[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]
There’s a book of mine titled The Temptation of Ludwig Boltzmann that’s listed on Amazon, Google Books, and Worldcat.
I know it’s a book because Worldcat says so. But it’s really an 11-page paper I wrote for a course in college back in 1983. (Google Books calls it “22 pages,” but that’s because they’re counting the blank back sides.) So how did it get listed in these various venues?
Initially I saw only the Amazon listing, and was mightily puzzled; but I eventually figured it out. (I would have figured it out sooner if I’d seen the Worldcat listing.) This paper (a fictional dramatisation of the implications of Boltzmann’s views on probability) was submitted by my professor (astrophysicist David Layzer) to an undergraduate essay contest called the James Bryant Conant Competition in Natural Science that year; it won, which I’m guessing caused a bound copy of it to be shelved in the Harvard library archives, which in turn caused it to be listed as a book in various databases. But it’s just an undergraduate paper, and it’s never been available for sale anywhere. Weird.
If I come across my copy (no doubt buried in a box somewhere) I’ll post the thing.
In vaguely related news, I also stumbled across the existence of an I Love Roderick Long t-shirt. I am not responsible for this and have no idea who is! Double weird.