FOR MORE THAN FORTY YEARS as a beloved professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Walter Lewin honed his singular craft of making physics not only accessible but truly fun. Now Lewin takes readers on a marvelous journey in *For the Love of Physics, *opening our eyes as never before to the amazing beauty and power with which physics can reveal the hidden workings of the world around us.
Whether introducing why the air smells so fresh after a lightning storm, or what the big bang would have sounded like, Lewin never ceases to surprise and delight with the extraordinary ability of physics to answer even the most elusive questions. “For me,” Lewin writes, “physics is a way of seeing—the spectacular and the mundane, the immense and the minute—as a beautiful, thrillingly interwoven whole.” His wonderfully inventive and vivid ways of introducing us to the revelations of physics impart to us a new appreciation of the remarkable beauty and intricate harmonies of the forces that govern our lives.
“I read the book once when it came out. Since then I’ve had the chance to reread it a few times, discovering more and more layers as my interests take me in new directions(for instance the discussion on the happiness treadmill goes to the core of the current discussions in the economics of happiness). I now carry a copy on my trips as I can kill time in airports by perusing random sections.
The book is so readable as to perhaps set a standard. Yet it is complete in the sense that it covers more of the evolutionary thinking than meets the eye. I didn’t realize it until I went to the site and got into the more technical research material. Reread it.” — Nassim Taleb
“The best intuition builder in both statitics and econometrics. I have been reading the various editions throught my career. Please, keep updating it, Peter Kennedy!” — Nassim Taleb
“I never understood why the book never made it in the Anglo-Saxon world. Il deserto is one of the 20th century’s masterpieces.” — Nassim Taleb
“Very useful book, particularly in what concerns alternative L-Stable distributions. True, not too versed in financial theory but I’d rather see the author erring on the side of more physics than mathematical economics. As an author I don’t ask much from books, just to deliver what they indend. This one does.
Clear historical description of Einstein/Bachelier. Hopefully one day we will call derivatives pricing the Bachelier valuation.
The book in short provides an excellent perspective on the statistical approach to asset price dynamics. Very clear and to the point.” — Nassim Taleb
“As a speculator I learned to take the best from books and ideas without arguments (many readers seem to be training to be shallow critics)–good insights are hard to come by. One does not find these in the writings of a journalist. There are some things personal to the author that might be uninteresting to some, but I take the package. The man is one of the greatest traders in history. There are a few jewels in there.
The man did it. I’d rather listen to him than read better written but hollow prose from some journalist-writer.” — Nassim Taleb
“The book is a great exposition of modern scientific thinking and understanding of the nature of man–but it spends some time on topics that are entirely obvious outside of the humanities academia. Indeed Pinker gives them too much respect by honoring them with such a lengthy reply.
His other two books are much better.” — Nassim Taleb
“The book that carried the most influence on my thinking this year (I went back to it half a dozen times).
This is a clearly written presentation of our inability to forecast our own behavior and to predict our emotional reactions to positive and negative events. One would think that the repetition of experiences with consistent forecasting biases would lead to some correction but this is not the case.
We are more resilient than we think (“immune neglect”). The book also discusses the reversion to baseline happiness after what we thought would bring a permanent improvement in our moods (yet we never learn from it).
The most important part covers the “hindsight bias” how we see past misfortunes as deterministic –and how we can confront negative emotions by making them even more so (by creating a narrative that make the events appear unavoidable).” — Nassim Taleb
“Robert Shiller has the remarkable ability to think independently and the courage to propose ideas that to middlebrow thinkers may sound speculative.
Think of what your reaction would have been had someone discussed risk sharing (insurance) before it became popular. A lunacy people would have thought. Most risk management is like that: we think backwards with the benefit of past history and find these ideas obvious. They were not at the time.
Throughout his career Shiller stood for unpopular ideas and was proven right (his 1981 paper on volatility, his 2000 discussion of the bubble). I would read and re-read this book.” — Nassim Taleb
“The author aside from the problem of crashes presents an insightful exposition of tipping points. I don’t know why his approach makes it clearer and deeper than those of Watts and Barabasi –is it due to his using financial markets as a base? or his being an expert at fat-tailed dynamics?
His work builds on the “abyssus abyssum invocat” (panic begets panics) and the dynamics of compounding disequilibria. In addition the notion of “CRITICAL POINT” is made very clear.
Honestly I don’t care for the idea of crashes; the same concepts can apply to sudden and unexpected euphorias.
I learned more from this book than any other on disequilibrium.” — Nassim Taleb
“I am glad to find a complete book dealing with all aspects of consciousness in CLEARLY written format, with graphs and tables to facilitate comprehension. The book covers everything I had seen before from Artificial Intelligence to Philosophy to Neurology to Evolutionary Biology.
Say one wants to get an idea of Dan Dennett’s theory of consciousness (without having to get through Dennett’s circuitous, unfocused and evasive prose) or Searle’s Chinese room argument or Turing’s test or Chalmer’s position or Churchland’s neurophilosophy or a presentation of research on the neural correlates of consciousness…Everything I could think about is there.” — Nassim Taleb
“This critique of the computational theory of mind and the pan-adaptionist tradition is clearly so honest that it goes after the ideas promoted by Fodor’s own 1983 watershed book “The Modularity of Mind”. In brief the essay is an attack on massive modularity by saying that there are things after all that escape the programming (encapsulation and opacity are key: how can we talk about something OPAQUE? We know nothing about a few critical things…).
Granted the book is horribly written (that is Fodor’s charm after all) but his argumentation is so ferocious that he ends up loud & clear.
The man is critical of his own ideas, and of the current in thought that he he helped create –one may use Fodor-1 against Fodor-2. Perhaps persons I hold in highest respect are those who go after their own ideas!
Bravo Fodor. Even if I do not agree I can’t help admiring the man.” — Nassim Taleb
“I started my interest in neurobiology in December 1998 after reading a discussion by Rita Carter in the FT showing that rational behavior under uncertainty and rational decision making can come from a defect in the amygdala. Since then I’ve had five years of reading more technical material (Gazzaniga et al is perhaps the most complete reference on cognitive neuroscience) and thought that I transcended this book.
But it was not so. I picked up this book again last weekend and was both astonished at a) the ease of reading , b) the clarity of the text and c) the breadth of the approach! I was looking for a refresher as I am trying to capture a general idea of the functioning of that black box and found exactly what I needed without the excess burden of prominent textbooks.
I read here and there comments by neuroscientists dissing the book over small details perhaps invisible even to experts. I just realize that Carter should keep updating it, as it is invaluable in my suitcase when I travel! I do not conceal my suspicion of “science writers” and journalists more trained in communicating than understanding and usually shallow babblers but Carter is an exception. Perhaps the science of the mind requires breadth of knowledge that she has. She is a thinker in her own right not just a “medical journalist”.” — Nassim Taleb
“I became interested in this book while reading a review panning it in The Nation by one Danny Postell (thanks to Arts & Letters Daily). Clearly it was visible that John Gray was after a definition of humans that integrates our discoveries from cognitive science, that we are just animals who are curse with intelligence, sufficient intelligence to figure out things but insufficient to control our actions –what I call the ability to rationalize (“much of the difference between us and other primates lies in our being considerably better than them at explaining our behavior”). Postel (I have no clue who he is and what kind of training he has in modern scientific thought but I am sure that he is sufficiently burdened with a knowledge of humanities verbiage to get the book wrong); Postel was panning Gray exactly for the reasons that would make this book insightful. So I BOUGHT THIS BOOK BECAUSE OF A BAD REVIEW!
What struck me with this book is that Gray converges in opinion to the discoveries of the New Science of Man –without quoting from neurobiology, cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, the Kahneman-Tversky Heuristics & Biases Tradition. It is remarkable that he identified the ills of the so-called humanist tradition without assistance from the works on rationality posited by Kahneman and his peers.
This book is worth 4 stars because here we have a literary intellectual who manages to break through the mud in his knowledge. It would have been worth 5 stars had Gray read a few more works in scientific thought beyond Darwin. Anyway I am very impressed with a literary intellectual capable of this empirical and realistic view of man.” — Nassim Taleb
“This is a great book but I felt something cold inside of me while reading it. I don’t know if it is cultural (the modern English philosopher’s fear of displaying passion) but I had the feeling to talk to a plumber who developed expertise in abstract concepts and their relationships just as if they were small plumbing problems fitting together under a generalized plumbing theory. Perhaps philosophy needs to be treated like that, just like engineering –but not for me. At least I give myself the illusion of doing something more…literary.
Colin McGINN teaches us that we need nevertheless to master the art of clarity of both thought and exposition. He write with perfect clarity: a clear, unburdened, unaffected, UnFrench UnGerman philosophical prose.
The book has a presentation of the Kripke idea of naming as necessity of such clarity that I felt actually smart reading it.
Other than that there is the feeling of drabness in part of the book of the type I got once at a conference in an industrial city West of London.” — Nassim Taleb