Tahsin’s Reading List: Physics

 

Tahsin’s Reading List: Physics #BookRecommendation

Roger Penrose

Richard Feynman

 

Relativity: Albert Einstein

 

Stephen Hawkin

 

Steven Weinberg

Michio Kaku

 

 

Quantum Mechanics: Paul Dirac

General Physics, Physics Problem Books

String Theory: Brian Greene

Particle Physics

 

Quantum Information: Seth Lloyd

 

Computation & Physics – Bits & Atoms: Neil Gershenfeld

 

Astrophysics

 

Leonard Susskind

Neil deGrasse Tyson

 

Brian Cox

 

Others

“Science Fiction (SF)” To “Reality” – Space Travel: At My Ventures

 

Youtube Playlist:

“Science Fiction (SF)” To “Reality” – Space Travel: At My Ventures

#AerospaceEngineering  #AppliedPhysics  #Physics  #BioEngineering

 

The Exclusivity of The Title Of "The Greatest Living Physicist Of His Time"

Galileo, “the greatest living Physicist of his time” died in 1642.
Sir Isaac Newton “the greatest living Physicist of his time” was born in 1642 (Christmas morning; December 25).
John Clark Maxwell, “the greatest living Physicist of his Time”, died in 1879.
But 1879 happened to be the birth year of another “the greatest living Physicist of his time” – Albert Einstein.
If the physicists lived during the same time period then one of them had to lose the title of being “the greatest living Physicist of his time” to another.
By definition. only one can hold the prestige of being known as the “the greatest living Physicist of his time”.
Clearly, the four greatest Physicists had other ideas!

So they chose not to be alive during the same time!
And our realization is that the title of “the greatest living Physicist of his time” is indeed an exclusive title!

On Evolution Of Physics: From Newton’s time all the way to 20th Century

Isaac Newton (Second half of the 17th Century)

  • Mechanics and Gravity
  • Properties of Solids (e.g., Elasticity), Liquids, Gases
  • Thermodynamics
  • Sound and Wave
  • Properties of Light
James Clark Maxwell (19th century)
  • Electricity
  • Magnetism
  • Electromagnetic Waves
Late 19th and early 20th Century
  • Statistical Mechanics
First half of the 20th Century
  • Theory of Relativity (Special and General)
  • Atomic Theory
  • Quantum Theory, Quantum Field Theory (Paul Dirac), Quantum Electrodynamics (Richard Feynman)
  • Nuclear Physics
Second half of the 20th Century
  • High Energy Physics
  • Cosmology and Astrophysics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Quantum Information Theory

Personal Notes On Physics [Unofficial]

  • Secondary Units 
    • Depends on other units through equations 
      • Not accurate – the equations were formed a long time ago and themselves are not accurate. 
        • Examples
          • Faraday’s Laws
            • Magnetic Flux [Unit – Weber] – Electromotive force [2]
      • Other units are defined in terms of Fundamental Units [1].
      • Inaccuracy in equations  
        • => Propagates to (secondary) units.
        • Equations are only approximations and we are inventing better and better approximations with time. 



References

  1. Fundamental Unit
  2. Weber_(unit)
  3.  

Learning Everything There Is To Know In A Subject Area

Learning Everything There Is To Know In A Subject Area

What I do is think and organize “All possible forms of knowledge” in a particular area. I call this forming “Ontology” – Organization of Knowledge.

I learn by thinking.

I think in pictures. I employ Logic and Mathematics.

I find patterns and draw generalizations.

I organize the generalizations in an Ontology.

I consult books and Web only when I have a question.

Suppose, I am learning about Robot Manipulators.

I try to figure out “all of the possible forms of Manipulators” that a Robot might have. I think like a Physicist (Remember, Science is all about generalizations found in Nature.) and figure out “all of the possible forms of Manipulators” that a Robot might have.

I organize all of the possible forms of Manipulators in my own Ontology of Robotics.

Or suppose, I am learning Microeconomics. 


I skim through a book and find out the main concepts.
Think what happens in the world in general.
Organize everything in “A Picture”.  

Microeconomics in a Nutshell

I learned this method 

  • partly from Physics and 
  • partly from Artificial Intelligence. 


Physics tries to explain everything there is in this Universe in terms of a few fundamental laws.

But there are quite a few laws and it can be hard to see all the laws at once. Thinking in pictures and organizing in ontologies help me “see all at once”. I learned building Ontologies from Artificial Intelligence.

That’s – in brief – how I learn everything there is to know in a subject area.

Approach To Research In Theoretical Physics

Approach To Research In Theoretical Physics

  • Start with the foundations. Study how one body of theory was build upon the other.
    • Quantum Theory
    • Relativity Theory
    • Quantum Field Theory
    • Elementary Particle Models & Theories
  • Study how different theories were proposed that helped us explain experimental observations and filled deficiencies in our understandings.
    • Examples 
      • Quantum Theory of light proposed to explain 
        • blackbody radiation (Max Planck) and 
        • photoelectric effect (Albert Einstein). 
      • Pauli Exclusion Principle proposed to explain differences in electron behavior.
      • Alternative Models? Theories? 
    • When theories are build upon one another, deficiency in an earlier theory propagates to later theories and experimental scientists tend to ignore “outliers” and average out the rest
      • Important points 
        • To experimental scientists the speed of light, the strength of electromagnetic field of an electron, etc. are not constants but varying quantities that should be ignored because they are “constants”! Uncertainty Principle helps this cause. 
        • A theory is just a mathematical model, nothing more than that. By definition, it doesn’t reflect ultimate reality. It’s just an approximation. As we have gained more and more knowledge and invented better tools for measurement, we have developed more and more accurate mathematical models to describe the Universe. 
          • Newton’s Laws of motion served us well (and still does). But the laws were approximations. Einstein’s Special Theory Of Relativity proposes more accurate “approximations”.
    • Imagine, how much of Physics has to be rewritten if one of the fundamental theories prove to be fundamentally deficient.
  • Experimentation – Measurements Theory

"Things That Think" From Prof. Neil Gershenfeld

Neil Gershenfeld [1], an MIT Professor, published a book “When Things Start to Think” [2] back in 1999. 


Here are some of his “things that think”:

  • Books that can change into other books 
  • Musical instruments that help beginners engage and virtuosi do more 
  • Shoes that communicate through body networks 
  • Printers that output working things instead of static objects 
  • Money that contains behavior as well as value 

A Note On “Revolutionary”, as opposed to “Evolutionary”, Innovations

For truly original innovations (new paths, etc.) you have to combine two or more separate fields. (If the invention or idea was already somewhere else in your chosen field, then it’s not considered “revolutionary”; rather just “evolutionary”.) That amounts to saying that for truly creative innovations, you have to master (or at least have an overview of) more than one field. 

  • Neil Gershenfeld combining Physics and Computer Science 
  • Ed Boyden [3] applying Physics and EE to Neuroscience (his work on Optogenetics [4]) 

stand out.

Among research institutes, MIT Media Lab [5] provides the kind of environment where faculties and students across different disciplines work together and share the same space which leads to more cross-pollination of ideas. It’s no surprise that both Prof. Neil and Ed work at the Media Lab!



Reference

Evolution of My Dreams and Realizations

My first ‘Aim in life’, as far as I can remember (It was 1988 / 89; I was 2 or 3), was to become a milkman. I mean, it wasn’t about being a milkman. I wanted to become the honest person appreciated by my parents – a milkman by the name Mubarak. (“I want to become Mubarak”, I used to say). So, what I truly wanted to become was a plain, simple, honest person. 

stock-photo-milkman-94006828

Next, I wanted to become a building mechanic. I used to stare at people who built houses in awe. My uncle sent me a toy Mechanical Tool Box.

My next major change in aim occurred when I wanted to join the Military (age: 4-5). Each night, I used to stay awake until the National Anthem with the National Flag was played on BTV and give salute. I watched a Television program depicting Military life. One of my uncles quipped: “The secret: Tahsin wants to become the President!”.

salute-quotes-6
My mom told me of an incident that took place when I was a baby of few months old (1986). One day, General Ershad was delivering a speech (who was then the President). My mom was studying for her exams. I was lying right beside my maternal Grandfather. My Grandfather suddenly started praying loudly: “God, grant my wish and guide my grandson to become the President and lead the Nation.” My Grandmother called my mom, “Come! Quick! Look how your dad is praying for your son!”     

During my First grade, a serial had an enormous influence on me: “The sword of Tipu Sultan”. Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali were my childhood heroes. The serial drew me to History. I was deeply influenced by another historical novel during 3rd / 4th Grade – “Khun Ranga Path”. Besides History, books on General Knowledge were among my favorites from an early age. My father bought me my first “General Knowledge” book (Encyclopedia) around 5. Then I discovered “General Knowledge” books (Encyclopedia) in my aunt’s house. Later, I started buying Encyclopedia myself. I used to stare at the Globe of the world and fantasize (
Grade 3 / 4). I fantasized first becoming a King of Ancient Bengal, then King of Myanmar (Burma) and later lifetime President of Kazakhstan. 

I remember playing computer games at one of our relative’s house during Fifth grade. Almost everyone around me wanted to become a Computer Engineer at that time. So I thought I should try to become one myself – a Computer Engineer. 

During my middle school years, I was a voracious reader of novels. Reading novels was the most fun activity I could think of. I could understand different writing techniques employed by novelists. Becoming a novelist, writing great novels was my dream during 7th to 10th grade (1999 – 2002). For living, I would become a Physician or Engineer or Architect. That was my plan.

During 9th / 10th grade, I made up my mind to study Medicine (there was huge encouragement from my parents) and become a Physician besides writing novels.

When I read a book on Psychology (my mom’s book on Educational Psychology from her M.Ed. course), I understood that an intense interest in the workings of the human mind was the chief reason I wanted to become a novelist. Moreover, Literature could only depict subjective human experience, but the objective theories of Psychology applied to all humans.

I thought that I could become a Physician and specialize in Psychiatry or Neurology.

Studying Psychology helped me understand the essence of Science: To understand experimentally provable General Rules that govern everything we see around us.

Studying Psychology books gave me the confidence that: I can come up with original ideas, and that I should question what is written in books.

Trying to understand the theories of Psychology in terms of my own experiences and what I see around me, made me aware of the connection between Real World and the world of Books and Theories.

As I later diversified and ventured into different branches of Science, these realizations and understandings proved invaluable.

One day, as I was preparing for my high school (11th grade) Entrance Exam (later it was decided that Entrance would be based on results of matriculation exam), a Chapter on different forms of Energy from my Physics book grabbed my attention. I thought: maybe I could work on both Psychology / Neurology and Physics. I went through my 9-10th grade Physics book. I bought and read other books (Undergraduate level Physics Textbooks, Stephen Hawkin’s A Brief History of Time and others).

I thought and wrote down my understandings and realizations. I tried to come up with new Theories myself.

Physics taught me to understand “everything” in terms of fundamental constituents and few fundamental laws that govern things we see around us.

Physics made me realize the necessity of learning Higher Mathematics.

Mathematical Olympiad was gaining popularity in Bangladesh at that time (it was 2003). I bought Books and started solving problems.

One of the books published at that time was “নিউরনে অনুরণন” (“Resonance in neurons”). The idea for the name: it’s better to create resonance in your brains’ neurons by solving Mathematical problems rather than leaving the neurons idle!

I found out: the more I worked on problems, the better I could think! My Neurons really were resonating!

My interest in Psychology helped me appreciate brain function improvement and Mathematical Problem Solving. I discovered ways of improving brain function myself.

It was an amazing realization – I could become anyone I wanted if I worked in the right way.

Other Sciences started grabbing my attention.

Psychology drew me to Neuroscience – the Biology of what happens in the mind. Physics led me to Cosmology (the study of the evolution of the Universe) and some of the books described evolution of our planet and Biological evolution. Evolutionary Biology was among my favorites.

At that point, I saw my future as a Scientist: trying to understand the truth and decode the Laws of Nature.

I became interested in Computer Science and Engineering as I read an article portraying the field of Artificial Intelligence. The article was written by Dr. Ali Asgar included in one of his popular science books (Grade 11). I bought Undergrad Texts on Artificial Intelligence and started reading.

Psychology and Neuroscience always grabbed my attention. So when I found out that there is a subfield in CS that tries to emulate intelligence on computers, I got hooked instantly. 

Later, I participated in International Mathematical Olympiad, and met people who were serious participants in programming contests and I felt that I really liked contests and competitions. Besides, computation seem to be everywhere – required in almost every branch. I could do Physics and Biology on Computers. I read an inspirational book (“Medhabi Manusher Golpo” – Prof. Dr Kaykobad) which depicted lives of eminent Computer Scientists and students of Computer Science. The choice was either Physics or Computer Science and Engineering, but my parents wouldn’t let me study Physics. Choosing Computer Science and Engineering also made sense when I considered practical aspects. I thought: I could still pursue my multi-disciplinary interests besides studying CSE at college. 

The Majors I considered at that time included: Computer Science and Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Nanotechnology / Nanoengineering & Bioengineering / Biomedical Engineering.

[If you find my life and my understandings interesting you might like Looking back and connecting the dots.]

Lets move a few years forward … During March / April 2013, I thought, I should analyze and understand and learn from and codify everything I see around me – just as I did with the sciences and engineering. I started with the political situation in Bangladesh. I wanted to figure out what would happen if I start my own Political Party. Next, I applied my analysis to other domains: Mechanical Engineering, Economics, Computer Science.

I discovered new thinking tools along the way. Previously, if I found something interesting, I used to look it up on the Web or download a book. But now, whatever I try to understand, first I develop ‘a model’ in my mind just by thinking and then fill out the blanks in my model by asking questions and reading and learning.

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I come across new understandings and realizations almost on a daily basis. I look forward to share my newer understandings at sometime in not too distant future: “Living to tell the tale”, truly!
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