Archive for December, 2012

Pais on Whittaker

December 23, 2012

Here is Pais on Whittaker’s book on the history of relativity:

His treatment of the special theory of relativity in the latter volume shows how well the author’s lack of physical insight matches his ignorance of the literature.

Pais has good things to say about the first volume of the book though:

This work covers the period from Descartes to the close of the nineteenth century. Colleagues more knowledgeable on this period than I, confirm my impression that it is a masterpiece.


Einstein on Gibbs

December 20, 2012

Of Gibbs he wrote:`[His] book is … a masterpiece, even though it is hard to read and the main points are found between the lines’. A year before his death, Einstein paid Gibbs the highest compliment. When asked who were the greatest men, the most powerful thinkers he had known, he replied ‘Lorentz,’ and added, ‘I never met Willard Gibbs; perhaps, had I done so,  I might have placed him beside Lorentz’

From Abraham Pais’ Subtle is the Lord…: The science and life of Albert Einstein. I first read the book sometime in 1991-1992. I am reading it again and my comprehension of the details is much better this time around. Enjoyable and strongly recommended by the way (and, an Oxford lives paperback is available for about 400 rupees)!

Three ways to be alien of Sanjay Subrahmanyam

December 15, 2012

This is the first time I have read Subrahmanyam though I have heard about him sometime back. I enjoyed the book — though the reading is a bit slow due to the foot notes, quotes and unfamiliar ideas. Recommended. And, I have already ordered his Mughal history book and connected history volumes.

Where xerox looks better than original

December 13, 2012

The well-loved columnist Calvin Trillin said of the Nation that it was “probably the only magazine in the country [that] if you make a Xerox of it, the Xerox looks a lot better than the original”.

From here; link via Swarup.

A coffee table book

December 2, 2012

On pdes; albeit unfinished!