Book Reviews

The island of Knowledge by Marcelo GleiserScience may be viewed as a system that magnifies our understanding of the real world. Our 5 senses are sensors accumulating various facets of the world all around us: we observe, we listen, we touch, we smell, we taste. The human brain is an exceptionally complicated structure, capable of producing what we refer to as our day-to-day understanding of reality.
Meanwhile, we understand that our view of the macrocosm is very restricted, for instance, what we can see is just a tiny portion of precisely what’s really “around us.” It follows that our interpretation of actuality is insufficient. The world is a lot more than what we can sense of it. This is precisely where science factors in, enabling us to view deeper and expanding our understanding of worlds normally alien to our senses. Through science we can collect data from planets billions of light year away, view microorganisms and particles too small to see with the naked eye, image the human brain at work, one of the most complicated structures in the known universe, and much, much more. We view all this; yet we do not see everything. We cannot. This is where The Island of Knowledge makes a good attempt at exploring our limitations in understanding the world around us and certainly gets the mind contemplating our our overall position within it. A fascinating read.


The Naked Future by Patrick Tucker“The Naked Future,” by Patrick Tucker questions just how the large inflow of easily accessible information will change every area of our lives, from enhancing our capability to forecast earthquakes to creating tailored education and learning training programs that adapt their content and coaching style to the requirements of each individual. Looking to incorporate information flows from a number of sources: mail, phone calls, automobiles and, with its latest purchase of a business that produces house thermostats and smoke alarms, our bedrooms, a business like Google is effectively placed not merely to forecast our future but also to spot just how much risk we accept on a daily basis, be it fire, a tire puncture or a lapse on a loan payment. The models Tucker describes excel at informing us just what might take place, however they can not reveal to us the reasons why. As Tucker himself recognizes, we know that some individuals are much more susceptible to having punctures and, by studying stacks of information, we can also determine who they are. However, the precise factors for the flat tire continue to elude us. This book argues that the Big Data discussion requires grounding in philosophy. When Big Data permits us to speed up decision-making, we have to face the problem of just how much we would like to entrust to chance and to those uncomplicated alternatives of autonomous contestation and consideration. As we acquire the ability to anticipate or even pre-empt problems, we run the risk of getting rid of the very sort of experimental practices that have actually contributed to human social development. Sometimes, somebody has to break the law, take part in an act of civil defiance or just reject something the remainder of us identify as beneficial. Big Data’s strength is in its ability to enable us to recognize and make these kinds of loopholes inaccessible to the unorthodox, whose behaviour could in fact be necessary for our continued development.

Love and Math by Edward FrenkelSuppose you took a fine arts course where you were simply shown ways to repaint a picket fence? Suppose you had never seen the famous art works of van Gogh or Picasso, and were not told they existed? Sadly, this is just how mathematics is usually presented, so it ends up being, for the majority of us, the scholarly equivalent of watching paint dry. In the book, Love and Math, distinguished math wizard Edward Frenkel exposes an aspect of mathematics we rarely ever observe, in which it is permeated with all the charm and beauty of a masterpiece. In this warm and enthusiastic manuscript, Frenkel reveals that maths, far from inhabiting an idiosyncratic niche, actually plays a role in almost everything, unifying us in time and space. Love and Math focuses on two connected tales: the marvels of maths itself and one boy’s experience discovering and experiencing it. Having endured a prejudiced academic system to end up one of the 21st century’s top maths wizards, Frenkel today focuses on one of the most significant concepts to evolve from mathematics in the last five decades: the Langlands Program. Thought of by many experts in the field to be a fundamental principle of maths, the Langlands Program allows scientists to convert results from one field of study to another in order to understand challenges. A perfect example of this is Fermat’s last theorem, which had until recently appeared unsolvable. Ultimately, Love and Math is a tale advocating a new mind-set which has the potential to enhance our very lives and equip us further to better understand the planet and our place within it.

Leave a Reply