Summer’16 full of books!

I read some books ! It might be better to write something about each of them. I wish I could write a long  form of a book review but time dictates otherwise.

A Mathematician’s Apology is one those rare books which makes you very uncomfortable and at the same time add so much more to your understanding, that you feel unfettered gratitude towards the author for offering that unique experience. It reads like a poetry. You will find an unlikely friend in an aging mathematician who in his own words had past his peak of mathematical powers.

Second Creation is for those who love history of science or just plain history. In this painstakingly detailed and accurate yet lucid account of modern physics (unification of three fundamental forces into a workable and mathematically consistent framework;  without gravity, of course), development of Standard Model of Particle Physics is the center of attention. I immensely enjoyed this book. It has a well carved out ‘afterword’  and ‘notes’ section and one would not go unrewarded for the effort to stroll through it.

For all those ardent DFW fans out there, Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace is such a valuable addition to his readers and frankly, to everyone who loves behind the curtain stories and escapades of a creative writer. I am still in awe of his New York Times piece about US Open Tennis finals ! His ‘Brief Interviews with Hideous Men’ and  ‘A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again’ are among my favorites. Wallace’s interview on Fresh Air about his book ‘Infinite Jest’ is quite telling about the very person he was. I really wish he was alive today! I wonder how he would have responded to the chaos ‘This‘ 2016 Election cycle is.

Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos made me absolutely furious. It is such a bad critique of Neo-Darwinian point of view that non-naturalists will be thrilled of this conclusion of Nagel’s. Way too disappointing, and  I am not even a mad dog naturalist to hold it against my own point of view!

Jerry Coyne’s Faith vs Fact is a good read. It is a very well researched and to the point polemic which covers many topics including an important yet ignored in popular discourse i.e. Critique of accomodationism in ‘Science vs Religion’ for non-academics.

Sean Carroll’s ‘The Big Picture’ is an extremely accessible and well-written book. It is presented in a manner which immerses you in an ordinary language philosophy of non boring kind without you noticing it, and at the same time it also satisfies your hunger for scientifically informed dialogue with an ignited mind of a leading scientist doing the research at the forefront of Physics. It is a book which stays with you long after you are done reading it. I follow Carroll’s writing on his blog, So I was waiting for this book to come out for a while now. I enjoyed every page of it. Caution for fellow ‘Naturalists’ who share similar point of view – refer Carroll’s account of ‘Naturalism’ in comparison with Paul Horwich’s Naturalism as opposed to Alexander Rosenberg’s ‘Mad Dog’ flavor of Naturalism. Non- naturalists also have plenty to enjoy in this delicious treat of a book.

A word on the “progress” made by “great” branches of learning – Philosophy and Science! Let’s revisit what Peter van Inwagen (Freedom to break the laws, 2004) is trying to allude to here.

Disagreement in philosophy is pervasive and irresoluble. There is almost no thesis in philosophy about which philosophers agree. If there is any philosophical thesis that all or most philosophers affirm, it is a negative thesis: that formalism is not the right philosophy of mathematics, for example, or that knowledge is not (simply) justified, true belief. That is not how things are in the physical sciences. I concede that the “cutting edge” of elementary-particle physics looks a lot like philosophy in point of pervasive and fundamental disagreement among its respected practitioners. But there is in physics a large body of settled, usable, uncontroversial theory and of measurements known to be accurate within limits that have been specified. The cutting edge of philosophy, however, is pretty much the whole of it.

David Chalmers’ argument about ‘glass half full view’ is less than convincing. I am pretty much with Peter van Inwagen when it comes to ‘glass half empty’ view of progress in Philosophy. I am currently reading his ‘The Problem of Evil: The Gifford Lectures’. Let’s see if next few months of reading some philosophical texts change my point of view or fortify it more.

I enjoyed Chalmers’ the Character of Consciousness. His writing on Philosophy of Mind is much more appealing for non-Philosophy majors like me than his contemporaries. I was not much drawn to Philosophy of Mind before, but Chalmers’ appearance on Sam Harris’ podcast changed that.

I found out that ending every post with an adage or a wise quote often makes that post worth much more. I also find it hard to disagree with myself.

As Camus would put it – ‘In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.’

Happy Reading     \o/


Nature of Knowledge

Just finished reading  Word and Object by the eminent Philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine. It was published in 1960 and MIT press’s 2013 edition has a foreword by Patricia Churchland. Churchland’s foreword has a very interesting tone to it. Naturalizing epistemology was an obvious  (possibly even older problem in philosophy than I know of) aim for decades now but what it meant for Quine to criticize ‘conceptual analysis’ and go forward with writing this book and face the outburst of criticism was very admirable. Experimental psychology favors Quine’s understanding of Meaning. “Meanings do change”, writes Churchland, “..and that was precisely Quine’s point”.

Quine’s holistic view on scientific method and how language can be understood in terms of naturalistic world view is worth exploring. This book was his best contribution to date and a landmark event in the history of epistemology, according to many. His student, Daniel Dennett’s account of his own journey into Philosophy of Mind and what ‘Word and Object’ meant for him as a philosopher is very enlightening.

Next in the list to read are Plato at the Googleplex by Rebecca Goldstein and Ray Monk’s biography of Wittgenstein!

On immunity by Eula Biss, Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris and Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli are great reads. Daniel Dennett’s The Intentional Stance demands a separate post to justify its relevance in ‘Free Will’ and ‘Folk Psychology’ debate. So, meditations on that topic soon to follow.

Also, can’t wait for Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs’ “The Penultimate Curiosity“. Soon to be published in April, I suppose.

Happy Reading!


Inner Everettian !


Once we have granted that any physical theory is essentially only a model for the world of experience, we must renounce all hope of finding anything like “the correct theory.” —Hugh Everett III,  (1973)

The age old problem of Navier- Stoke’s Equations and Von Neumann Machines!

Millennium Problems : These are very big deal when it comes to Mathematics. But, for some obscure reason, One of them is not very popular among Engineers, even though one of the last standing problems in classical physics – Navier–Stokes existence and smoothness (one of the millennium problems) is of major consequence to Fluid Dynamicists, Aerospace/Mechanical/Chemical Engineers and Many others alike. I still don’t know why is that the case. Maybe the recruiting agents at undergraduate level do not want to scare away students who are already bog down by assignments and homework based on the ‘Solved’ mysteries of last century. I agree, even ‘Euler’ equations – simplified form of N-V equations, will require a significant amount mathematical prowess to tame that beast ‘Computationally’ (leave aside analytically) …

Something interesting happened in February this year, Dr.Terence Tao from UCLA, has a new paper out. (Title Reads : Finite Time Blowup for an Averaged Three-Dimensional Navier-Stokes Equation). His new idea is making quite a buzz around but as most of them say, it just a new direction to the approach, but no way closer to resolving the problem. Next stop is to study the consequences of this paper and ( the one involving finite time blowup of Euler Equations), but that would be a summer Project altogether. I would be seeking help from some colleagues who have a formal training in Logic Gates. Next are the Von Neumann Machines. Still this cross pollination of different ideas from distant branches of Engineering might just pay off for the next generation wave of researchers … Yes it is as weird as Indian Hip Hop – Beware the MC !

Blowup :

Now, just to learn what it means to ‘Blow up’ a solution, We would need a whole lot of machinery of Numerical Methods and Linear Algebra. But in short means exactly what it sounds – Reaching non physical values of Physical entities ( or just infinities). Let the melody ring in your ear over and over again …

Computational Vs Theoretical Vs Experiments !!!!

This is how it feels sometimes:

Professor Andrei Linde responds to THE news !

Demonstrate !

Demo : The Movie by Alom Shaha. Its something to watch (not read!) …


Preach, Sagan !


For a long time, Cosmos has been on IMDB’s  top 10 TV shows of all time. It is no wonder that appetite for understanding of deep mysteries of cosmos fascinates people. Sagan’s Cosmos has a special place in popular culture here in West, well to be honest, even in Asia, Africa and other parts of world as well. His way of delivering the state of the art to his audience has been the bold identifier of the Science Communication in US and all over the world since 1980.

Tonight, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey premiers on FOX and National Geographic. Stay tuned for the awesomeness which belongs to prime time television !

Best Sci-Fi … Ever !

1. The Matrix (1999)  .. 9.5/10.0



2. 2001 : A space Odyssey (1968) … 9.4/10.0

Gary Lockwood And Keir Dullea In '2001: A Space Odyssey'


3. Contact (1997) …. 9.2/10



4. Blade Runner (1982) ….. 9.1/10.0



5. Alien (1979) … 9.0/10.0


Next five (generally nobody cares after top 10. Not worth the effort to go further, even if there are many)


6. Gattaca (1997) … 8.5/10.0



7. Jurassic Park (1993) … 8.5/10.0



8. The Andromeda Strain (1971) … 8.5/10.0











9. Dr. Strangelove (1964) …. 8.4/10.0



10. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) … 8.3/10.0


Let the (word) War begin …

It has been nicknamed – “A Highly Anticipated Debate” !

Dr. William Lane Craig Vs  Dr. Sean Carroll !


Source : Greer Heard Forum

“Next month I’ll be doing something related, although under quite different circumstances. On February 21 I’ll be debating William Lane Craig at the Greer-Heard Forum, an event sponsored by the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. It will actually be a two-day event; a debate between Craig and me on Friday night, and follow-ups on Saturday from other speakers — Tim Maudlin and Alex Rosenberg for Team Naturalism, Robin Collins and James Sinclair for Team Theism. I believe the whole thing will be streamed live online, and it will certainly be recorded for posterity.” —said, Dr.Carroll, about this debate.

It will be fun for sure ..  If you are lucky enough to be in New Orleans register here.

Illusion !!



On ‘origin of the most important mathematical symbol in the history of mathematics …’


An equation derives its power from a simple source. It tells us that two calculations, which appear different, have the same answer. The key symbol is the equals sign, =. The origins of most mathematical symbols are either lost in the mists of antiquity, or are so recent that there is no doubt where they came from. The equals sign is unusual because it dates back more than 450 years, yet we not only know who invented it, we even know why. The inventor was Robert Recorde, in 1557, in The Whetstone of Witte. He used two parallel lines (he used an obsolete word gemowe, meaning ‘twin’) to avoid tedious repetition of the words ‘is equal to’. He chose that symbol because ‘no two things can be more equal’. Recorde chose well. His symbol has remained in use for 450 years.

— Ian Stuart,  In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World

Refer : Brain Pickings Article on this !

Self siphoning beads !!

I woke up this morning watching this incredible video demonstrating the self siphoning beads ! It’s very baffling at first to fathom what’s going on…

But then, you realize this video kinda captures the intuitive essence of your musings, in far better way 🙂 

Adios nos vemos ….


David Deutsch on Gregory House

David Deutsch, FRS, on the epistemology of House,M.D. ! and Why it was so fascinating ?? !!  Joy to watch ….   ( Seek at 20:20 )

First look at “Europa Report” !!

Let’s see how realistic a depiction  this deep-space exploration motion picture is  …. Clearly we have been given better images to fantasize about ‘ice fishing trip to Europa’ though !



Time to revisit “Reflections on a mote of dust ” !


It never gets old to revisit the work of Carl Sagan ! It was an awesome animation (Above) to start ! His words are still impact-full to ears. They compel us to fine tune our attitude and send out a very simple message to alter our ego maniacal ways of approaching the conflicts around the world. Idea of ‘Living peacefully’ has become a necessary evil for us ! The idea was seen by Carl Sagan as an amicable friend to march forward with ! Sigh ….. Oh humanity !



I thank my friend for the book he sent me yesterday ! It’s an awesome read for sure !
Nos vemos amigos !!!