes things from one state to another, and to better understand the transformations of matter—or of the soul—Streever, following in the footsteps of the old-timer naturalists who came before him, goes on a personal journey to experience all types of heat. Just a six-degree change in our core temperature can give us heatstroke and kill us, and Streever tries to avoid that fate as he walks across Death Valley. He goes to the Kilauea shield volcano in search of molten rock, and gets to stick a hammer into lava, although in between flows the tip of his walking stick bursts into flame and he can’t stop walking lest his boots—and he along with them—melt. He gives passing mentions to physicists such as Antoine Lavoisier, whose theory of heat as liquid was wrong, but inexplicably leaves off every giant of thermodynamics such as Lord Kelvin, James Prescott Joule, Rudolph Clausius, and Sadi Carnot. Barefoot, he walks on burning coals, and learns that “in firewalking as in life, your mind has to be in a certain place.” But those temperatures don’t compare with those of the supercollider, which generates controlled heat hotter than the center of a supernova.  In such extreme conditions scientists study quarks, the building blocks of matter. Perhaps no amount of heat can reduce quarks into smaller pieces, and quarks are the end of the road. Then again, maybe not.

More of this week's hot reads can be found here.

Posted by waleslit on January 16, 2013  |  Permalink

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Cinthia Ritchie's Dolls Behaving Badly Grab a Great Review from Booklist

January 9, 2013

Fresh in: a great Booklist write-up for Dolls Behaving Badly by Cinthia Ritchie (Grand Central, Feb 5):

An out-of-the-ordinary setting and cast of characters are the backbone of Ritchie’s compelling debut novel. Divorced mom Carla lives in an Anchorage trailer park with her precocious eight-year-old son; waitresses at a Mexican restaurant while mourning her art career; and makes explicit, anatomically correct “dirty” dolls to help pay the bills. She maintains an overinvolved relationship with her chef ex-husband, and, over the course of the book, takes in her teenage babysitter, who was kicked out by her addict mother, and her once-perfect sister, who is now pregnant with a baby that is not her husband’s. When Carla is stressed or wants to show her misfit family love, she turns to her Polish grandmother’s comforting recipes, which are shared in the book, and she spends nights working on a secret series of paintings. Ritchie depicts her characters’ often bleak circumstances with humor and grace, and Carla makes for an atypical but eminently sympathetic heroine.

Posted by waleslit on January 9, 2013  |  Permalink

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