Chi was asked by the charitable trust, Sense about Science, to recommend a book for their Christmas reading list. Chi opted for Rendez vous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke.
“Science fiction was one of the inspirations for my first career choice, Engineering, but by my mid teens I could no longer stomach the way in which its writers were able to envisage the end of the world, and other minor plot points, but not a woman scientist. Arthur C Clarke is better than most, about 20% of the crew of his space ship Endeavor are women, not exactly gender balance but still four times the proportion of women engineers today.
Rendez vous with Rama follows humanity’s first encounter with an alien spaceship, an apparently uninhabited cylinder 50km by 16km which unexpectedly enters our solar system. Clarke’s work is convincing because it is detailed – the cylinder contains a fully functioning biosystem and its awakening, as the ship approaches the sun, is recounted with dramatic tension and good science. The book gives a solid grounding in basic Newtonian physics from gravity to terminal velocity. But I also like what the books tells us about our world – the real politik of democratic federalism and the boundless nature of scientific egos. It was written long current concerns on climate change, so its emphasis on understanding and maintaining our biosystem appears prophetic. On the other hand, Clarkes descriptions of trained and disposal monkey ‘slaves’ does not reflect today’s more enlightened views on animal rights.”
You can read the full list on the Sense about Science website.