I recommended Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, which is great fun, and is the inspiration for my freshman seminar this fall: Systems of the World. Featured characters: Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Jenner, Pasteur, Lavoisier, Einstein, Pinchot, Alfred Wegener, Wiley Post, Watson and Crick, Turing, von Neumann, Adam Smith, and more.
Update: It was an excellent talk, and Dr Roy, our seminar guru, had obviously prepped Dr Mohanty that our seminars are packed with undergraduates*–the talk focussed on the process of risk analysis with the Yucca Mountain site as the example, and the technical detail was accessible to everyone. Not only did we learn a lot about the Yucca Mountain project, we gained a better appreciation for the job of risk analysis. Talking with Dr M after the seminar, he brought up the concept of risk dilution, which he intends to write a tutorial paper on, time permitting. This sounds like a topic for one of my famous problems, perhaps in the fall offering of Statistics 3513, Probability and Statistics.
*Isn’t it amazing what 10 points of extra credit will get students to do?