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Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Physics Sidebar


Tangent to mathematics today (though there is mention of Gödel here)... just wanted to make sure everyone is aware of the wonderful interview with Janna Levin at Quanta Magazine. Astrophysicist Levin is promoting her latest book, "Black Hole Blues" and was involved in the LIGO project that recently detected gravitational waves, but really the background of her life and approach to physics are some of the most interesting aspects of her conversation with Natalie Wolchover:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160505-janna-levins-theory-of-doing-everything/

It turns out that Levin never got a high school diploma and suffered a series of serious medical events, before reaching college and her odd path to physics:
"I started college as a philosophy major, and I was interested in art history, the arts. But I grew to hate certain things in philosophy. I was really frustrated that people were trying to figure out what a long-dead man meant when he said something. Nobody is tearing their hair out saying, 'What did Einstein mean by relativity?' Once he shared it, he shared it. It was ours."
It's all a great reminder of the varied, unpredictable journeys people often take to reach their destinations! Dr. Levin, by the way, has written three other books, including a novel.

A couple years back Levin also spent a fascinating hour with Krista Tippett for her "On Being" radio broadcast:
http://www.onbeing.org/program/mathematics-purpose-and-truth/130


Lastly, as long as I'm mentioning physics, three more recent books I've seen a fair amount of positive popular buzz for (but haven't read myself) are:

"Seven Brief Lessons On Physics" by Carl Rovelli
"The Jazz of Physics" by Stephon Alexander
"The Universe In Your Hand" by Christophe Galfard


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