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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Revenger
Alastair Reynolds
Progress: 218/432 pages
The Nightmare Stacks (A Laundry Files Novel)
Charles Stross
Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated
Charles Darwin
Progress: 120/346 pages
Hero And Leander
Christopher Marlowe
Progress: 34/100 pages
An Introduction to Magnetohydrodynamics
P.A. DAVIDSON, E.J. Hinch, S.H. Davis, Mark J. Ablowitz
Progress: 93/452 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 359/700 pages
Plasma physics
R.A. Cairns
Progress: 4/244 pages
Selected Short Stories - Conrad (Wordsworth Classics)
Keith Carabine, Joseph Conrad
Progress: 37/272 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 108/1102 pages

Paul Dirac, Peter Goddard (editor)

Paul Dirac: The Man and His Work - Abraham Pais

Note the sub-title: this book consists of four lectures about Dirac, his work and developments from it in physics and mathematics, plus Hawking's laughably ignorant memorial address. (He repeatedly insulted his hosts for delaying for 11 years an event that was, in fact, only one year beyond the minimum requirement of ten years post Dirac's death.)

 

Only the first lecture is really biographical and even that takes time out to discuss Dirac's scientific contributions. From there the book gets progressively more technically challenging, ending with a lecture on the Dirac operator and spinors that in detail is going to be incomprehensible to anyone without an advanced working knowledge of topology. (The gist is that we have no clue what spinors mean, geometrically, in the way we know what vectors and tensors are, for example.)

 

In between, there's good stuff on antimatter from prediction to present day understanding and similarly Dirac's magnetic monopoles then to now.

 

Much of this book will go over the heads of the casual reader and if you want anything more than a cursory biography, you will also need to look elsewhere, but for physicists, it's a worthwhile publication.