Tuesday, April 29, 2008

From Catapults to Cosmology

This year I've read several really excellent books in my field. Three I'd like to share with you. Here in the past I wrote about my recommended Books on Ancient Science. The following are somewhat related to the same topic. All are highly recommended, at least if the subject material interests you in any bit. But I doubly recommend them not only because their scholarship is superb and thoroughly up-to-date (they currently have no peer), but also because they are so well written they read like a dream. Though all bog down occasionally in technicalia, those bumps and boggles are relatively scarce. Most of their content is easy to read, even delightful to read, and full of fascinating stories and facts. These are the kinds of authors I wish I were, and strive to be. All three books are entirely approachable to laymen, yet all are advanced, cutting-edge works, and will be required reading for experts in their respective subjects for decades to come.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Calling All Benefactors

I completed my dissertation defense, and passed with revisions, which I've just completed and delivered. Now it's only a wait for signatures and paperwork (with maybe tweaks to the revisions if the subcommittee desires). I'll blog on all that once I've deposited my dissertation (the last step in the process, probably in June). At that point I'll essentially be a Ph.D. (since nothing else has to happen after that), though the actual diploma will be dated several months later, and then it will be official. But in practical terms I'm already done.

Now I need a job. Even at best there won't be any academic positions available until Fall (and more realistically I might not find a position until 2009), but we've been stuck in debt for several years now and I'd like to clear it sooner rather than later. Our monthly expenses would drop immensely if we did, and this would substantially improve our situation. My wife would be very happy. And so would I. So I have an audacious proposal. It probably won't happen, especially in this present economy. But as Jack Burton said when he took a futile shot at the psychic eye monster in Lo Pan's underground lair, "Well, you never know until you try!"

Here's my proposal. In the past, generous private benefactors, on their own initiative, have paid me substantially to research and write various online works (such as Why I Am Not a Christian and Was Christianity Too Improbable to Be False). Could there be anyone else out there willing to fund my work? I'd like to find several benefactors, like those who've approached me before, with similar resources and interests, who would love to pool together to pay me to undertake a serious project over the next four months. That project can be anything, whatever this group most wants to see me complete this year. I'm open to suggestions (from those who really do have a mind to fund a project). But I'll use the following as a prominent example.