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Einstein Defiant: Genius versus Genius in the Quantum Revolution (2004) by Edmund Blair Bolles. Joseph Henry Press, Washington, D.C.

Excellent history of Albert Einstein's criticism of Quantum theory and his debates with the originators of this theory, Neils Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Max Born. The author also presents interesting descriptions of Germany's post World War I political and social culture which Einstein and his colleagues struggled with. Provides information to gifted students regarding the great minds of physics and their debates over this theory.

"Einstein's great strength lay in that ability to find physical meaning in abstract ideas. A scientific 'step,' as Einstein called these imaginative feats, meant going beyond the received wisdom to show that a fact said something deeper about reality itself. Einstein's strides were the kind of insight long mytholigized in the story of Archimedes leaping from his bath. Supposedly Archimedes shouted 'Eureka' when he saw past the banal fact that climbing into a tub causes the water to rise and recognized what was really going on." (p. 20)

"Einstein always loved his violin and played it wherever he traveled. Musicians were welcomed into the Einstein apartment to play. He sometimes performed in public as well. Einstein occasionally played during dusk services at Berlin's New Synagogue. There was room for 3,000 people. The men filled the main floor; the women sat silently in the balcony while the organist played Bach. Einstein accompanied on his violin and the city's fading daylight crept through stained-glass windows. Those sounds in the darkness were Einstein's escape. 'Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road . . .,' his son Hans Albert recalled, 'he would take refuge in music and that would usually resolve all his difficulties.' It is too happy an interpretation. In the morning, the difficulties, especially the meaning of quanta, persisted. They could rebound with unanticipated strength." (p. 241)

Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the Race To Electrify The World (2003) by Jill Jones. Random House, New York.

Discusses the work of Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse in developing electrical power systems in the United States and the World. Also explains the rise of this technology in American society, and the fierce battle betweeen the supporters of direct current (DC) led by Edison versus alternating current (AC) led by Westinghouse and Tesla. This book is particularly appropriate for gifted students interested in the process by which important inventions concerned with electrical production and transmission were applied to lighting up cities and farms across America.

"Great, indeed, is the power of electricity. And in the final decades of the nineteenth century, three titans of America's Gilded Age were among the Promethean few who dreamed of the possibilities hidden in this ethereal force of nature--its awesome power visible only in the wild rumble and slash of electrical storms. Each titan was determined to master the "mysterious fluid." Each vied to construct an empire of light and energy on a new and monumental scale; each envisioned radiant enterprises that would straddle the globe, illuminating the inky night and easing forever the burden of brute labor. Thomas Alva Edison was the best known of these dreamers in 1879. The nation's greatest inventor, Edison was creator of the incandescent light bulb and mastermind of the world's first incandescent light network. Then there was Nikola Tesla, the elegant, highly eccentric electrical wizard who revolutionized the generation and delivery of electricity. Tesla was the Serbian immigrant dreamer who foresaw using the vibrating waves of the earth itself to generate unlimited power and communications. The final member of this trio was George Westinghouse, the charismatic Pittsburgh inventor and tough corporate entrepreneur. He built up company after company, an industrial idealist who imagined a world powered by cheap and plentiful electricity. All his working life, he strove heart and soul to create that electrified world." (p. xiii, Introduction)

The Writer's Mentor: Secrets of Success from the World's Great Writers (2004) Ian Jackman, Editor. Random House Reference, New York.

Covers major areas of writing with quotations from famous writers to demonstrate the topic being discussed. Some of the topics are: Inspiration, Grammar and Other Nuts and Bolts, Style, Plot and Character, Rewriting, Productivity, Journalism, Poetry, Publishers and Publication, and Occupational Hazards. Verbally gifted students who are interested in fiction or non-fiction writing will find this book to be an useful resource.

"Ian Fleming claimed that he wrote Casino Royale, the first James Bond book, to take his mind off the fact that he was getting married for the first time at the age of forty-three. Fleming, who was a journalist at the time, wrote the book in 1952 at his place in Jamaica called 'Goldeneye.' 'I didn't read it through as I wrote it,' he said. 'When I got back to England and did so, I was really appalled.' But once he was finished, Fleming treated himself to a custom-made gold-plated typewriter." (Jackman, p. 36)

"Legion are the stories of writers laboring again and again, over words and phrases and rewriting endlessly. There are no rules governing the unglamourous work of rewriting, other than the fact that it is necessary and everyone does it. RewritIng is the literary equivalent of sausage-making. You know it goes on, but you'd rather not have to watch. . . ." (Jackman, p. 113)

"Many of my shortest and seemingly simple poems took years to get right. I tinker with most of my poems even after publication. I expect to be revising in my coffin as it is being lowered into the ground." -Charles Simic (quoted in The Writer's Mentor, p. 114)

London: The Biography (2000) by Peter Ackroyd. Anchor Books, New York.

Detailed and fascinating account of every major aspect of the history of London, England from Roman times to the modern age. Ackroyd shows extraordinary scholarship in his discussion of many topics including the original London Wall, the Great Fire of 1666, literary and musical life, architecture, Old Bailey, kings and authors, Newgate Prison, London mobs, the Great Plague, and the Blitz of World War II. Gifted students can use this resource as a reference to study one of the great cities of the World.

"The prehistory of London invites endless speculation and there is a certain pleasure to be derived from the prospect of human settlement in areas where, many thousands of years later, streets would be laid out and houses erected. There is no doubt that the region has been continually occupied for at least fifteen thousand years. A great gathering of flint tools, excavated in Southwark, is assumed to mark the remains of a Mesolithic manufactory; a hunting camp of the same period has been discovered upon Hampstead Heath; a pottery bowl from the Neolithic period was unearthed in Clapham. On these ancient sites have been found pits and post-holes, together with human remains and evidence of feasting. These early people drank a potion similar to mead or beer. Like their London descendants, they left vast quantities of rubbish everywhere. Like them, too, they met for the purposes of worship. For many thousands of years these ancient peoples treated the great river as a divine being to be placated and surrendered to its depths the bodies of their illustrious dead." (pp. 9-10)

Public Television and Gifted Students: Discussion of Two Outstanding Documentaries

By Michael E. Walters

Center for the Study of the Humanities in the Schools

Recently on Wednesday night, September 15, 2004, the Public Broadcasting System in New York City presented a format that showed how television can be used to develop gifted students' sensibility. From 8:00-11:00 pm there were two documentaries they would thoroughly enjoy. The first was Jose Limón: A Life Beyond Words. Limón (1908-1972) was a pioneer in the modern American dance movement who grew up in Mexico. Unfortunately, his family had to flee violent political upheavals during the early part of the twentieth century. His family first settled in Tucson, Arizona and then in Los Angeles, California where Limón studied painting at UCLA. After moving to New York City in the 1930s, he pursued his interest in art by attending The Art Students League. By chance, he saw a modern dance performance and decided this was what he wanted to do with his life. He then joined the Humphrey-Weidman Dance Company and in a short time developed the techniques he would build upon. Later he left this dance group and formed his own with Doris Humphrey as artistic advisor. The Jose Limón Dance Company continues to this day. He became one of the world's leading choreographers, and was on the faculty of the Julliard School of Music. Throughout his life he was involved with Mexico's cultural activities. In addition, he toured the world in the 1960s as a cultural ambassador for the United States. In this documentary, gifted students will see how individuals can develop their abilities despite many obstacles, e.g., poverty, cultural bias and the lack of formal education. There are many scenes from the dances that Limón participated in and choreographed. He also described the concepts behind his particular choreographic designs.

The second format that night was a lively round table discussion led by the Harvard professor, Armand Nicholi. The discusion, involving experts from different fields, was combined with enactments of the lives of Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939) and C.S. Lewis (1898-1963). Nicholi has also written a book on the topic of this broadcast entitled, The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life (2003). His hypothesis is that the perspectives of Freud and Lewis epitomize the contemporary struggle concerning religious faith. Freud represented the secular-humanist approach by stressing that scepticism is the ingredient necessary to transcend fanaticism and nationalism. According to Freud, this approach enables us to effectively address psychological health issues underlying violence, bigotry and war. He was a scientist seeking to understand human motivation by studying mythology and archaeology. In contrast Lewis, the Oxford Don who was an expert on John Milton and literary criticism, wrote fantasy books for children (e.g., The Chronicles of Narnia Series, 1950-56) and wonderful philosophy books that treated such subjects as Christianity, love, grief and human suffering. During World War II he was a popular lecturer on the BBC radio network. Lewis represented the religious-humanist perspective since he believed that a loving community is only possible when one is involved with the spiritual dimension of the human psyche. For him, secularism can only lead to Nazi death camps and communist gulags. These are the issues at the forefront of our present dilemma. The extremes of secularism and religion are endemic throughout our planet. It is such concerns that gifted students should study.

The Public Broadcasting System showed how television can not only enrich our lives, but can have an important impact on gifted students. It is a tool that should not be neglected. The benefits of PBS can be an important resource for the gifted education community. We must not only use it but support it on any level we can.

Maurice D. Fisher, Publisher, Copyright © by Gifted Education Press, October-November 2004