Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What I've been reading

Some non-fiction stuff:
1. John Boslough, Stephen Hawking's Universe: short and easy read though somewhat dated. Having read several cosmology type books I was able to follow the arguments and I still think that it's a good introduction.

2. George Smoot and Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time. Entertaining though some of the technical details eluded me especially the monopole and dipole discussion. I especially liked the figures especially the one labeled Big Bag: The Evolving Universe.

3. F. David Peat, Einstein's Moon: Bell's Theorem and the Curious Quest for Quantum Reality. The experimental details on Bell's Theorem and its extension of the EPR paradox was well presented. Short and clarifying. Enjoyed it.

4. Denise Shekerjian, Uncommon Genius. Disappointing although I'd have to say that this is a tough subject - to find what factors determine creative impulses of MacArthur Fellows. Ultimately, I think I may have been happier if this were short biographies of the fellows she interviewed and to leave the reader to tie the links together. Alternatively, something in the format of Three Scientists and their Gods might have worked better.

5. Roger S. Jones, Physics as Metaphor. Disappointing. I mostly skimmed it. The book seemed rather rambling and its basic thrust was in the school of "reality is what we make of it". I'm sympathetic to this view though I think the presentation of the ideas weren't as entertaining as I would have liked them to be.

6. Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point. This was a book that 20 years ago I would have whole heartedly embraced. While jaded and indoctrinated by free markets, deep down I still cling to the belief that there are many things that cannot be looked at piecemeal (Capra calls it the Cartesian/Newtonian framework) and that the systems view should be adopted. I think there has been some shift to this (though I suspect not as much as he would like) especially with the holistic approaches to healing and health. But (gasp!) not economices. Yeah, one day I would like to see a book called Holistic Economics or the Zen of Economic Systems.

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