Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Last week was a week of endings.

First, the program I was organizing in the KITP ended. However, it is not all over: I’m in the coda, writing the exit report. In my opinion the program was successful, we had a lot of interactions and very interesting talks. And we will see what happens with the seeds that were planted a year or two down the line.

Secondly, I also finally had time to finish two  books that I was reading. Surprisingly, I finished them on the same day.


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Quite recently my e-mail inbox has been inundated with requests to send my papers to Open Access journals and books.

The premise of Open Access is that authors pay for their work to become published and available at no cost to users.

The economic reality is that Universities pay exorbitant amounts of money for journals to stock their libraries and for access fees to published journals. In theory, grants pay for these services via overhead (think of this as a tax on grants by the Institutions). I think in practice that overhead on grants is not enough to cover these costs, so looking for an alternative economic model to make science publishing available to a wider audience at a cheaper cost makes a lot of sense. Here, the Open Access premise is that in this new economic model the overall cost to produce and consume published articles is reduced and transferred as a one time fee to the author.


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There are entire libraries of coffee table conversations about the multiverse. A lot of them explore the what if and are usually fun over a couple of drinks. When its done professionally however… On second thought I think I’ll not go there this time around.

There is an online comic that is devoted entirely to the bizarre occurrences of the multiverse: it is aptly called “Scenes of a multiverse“. I recommend it highly. Usually you can expect intelligent Hamsters and evil geniuses running amok.  The one today is particularly apt if you’re up to snuff on the inner debates of academic multiverses: that it is a dream of something (aka, the simulated universe, aka The Matrix) and that there is no testable prediction, but postdictions aplenty. Or at least one.

If you’re in the mood for it, you might want to read some of the books by Michael Moorcock. They give you a different view of the multiverse.

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I have been trying to figure out what are the best books to have as a reference and learning material on Python and Java/Javascript.

Not the python Im looking for... yet

Not the python I'm looking for... yet

The reviews out there on Amazon don’t really tell me if they are good or not and they end up all over the map on commentary, mostly on possitive territory. I’m sure there is grade inflation in Amazon just like everywhere else. So I’m asking help from someone out there who might decide to take pity on me. I’m checking if Blogs can be used as a call for help with some requests for information or not.

I’ve asked around locally and gotten blank stares.

To make the job simpler, I’ll tell you what have I zeroed on, hoping to get some feedback on if these are good or not. And if you suggest some alternatives, please let me know why you like them. Here is my shopping list:

`Programming in Python 3: A complete introduction to the Python Language’, by Mark Summerfeld.

`Python in a Nutshell’, second edition, by Alex Martelly

‘Javascript, the definitive guide’, by David Flanagan

‘Java in a Nutshell’, 5th edition, by David Flanagan

‘Java examples in a Nutshell’, 3rd edition, by David Flanagan

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So I used the book “The standard model: a primer” by Cliff Burgess and Guy Moore for various of my lectures this past year. I found that the book was very enjoyable to read and it covered the topic in a thoughful way. I would definitely recommend its purchase to those who are looking to a modern introduction to the Standard model of Particle Physics phenomenology book. It is hard to find a book that is up to date on this subject.


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For some reason this year I’m getting into the Holiday spirits. I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or happy whatever else you might be celebrating.

Clearly, you should take advantage and celebrate Festivus tonight with your family or friends. This year seems most appropriate for this celebration, as it involves rituals like the Airing of Grievances. This ritual consists of lashing out at others and the world about how one has been disappointed in the past year. So pack your bags, we’re going on a guilt trip.

I’ll take a stab at complaining about the weather in Santa Barbara. It has been raining lately and it has been cold (about 50 at night). What gives? I was promised eternal perfect weather when I moved here.

In more news of the world, Cara King has a great post about 2008 . Cara is a good friend and a writer. She writes amazingly funny new year’s letters that I look forward to every year.

Also, you should check Dmitry’s Xmas entry for today. That could put you in the mood to have some fun.

Now, being slightly more serious, you might not have found time to stuff your stockings yet. So as a public service I’ve made a stocking stuffer list at Amazon for those people who like reading Science Fiction and Fantasy. It contains some of my favorite books and authors with descriptions of my impressions. These books I’ve selected are not your standard SF&F. Rather they are darker and more visceral than many others out there: not for the faint of heart. I chose three authors, two books each. Best of all, you don’t have to like them.


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