Best chapter in a book… ever!

A short interjection. Ben Bartlett (@bencbartlett) posted this over in twitter. Has to be the best chapter in a book. Short and to the fucking point! Absolutely. And very true as well. Ha ha.


Shortest chapter in a book!

By the way, this is from a real book by Joseph Conlon, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Oxford no less. It’s called, Why String Theory?

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?