Science & Technology

theHumanAgeInside just over four billion years of the history of the earth, no other species has had such a significant impact on the entire world to the same extent as us humans. Our activities have actually wreaked havoc on the earth and may even be endangering its fragile ecosystem, however at the same time we have also made enormous technological leaps and bounds that are beneficial. We have tripled our own life expectancy, decreased infant mortality, and boosted our lifestyle to unbelievable degrees. In The Human Age, a book written by the same author as The Zookeeper’s Wife, Diane Ackerman summarizes some of the new methods researchers are using to shape the years to come for our children and even their children. One of the most stunning examples is the Frozen Ark project being undertaken by scientists at Nottingham University, which is in the process of storing DNA from 48,000 animals from over 5000 threatened species, with the hope of reconstructing the animals following their extinction. Theoretically, we will be able to repopulate any animal species that has died out or is on the verge of becoming extinct, for example, the snow leopard, unique alligator species in Louisiana, as well as the infamous giant squid. The book is very well written and is chock full of technological treasures of similar endeavors and to top it all off, it is written in a style that is both accessible to the non-scientist and thoroughly engaging.


console warsThis record of the struggle for computer game market dominance involving Sega’s Genesis video gaming device and Nintendo’s SNES gaming console is the resource for not just a forthcoming docudrama co-directed by the writer, but also a Hollywood movie being developed and produced by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. Fortunately in spite of being a little uneven in its representation of the participants involved, the book is a very enjoyable backstage cliffhanger where retail price fixing, crazily offensive advertising programs and, on occasion, authentic creativity all play a part. Harris regards the battle between the firms as a David vs. Goliath fight between Nintendo, which controlled the computer game sector in the post-Atari age, and Sega, which prized risky strategies, combative marketing and video games. The good guy of the book is Tom Kalinske, a one-time Matchbox advertising and marketing head found by Hayao Nakayama to run Sega’s US department, which had no more than 50 staff members. Kalinske put up an aggressive strategy beginning with the “Sixteen Weeks of Summer” in the early 1990s, throughout which Sega executed an enlightened uprising to weaken the introduction of the SNES. The novelty of the business’s marketing and products strategy rattled the marketplace like no startup had done previously. At the same time, Harris additionally tracks an eccentric Icelandic physics pupil called Olaf Olafsson, who was quietly assisting Sony construct a mega-killer of their very own. It’s difficult to determine whether the book is much better than the film, however irrespective of whether the audience are gamers or simply fans of The Social Network, they’ll be spoiled for choice in this book.

Beginning 3D Game Programming by Tom MillerThis is a handbook that deals with the fundamentals of 3D video game computer programming. Its very first section offers an extremely simple intro to ‘.NET’ followed by a 2nd section where a very basic video game is produced, the objective of which is to relocate a ball around a board comprised of squares. DirectX SDK’s framework is laid out early on, and is made use of throughout the book. The chapters in this portion cover topics like mesh loading, surfaces, video camera positioning and input; all the things you require to develop a basic computer game. The third section includes the bare minimum of mathematics that you require to be able to draft anything in 3D: coordinates, matrices and vector systems, and the best ways to use them to obtain rotation and scaling. The final section has essentially more of the same things as in previous chapters, but at a more advanced level as it addresses a multiplayer tank-firing video game using the essentials of DirectPlay. This guide is true to its title. It deals only with the basics. No attempts are made to be too smart about anything or to review any type of concept past just what’s actually required to make these basic games. In fact, it’s so basic that it sometimes feels a little silly. Another negative is that it’s way too crammed with sample code. This could be useful if you compose code while reading, but for the majority of readers, this can rapidly become rather irritating. However, don’t be put off by this lack of complexity if you are new to 3D programming. It states it encompasses the fundamentals of the subject, and it does just that. It’s just about expectations: provided that you do not expect to be blown away by a number of awesome 3D programming methods, elegant computer programming code and substantial mathematics, this book accomplishes its objective to teach you… well, the basics.