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Emmisary of Immanence
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The Griffiths Introduction to Quantum Dynamics is the gold standard of undergrad quantum books. It's a solid place to start. That said, I think quantum is very hard to grasp without a teacher who can help you wrap your mind around it. But if you're going to start out on your own, Griffiths is a good place to start.

 

—Alorael, who is, in fact, leery of other QM beginner books. Quantum really isn't easy, and it's very easy for those who are familiar enough to teach about it to become too familiar to remember what it's like to have no idea what's going on. There's a plethora of bad physics books in general and bad QM textbooks especially floating around.

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I am currently rereading the "curious case of the dead dog in the middle of the night" or something like that (the story about the asperger kid) and also reading "Microcontroller Programming The Microchip PIC" as recommended by a friend to improve my chances of finding a job in the field.

Additionally I'm reading the Linux kernel book online.

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Originally Posted By: Necessary Mouse Gesture
The Griffiths Introduction to Quantum Dynamics is the gold standard of undergrad quantum books. It's a solid place to start. That said, I think quantum is very hard to grasp without a teacher who can help you wrap your mind around it. But if you're going to start out on your own, Griffiths is a good place to start.

—Alorael, who is, in fact, leery of other QM beginner books. Quantum really isn't easy, and it's very easy for those who are familiar enough to teach about it to become too familiar to remember what it's like to have no idea what's going on. There's a plethora of bad physics books in general and bad QM textbooks especially floating around.

One of my professors — for a quantum class that I dropped — began by saying that we were now about to learn real physics, in the sense that the inclined planes and pulleys and so forth that you learn in intro physics classes are nice and all, but no real physicist actually uses inclined planes in his (or rarely her) own research. However, physicists pretty regularly use quantum mechanics, often on a daily basis.

A lot of really good physics researchers have absolutely no ability to teach quantum mechanics comprehensibly (so far as it is possible to teach quantum comprehensibly in the first place), and I suspect that the above is part of the reason.

Quantum mechanics was also the only class I ever took and then audited again right after I took it. I took it in the summer and then sat through exactly the same class again in the fall. Griffiths is good and all, but Alo is right when he says that it is not easy.
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I can see how having it regularly be part of your working knowledge and something you assume your professional audience knows might make it hard to then recalibrate for a student audience. On the other hand, I haven't really experienced similar things with other fields. I think the totally counterintuitive, heavily mathematical nature of QM means teachers are likely to have a working grasp but not really an intuitive understanding, which makes teaching it harder.

 

—Alorael, who also notes that biologists regularly mate pea plants to work out genetics. Of course, they do mate all kinds of other things and work out how the characteristics assort, so it's not quite the same.

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Originally Posted By: Necessary Mouse Gesture
—Alorael, who also notes that biologists regularly mate pea plants to work out genetics. Of course, they do mate all kinds of other things and work out how the characteristics assort, so it's not quite the same.


well, that's our excuse, anyway
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As one of those people who use QM daily, I think Alorael has it: it is easier to have a working knowledge of QM than an intuitive understanding. In fact, I think I had a very good senior year quantum course, precisely because in some ways it was sort of bad. It gave the impression that learning QM was more a matter of just getting used to a funny new game, rather than systematically understanding it. And I think this impression is basically right, and that a more rigorous approach would have been misleading.

 

QM has a fair amount of funky math — you can take your pick between the algebra of really huge matrices, or partial differential equations in enormous numbers of variables. The only cases simple enough for anyone to grasp intuitively, in pictures or simple algebraic formulas, are very special cases indeed — special enough that approaching them in reality requires a lot of advanced technology, if it can be achieved at all.

 

So your choice is between very complicated math, or very unfamiliar situations. That would be bad enough, but it gets worse. In the extremely complicated cases that correspond to ordinary situations, quantum mechanics actually agrees very well with our intuitive expectations — to the point that QM amounts to a very much harder way to obtain familiar results. But in the very artificial simple cases, the predictions of QM are very basically at odds with the intuitions we have all picked up from ordinary situations.

 

So your choice is between very complicated math that seems unnecessary, and very unfamiliar situations that seem absurd. Pedagogically, there's not a lot to work with, here. For my money, the 'let's play a game' approach is probably as good a starting point as any.

 

In principle there exists some middle ground of moderately complicated quantum systems, in which one might hope to learn something sensible about how quantum absurdity makes contact with the familiar rules of human intuition. The dirty secret of modern physics is that experiments are only beginning to directly investigate any such cases, after about a century of quantum mechanics. The technology just wasn't there, until now. I expect that as we learn more about this regime our understanding of quantum mechanics will change a lot.

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I just started and finished The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie and really adored it as much as I liked his previous books.

 

Oddly enough my daughter got it for her tenth birthday and my immediate response was: hang on - this can't be right. This should be for me.

 

And right I was. I don't think she should read it before she's twelve or thirteen come to think of it.

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Originally Posted By: Slarty
I'm not sure that that is _actually_ the best novella ever, but I sure can't think of any I like better.
It's at the top of my list, at least. It's really unfortunate how Bradbury is a bit out of touch with reality these days. F451 really stressed how the problem with the society wasn't the television walls, or the seashells, or the cars. It wasn't the technologies themselves, but the ideas behind them, and how people (mis)used them (likewise, I think the book isn't about government censorship, like most people think, but rather the citizens self-censoring).

Fast forward a few decades, and we have Bradbury refusing to sell his books online because the Internet is meaningless and not real.



I've wanted to read Metamorphosis, and especially Brothers Karamazov. But these are translated works, not original English. How do these translations hold up? Is there a particular edition I should look at?
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Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
I've wanted to read Metamorphosis, and especially Brothers Karamazov. But these are translated works, not original English. How do these translations hold up? Is there a particular edition I should look at?


The way I usually get around this is by reading multiple translations and hoping it averages out to the author's original intent (I have I think four different translations of the Art of War in my library somewhere :p), but this method does sort of run up against a wall when used on huge epic novels (Reading five different translations of, say, War and Peace would probably take an appreciable fraction of a decade), so you might want to try asking around at a local library. It shouldn't be a problem with The Metamorphosis, though.
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You can't skip past the names. There aren't any names at all. You can skip all the titles, but then it becomes very difficult to understand who is who or how they all relate.

 

—Alorael, who of course had similar difficulties readings passages from The Tale of Genji without skipping all the titles.

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About a week back, I read some of the short stories from Machine of Death. Nothing spectacular, but alright.

 

But tonight I was catching up on my RSS feed, and I read the commentary for this Dinosaur Comic. To quote:

 

Quote:
October 28th, 2010: The Machine of Death story keeps getting weirder / more awesome. American conservative talky guy Glenn Beck called us out on his show yesterday because it turned out that his book also had its official release date on October 26th, and he was upset that it was in third place to Keith Richard's new autobio "Life" and our little book. He told his listeners that he'd worked on his book for over a year, and that his books always debut at #1, and that we (along with Keith) were part of a left-wing "culture of death" that "celebrates the things that have destroyed us" and that everyone should support life by buying his book instead of ours?

 

It's basically amazing.

 

So now he's the #1 book on Amazon, and I can't really fault him for getting there by simply asking people to buy his book, since, you know, that's kinda exactly what we did on October 26th! But it is sort of awesome to have a celebrity beef with none other than Glenn Beck. It's also sort of awesome that he's mad at us for something we did entirely by accident: we didn't put the book out to spite him or to forever ruin his record for #1 book launches, and the only time I even noticed him was when we passed his book while moving from #5 to #2. It was honestly nothing personal, Glenn! For most of the time, we didn't even know you were there.

 

Heh?

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  • 4 weeks later...
Quote:
Just finished Towers of Midnight a minute ago.

I'm looking forward to it a great deal, but I'm waiting until christmas break to read it. (Technically I'm waiting until christmas to be given my copy.)

In the meantime I'm reading old Analog magazines; my grandparents recently moved out of their house into an apartment, and my grandfather gave me his collection of magazines, containing most of the issues since 1966. At the moment, my living room is literally filled with an approximately lifetime supply of science fiction short stories.
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Originally Posted By: Niemand
In the meantime I'm reading old Analog magazines; my grandparents recently moved out of their house into an apartment, and my grandfather gave me his collection of magazines, containing most of the issues since 1966. At the moment, my living room is literally filled with an approximately lifetime supply of science fiction short stories.

You will be surprised at how many you've read that were expanded into novels. There used to be books containing the best of Analog.
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  • 2 weeks later...

Trying to describe Fahrenheit 451 to a friend:

 

"Well, it's kinda like 1984, but the focus is different. It's not on the government oppressing and censoring the people with force, it's on the people censoring themselves with entertainment. The televisions are always on, the earphones are always in, people aren't communicating with each other anymore..."

 

"Oh, it's like Wall-E, then."

 

 

 

Actually, I think that works. Never thought of that movie as dystopian, but it kinda is (at least, the majority of the movie that I watched -- didn't catch it all). Just when I thought I couldn't like Pixar more...

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I've been meaning to borrow Ender's Game from my friend for a while, but he lives across town and neither of us has a working car. Most unfortunate.

 

Whilst I wait, I've decided to start reading the Chronicles of Narnia, which it occurred to me I haven't read myself (my mom read it to my brother and me when we were but wee moppets). Upon pretty much flying through The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I've come to realize that I really don't like C.S. Lewis' writing style; at least not in this case.

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Rereading Discworld novels, and some. Pratchett's Nation (which isn't Discworld), then I'd bought Unseen Academicals and after that I just figured 'let's keep going on with these', and grabbed The Truth from my bookcase. Now I've read Going Postal and halfway through Making Money. Next, I think I'll go for Monstrous Regiment and at the same time see if I could find somewhere the older books to buy, as any of my regular bookstores don't carry them in their store selections anymore. I only have some of them.

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Originally Posted By: Matanbuchus
t Riibu booky.fi, nopeasti selailtuna näytti koko tuotanto löytyvän, plus ilmaiset toimitukset.

katos, en tiennytkään tällaisesta sivustosta. Aika hyvän oloinen, mutta sen verran snobi olen Pratchettin kirjojen suhteen, että niitä hankin vain englanniksi ja niitä siellä ei näyttänyt olevan kuin Hogfather (omistan) ja Guards! Guards! mutta väärällä kannella. Näin tarkka olen. tongue Mutta vastaisuuden varalle pistän kyllä sivun muistiin.

For others, I lament the fact that I'm still missing many Discworld books. (or something like that) All in good time. I've more or less read all of time at least once, for libraries do help a bit.
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Originally Posted By: Droid
I got this book Freakonomics as a christmas present.
It's not a very good book.


Freakonomics is an awesome book, mainly because the author's primary objective seems to be to troll the reader- like in the chapter where he argues that "Abortion reduces crime because it kills poor people who would otherwise be criminals; PROBLEM?"

Of course, he does it in a much nicer way with statistics and logic. It's such a great book.
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