Category Archives: Book notes

More from The Black Hole War

Reading Susskind’s book over lunch — yet another advantage of MGTOW — A Reader finds this passage very interesting:

[For] a mathematical result, the more technical, precise, unintuitive, and difficult it is, the more it shocks people into recognizing the value of a new way of thinking. — Susskind, Leonard (2008-07-07). The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics (p. 311). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.

The book started out narrative but now there’s some serious science being explained; this might take longer to read than A Reader originally thought. There still no math, but a lot of concepts and a lot of counterintuitive ideas. (Physics sure has changed a lot since college.)

Toynbee: politically incorrect, factually correct.

A Reader is about two-thirds into Leonard Susskind’s The Black Hole War, but decided to take a quick peek inside Toynbee’s first tome:

[W]hen a frontier between a more highly and a less highly civilized society ceases to advance, the balance does not settle down to a stable equilibrium but inclines, with the passage of time, in the more backward society’s favour. — Toynbee, Arnold J.; D.C. Somervell (1947-12-31). A Study of History: Abridgement of Volumes I-VI (p. 10). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Can you imagine a current day teacher using the phrase A Reader bolded above?

Beginning “The Black Hole War” by Leonard Susskind

After a sunday of woodworking in his workshop, A Reader likes nothing more than a stiff drink and a good book. So here are a few choice quotes from Leonard Susskind’s book The Black Hole War.

The real tools for groking the quantum universe are abstract mathematics: infinite dimensional Hilbert spaces, projection operators, unitary matrices, and a lot of other advanced principles that take a few years to learn. (p. 75)

Grokking is Heinlein’s term for developing such an understanding of a field that its nature becomes almost intuitive. I’m not sure that it really applies here, but perhaps for super-smart physicists it does. It also has two ‘k’s. The book will try to explain black holes without the math, Susskind tells his readers.

A black hole horizon is the most concentrated form of information that the laws of nature allow.  (p. 116)

This is a very deep insight, and it’s the solution to the problem that Susskind found with Hawking radiation: when matter comes into a black hole, all information in that matter is preserved in the black hole; if the black hole dissipates its mass (or energy) as Hawking radiation, which carries no information, then information is destroyed, something that violates quantum mechanics.

The rest of the book will describe the evolution of the problem and its current solution of the universe as a hologram (a structure where all the information is contained on the surface area rather than the volume).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle describes my ideal club

Sherlock Holmes takes Dr. Watson to meet his brother Mycroft at the Diogenes Club:

There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals. It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in town. No member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger’s Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences, if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. My brother was one of the founders, and I have myself found it a very soothing atmosphere. — The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter.

Small talk is overrated but with the progressive feminization of the workplace, almost unavoidable.

New Books for April 2013

In the last month A Reader has bought four new non-work books, and will — might — write reviews, book notes, or reading observations (in increasing order of detail) for them:

  1. Arnold J. Toynbee’s A Study of History (abridgment by D. C. Sommervell), in two volumes. History, but without the leftist “let’s all hate Western Civilization” bias of most history books written after the 1960s. This will be my Big-Ass Book Challenge for April.
  2. Leonard Susskind’s The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics. Physics.
  3. Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. Apple’s hardware may be horribly overpriced and its users are mostly libtard proglodytes, but A Reader admires Jobs for what he achieved, especially his comeback from defeat.
  4. Tim Harford’s Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. He’s an economist, so I’d generally ignore this kind of book, but it was recommended by two guys I respect, both engineers with good taste in pop science books.

A Reader has been avoiding fiction for a while, because the way the world is going, fiction cannot compete with reality for shock value.