Monthly Archives: May 2015

Book Review- Energy for the 21st Century

Energy for the 21st Century: A Comprehensive Guide to Conventional and Alternative Sources
by Roy L. Nersesian, 2007

energy for the 21st century

This textbook covers energy generation (from biomass, coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, wind, solar, wave, hydrogen fuel cells) in depth. It has a good discussion of the deregulation of the US energy market. The chapter about biomass production was particularly interesting, though such an energy source will not play a large role in generation of developed countries. I did not read the two chapters about oil, as I imagine they are out of date (written in 2007) with the boom of shale oil nowadays. Recommended for people wanting a background in all things energy for research (i.e. me), but beware that it is a slow textbook-like read.

Book Review- Tiger of the Snows

Tiger of the Snows, the autobiography of Tenzing of Everest
by Tenzing Norgay, with James Ramsey Ullman, 1955

tiger of the snows

Very interesting throughout. The autobiography of the Sherpa who summited Everest with Hilary in 1953. Tenzing was born in Nepal and raised in India and went on lots of different expeditions with both Easterners and Westerners, so he learned to speak a lot of languages. He knew English well enough to dictate the book to the writer Ullman, which was necessary because, despite speaking many languages, Tenzing could not read or write. His native Sherpa language does not have a written form.

It took the work of hundreds of porters, Sherpas, and climbers and a lot of oxygen tanks to get two people to the top of Everest. Ambitious endeavor. I don’t think I would like being in such wind/cold for weeks at a time and having to climb ice tethered to other climbers. I’ll stick with the more reasonable peaks I’ve done in Colorado.

Interesting note about the copy of the book I have: I got it from my dad when everyone moved out of my childhood house a couple years ago. It’s a library copy from the Pikeville, KY High School Library, with a 14-day checkout occurring to Mike Webb on October 27, 1970. Oops. What’s the statute of limitations on that fine?

Book Review- Powering the Future

Powering the Future: How we will (eventually) solve the energy crisis and fuel the civilization of tomorrow
by Robert B. Laughlin, 2011

powering the future

An interesting little book full of tidbits that make you say “What?!”. Lots of best-guesses about what will happen when fossil fuels are exhausted in the coming centuries. Laughlin has a smart way to think about it: certain already developed technologies will provide a ceiling on energy/electricity costs that new technologies will have to beat to be competitive.

The book has 122 pages of text and 91 pages of notes, so you go in depth on a lot of the claims if you wanted. I did not do this.

Book Reviews- Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
by Michael Lewis, 2012


I listened to this book on tape, and it was more entertaining than I was expecting. You get to hear Michael Lewis making fun of Icelandic, Irish, and Greek people. You get to understand a little bit about what caused their meltdowns and cultural inefficiencies. And you get to make fun of California at the end.

Be responsible with money.