Einstein’s Cosmos by Michio Kaku
Finished reading on July 21st, 2014
Kaku’s “Einstein’s Cosmos” fits Albert Einstein’s life and work into less than 200 pages of highly readable story that gives insight into Special and General Relativity and also his try to find a Unified Field Theory without going into too much detail about the physics nor about Einstein’s private life… although you can read about Einstein not wearing socks.
In general I found it enjoyable and more of a book that’s good as an introduction to Albert Einstein or for getting a historical context for better understanding his work and it ends with some of the more important examples where Einstein’s work had great influence and some of the solutions to Einstein’s equations such as time travel and black holes.
Although I’ve previously read some biographies/ books about Einstein’s life and work I still found this quite interesting, although most of it was repeating things I’d already read about, but the writing is just excellent.
The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri
Finished reading on July 8, 2014
There is a man dying on the landing of a building that is shared by several different families, who mostly don’t get along.
The man who’s dying is Vishnu (it’s not a spoiler, that happens in the beginning), who would usually help the families with small things like doing the dishes and in exchange he gets tea in the morning and old parathas and lives on the first landing of a house full of many colorful characters.
The book shows the lives of the people who live in the house and what they go though in a couple of days, while there’s a dying man there outside their building…
The book was very interesting, the characters were realistic and several of them were quite awful, as for example there are two neighbors – Mrs Pathak and Mrs. Asrani, who share a kitchen and don’t get along, as one thinks her hot water is stolen by the other and the second one thinks her ghee is being stolen every day by the first woman…
As I was reading it, I constantly felt exasperated as it seemed no-one really cared about the fact that there’s a man quietly dying and they went about their lives. But then you can also read about their past and Vishnu’s past and it all makes for a sad read, as there seem to be broken dreams all around. For me one of the saddest characters was Mr. Jalal, who is an intellectual type and who wishes to understand faith, as his wife is a proper Muslim woman, but Mr. Jalal is trying to go about finding faith in a secretive fashion and in somewhat odd way. And of-course there has to be some quarrel between the Hindus and Muslims in the book…
It was a good read, although I did get quite exasperated in places as some characters seem to exist in the story just for the sake of causing more trouble and pain for others.
An Acre of Glass by J. B. Zirker
Finished reading on June 30, 2014
If you’ve ever had the need to be able to say something about each and every large or historically significant telescope, then this is the book for you!
Occasionally I feel that kind of need and because of that I really liked reading this book as it starts from about 19th century telescopes and continues to some telescopes that are still in the planning phase (and where so also at the time when the book was published in 2005).
It was interesting as there are many telescopes and telescope makers that you can read about, although the book concentrates (or was it just an illusion I had?) on mostly telescopes in the US, or that were built and used by Americans, with a few mentions of some European telescopes. Which is understandable to a limit since they built most of the large telescopes last century.
Also it’s not just about optical telescopes, radio telescopes have some space in the book and infrared telescopes as well, and even some space telescopes like Hubble, Spitzer, Herschel and the not-yet-launched James Webb Space Telescope (no X-ray or neutrino telescopes though)
In addition to some of the stories of how the telescopes were built and how the money was acquired for the building, you can also read a bit about the science and art of telescope building and astronomy as well.
So in general it’s the kind of book that you’d recommend to someone who’d be really interested in cars but for some reason they’re interested in big tubes with tons of glass in one or both ends and how they can be moved or used.
I love books about telescopes. And telescopes. 🙂
Here’s an extra for those who like things like these (because I like the music and the optimism and grandeur of it all)..