Tag Archives: Non-Fiction

Celebrating Alan Turing

WWII – This video was produced in 2012 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Alan Turing. Turing is a well known and accomplished Mathematician. He was also an early contributor to the field that we now call Computer Science. He invented the ‘Turing Machine‘ in 1936. The Turing Machine is an abstract machine that reads and writes symbols on an infinite tape.  Turing also played a key role in the rapidly developing fields of Artificial Intelligence and modern electronic computers.

However Turing is probably best known to the world at large for his work during World War II. He, and the other scientists in the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park in Britain, took on the German Enigma Machine. They were successful at breaking the coded messages that it produced allowing the Allies to gather much critical intelligence.

According to Professor Jack Copeland of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, “Thanks to Turing and his fellow codebreakers, much of this information [coded messages] ended up in allied hands – sometimes within an hour or two of it being transmitted.” It is estimated that the code breaking effort, while unknown to the world for nearly 30 years after the war, is credited with shortening the war in Europe by as much as two years and saving over 14 million lives.

Review of “The First Victory”

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Book ReviewWWII – “The First Victory” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by Andrew Stewart. Mr. Stewart has published 8 books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in East Africa during the period 1939-42. This is the non-fiction account of the defeat of the Italians by the British in East Africa.

As expected for Non-Fiction, this book is full of names, dates and facts. Some chapters have more than 100 footnote references. The last 26% of the book is reference material. I thought that the 9+ hours I spent reading this 328 page book were interesting, but dry. I have read quite a bit about the history of WWII, but never this aspect of it. The cover art is reasonable for the topic. I give this book a 3.6 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Review of “John F. Kennedy and PT-109”

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Book ReviewsWWII – “John F. Kennedy and PT-109” eBook was published in 2016 (the original paper edition was published in 1962) and was written by Richard Tregaskis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Tregaskis). Mr. Tregaskis published over a dozen books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in several different islands of the South Pacific during World War II.

This non-fiction novella tells about the growth of the use of PT Boats during the war years, as well as the exploits of then Navy Lieutenant John F. Kennedy.

It tells about the harrowing experience that Kennedy and the crew went through after their boat, PT=109, was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer. Kennedy let the survivors to safety, then set about to contact the US Navy to get them rescued.

I thought that this 2.5 hour read of 99 pages was interesting. I have read other accounts of the incident, but always enjoy histories of the War era. The cover art is reasonable. I give this novella a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Review of “Special Boat Squadron”

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Book ReviewWWII – “Special Boat Squadron” eBook was published in 2016 (original paper edition in 1983) and was written by Barrie Pitt. Mr. Pitt published eight books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set throughout the Mediterranean during the years of World War II.

This book tells how the British Special Boat Squadron was formed and details many of the actions that it undertook. As expected with a Non-Fiction History book, there are many names and dates of those involved in various missions.

I like reading history, especially the World War II period. I found this book to be interesting, though a little on the dry side. I found the 6.5 hours spent with this 240 page book interesting. The cover art does give the impression of the harsh conditions that the members of SBS units suffered during the war. I give this novel a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

It’s Pi Day Again

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It is time to celebrate once again that incredible number Pi or 3.14159… I had a post that included some of the history last year. Take a few moments today and participate in the 29th annual celebration of Pi!

This is a great opportunity to introduce kids to Pi. They learn a little history, learn some math and it can be capped with a nice slice of yummy pie.

As I suggested last year, try these methods of celebration.

  1. One of the easiest and most fun is to simply eat pie!
  2. Wear or display the Pi symbol
  3. Plan your recognition event for 1:59 PM (i.e. 3.14159)

And of course mark your calendars for next year so you can plan something in advance.

Popular Engineering Related Channels on YouTube

EWeek – With this being the first day of Engineers Week 2017 I thought that these videos and YouTube channels might be of interest.

  1. Grant Thompson’s YouTube channel “The King of Random” includes videos with a range of experiments and DIY projects. Some recent titles are : “Making Homemade Missiles That Explode“, “Is It a Good Idea to Make Party Poppers With Hydrogen?” and “Making Glass Vacuum Chambers Implode“.
  2. Bill Hammack’s YouTube channel “engineerguy” where the University of Illinois Chemical Engineering professor gives “the engineering details of all the stuff you wanna know about“. From his web site: Make called Bill a “brilliant science-and-technology documentarian”, whose “videos should be held up as models of how to present complex technical information visually” Wired called them “dazzling.” Scientific American’s blog called him a “smart, easygoing everyman with a firm understanding of the science.”
  3. Jason Fenske’s YouTube channel “Engineering Explained” has a more narrow focus on the subject of “How Cars Work”.
  4. The YouTube channel “Cody’s Lab” includes various experiments and adventures, most science or engineering related.
  5. NASA’s “NASA Goddard” YouTube Channel features views of various NASA technology. Expect to see the latest in NASA’s research into planetary science, astrophysics, Earth observing, and solar science on the channel.
  6. The YouTube channel “SciShow Space“, as the name implies, focuses on space exploration. The hosts, Hank Green, Caitlin Hofmeister, and Reid Reimers, cover topics ranging from what happened after the ‘Big Bang’ to the latest space related news.
  7. The “Numberphile” YouTube channel from the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) covers a variety of mathematic topics.

Some of these may be good to share with K-12 students interested in STEM careers.

Review of “Hawker Typhoon”

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Book Review – “Hawker Typhoon” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by Richard Townshend Bickers. Mr. Bickers has published over 50 books on World War II aircraft and air operations.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is told of how the Hawker Typhoon was developed and several short tales of how the aircraft was used throughout World War II.

I enjoyed the 3 hours I spent reading this 224 page Non-Fiction book. This book was full of facts, probably more than I really wanted about the Typhoon. It was an interesting story as to how the Typhoon was developed and how it was adapted to ground attack. The cover art is very appropriate, showing a Typhoon on the airfield. If you are interested in the history of World War II and aviation, you will find this an interesting read. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Review of “World War II”

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Book Review – “World War II” was published in 2016 and was written by James I. Robertson. Mr. Robertson has published several books targeted at the Elementary School age student.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. This short Non-Fiction book tells a brief history of World War II.

I thought this would be interesting because of my interest in the history of this period. It was s very short read of only 90 minutes for the 48 pages. I thought that the information was relatively good, though it seemed very choppy to me. It reads more like a report on World War II written by 5th-7th grade student. I am glad to see this book as I do not think enough students understand that period in our history. The cover art is reasonable for the book. I thought that the art included in the book was quite good and will help draw students into reading it. I give this novel a 3.5 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

A Weekly Dose of History

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Podcasts – My wife and I recently drove to Las Vegas to visit with family. From Austin, that is a long, LONG drive (According to Apple Maps, almost 1300 miles) of 19+ hours plus rest stops. If you have ever driven through West Texas, New Mexico or Arizona, you will understand when I say that there is not a lot to see along the way.

One of the things that we did to help pass the time was listen to the “Stuff You Missed in History Class” podcast. These 20-60 minute podcasts are produced by How Stuff Works and began in mid-2008. We survived the monotony of the drive by listening to more than 30 episodes.

We are both interested in history and we like the broad range of topics covered on the show. Not all are favorites, but they were enjoyable and educational. If you like history, you will most likely like this podcast.

If you are interested, you can subscribe via iTunes.