Archive for January 25th, 2008

Yet another review of Musicophilia

January 25, 2008

Jessica Phillips-Silver reviews Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia for Science (and has quite a few nice things to say about the book):

Musicophilia is not only another example of best-selling author Oliver Sacks’s repertoire of fascinating neurological anecdotes and skillful storytelling but also a poignant collection of evidence that music has a powerful influence on the human brain.

Last time, when I borrowed the book from the library, I could not finish reading it. I have brought the book home again today, and, probably this time, I will finish it (and write a note here about it).

Review of Devidayal’s Music Room

January 25, 2008

Jayan reads Devidayal’s The Music room, and recommends it strongly:

Though this is biographical in nature, and not having most of the fictional qualities, Namita Devidayal uses the method of writing, which is a combination of both styles, retaining the admiration of the art and the gurus as you often observe in biographies, as well as the use of language as in fiction writings. At no point of time she is away form the events and the stories, always retains her ( and the readers) interest in the stories and anecdotes. A very well written book and great value to someone like me who has near zero knowledge of the Hindustani Music and its heroes.

He also collects several relevant links towards the end of his post; take a look!

David Lindley’s Uncertainty

January 25, 2008

I finished reading David Lindley’s Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the struggle for the soul of science. It is a short book running into 230 pages or so and makes a good and easy reading. However, I did not enjoy the book in spite of what Doug Natelson and Chad Orzel had to say about it.

As a matter of fact, I specifically did not like the character sketches that Lindley offers of various scientists (which sounded too caricaturish to me), though both Natelson and Orzel seem to have liked it:

It’s a compelling story, though there are no major surprises: Heisenberg was ludicrously bright; Bohr was incapable of writing a short, declarative statement; Pauli was a sarcastic bastard who could get away with it because he was brilliant; Einstein was already the grand old man. (Natelson)

Where the book really shines, though, is in presenting the personalities of the people involved in the making of the theory. Lindley includes brief character sketches of all the important players, and enough anecdotes to give a good sense of what they were like. You get the maddeningly evasive and philosophical Bohr, the standoffish Heisenberg, the prickly Max Born. There are also nice portraits of Einstein as a cranky conservative, Schrödinger the utter cad (unsurprisingly, he got on well with Einstein), and the extremely sarcastic Pauli. Pretty much anyone who’s anyone in the history of quantum theory shows up, and they all get their due. (Orzel)

Having said that, if you can ignore Lindley’s descriptions of these scientists–in case, like me, you do not enjoy such descriptions a lot–you will enjoy the book.