Wednesday, July 13, 2005

From New Orleans

My talk went fine, and was far from the most technically interesting thing I've seen or heard while hear. The weather is muggy, the food is good, the coffee and tea are respectively mediocre and dreadful. Tensor the Laptop has continued to function beautifully, even during the required night-before slide editing session. It's been fun, but I'm glad to head home tomorrow. And I'll be glad when to finish my summer travels at the end of the month.

I picked up two tech books. I've waited patiently for a year for one of them to come out; the other is a revised and expanded edition of a text I've had on loan from the library for a year or so. Yes, they're both related to my research.

I finished It Must Be Beautiful (ed Graham Famelo). It's good reading. Some essays involved beautiful theories, others involved entertaining stories, still others involved both. None of the essays are technical, but neither are the presentations dumbed down. Let me tease you with a few of the essay titles and authors:

  • The Rediscovery of Gravity. Roger Penrose
  • Erotica, Aesthetics, and Schrodinger's Wave Equation. Arthur Miller
  • The Equations of Life. John Maynard Smith
  • The Best Possible Time to be Alive. Robert May

I enjoyed the book as much for the writing as for the material. The authors do not bludgeon the reader with halting prose, nor do they produce gee whiz pieces like those sometimes found in newspapers and popular magazines. I don't uniformly disapprove of gee-whiz pieces, mind you, but it does please me to see well-crafted compound-complex sentences.