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review 2019-01-19 19:40
When the Uncertainty Principle Goes to 11
When the Uncertainty Principle Goes to 11: Or How to Explain Quantum Physics with Heavy Metal - Philip Moriarty

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Why, oh, why did I take so much time to read this book? Well, alright, perhaps because I was busy reading other books to teach myself some physics principles, which, I admit, is never a bad thing when your physics classes go back to some, uhhhm, twenty years ago. At the very least.

I found this “metal + physics” approach to be a very intriguing and interesting one—all the more since the author injects a regular dose of humour into it, but never without a purpose (a.k.a. “how to discuss spatial periods using Stryper’s (in)famous striped pants as an example”). I suppose this approach may not work for everyone, but it definitely worked for me, probably because I never took myself too seriously even when dealing with serious things, because, after all, what does it matter, as long as we keep learning, right? Besides, it doesn’t harm when you can feel the passion shining through, and this was clearly the case here.

Overall, the topics broached here made a lot of sense. My own level in maths isn’t terrific, yet the author’s explanations were enough even for me to understand the principles and the equations he related to metal, harmonics, waves and strings, and so on. They don’t remain at such a basic level that they don’t bring much to one’s knowledge of physics (unless you’re already a post-graduate or someone working in that field already, in which case I suspect Fourier’s analysis of waves/patterns won’t seem such a wonder anymore—or will it?), and at the same time, they don’t stray into such abstractions that a beginner will completely lose their footing either. At any rate, I found it quite easy to picture phases when compared to a metalhead moving in a mosh pit…

Seriously, where was Professor Moriarty when I was studying physics at school? (Alright, alright, probably still doing his Ph. D., I guess.)

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review 2018-12-21 09:30
The Quantum Labyrinth
The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality - Paul Halpern

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

 

This is somewhat a strange book, hovering between a biography and physics book, through the lives of Richard Feynman and John Wheeler, and it seems to me it has both the good sides and shortcomings of both. Shortcomings, as in, it can’t go really in depth in the lives of the two scientists, and at the same time, the physics aspect is sometimes too complex, and sometimes too simple, which makes for an unbalanced read. But good sides, too, for linking the characters and their work, and giving an insight into said work, and overall making me want to read more about, well, everything in there. Probably in favour of Wheeler, since I already know quite a few things about Feynman (although I don’t seem to tire of him anyway).

 

I wouldn’t recommend it as a complete introduction to quantum and particle physics, though, since some of its contents are just too painful to follow without some basic knowledge of the topic.

 

I do recommend it for a global coverage of what Feynman and Wheeler worked on in their lifetime, to get pointers about specific topics worth researching more in depth later.

 

Style-wise, the book reads well enough in general, but more than once, some analogies were weird and fell flat for me.

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review 2018-12-20 14:25
Nietzsche’s Metaphor: "The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications" by David Deutsch
The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications - David Deutsch


(Original Review, 1988-05-30)



Perhaps it is worthwhile clearing up a few fundamentals here. Specifically, the concept of something complicated being created as opposed to evolved. Of course, consciousness has evolved and is a characteristic of the complex arrangement of entities whose properties are understood by physics. But, going from the basic laws governing the building blocks to the complex is currently way beyond anything dreamt of in systems theory, where biological simulation is hovering around the simple swim patterns of single celled flagellum bacteria. Before attempting to build something we try and understand it. That is, what aspects of the thing to focus on. What are the essentials?
 
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
 
 

 

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review 2018-12-16 17:25
Time is in Reality's Blurring: "The Order of Time" by Carlo Rovelli
The Order of Time - Carlo Rovelli


In some ways, Rovelli's writing is as influenced by Calvino as it is by Einstein or Feynman - this is not simply writing in the tradition of explicating or popularising scientific inquiry; but rather writing which seeks to open new spaces of possibility for thinking through the very endeavour of the writing itself. There does seem to be an appetite for knowledge out there, although the problem (so it seems to me at least) with physics for a wide audience is that ultimately there is only so much that you can do without resorting to maths.

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-12-11 09:07
N-Dimensional Topology: "Cosmosapiens" by John Hands
Cosmosapiens: Human Evolution From the Origin Of the Universe - John Hands


Me: 'Whatever happened to Occam's Razor? This stuff makes Plato's Forms look like one of the most sober and parsimonious metaphysics imaginable! I would like to point anyone interested in this stuff to an amazing non-performance of a book called "Cosmosapiens" by John Hands. Hands has the nerve to subject all these theories (the Big Bang, Inflation, multiverse theories and much more) to the actual evidence we have, rather than arcane mathematical models that try to extrapolate from it in various directions, or else wild speculation (or both). None of them come out well. The universe looks as if it is much other than these theorists try to paint it.
 
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
 
 

 

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