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Kirk Moodey

Joined 6 months ago

I am interested in natural philosophy, I dislike spirituality and woo intensely.

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Review of 'Life on a young planet' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I think I read an older edition, so I can't speak for whatever the current preface might say, but I found it a quite easy read and enjoyed it a fair bit. I had wanted a book that went into details I wasn't already familiar with, and this gave me that. In particular, the details of the oxygen levels and their impact on animal evolution was something I had been curious about. I also liked the discussion of microbe evolution, although I was already familiar with things like some organisms acquiring photosynthesis by swallowing other organisms with photosynthesis who had swallowed other organisms with photosynthesis like some sort of living Russian doll. In my opinion, people who are only interested in animals because they are like us are boring and unimaginative.

As noted by another reviewer, the fast developments in the field have made this slightly outdated. We now know …

The Road to Reality (2007) 4 stars

The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe is a …

Review of 'The Road to Reality' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

It pains me to give four stars because I really love this book, honestly, but it does have some flaws. It could definitely use a glossary, for instance. The first time I picked this up years ago I struggled hard, although admittedly I was much much younger then.
So, first I would heartily recommend reading 'The Theoretical Minimum' series first and 'A Very Gentle Guide to General Relativity', and 'e, story of a number'. Probably also read something about gauges and groups, and it definitely wouldn't hurt to read a book talking about Riemann. Coming back to it after those, this is a lot less dense; it's just so much easier to read a book when you've seen some of the vocabulary before and aren't wading through new language every single page. Especially a long book like this one.
Also, if you've encountered concepts before, it can be easier to …

How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (2011) 2 stars

Review of 'How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

Extremely unconvincing, and contrary to what some other reviewers wrote, the physics was not well presented.
'The EPR authors described a source, such as a radioactive nucleus, that shot out pairs of particles with the same speed but in opposite directions. Call the left-moving particle “A,” and the right-moving particle “B.” A physicist could measure A’s position at a given moment, and thereby deduce the value of B’s position. Meanwhile, the physicist could measure B’s momentum at that same moment, thus capturing knowledge of B’s momentum and simultaneous position to any desired accuracy.'
This is blatantly wrong. EPR was about measuring position OR momentum but never about knowing both at the same time!

The end of science 2 stars

Review of 'The end of science' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

Doesn't have the best presentation of science, for example it contains the following error:
'According to the standard model of quantum mechanics, neither particle has
a definite position or momentum before it is measured; but by measuring
the momentum of one particle, the physicist instantaneously forces the other
particle to assume a fixed position—even if it is on the other side of the
This is completely and totally wrong.

I've noticed that people who are quick to talk negatively about the limitations of knowledge tend to have more limited knowledge than the people they are trying to critique.
People who bring up that science doesn't prove things often neglect that you don't really need absolute proof to have a fair degree of confidence that, yes, we should act like the sun is going to rise tomorrow.
Of course there is Godel, but Godel had a completeness theorem as well …

Einstein (2007, Simon & Schuster) 5 stars

The first full biography of Albert Einstein since all of his papers have become available …

Review of 'Einstein' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

There are plenty of reviews going over how enjoyable or not the biographical content was. However, I haven't seen any of them here address the point that the EPR experiment is not presented as well as it could be.
'We can take measurements on the first particle, the authors asserted, and
from that gain knowledge about the second particle “without in any way
disturbing the second particle.” By measuring the position of the first parti-
cle, we can determine precisely the position of the second particle. And we
can do the same for the momentum'
The last should read 'alternatively we can do the same for momentum', as it is actually a rather important point in EPR that it is /not/ attempting to measure position and momentum at the same time, but rather, that the second particle should have no way of knowing which experiment we chose to perform and …

The Cosmic Code (1984, Bantam) 3 stars

Written for general readers, The Cosmic Code goes on a fantastic journey into the microcosmos. …

Review of 'The Cosmic Code' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

A review by Mermin pointed out he gets the central point entirely wrong of the EPR experiment.

Also, Bell was not the first to find a flaw in von Neumann’s argument. Grete Hermann did.

Finally, I cannot disagree more that God playing dice somehow gives humans freedom. If I flip a coin in my brain on whether or not to kill a baby every time I see a baby, instead of computing based on my internal values, is that really free will or am I slave to dice?

A People’s History of the United States (Paperback, 2005, HarperPerennial Modern Classics) 4 stars

Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People's History …

Review of 'A People’s History of the United States' on 'Goodreads'

1 star

disclaimer: it's been a very long time since I've read this.

I normally like this sort of book, as I am happy to read about the dark side of history that often gets covered up, but I found it just awful, honestly. It had a very negative take on America in World War II that, frankly, just does not strike me as deserved, and I actually remember I gave it up in sheer disgust at around that point. America has committed many atrocities, but (reluctantly!) going into the war against Hitler who was literately committing genocide is definitely not one of them, and certainly not an act of imperialism when we were attacked by Japan first and decided to defend ourselves!
The bomb was regrettable, but very understandable why people would worry Japan wanted to fight to the last and be motivated to drop it: if you've ever read ANY …

Geometry and symmetry (1988, Dover) 4 stars

Review of 'Geometry and symmetry' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

The book seems alright; it starts off stating its conventions for notation despite being standard which I appreciated because if you are like me, you probably forgot what some of the standard notation meant.
One bit of funkiness in the online version I read is that some of the symbols randomly blew up huge. It's quite possible a normal paperback wouldn't have that issue. It did not make it less readable, it was just very jarring.

Inversive geometry (2014) 3 stars

Review of 'Inversive geometry' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Browsing this book as a freebie, I find the introduction a little clunky and confusingly written.
For instance, there is the statement 'We thus get the idea by isolating a point on a sphere (which point we call infinity) we get the Euclidean plane' right in the preface, but a point by itself does not make a plane. Perhaps the author meant 'add' instead of isolate?
It's hard to find freebie texts on the subject, so I'm not about to give it no stars, but... I'm not really impressed with the writing here. To be fair, most mathematical texts aren't exactly well written, but usually their preface is at least comprehensible.
The first chapter is fairly simple, starting off with talking about Euclid and what you can do with a mere card on the table, and this is not so bad, although it has the usual mathematical habit of replacing …