This morning I added to my personal mathematics and science library by purchasing the two-volume set of “The Alternate Current Transformer in Theory and Practice,” 1900, third edition, by J.A. Fleming. The volumes are discards from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater library, and were donated to the library on December 8, 1966 and entered as items 119198 and 119199. Maybe I’ll just have to have an antique barrister’s bookcase in which to store them with honor. Someday.
I also bought a used trigonometry textbook – a considerably younger volume – for a quarter. It looks like something that will be useful to look at this summer, as I make the move from algebra and trigonometry to calculus.
It’s almost time to list some more of the geeky books I have on the shelf. And this week I finally finished one.
The Calculus Wars was probably the most annoying nonfiction book I have ever plowed through. The proofreading and copy editing was, hands down, the worst I have ever seen in a published book. I know, in one of my lives I was a professional editor. But I am talking about double periods at the end of a sentence, or no period at all. Typos. Using the wrong word in a way that the spell checker won’t catch it (like “were” instead of “where”). Mentioning a scientific text but not giving the title. Or, giving the title but not including it in the bibliography. Or, mentioning a work but making it clear that you didn’t take the time to read it yourself but are only passing along the opinions of others without attribution (“Some say….”). Or, using anachronistic examples to explain yourself, like suggesting that calculus was invented to describe the path of a pitched baseball.
I started attacking it with pencil and red pen as I read it, and I NEVER write in books like that. I was in it to finish it for the purely historical information, and I did. And I’ll give the author credit for the work he had to do to even find the core documents. That being said, once he had that access, I think (I hope) he had it in him to write a much better book. And I’m professionally disgusted by the poor editorial work of the publishing company. They really made themselves and their author look bad, and that’s exactly the opposite of what you want to do.
Anyway it’s done. So is my second precalc exam, on which I made some stupid errors and cost myself what would have been a pretty spectacular grade. As it was, I got the fifth highest grade in the class and I’m currently third highest in the class overall. But it’s time to knuckle down and get thinking in trig so I can get my numbers up. I think I’m starting to get it, but there hasn’t been much time to really study lately rather than just keep up with the homework.
The presentation at the Physics Department meeting went well, and I’ve already gotten to go over one technical paper. It felt just the same as when I did this job for ASNT when I was 24, but now some of the text is material I can actually understand. At least until it goes all “calculus” on me. But I am getting little bits and pieces figured out.
Astronomy is focusing on the life cycles of stars. And next Monday after class there will be a presentation by a Wolfram rep on their Mathematica software. Apparently I can purchase this at a staggering student discount. If they throw in one of their old Einstein posters, resistance will be futile (it always is).