What to do... Life's like that...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

What Do You Care What Other People Think? - Richard Feynman

Yet another book that documents the life of one, if not the only colorful scientist of recent years, What Do You Care What Other People Think? is a 200+ page refreshing read. The book has 2 parts to it, the first covering anecdotes and letters from Feynman's life, including a touching story of his first wife Arlene, who succumbed to tuberculosis quite early in Feynman's life. The second half covers Feynman's involvement in the Rogers Commission, that was formed in 1986 to investigate the Challenger space shuttle incident. The penultimate chapter of the book includes Feynman's report in the Rogers Commission - a frank and candid assessment of the shuttle program and NASA that went out as an appendix in the main report that was submitted to the White House. More...

"To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell."
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

What I Believe - Bertrand Russell

"A good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge" - Bertrand Russell

"What I believe", an essay outlining Russell's thoughts and hopes, written early in the 20th century (1925) is a 40-page successor to his pessimistic world view outlined in "Icarus" . Perhaps one of the boldest and brightest philosopher and writer the past century has seen, most of Russell's thinking has stood the test of time. The reason being pretty simple, his thoughts far-sighted and their basis not ephemeral. Read more....
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is God a Mathematician? - Mario Livio

Is God a Mathematician? Is Mathematics the language of the universe? Is it an invention or a discovery? Mario Livio tries to present arguments for and against these questions with chapters from mathematical history, concepts from the umpteen branches of mathematics, anecdotes from the lives of great Mathematicians and verbatim quotes from their journals in a 252-pager thriller. Read More...

Overall, an interesting read that showcases mathematics - invented or discovered. The book concludes with a paragraph from Bertrand Russell's essay The Problems of Philosophy -
Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Meaning of it All - Richard Feynman

The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice. - Bertrand Russell

A compilation of a series of 3 lectures delivered by Richard Feynman at the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1963, this book delivers profound ideas with a very simple style that can be understood and imbibed by anyone, scientist or not alike. The three lectures are titled, "The Uncertainty of Science", "The Uncertainty of Values" and "This Unscientific Age". The first two lectures have a very good build up and are in continuum, talking about the importance of being uncertain, both in science and in morals or values. The third lecture is a little bit more adhoc as the person delivering the lecture admits and deals with some of the problems we are facing in the current age. Feynman covers both the glaring issues and those that are pretty subtle in nature, potentially harmful nevertheless. Read More...
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Animal Farm - George Orwell

"All animals are equal, But some animals are more equal than others"

A breezy read, George Orwell's Animal Farm is one of the well known satires on the former Soviet Union's political state under Stalin. This book was written around the time of the 2nd world war and covers the fall of the Tsars and the rise of Stalin. Each powerful leader who influenced the former Soviet Union is represented by an animal, with 2 main characters - Snowball, a pig, alludes to Trotsky and Napolean, another pig, interpreted as Stalin. Napolean is the central character in the whole book. Read more...
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Candide - Voltaire

A classic along the lines of Gulliver's travels by Jonathan Swift, Voltaire's Candide is a fast-paced chronicle about a simple, naive and pleasant man in pursuit of his beloved, Cunegonde. Like Gulliver's travels, Candide is also a satire, ridiculing ideologies of the 17th century - Leibnizian optimism, the church and religious fanaticism among other contentious issues. When Voltaire came out with this book, it was banned all across Europe and only a few copies remained as they were smuggled out of the continent. Read more...
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Sunday, July 05, 2009

'If' - Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

The lines in bold are engraved above the players entrance at Wimbledon's center court.
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