Sunday, July 18, 2010

Book Review - Theory of Everything

Theory of Everything - text by Stephen Hawking: This is an unofficial book from Jaico/Phoenix Publishers, without Stephen Hawking's endorsement o his copyright, but it is indeed his text from seven lectures. Many online reviews indicate that A Brief History of Time is a better in terms of explanations, illustrations and more coverage. I came to know after I bought the book, so couldn't have helped patronizing. Any case, it is a quick and easy to read book that provides a good understanding of complex physics around the origin of the universe - things like big bang, black holes, space-time and other complex theories are presented in a simplified way that appeals to the lay person. I finally understood what Chandrasekar Limit means, and why Subrahmanyan Chandrasekar was awarded Nobel prize for it! Also includes some of Hawking's wit, especially around mentions of God and the Church. Finally, Hawking concludes that science may be fairly close to explaining everything around the origin and behavior of the universe, and once that happens, philosophers will be able to catchup with the discoveries and help the common people catch up as well. I wish in my school days could simplify quantum physics this way, so we could have had a better appreciation and understanding!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Review - Tipping Point

Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell: This is a popular book by a popular author. It deals with how certain things take off big time in a seemingly short time - what causes that "tipping point". There are plenty of examples - Hush puppies suddenly snowballing into a big shoe brand, crime in New York taking a dip, snowballing support for American Independence, syphilis drop in Baltimore and so on. What is interesting is the variety of examples across many walks of life, ranging from social behaviors, history, products etc. It also explains factors that result in these tipping points - people like salesmen, "mavens" and "connectors" who spread the knowledge, stickiness, and pure circumstances. I felt this was a milder version of another book - Freakonomics. I bought this at a in squeezed bookstore in Delhi, that housed thousands of used and new books, and the saleswoman who spoke only Hindi was quick to point out the same author also wrote the other book "Outliers"!

Monday, July 12, 2010

IBM - Age discrimination in India?

Something doesn't seem right with this job advertisement from IBM in Times of India newspaper (mid-June 2010). It is openly seeking candidates below 35 years of age! Why would they think those older than 35 can't do Voice Tech Support? What's more surprising is that the same advertisement also says IBM is an equal opportunity employer! I guess age is an exception? Perhaps, an attempt to blend American and Indian laws? It also says IBM helps forward thinking companies make a difference - not quite convincing, if this is age discrimination.