Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The home we’ve ever known

We succeeded taking that picture (Voyager 1, in 1990 (NASA)from deep space), and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

From Dr. Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot

Facts and Myths about Brains.

Recently The Daily Mail has published very fascinating facts and common myths about our grey matter, I mean our brains of course. These facts and myths have been taken from a new book by two leading neuroscientists Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang. The information is interesting and sometimes really surprised.

FACT: You can’t tickle yourself
When a doctor examines a ticklish patient, they place one of the patient’s hands over their own to prevent the tickling sensation.
Why does this work? Because no matter how ticklish you may be, you can’t tickle yourself.
This is because your brain focuses on what’s going on in the outside world — to prevent important signals from being drowned out in the endless buzz of sensations caused by your own actions.
For instance, this means you’re unlikely to notice the texture of your socks, but you would feel a tap on the shoulder.
The patient doesn’t feel the tickling because his brain thinks it’s his own hand doing the action.
FACT: Looking at a photograph is harder than playing chess
When computer scientists first began trying to write programmes to mimic human abilities, they found it relatively-easy to get computers to follow logic and do complex maths — such as those required in chess moves — but very hard to get them to figure out what they were seeing in a visual image.

Today’s best computer programmes can beat a grand master, but any toddler can beat the top programmes when it comes to making sense of the visual world.

One reason for this is the difficulty in identifying individual objects.

You only see this ambiguity when you see something briefly enough to misidentify it — like when that rock in the middle of the dark road suddenly turns out to be a neighbour’s cat.

MYTH: You only ever use about 10 per cent of your brain
Although half the world’s population thinks this, in reality you use your whole brain every day.
But for the myth to stick around for so long, it must have been saying something that we really want to hear.

In fact, its impressive persistence may depend on its optimistic message: “If we use only 10 per cent of our brains normally, think what we could do if we could use even a tiny bit of that other 90 per cent.”

The truth is, studies of brain activity show that even simple tasks actually produce activity throughout the entire brain.
More about this book you can read in my Library. So welcome to your brain.

US Future by Pat Buchanan.

Pat Buchanan, well known politician, author, syndicated columnist and broadcaster has published his new book titled “Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed are Tearing America”. Buchanan has much experience in politic and public activities, he was a senior advisor to three American presidents, Nixon, Ford and Reagan, and was an original host on CNN’s Crossfire. He also co-founded The American Conservative magazine and launched The American Cause, a paleoconservative foundation. He has been published in many publications, including Human Events, National Review, The Nation and Rolling Stone. He ran in the 2000 presidential election on the Reform Party ticket. He also sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1992 and 1996. On American television, he is currently a political analyst on the MSNBC cable network and a regular on The McLaughlin Group.
What is Pat Buchanan’s new book about? By the annotation it’s about how neoconservative foreign policy, open borders, free trade, and multiculturalism are bringing America down. It must be admitted that his vision of US future is not too optimistic but the book is worth reading and you can purchase it on Amazon right now. Here, in the Library you can read very interesting today’s article of Patrick J. Buchanan which was taken from theamericancause.org.

Vatican reveals the Knights Templar's secrets.

As BBC reports that the Vatican is to publish a book which is expected to shed light on the demise of the Knights Templar, a Christian military order from the Middle Ages. Generally the documentary patrimony of the Vatican Secret Archives always arouses great interest. Today we have got opportunity to find out to read a great number very interesting documents related to the history of the Christian civilization from the Middle Ages until nowadays on the Vatican’s site. both for those documents regarding in general the history of the Christian civilization from the Middle Ages until nowadays and for those concerning the history of single nations; moreover, for some countries, the Vatican documents are the oldest ones, which even mark the beginning of their own national history.

Now the Vatican has published secret archive documents about the trial of the Knights Templar, including a long-lost parchment that shows that Pope Clement V initially absolved the medieval Christian order from accusations of heresy, officials said Friday. The history, the doctrines and the secret rituals of the Templars have incited, vexed and bewildered humanity for about 1.000 years. Since 1119. It was the year when nine knights from the South of France, who had already passed through the purgatory of the First Crusade, decided to found a new Order, with both military and sacerdotal valences: the Order of the Templar Knights. Or, by its official name: the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.The 300-page volume recently came out in a limited edition — 799 copies — each priced at $8,377, said Scrinium publishing house, which prints documents from the Vatican’s secret archives.

A Natural History of Zero.

The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero was an international best-seller, translated into ten languages. The Times called it “elegant, discursive, and littered with quotes and allusions from Aquinas via Gershwin to Woolf” and The Philadelphia Inquirer praised it as “absolutely scintillating.”
In this delightful new book, Robert Kaplan, writing together with his wife Ellen Kaplan, once again takes us on a witty, literate, and accessible tour of the world of mathematics. Where The Nothing That Is looked at math through the lens of zero, The Art of the Infinite takes infinity, in its countless guises, as a touchstone for understanding mathematical thinking. Tracing a path from Pythagoras, whose great Theorem led inexorably to a discovery that his followers tried in vain to keep secret (the existence of irrational numbers); through Descartes and Leibniz; to the brilliant, haunted Georg Cantor, who proved that infinity can come in different sizes, the Kaplans show how the attempt to grasp the ungraspable embodies the essence of mathematics. The Kaplans guide us through the “Republic of Numbers,” where we meet both its upstanding citizens and more shadowy dwellers; and we travel across the plane of geometry into the unlikely realm where parallel lines meet. Along the way, deft character studies of great mathematicians (and equally colorful lesser ones) illustrate the opposed yet intertwined modes of mathematical thinking: the intutionist notion that we discover mathematical truth as it exists, and the formalist belief that math is true because we invent consistent rules for it.
“Less than All,” wrote William Blake, “cannot satisfy Man.” The Art of the Infinite shows us some of the ways that Man has grappled with All, and reveals mathematics as one of the most exhilarating expressions of the human imagination.