Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident review

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass IncidentDead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pretty interesting look at a real mystery. The author did a lot of research (including retracing some of the doomed hiking party’s route!) and proposes his own solution that seems pretty plausible given what we know.

I’m really into books that try to explain mysteries from the past, although not as much as, say, airplane crashes. (which are both mysteries and usually have very interesting causal chains!) But boy, after this and Into Thin Air doing anything outside in the winter sounds very unpleasant!

In 1959 a group of experienced hikers died on a winter expedition in the Ural Mountains. This by itself isn’t terribly unusual (there was a winter storm and the route was a tough one), but there were some weird evidence afterwards – it seems like they left the safety of their tent in a hurry without proper clothing (which led to some of them freezing to death), some of their clothes had higher than normal levels of radiation, and the last photograph taken was odd. The Wikipedia page has a list of possible theories.

Eichar did a lot of research, including traveling to Russia twice and hiking part of the route, and proposes his own theory.

(SPOILERS here, if that even makes sense in this context?)

He says that the storm at the time could have interacted with the nearby mounted to cause infrasound (sound at frequencies below what the human ear can hear), which may have caused enough discomfort/uneasiness that the hikers left the tent in a hurry in an attempt to get away from it. (although they probably had no idea what was actually going on) That would explain why they left without proper clothing and that led to them freezing to death. Eichar ran this theory by some people at NOAA and given the shape of the nearby mountain they agreed it was possible. The other leading theory is that there was an avalanche, although Eichar claims that the slope they were on wasn’t steep enough for an avalanche.

Fun(?) fact: infrasound has been used for crowd control, and it was even used to stir up crowds at some of Hitler’s speeches!

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The Age of Living Machines: How Biology Will Build the Next Technology Revolution review

The Age of Living Machines: How Biology Will Build the Next Technology RevolutionThe Age of Living Machines: How Biology Will Build the Next Technology Revolution by Susan Hockfield

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting look at some cross-discipline projects between biology and other fields that MIT has pioneered. It’s nice to read an optimistic book about science and technology and such!

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The Apollo Murders review

The Apollo MurdersThe Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(more like 3.5 stars)

Overall this book had a serious “For All Mankind” feel – if you liked this, you should check out that show! The characters wereā€¦all right, I guess, and definitely some of the twists were telegraphed well in advance. And the book almost felt more like a vehicle for Hadfield (who is, of course, an accomplished astronaut) to explain cool space-y things.

But, what can I say, I’m a sucker for alternate space history stories apparently! And some of the more outlandish details, I thought, turned out to have actually happened.

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State of Terror review

State of TerrorState of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a big fan of Louise Penny, so I preordered this and was excited to read it. And after the first 10 pages, I was worried; the main character is a women Secretary of State who’s coming in after the previous President made a big mess of things, and I wondered whether the whole book was a sort of wish-fulfillment exercise. But the book gets going quickly, and while there were a few eye-rolling moments it’s well-written and compelling. (and in the acknowledgements Clinton says that the main character was based on someone else; my bad!)

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