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The wave watcher's companion by Gavin…
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The wave watcher's companion (2010)

by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

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35. The Wave Watcher's Companion: Ocean Waves, Stadium Waves, and All the Rest of Life's Undulations by Gavin Pretor-Pinney
published: 2010
format: 320 page Paperback
acquired: from amazon in 2012
read: Aug 16-30
rating: 3½

Pretor-Pinney is author of [The Cloudspotters Guide] and founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. This book I think was a spin-off of all that and very much as the title implies - an informal scientific tour of the waves in all forms and mediums, beginning with how ocean waves form and ending on Hawaii, failing to bodysurf; and also one that tries very hard to be, and does a fairly good job at being, entertaining. There are a lot of things that fall into the wave category, like sound, light, radio waves, seismic waves, and but also oddball things like sand ripples, brain waves in different states or how some flocks of birds confuse predators, etc.

how/why: I originally got this because I work with waves (seismic waves) and this sounded fun and an alternative look at waves, something to broaden my perspective. Five years later, moving bookshelves and their books back and forth to redo the flooring, I found myself paging through it, and I thought I needed something that was off my reading list and reading mindset, and his explanations appealed to me.

in sum: Pretor-Pinney does a great job of simplifying things to point that he actually brings something new to these waves in all their types, and I appreciated that. I particularly liked how he explained how radios work, and his tide explanations and his explanation of wave refraction with blind aliens holding hands. It actually helps. He's accessible, and enjoyable, there are no equations but lots of figures. There are inevitably sections that require the brain time to think something through or to construct a concept. So it's not quite as fast a read as I anticipated.

Certainly recommended to anyone interested. ( )
2 vote dchaikin | Aug 30, 2017 |
Gavin Pretor-Pinney discusses waves of many variety from a scientific perspective. Unlike most science books, this one is very readable. His prose is almost poetic at times, I found myself rereading a few sections for the imagery, not the science. And there wasn't one metaphor - unless I just missed it.

The book is completely devoid of math. Still, it discusses details in a number of fields that help you to understand different phenomena. He starts and ends with ocean waves. He covers what drives them from their birth, what sustains them, and what give them their differing appearances and sizes. Different chapters discuss sound waves, supersonic flight, shock waves, light waves and more. In giving examples of different effects, he finds interesting trivia to fill the book.

One of the first things I noticed was that there is some italic text next to some paragraphs, partially indented into the text block. It seems to be fairly random at times, yet makes sense with respect to the paragraphs after having read it. My guess is that it would provide a memory assist when trying to either recall portions of the book or looking for a passage.

Overall, the book is very enjoyable and a moderately fast read. You don't have to be a science nerd to enjoy it. If you are a science nerd, the lack of equations won't be missed. ( )
1 vote Nodosaurus | Jun 22, 2015 |
Sono pienamente d’accordo con Crillion, che scrive sempre recensioni che reputo esaurienti, ben scritte e fonte di ispirazione per le mie letture. Avevo letto qualche anno fa Cloudspotting e ne ero rimasto entusiasta al punto di iscrivermi immediatamente alla “Clouds Appreciation Society”. Quando è uscito Wave Watching non ho avuto dubbi, alla prima occasione (sconto in libreria) l’ho acquistato. Purtroppo è soltanto un libro carino, molto dispersivo e, vista la mole di argomenti trattati, abbastanza superficiale. Forse il mio giudizio è legato anche al fatto che, mentre delle nuvole sapevo poco o niente, le onde le conosco molto più di quanto non cerchi di spiegarle lui. In ogni caso non sono assolutamente d’accordo con chi afferma che la conoscenza di una cosa uccide la poesia; l’ignoranza può favorire la magia (nel senso di credenze superstiziose) ma non certo la poesia. Conoscere qualcosa sulle nuvole me le fa apprezzare infinitamente di più e le rende molto più poetiche. La poesia delle onde la vedo proprio grazie agli studi di fisica. Per apprezzare la poesia di qualunque cosa si deve conoscere, altrimenti si crede alle fate. Citando Dawkins che cita Adams: “Non è sufficiente godere della bellezza di un giardino? Che bisogno c'è di credere che nasconda delle fate?” ( )
  SergioPerkunas | Apr 10, 2013 |
Very interesting, I'm seeing the world differently now. As waves. ( )
  MarkTJones | Mar 30, 2013 |
I really enjoyed Pretor-Pinny’s book about clouds (The Cloud Spotter’s Guide: http://www.librarything.com/work/660329/reviews/55714454) and was encouraged by this to see if he could do the same for waves. I wasn’t disappointed. Like in The Cloud Spotter’s Guide, his style is engaging, clear and informative. Even when he seems to be going slightly off-tangent, he recognises this and explains why. Pretor-Pinny argues that cloud watching and wave watching are similar and I am inclined to believe him after reading it. The Wavewatcher’s Companion is broad in scope, covering conventional sea waves, to pressure waves and beyond. In fact, he argues that waves are everywhere, and gives a convincing argument for why he believes this. He peppers his text with anecdotes, illustrations and examples to help the reader, but it never feels like he is being patronising; neither does he assume too much. Given his subject matter, he has more of an advantage in gauging the balance than Jim Baggott, who took on the unenviable task of detailing a history of quantum theory (http://www.librarything.com/work/10894069/book/75212785). Waves are possibly a tamer subject to tackle. However, this is not to detract from Pretor-Pinny’s achievement, which is a nicely judged, satisfying read. I will be looking out for more by him. ( )
2 vote Tselja | Feb 23, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399534261, Hardcover)

Get ready for a global journey like none other-a passionate enthusiast's exploration of waves that begins with a massive surfable cloud and ends with the majestic Pacific ocean, making side trips along the way to reveal the ups and downs of brain waves, radio waves, infrared waves, microwaves, shock waves, light waves, and much more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:30 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Offers information on how all sorts of waves work and how and why they form, including ocean waves, light waves, sound waves, and brain waves.

» see all 3 descriptions

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