OMNI Magazine

OMNI Magazine – From

If you are a science fiction fan, I think I don’t have to say anything other than the word OMNI. The magazine has carried many many SciFi shorts from a whole variety of authors like, George R. R. Martin, William Gibson etc., ever since 1978. Many a time, the magazine also carried real scientific articles and has always been one of the greatest magazines for a long long time until its last Internet version in 1998. If you think you might have missed out on 20 years of goldmine, fear not. The entire OMNI magazine dating from 1978 till 1998 is out on I know this is old news, but, if some of you weren’t aware of it, head to archive for the downloads.

Enjoy reading!

July 20th 2012 – Psychoanalysis of The Joker

In other news, my psychoanalysis article has been progressing quite well. I am just taking time to make sure that it is devoid of errors. I wanted to mention here just quickly that I will make it available for download on the 20th of this month, coinciding with The Dark Knight Rises release. I will start posting articles and excerpts from the book, starting from 15th of this month culminating in the release of the book on 20th. So keep watching this space.

Scene next to Gloria Cinema in Stuttgart, Germany

The Princeton Companion to Mathematics

The Princeton Companion to Mathematics

I am now gonna talk about a book that is perhaps one of the most important books to have ever come out in the last five years. Yes, it is The Princeton Companion to Mathematics. I have met so many people so far, who hate math with a passion. I have never understood that. Math is the language of nature and without it, we would not have come thus far. It is the most beautiful language ever. I believe that Math was always there and we just had to find it. Advancement in civilization and technology go hand in hand with development in Math.

This book is an absolute gem. It gives an overview of mathematics and features contributions from grand masters of Mathematics. It is a must read for anyone who is even marginally interested in Math. It features a lot of interesting stories about every area of Math and many many anecdotes. Trust me, this will be the most important book you will ever read in a long time to come. Features more than 1000 pages of absolute brilliance and beauty. Now wonder, why this book it won the Euler Book Prize last year.

I bought this book last year and also own a digital version. You have to own the hard copy, as it is equally important like Bhagvad Gita. Would you rather own those classics as books or simply pdf’s? Think about it. Nevertheless, if some students are unable to buy this book right now, you can always have the digital version.

Theoretical Physics

Lets reboot with a strong passion of mine, Theoretical Physics. At the clinic, I was approached by a young patient who wanted to know more about Quantum Mechanics. We had a very interesting conversation today and that brings me to this post.

You see, I am mostly self-taught in Theoretical Physics. Professionally, I did a one year Advanced Diploma in Theoretical Physics in a top research school. But, as I had mentioned earlier, I couldn’t get into a Doctoral Program in Physics, since, most rejection letters cited the fact that I had done Physics only for one year. Although disappointed, I carried on with my work in Theoretical Physics.

If anyone is interested in digging Theoretical Physics yourself, there are three important books that I think are crucial in grasping the concepts and developing a wholesome appreciation for the field. They are as follows:

1. A Unified Grand Tour of Theoretical Physics by Ian D. Lawrie.

A very important aspect of any textbook in Theoretical Physics is the introduction and establishment of core concepts of Modern Physics. The book should deal with Relativity theories, Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Field Theory, Cosmology, Statistical Mechanics, to name just a few. In this regard, the book comes out with flying colors. The book is structured and well presented.

A grasp of classical mechanics, thermodynamics and elementary quantum mechanics is required to appreciate this book in its entirety. The presentation is lucid and impressive.

If you wanna begin learning Theoretical Physics yourselves, this book is a must read.

2. The Road to Reality.

If anyone is deeply interested in Physics and doesn’t know the name Roger Penrose, then there is something amiss! Penrose is one of the most original thinkers of our time. All his books are mind blowing and so is this one.

Although the book covers all important aspects of Modern Physics, it is completely unique in the fact that almost one-third of the book is focused on Mathematics. Theoretical Physics would not work without the Math. For the interested , this book is extremely important. Penrose’s style is well known and he doesn’t disappoint. All in all, this is a must read book as well for anyone interested in Theoretical Physics.

3. Feynman’s Lectures on Physics.

Feynman was a magician in the league of physicists. There is only one Feynman! This compilation is probably the most well known amongst the three books. You will not be disappointed when you read this book. Trust me, you will come out completely enlightened. Don’t think twice about buying this book.

Note: Owning these books a religious experience. Whenever I am down, I tend to reread one of these books. Money spent on these books is more than worth it. As far as FLP is concerned, the editor of the Millennium Edition informed me that a digital version of the book is currently under preparation.

Book List 2012 – The Bed of Procrustes

A short post for now. I got The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I have a long night ahead of me tonight and I will post my detailed thoughts about the book later. Since it’s a collection of aphorisms, you can complete this book in one sitting in all of an hour. There are pretty excellent gems in there.

The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

More coming later…..

Book List 2012 – Flipnosis

Flipnosis - Kevin Dutton

I just wanted to talk a bit about another book that I had time to thumb through at the airport before flying back to Stuttgart. It’s called Flipnosis: The Art of Split-Second Persuasion, by Kevin Dutton. I just managed to read a few pages and it was ok. But, I am not sure if it would be better than another great book with a similar theme, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini. I read Influence three years ago. In addition to presenting various cases, Cialdini tries to explain the reasoning behind people’s subjection to persuasion. Hence, it felt complete and I had a great time reading it.

Influence - Robert B. Cialdini

On the other hand, Flipnosis reads like an accumulation of many examples of persuasion, at least that’s the impression I have right now. Hence, I will reserve judgment until later. Regardless, I just wanted to put it out there. If, for some reason you come across Cialdini’s Influence, indulge yourselves. It is a great book. I will update this post when I am done with Flipnosis. A funny exchange in the Introduction gave me a good chuckle though. I am sure that some of you would know it already, but I read about this for the first time. It went something like this:

Flight Attendant: " Mr. Ali, please put your seat belt on, we are about to take off."
Muhammad Ali: " Superman don't need no seat belt!"
Flight Attendant: "Superman don't need no airplane!"

Hopefully, I can find the book at my favorite bookshop and read more tomorrow. More on this later.

Book List 2011 – Special Entry: Go Rin No Sho

Miyamoto Musashi

If you don’t know about Miyamoto Musashi, then there is no reason to live! He was a rōnin, a samurai warrior without a master. He is renowned for his swordsmanship and numerous battles with other warriors. It is absolutely fascinating to read about his life and the way he went about conquering others with his strategy and skill. Anyone with even a marginal interest in martial arts must read about Musashi and his teachings.

Go Rin No Sho or as it is famously known as The Book of Five Rings is not just a book about martial arts or the technique of the sword. It is a book about strategy and tactics. Musashi talks about his early life and then expands on his self learning. He talks about strategy being the key element of the warrior mindset. Various aspects of strategy are presented in the five books, Ground, Water, Fire, Wind and Void. Each book talks about the preparation of the warrior and emphasizes strategic thinking, timing  etc.

Go Rin No Sho - The Book of Five Rings

I have read this book earlier. But I read it again last year, so thought of mentioning.

Overall, this is a book that you would consider as one of the most important books in your book collection. Give it a shot and see for yourself. This book is used extensively in business as well, since the strategic aspects discussed can be used in any form of profession. Besides, it is Miyamoto freaking Musashi we are talking about.

If you go to Japan, you would see the full extent of his influence. There have been multiple movies made on his life and his popularity is still intact. A fantastic documentary about Musashi aired on the History Channel sometime back. It gives you a quick introduction about the man and why his teachings are extremely valuable even today. It was hosted by Mark Dacascos. It is a must see. The full 88 minutes doc is available on youtube and am ebedding the video right here. Credit goes to ProcoTopoLoco.

I loved the documentary.

First Book 2012 – Ghost in the Wires

I just bought Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick. I read this book in one sitting over a few days back in a local book shop. It took six coffees (870 mg of Caffeine approx.), eleven cancer sticks (6.6 mg of Nicotine), death stare from a totally annoyed waitress and six and a half hours to finish. First, I decided to read just the first chapter and then come back later, but I was so hooked, it was very difficult to put it down. It’s an absolute classic. For those of you who have followed the entire Mitnick story or just interested in security and social engineering (who hasn’t done that? :D), this book is a definite read. That’s why I bought the book. It actually reads like a crime novel with a lot of twists and turns, and coming from the horse’s mouth, how can one ignore it?  If you are thinking about buying this book, stop thinking and buy it immediately.

Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick

On a related note, all the while reading the book, I couldn’t avoid thinking about creating a terminal color scheme based on the colors on the cover. I will put it out in a couple of days. Call me weird, but that’s me. These days, anywhere I see colors my brain automatically goes overboard trying to guess the HTML code. Should I see a shrink?

In honor of this book I am gonna wear one of my old T shirts tomorrow.

Social Engineering Specialist

You disagree?

Fan Fiction

Fan Fiction - Source:

I don’t think I had mentioned this earlier. One of my other Sunday activities is writing Fan Fiction. So far, I have written 11 fan fiction shorts based on characters from DC comics, The X Files, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. A lot of my friends have read them and they were quite happy with them. I was a bit afraid to put it online because I was frightened to see the possibility of people hating it.

I have grown older and I think I can deal with criticism, hate etc., in a mature way. So I have decided to put one of my recent works online next week. I will put the first chapter here next Friday and we will see how it goes from there.

The story is actually a crossover and would unite two of my most favorite story arcs. One originated as a TV series and the other is one of my favorite comic books.

I would be glad if my blog visitors could give the first chapter a go and let me know about your opinions. Another reason why it would help me a lot is because I have been toying with the idea of writing a full blown science fiction novel since six years now. The ground work has been done already, but it still requires a lot of work. If the fan fic gets a good review, it would actually motivate me to step up my efforts with the novel. So far, the running title of the novel is, “The Schwarzwald Singularity

Book List 2011 – Part II

Let me continue with my book list.

3. In Search of the Multiverse, by John Gribbin

In Search of the Multiverse - John Gribbin

In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality was the first book that I read by Gribbin. It is a great book meant for the general audience like,  A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. I read a few of his other books over the last few years and while browsing through a local book store here in Stuttgart, found this one and bought it. I must say, I was a bit disappointed. He does spend a lot of time explaining the ideas behind the multiverse in detail, with most of the reasoning coming from String Theory. But there is no proper mention about the fact that String Theory has its fair share of detractors. This is worrisome. I also totally agree with Peter Woit‘s opinion that mixing the many worlds interpretation from Quantum Mechanics and the Multiverse theory is a bit far fetched. There are several other points that I found absurd, but I will let the reader make his or her own conclusion. Having said that, I did like the book in parts. It should be characterized as mostly speculative with some facts mixed in. All in all, it is a great addition to the conversation about the nature of the universe or multiverse.

I am a regular visitor of Woit’s blog. He puts in a lot of effort to talk about the absurdity of some aspects of string theory and is a must read for any theoretical physicist, whether you are a string theory proponent or not.

The next couple of books can be clubbed together, not just because they are from the same author, but, also since both of them deal with uncertainty, chance and randomness.

3. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Fooled by Randomness - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

4. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The Black Swan - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

These two books are absolute classics. And they are must read for anyone who is into uncertainty modeling, be it in science, energy or in the financial sector. I started out with Fooled by Randomness and I was absolutely blown away by Taleb’s viewpoints on financial modeling and risk management. He is a no nonsense author and has caught flak for his straight talk. But no one can question his knowledge of the subject. His scathing reviews on the state of market trading and research make perfect sense, given how we had been through a severe meltdown just a couple of years back. The man had spoken about such issues already in 2001 when he wrote Fooled by Randomness.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

In The Black Swan, he talks about unpredictable events and our tendencies to retrospect about such events. He presents many examples of such events in human history and talks about our fallacy in reasoning their occurrences.

These two books would appeal to readers across the spectrum. It is very easy to follow both the books. In fact, I finished both over a weekend. Couldn’t put them down. I did some risk analysis work for an energy firm some years back and up until 2009 did some freelance consulting for another trading firm as well. So you would know why I was so hooked on to these books. Anyway, if you are thinking of buying these books, go straight ahead. It will be a great ride. You will enjoy them a lot.


Just wanted to add that Taleb is on edge. If you have never been to yet, you gotta check it out.  While there, give his essay, “THE FOURTH QUADRANT A MAP OF THE LIMITS OF STATISTICS” a read. As Spock would say, “Fascinating”!  You can also see a few videos.

Taleb has also been a guest on Charlie Rose many times. You can check out his interviews there as well.

Taleb – Charlie Rose