An Unknown Indian

Thoughts of a FOSS enthusiast

Two beautiful books

Posted by Balachandran on March 21, 2008

Hello folks, over the past few days, i had cut down the time i spent before the computer and spent more time on books. And that lead me to two beautiful books, one by the great Stephen Hawking and the other by a not-so-popular scientist named Brian Greene. The former was titled “Theory Of everything” (TOE) for short. The other was “The Elegant Universe”.

Over the past few years, research on a GUT has increased and many consider TOE to be the solution. Rightly, it is called “The final theory of everything”. Hawking himself says, if the theory can really serve as a unified field theory, then men have really made a breakthrough. But further adds that, this just means that we just started understanding universe and the mind of God and still have to travel a great long distance.

The books has been neatly organised into seven lectures, which ventures on topics like black holes, quantum computing, general theory of relativity and other big names. It gives a beautiful overview of the Friedmann models of universe, given by Alexander Friedmann.

In the later parts, it clearly explains various concepts like Arrows of time and entropy. The one thing that I got clearly from those discussions were that entropy of the universe extends in the dirention of time. Or in other ways, we measure time in the direction in which entropy increases. The power of the great scientist comes to the fore when he explains how the setting of a bit in a memory of a computer, though decreases the entropy of the memory chip, increases the entropy of the universe as a whole. :)

The other book, “The elegant universe”, was more technical and yet was simple enough to be understood by a novice in this field. The book starts with the three great problems of all times, two of which were solved by Einstein’s relativity theory and the third and the biggest is between the general theory of relativity, which is for objects of extremely large sizes and the quantum physics, which is for extremely small objects. The author beautifully explains the irony that even though both these theories have been practically tested many many times and have been proved to be true, only one of these can be true.

The book then takes us to the various sub atomic particles and for the first time, i read in some detail about quarks, their kinds etc. The author goes on to explain how these were discovered and the properties of these particles and their relation to quarks. The the book moves on to talk about the four basic forces – The strong force, the weak force, the gravitational force and the electromagnetic force.

This book also explains the basics of the theory of realativity. Basics as in even what is relativity is also explained clearly. And i have not completed the 500-odd book fully. So hope to add to the post when I finish it up.

Finally, thanks to Karthikeyan, my room mate at hostel for both were his books. :)

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