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text 2016-08-22 17:54
Reading progress update: I've read 20 out of 1215 pages.
Gravitation (Physics Series) - Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler

I'm on page 20 of 1215 of Gravitation: I couldn't help glancing into this before heading to the office this morning. 20p later I reluctantly dragged myself away. It's already provided a neat insight into co-ordinate systems.


People talk about needing multiple co-ordinate "patches" to cover a manifold. Why can't you just use one? Sometimes you can, e.g. a flat piece of paper. But what about a sphere? You can't wrap a flat piece of paper round a sphere (which is why map-making is such a pain). Any co-ordinate system you use on a sphere has a problem at two points (the poles) where all the lines of latitude meet and everything goes to hell in a hand basket ("Eveyerything goes to hell in a handbasket" is the practical definition of a singularity.) How do you get round this? Define TWO co-ordinate systems which don't have their poles overlapping. Now if you are at a singularity in one co-ordinate system, you just use the other system instead. You can do this for any co-ordinate singularity you find on a manifold. The system need only apply to a patch of the manifold, not necessarily the whole thing like with a sphere - hence "co-ordinate patches." You can invent as many as you need to cover all the singularities.


Topology joke my brother used to tell:

Q: How can you escape any prison cell, only using mathematics?

A: Simple! perform a co-ordinate transform such that the outside of the cell becomes the inside and vice versa - you are now free!

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review 2015-12-31 09:58
Black Holes & Time Warps
Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program) - Frederick Seitz,Kip S. Thorne,Stephen Hawking

by Kip S. Thorne




I'm not what you would call an intellectual and I've never studied Physics, but I found this book easily accessible and even fascinating. I decided to read it because it was cited as one of the sources for the science behind a time travel series I follow, and I wanted to try to grasp the very real science behind the fictional events in the stories.


The book basically tells the story of the rise of Cosmology and Particle Physics since the 1920s, explaining in layman's terms the leading theories, discoveries and the scientists who initiated the theories that we now accept as fact, proven through mathematical formulae where physical proof is still beyond our reach.


It effectively starts with Einstein and his alternate ideas to Newtonian Physics and works forward from there. This sounds like it could have made for dry reading, but the personalities as well as trials and political conflicts that affected the personalities involved bring the events to life on a very human level. Sometimes it's even funny, like when Professor Thorne describes an incident where he made a bet with Stephen Hawking about the existence of black holes and when sufficient proof settled the bet, Hawking, with the help of a group of students, broke into Thorne's office at Cal Tech to sign off on the bet, which was written out on a document displayed on the office wall.


The book as a whole gave me a sense of the global scientific community, which can be co-operative beyond national lines or competitive on a more personal level and even riddled with as much ego as the acting world at times. It explains the process for acceptance of new ideas within that community, which I had no idea of before.


I found the book as interesting as many spy stories, and have only given it 4 stars instead of 5 because I had hoped to learn something about time loops from it, which was not really touched on despite mention in the description. It was written in an engaging style that is rare for writers on science, though the fictionalized Prologue suggests that the author had best stick to non-fiction.


I enjoyed the read, and I now know a lot more about the subject matter than I did before I read it. Whether I read more on the subject is yet to be seen

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text 2015-12-30 12:57
Christmas stories and December wrap up.
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program) - Frederick Seitz,Kip S. Thorne,Stephen Hawking

I've had far too little reading time in December.


By the end of the month, I will have finished 2 whole books. TWO! And one of those was a short story, A Christmas Carol, re-read for the holiday.


The other book is over 600 pages and non-fiction, dealing with Cosmology and theoretical Physics. Okay that's sort of complicated and takes a little longer to read, but mostly it's because I just haven't had time to sit and read.


I've mostly kept up with new samples, but I haven't reduced the backlog this month. Again, no time.


Now, my dilemma. I still have 12 unread Christmas stories on my Kindle, plus samples for 3 more. One of them looks like a potentially interesting Krampus tale. Do I leave these for next year, or give them a try and see if I can at least eliminate any that don't grab me? The holiday is quickly fading into past tense and the stories are no longer timely.


In the interest of clearing excess from my Kindle, I'm inclined to read samples and first chapters at least, to establish which stories I can delete. Then maybe I'll save any good ones for next year, or watch for good sales during the year if any samples look good.


In the end, it will come down to the random factor. It always does.


Oh, if you're not given to motion sickness, have a gander at my blog. I've redecorated for New Year. :D

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text 2015-11-25 11:18
Non-Fiction Time Travel
Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program) - Frederick Seitz,Kip S. Thorne,Stephen Hawking

Yeah, this is happening. Every so often I read something interesting in non-fiction, even if it's over my head. You never know what you might pick up.


This was one of the references cited by my favourite time travel author. I thought I would try reading the source and see how much of it sinks in.

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text 2015-01-26 09:06
Books with blue covers
By David Mitchell The Bone Clocks: A Novel - David Mitchell
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel - Anthony Doerr
The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Popular Science) - Richard Dawkins
The Science of Interstellar - Kip S. Thorne
An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth - Chris Hadfield
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz
The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper
The Humans by Haig, Matt (2014) Paperback - Matt Haig
A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby

I only include books that I like, or might like.


I don't want to add books that I think is crap. 

Here they are. Feel free to add your own books list of blue. 


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