Rees, Martin. Our Final Hour. New York: Basic Books, 2003. ISBN 0-465-06862-6.
Rees, the English Astronomer Royal, writes with a literary tic one has become accustomed to in ideologically biased news reporting. Almost every person he names is labeled to indicate Rees' approbation or disdain for that individual's viewpoint. Freeman Dyson—Freeman Dyson!—is dismissed as a “futurist”, Ray Kurzweil and Esther Dyson as “gurus”, and Bjrn Lomborg as an “anti-gloom environmental propagandist”, while those he approves of such as Kurt Gdel (“great logician”), Arnold Schwarzenegger (“greatest Austrian-American body”), Luis Alvarez (“Nobel physicist”), and Bill Joy (“co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and the inventor of the Java computer language”) get off easier. (“Inventor of Java” is perhaps a tad overstated: while Joy certainly played a key rle in the development of Java, the programming language was principally designed by James Gosling. But that's nothing compared to note 152 on page 204, where the value given for the approximate number of nucleons in the human body is understated by fifty-six orders of magnitude.) The U.K. edition bears the marginally more optimistic title, Our Final Century. but then everything takes longer in Britain.

July 2003 Permalink