I'm taking a break from the usual griping here to point out something I think you will all enjoy. I recently received a (digital) review copy of a book that sets out to do for us geeks what poetry, art, and celebrity tours do for wanna-be writers, artists, and the celebrity obsessed: show us where the things we think are cool happened in the real world. "The Geek Atlas" by John Graham-Cumming is a tour book for all things geeky.
Here are a few things I learned reading this book that I wish I'd known while I was traveling:
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"Sir William Rowan Hamilton came up with the theory of quaternions while out for a walk with his wife in 1843," writes Graham-Cumming in the book. "Crossing the Broom Bridge in Dublin, Hamilton scratched the quaternion multiplication equation into the bridge's stonework using a knife." I crossed that bridge a few years ago. If I'd know that was there, I could have spent an hour looking up this fascinating bit of history.
There is a museum Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum in London that tells the exciting story of the discovery and rush to mass produce penicillin in time for D-Day -- another spot I missed while I was in London because I didn't have this book.
And if you have ever driven through Silicon Valley wondering where exactly the building are where it ("it" being IT, of course) all started -- Shockley Semiconductor, Fairchild, even the original HP garage -- "The Geek Atlas" would have turned that idle wondering into an informed tour of the addresses that made working in IT possible. I was in Silicon Valley last week. I would have loved to take a geeky tour of the Valley while I was there. Again, didn't have this book.
Just like any good tour book, this one has lots of illustrations, history, and relevant tidbits, so you'll feel like an informed insider when you get to your destination.
The author is a "wandering programmer" and writer who has traveled extensively and clearly has a passion for science. The book is a blast, and I'm sure there are a number of you who would like to receive it for Father's Day.