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Antonios F. Arkas (Falmouth - Cornwall - UK)

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An Introduction to Modern Cosmology, 2nd Edition (Physics)
An Introduction to Modern Cosmology, 2nd Edition (Physics)
by Andrew Liddle
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazingly concise, simple yet not simplistic introduction to modern cosmology, 8 July 2016
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This book is a real surprise. Never would I have expected that such a difficult subject like cosmology could, even in introductory level, be presented within so small a book and with such simplicity and rigor.

Usually cosmology books necessitates that the reader is familiar with Einstein’s field equations from General Relativity. Andrew Liddle follows a very simple approach with just Newtonian physics in order to accurately produce the Friedmann and acceleration equations which are the prerequisites for starting the study of the various cosmological models.

The derivation of Friedmann and accelerations is followed by a very friendly description of what the curvature term means, in terms of geometry, and the next chapters deals with simple solutions of Friedmann equation and the description of the corresponding cosmological models. These solutions are not realistic, as proven from various cosmological observations, thus the presentation of the cosmological constant added to Friedmann equation is inevitable. The author describes the impact of this constant on the evolution of the various cosmological models corresponding to different curvature, and explain its existence with dark energy and in the case of inflation period, with an unknown scalar field.

The dynamics of the Universe conclude with the calculation of the age of the Universe, through the Hubble parameter, and a presentation of all the compelling observational facts that directly lead to the notion of dark matter.

A cosmological model has no scientific value if it can’t explain the observational facts gathered by astronomers. The rest two chapters are a very nice presentation of how the cosmic microwave background leads us to the notion of Hot Big Bang and how the process of nucleosynthesis and the abundance of elements in the Universe prove to be an extraordinarily powerful test for the Hot Big Bang model.

Even though the Hot Big Bang model is very successful, it suffers from serious deficiencies like the Flatness Problem, the Horizon Problem and the inability to detect relic particles like monopoles. Here is the place where the author with very simple way explains the Theory of Inflation and how not only resolves the problems of Hot Big Bang but it also set possible explanations on how the Big Bang started.

The last chapter is devoted to the meaning of singularity and if such a peculiarity is absolutely necessary to exist as the beginning of the Universe.

The style of writing is extremely simple but without compromising the rigor of physics. It truly is a very friendly and fun reading introductory book which the reader will enjoy a lot. It successfully presents both the theoretical aspects of modern cosmology accompanied by the observational facts that support the Standard Cosmological Model. The reader need to have undergraduate level knowledge of physics but a lot of patience, persistence and imagination not because the book is not well written but because cosmology is kind of abstract. The book is also supplemented with advanced topics for the most advanced reader.

I fully recommend this book and I reassure anyone who decides to buy it that he will literally make the most imaginative, yet realistic, travel to the furthest corners of space and time.

Physics and Philosophy
Physics and Philosophy
by Sir James Jeans
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for every physicist who wants to understand what Physics really is, 28 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Physics and Philosophy (Paperback)
This book is a marvelous and rigorous epistemological treatise on the actual nature of physics theories and in no way does it constitute a confusing and simplified popularization of modern physics.

Sir James Jeans was a well-known physicist whose name is in the famous classical formula for the black body radiation (Rayleigh-Jeans law), and his profound knowledge on both classical and modern physics (both quantum mechanics and Theory of Special and General Relativity), is a guarantee of rigor and clarity in every chapter of the book.

The actual purpose of the book is not so much the comparison between the methods of Physics and Philosophy but the illumination of the actual nature of the Physics theories through this comparison. Methodologically is better to pinpoint the characteristics of something by comparing it with something that resembles it but it is not absolutely the same. The differences between the methods of Philosophy and Physics render more clearly the methods and the actual purpose of Physics.

The writer begins with a concise exposition of what is Physics and Philosophy and continuous by presenting the great differences between the two main schools of epistemology, that of Rationalism and Empiricism. He follows a very clever historical approach on the problem of the a priori knowledge, from the time of Descartes and Kant up to Sir Arthur Eddington, and by doing so he exposes the fallacy and internal controversy of every attempt to construct a “Pure Science of Nature” based on purely a priori knowledge as Kant dreamed. Having done that analysis on the evolution of arguments of Rationalism, the empirical methods of science are readily justified.

Following this exposition there is a direct comparison between the method of Physics and Philosophy which unveil the errors of Philosophy which have kept her in arid paths of vicious cycle reasoning. This chapter is very essential because since Philosophy is used by scientists in order to interpret their theories, which are mathematical in nature, some of these errors have unconsciously perplexed the epistemological approach oh physicists to their own science. A characteristic historical example of such a mishap was the confusion of the early quantum theory prior to the Copenhagen Interpretation from Bohr, Born and Heisenberg at 1925.

The rest three chapters present the profound changes imposed on Philosophy and Epistemology by the new findings of modern physics.

The closure of the book is done with a chapter devoted to Ontology (Idealism versus Realism) and the monumental problem of free will. All the previous epistemological investigation is used in an effort to give some answers on the objectivity of reality because Ontology and Epistemology are inextricably connected.

One of the most interesting parts of the books is the analysis on the problem of free will, in contradiction to the deterministic aspects of human scale physics laws, which is done with a surprisingly new way which shows that the question of free will is essentially empty of meaning and thus it's needless to ponder on its relation with the deterministic or random nature of objective reality.

The greatest gift which was given to me by this book was the bold realization of the great difference between the layer of phenomena and that of objective reality which produces the phenomena. This realization accompanied by the understanding of what we mean by “interpretation” of a theory, renders clear the epistemological fact why we will never be able to break the barrier between the phenomena and understand the objective reality underneath them. This quantum leap of thought is what we call Metaphysics.

I fully recommend this extremely interesting and fun reading book which can truly change or substantially enhance the way one understands what actually Physics is. It should be also noted this is not a popularized book for the layman but its full depth can only be understood by a physicist with university level knowledge of classical and modern physics.

No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A full tour to the eerie Erebus of reality and the dialectics of scientific evolution, 19 Jan. 2014
Kip S.Thorne is one of the three physicists who at 1970 wrote the legendary textbook Gravitation (Physics Series). This was the first book introducing General Relativity with the most modern form of Differential Geometry. He played a major role in most of the scientific discoveries concerning the research on Black Holes and as such he is one of the most eligible and knowledgeable scientist to write a book on this difficult subject.

The writer's depth of knowledge is reviled through his style of writing. He has the pen of a great physicist who dare to successfully popularize some of the most abstract theories of physics and transfer the reader to the magnificent eerie corners of reality which most people ignore. His easygoing style resembles a lot with that of Richard Feynman, one of the greatest physicist and teachers of the 20th century.

This book is a popularized tour through the history, the discoveries, the ideas and the multitude of scientists involved in the research on Black Holes. The first chapter begins with a futuristic expedition of a spaceship with scientists whose aim was the research and close approach study of Black Holes residing inside and far away from our galaxy. This sci-fi introduction is used to ignite the interest of the reader for the strange world and physics of the Black Holes and gives him courage for the long journey and the battles with the abstract ideas lying ahead. The mentality of this introduction is the same with the monumental Lectures on Physics: Complete Set v. 1-3 whose purpose was to keep alive the interest of beginner physics students till they would have acquired the necessary mathematical skills needed for the study of real physics.

The next two chapters present the very basic principles of the physics theories which are prerequisites for the understanding of the main topic of Black Holes. These two theories are of course the Special and the General Theories of Relativity, the last of which has been characterized as the "Jewel of Human Thinking". Usually, at least for a physicist, the presentation of such abstract theories without the aid of the proper mathematical formalism seems a futile and arid necessity. Kip Thorne as a true theoretical physicist, manages to convey the very essence of Special Relativity without using any mathematical formula at all. The quintessence of Special Relativity is the unavoidable unity of the notions of Space and Time and their unison to the new concept of space-time continuum. Mathematics are indispensable for the development and foundation of physics theories but physics never stop being the product of human intuition and belief that underneath the complex phenomena lie the symmetry and the simplicity of necessity. If a physicist adheres to the mathematical formalism without striving to understand the notions hidden behind the symbols then he loses the opportunity to see the Great Picture.

Having presented the principles of the Special Relativity, he proceeds with the more difficult task of General Relativity presentation. The exemplification of this theory's principles is done very naturally through the exposition of the mental processes that lead Einstein build his magnificent edifice. In most General Relativity textbooks the significance of the gravitational tidal forces for the cognitive foundation of the theory is ignored. Even Einstein in his books Relativity: The Special and General Theory and the The Meaning of Relativity (Routledge Classics), never mentions how the tidal forces of gravitation lead him to the connection of gravity with space-time curvature. The writer uses an intuitive way where Equivalence Principle when combined with the notions of geodesics in curved continuums, inertia, time delay in a gravitational field and the observable phenomenon of tidal forces, lead to the description of gravity not as a force but as a manifestation of space-time curvature.

The actual journey begins with the third chapter describing the birth and the sudden death of the Black Hole idea. It is explained that the existence of such bizarre objects was hypothesized a long time ago by an English physicist few decades after Newton's death. In the beginning of the 20th century, a special solution of Einstein's field equations called Schwarzschild anomalies, indicated that General Relativity foresee the existence of Black Holes. Despite this discovery Einstein and Sir Arthur Eddington, the leading experts on General Relativity, concluded that even though Black Holes were compatible with General Relativity they couldn't exist because they were not compatible with the rest of the physics theories. If physics aspire to be a model of Reality then one of its most profound characteristic must be consistency. A phenomenon occurs only if it is compatible with all contemporary theories of physics. For instance the time inversion is fully compatible with Classical Mechanics but it's against the second law of Thermodynamics so, in Classical Physics, traveling back in time is impossible.

It was the discovery of such a possibility for compatibility that gave again birth to the idea of Black Holes as realizable objects. This possibility is described in the fourth and the fifth chapters which mainly deal with astrophysics and the struggle of scientists to understand the evolution of stars and the final act of their death. It was only through the detailed knowledge of all possible stellar death scenarios that physicists could answer the questions as to if the birth of a Black Hole is sometimes inevitable.

Now that the Black Holes were proved to be the necessary outcome of some cases of stellar evolution where gravitational collapse can't be stopped from any physical process, the next question searching for answer is what remains after the inevitable gravitational collapse. The answer to these questions is the description of Black Holes characteristics in the 6th chapter. Physicists are confronted with seemingly contradictory phenomena occuring during the graviational collapse and the birth of the Back Hole. While the surface of the collapsing star passes the event horizon for an observer seating on the surface of the star, an observer outside the Black Hole notices that the surface of the star freezes just while passing the critical point of the event horizon and from then on time stends still on the frozen surface! This chapter also describes the intricate relationship between technology, science and War. The pressure for new technological achievements concerning the building of H-Bombs during the Cold War gave birth to elaborate software which was subsequently used for the simulation of the conditions in a stellar core during the gravitational collapse. The dialectics of scientific evolution is evident from this historical presentation from which it is also obvious that science and social events are not as independent as considered in the past.

Chapter 7 under the title "The Golden Era" is indeed the golden era of Black Hole research. Physicists started exploring and revealing the most peculiar characteristics of these eerie creatures. Black Holes were found to be very simple because all of their characteristics could be inferred from just the knowledge of their mass, their angular momentum and their charge. A humoristic expression claiming that "Black Holes have no hairs" meant that following its creation, a Black Hole has no characteristics to reveal its past and the details of the gravitational collapse which gave way to its birth. All the new findings lead to a picture where Black Holes are not dead static objects but creatures full of life which pulsate, rotate and drift the space itself along their frantic dance.

The next three chapters are devoted to the experimental physicists who are the detectives of physics. The accumulation of knowledge on the behavior of Black Holes made it possible to pass from speculation to searching for the existence of these objects on the night sky. Chapter 9 presents the attempts to explain the machine behind high intensity X-ray sources, like Cygnus X1, and presents the birth of X Ray Astronomy. Evidence for the existence of Black Holes was also searched at the other side of the electromagnetic spectrum, the radio waves. Here the explanations for active core radio galaxies, quasars and giant interstellar radio lobes excited by huge jets, lead directly to the picture of rotating Black Holes whose immense rotational energy is coupled through its magnetic field with the interstellar medium. The macabre dance of two Black Holes which are due to join in a single Hole is revealed through the space-time ripples they produce just before their coupling. These ripples are the gravitational waves whose proposed methods for detection are presented in the 10th chapter. Human ingenuity is most profound in the discovery of methods capable for "Measurement without Quantum Disturbance". The physicists while trying to invent devices to measure gravitational waves came face to face with the ultimate measurement barrier of Uncertainty Principle. With outmost ingenuity they devised method to overcome this barrier and measure vibrations with amplitude less than 100.000 times the diameter of the atom.

A great theoretical physicist is impossible not to make a reference to the epistemological aspect of his field of interest. Chapter 11 is small but extremely interesting chapter dealing with the way human brain builds models and through them understands Reality. Kip Thorne elaborate on an epistemological issue which for sure tantalize many physicists on their first contact with General Relativity. Is the space-time curved or the measurement rods contract and the clocks rate decrease under the influence of gravity? With the use of the notion of Paradigm presented from Thomas Kuhn in his profound book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition, the writer explains that these two aspects are equivalent even though they seem to present a different picture for Reality. This is also explained in detail in Hans Reichenbach's very interesting bookThe Philosophy of Space and Time (Dover Books on Physics) and in the prologue of the brilliant book Space, Time and Gravitation: An Outline of the General Relativity Theory. New levels of physical processes understanding can be reached through the retrospective views of epistemology. This chapter concludes with the new advances in Black Hole behavior discovered from physicists who were advantageous in the aspect that they were not infiltrated by the old epistemological Paradigms.

As the chapters advances, the more interesting and surrealistic the new findings become. Up to chapter 12 most of the results concerning Black Hole behavior were based on General Relativity. The marriage of Einstein's theory with Quantum Mechanics opens Pandora's Box and with the genius of Steven Hawking, Black Holes are surprisingly found to emit radiation and all sort of particles! Eventually they are not as black as considered in the past. The existence of an emission mechanism reveals the more outstanding fact that Black Holes are not eternal. Through the radiation emission they continuously lose mass and finally evaporate and die with a spectacular explosion after an extremely long time depending on their initial mass!

Almost all bulk of the book deals with the appearance and phenomena accompanying the existence of a Black Hole, as seen from an observer outside the event horizon which is the ultimate causal barrier between the interior of the Black Hole and the rest of the Universe. Chapter 13 is a "Dive into the Big Blue", a characterization used from the mathematicians when referring to the area of pure mathematics. The long journey through the unimaginable world of Black Holes leads directly to their heart. Many great physicists of the past couldn't accept the result of Oppenheimer-Snyder calculations that in the heart of every Black Hole resides the most peculiar and extreme place in the whole Universe, a space-time anomaly of zero dimension, infinite density and infinite curvature. Roger Penrose solved this dispute by proving with new topological methods that gravitational collapse inevitably leads to the creation of space-time anomalies where space and time literally cease to exist. Quantum gravity is the realm of this anomaly. General Relativity is no longer valid in this extreme place and only through the theories of quantum gravity is it possible to speculate about what is going on in the anomaly. Time ceases to exist and what is left is pure space in a form of quantum foam or in the language of topology, an n-connected topological space. The shape of this chaotic foam is governed by the probabilistic quantum gravity rules. One of the exiting findings concerning the behavior of the Black Hole close to the space-time anomaly is that a daring explorer could get very close to this anomaly before he is shattered from the monstrous tidal forces which are so immense that even atomic nucleus are torn apart when they get very close to the anomaly. The direction of these forces is continuously changing like being in a mixer so the physicists called this phenomenon as "Mixer Oscillations.

The final chapter is flirting with sci-fi because it is examining the possibility of time travel (existence of closed time-like space-time curves) through wormholes or else Einstein-Rosen space-time bridges. Despite the impression that this is a topic only for science fiction books the author surprisingly reveals us that this is indeed a legitimate physics research topic, as it should be. Perhaps the most interesting conclusion of this chapter is not the possibility of time travel itself but the fact that traveling back to the past might not be accompanied by the well-known paradoxes of the time travel. The consistency of traveling back in time is exhibited with a very simple thought experiment with pool balls.

Kip Thorne's book is not just a book for physics of Black Holes. It is a book also for the countless physicists and personalities that contributed to this monumental task of understanding what the strange phenomenon of Black Hole is. It is a book revealing the dialectics of scientific evolution through the interactions of the various characters and ideas born under the frame of the contemporary sociological status. Underneath the downfall of physics theories a lesson of ethics and scientific deontology is also hidden. The writer even though he is one of the major contributors to the theory of Black Holes, he rarely refers to himself. He presents the characters and the intricate relationships of all the physicists who took part in the Black Hole research with outmost objectivity and respect. It is only at the last chapter that he talks a bit about himself, discretely revealing the solitude that many thinkers feel. The natural isolation of this kind of people seems contradictory but it is finally inevitable. Even though they belong to the few human beings who understand the complexity of reality, they find themselves as intellectual and emotional outcasts in a world built from the illusions of all the rest fellow human beings. As Richard Feynman wrote in his book The Character of Physical Law (Penguin Press Science), "... C.P.Snow was talking about two civilizations. I think these two civilizations divide the Mankind between these who had the experience of understanding nature, at least for once, with mathematics and these who didn't."

Despite the writer's terrific popularization of such abstract ideas, it will be very difficult for a reader without physics background to appreciate the depth of the Black Hole findings and the evolutionary connection between the various ideas.

I fully recommend this wonderful book which will travel you to the most peculiar places in the Universe and for once more will make you stand with awe and humility in front of Human ingenuity and power of mind.

The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises (in Greek)
The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises (in Greek)
by kazantzakis nikos 1883-1957 / καζαντζάκης νίκος 1883-1957
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A bible of distilled thinking, 17 Sept. 2013
Spiritual Exercises is the most enlightened book of Nikos Kazantzakis. It's nothing else but his philosophy presented at its purest form in a small but extremely dense book which is a wonderfully and cleverly disguised philosophical treatise. This treatise deals with the very essence of reality and the dialectic struggle of every thinking human being to grasp this elusive theater scene in which his own self is an indispensable part.

The best way to present something very abstract and new to one's way of thinking is not just to show it to him but to lead him all the way through the pitfalls, the narrow paths and the cliffs of thought. Even more difficult is to awake the awareness of the tremendous and silent hindrance which human hope and desire pose to the clear cut view of a reality which for sure is not aligned with our feelings and expectations.

Nikos Kazantzakis is the spiritual guide to this difficult trip whose final destination, if ever reached, is the understanding of reality and human nature. His book is an uphill of logic where the traveler starts climbing with high expectations due to his hopes and less knowledge due to his ignorance. As he ascends this hill, the effort to climb up a single meter becomes gradually more difficult because this climbing is characterized by the death of the ideas of the past. This dialectic and perpetual cycle of new ideas born from the death of the old ones is the struggle of the thinker trying to reach the unreachable summit of conscious reality awareness. It is truly a straggle because the spiritual climber is not only leaving his previous way of thinking but he has to demolish it to the ground in order to build something new, more sturdy, whose fate knows that it is doomed to be the same with his previous intellectual buildings. The author calls this uphill as the "Bloody Line" which every thinking human being leaves behind him during his effort to give answers to the great existential questions.

The end of this uphill is unprecedented. The feeling when reaching the final destination must be the same as when jumping to the void from the summit which took you so great an effort to climb. This jump is a terrifying spiritual liberation and the next step is to realize that even though you have nothing to lean on, you will never fall but just stay still floating in the void.

I humbly suggest reading this book because judging the writings of such a great thinker, like Nikos Kazantzakis, is too daring on its own. Without any reservation I can say that "Spiritual Exercises" is the most inspiring book I have ever read.It is the kind of books that can entirely change one's way of thinking.

Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics
Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics
by Bruce A. Schumm
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent exemplification of particle physics gauge theories and their relevance to symmetry and group theory, 21 May 2013
This book has the architectural beauty of physics. It rises gradually like an imposing building where the higher the viewer is, the further he can see and the more awe he can fill. Few books can transfer so easily the thrilling and magic of physics, especially of such an abstract field like particle physics. Perhaps the most mystical filling of understanding nature is the realization of necessity hidden behind a theory. Then the theory stops being just a model of reality and acquires an ontological status equivalent to that of reality itself. Bruce A.Schumm is able to easily explain this necessity to the reader which is accompanied, inevitably, from the simplicity of the corresponding underlying principles.

Technically the whole book deals with the theory of weak interaction, the most subtle force the study of which set the foundations for Standard Model. The book starts by exposing the most elementary knowledge needed to understand the core of the book. These comprise elements of quantum mechanics and quantum field theory followed by a review of the Standard Model.

The next chapters make a steep turn from physics to mathematics and try to exemplify group theory and especially continuous Lie groups. It is the most successful and friendly exposition of this abstract algebraic notion that I've ever read. Never would I have expected that a field of algebraic topology could be so fluently explained without causing fear to the reader.

Following the exposition of Lie groups Bruce A.Schumm builds a bridge between physics and mathematics by explaining the necessary connection between group theory, symmetry and conservation in physics. It is the first step to help the reader understand that mathematics is not that abstract as he might think and that their mastering is absolutely necessary if one want to understand nature.

Having presented all the previous, which are just prerequisites, the writer matches all the parts of the puzzle in a magnificent way to show how all interactions in nature, which are the essence of causality, can stem as a necessity from the imposition of local symmetries [U(1), SU(2) and SU(3)] on physical systems, with the form of Lie groups. It is so beautiful and majestic to see the abstract group theory setting the existence of the interactions through gauge theories as an inevitable outcome of local symmetry, an idea imposed from Special Relativity. Even though the gauge theories are presented for electromagnetics, chromo dynamics and weak interactions, it is the last type of interactions where the writer elaborate on.

A presentation of the weak interaction is the doorway to Higgs mechanism which gives mass to the particles and salvages the self-consistency of the Standard Model when the masses of the fermions and the bosons are added, as they should, in the equations of motion.

Last but not least is the elaboration on the CP symmetry violation, the most peculiar characteristic of the weak interaction. The relevant chapter renders a very nice connection between the experimentally proven fact of CP violation and the ways to test Standard Model validity and also make predictions on the possible range of mass where the particle physicists should search for Higgs boson.

Finally the book concludes with what is expected to be found with the new experiments of the LHC and the new electron collider to be built in USA.

The most profound characteristic of the book is its absolute balanced content. It truly contains no more paragraphs that they are necessary to support the purpose of the book. No extensive irrelevant historical references or vainglorious references on personal carrier. The personal style and method of the writer is repetition of the basic abstract ideas. This repetition is neither arid nor tedious since it is the only way to simplify and help the reader digest extremely abstract ideas like that of gauge theories and local symmetries.

I must clarify that this book is not for the layman because it needs more than basic knowledge of physics and mathematics. It will be impossible for someone to understand the essence and philosophy of gauge theories if he has never studied classical electromagnetics and the significance of vector potential A. Nevertheless I fully suggest it to people with basic knowledge of quantum mechanics.

It is one of the few books that I felt sorry when I finished reading it because there were no more to read and enjoy.

The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins
The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins
by Alan H Guth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great theory for Genesis written from its own originator, 21 April 2013
The second greatest question of Mankind is why the Universe should exist.Why existence is more preferable than non existence. I avoided expressing this question as "how the Universe was born" because some exotic, though scientific, theories like Eternal Inflation Theory or the Theory of Harte-Hawking conclude that the Universe is eternal and there is no sense asking about beginning and creation. The Big Bang Theory is the most successful model of the Universe evolution starting 1 minute from genesis up to this moment. The reason why the Universe started expanding or how it was possible for its immense amount of matter to emerge from nothing can't be answered from Big Bang Theory and this is where Inflation Theory comes to act and fill these huge gaps. This theory not only explains many tantalizing cosmological problems like the flatness problem, the horizon problem, the structure problem and the problem of magnetic monopoles but it also has an explanation for the emergence and creation of all mater comprising the Universe. Can you imagine that the vast Universe, whose observable part contains 100 billion galaxies each of which comprise 100 billion stars, started its existence from an area 10 trillion times less than the proton diameter and mass less than few milligrams! If you want to take this unimaginable trip to reality then you should read this book.

Because every theory is inevitably linked with its historical background which is also necessary for the reader in order to understand the theory, this book starts with a very nice exposition of the Cosmology and its problems at the time A.Guth found his theory. He briefly explains that the Big Bang Theory is a theory of evolution of the Universe and not a theory of creation. The key needed to understand the necessity for an Inflation Theory is the problems arising in the Big Bang Theory. Guth analyzes the problems I mentioned in the previous paragraph, and underlines the fact that the Big Bang Theory concerns them just as unexplained initial conditions whose values are too conspicuous to be random. Following this historical recursion he jumps from Cosmology to elementary particle physics, which was his field, and explains how from the diametrical problem of magnetic monopoles abundance was led to the theory of Inflation which incredibly solved also the cosmological problems of the Big Bang Theory.

The chapters to follow explain the initial theoretical problems of Inflation theory and how they were solved with the brilliant ideas from other physicist like Andrei Linde and his New Theory of Inflation and the Eternal Inflation Theory. One of the most remarkable facts of Inflation Theory is that it offers explanations for the very beginning of the Universe as well as predicts with great accuracy the birth of structure i.e. the agglomeration of matter in the form of galaxies.

The final chapters deal with truly exotic and far from any imagination conclusions of the Eternal Inflation Theory which predicts that our Universe -not only its observable part- is one of the 10 to the 1000 cosmic bubbles each one of which is a different Universe which will never interact with ours or the others. This theory also considers that the "creation" itself is eternal, meaning that Big Bangs happen continuously giving birth to many new Universes as we speak and that in essence we live in a Multiverse. Far apart from these conclusions A.Guth poses the unbelievable question if an advanced civilization could ever be able to create a Universe. The last chapter is equally fascinating with the rest of the book because it briefly explains the theory of E.Tryon and later from A.Vilenkin how the whole Multiverse could emerge from absolute nothing meaning even the absence of space-time.

This book is very well balanced and structured with the only drawback the extensive reference of the various, even erroneous, ideas and the scientists who posed them or found solution to its falsity. I believe that A.Guth did this because he is very fair as a scientist and he wants to underline the fact that every theory has many contributors. The difficulty arising from these back and forth references is that the reader might sometimes get perplexed because when reading something new and very abstract it is better to express directly the idea and afterwards mention the various misleads of the theory.

Even though this book uses almost no mathematics, I consider it to be not suitable for the layman. It is almost impossible for someone who doesn't have a basic degree in Physics to understand these extremely abstract and innovative ideas. This fact doesn't diminish to the slightest degree the value of this beautiful book because even the physicists find it difficult to grasp these ideas so A.Guth gives them a great help to start understanding the most up to date theories for the birth of the Universe.Books like "The Inflationary Universe" are proofs that the voyage to knowledge has no end and that the furthest the science advances the more unimaginable and hedonic is reality for the human mind.

The Flowers of Evil (Oxford World's Classics)
The Flowers of Evil (Oxford World's Classics)
by Charles Baudelaire
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.29

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A flash of light in the dark sight of human soul, 28 Feb. 2013
Nikos Kazantzakis characterized the voice of the instincts and subconscious as the "voice of the mud". Prior to understanding the shades of gray one must venture to the outer limits of light and darkness. Intellect and sensations. Logic and lust. Every one of us is afraid of the tremendous pressure of his feelings which seem as a forbidden zone due to their uncontrolable nature.

Baudelaire's poetry is a compass leading deep into our darkest and simultaneously most distilled part of our existence. The Fleur De Mal was seized by the police when it wast first published. Would you like to read something that caused such a great fear to society of that time? What could hide more truth than the one feared?

This classic collection of poems is not just about lust. It's about unspoken feelings of desire and freedom. Freedom from the constrains set by our own nature. See the difference between the following of his poems:

The Vampire

You, deadlier than a dagger thrust,
Who into my sick heart have come!
You, sleek and lethal in your lust,
Who like a thousand demons swarm

Into my mind, where you have found
Your bed of sin and your domain--
Bitch! vile bitch! to you I'm bound
As is the convict to his chain!

As is the gambler to his dice,
As is the drunkard to his bowl,
As is the carcase to its lice--
Incarnate bitch! bitch without soul!

I begged the knife to put an end
To all my pain...poison to pour
Its giddy death into my veins,
Yielding the peace I so longed for!

Alas! these two, they sneered at me,
Both poison and the knife so rude:
"You have no right to be set free
From your accursèd servitude!

Fool! if somehow we could contrive
To free you from your wretched pain,
Your kisses would restore to life
Your Vampire's rotting corpse again!"

And the absolute controversy:

Man And The Sea

Free man! the sea is to thee ever dear!
The sea is thy mirror, thou regardest thy soul
In its mighteous waves that unendingly roll,
And thy spirit is yet not a chasm less drear.

Thou delight'st to plunge deep in thine image down;
Thou tak'st it with eyes and with arms in embrace,
And at times thine own inward voice would'st efface
With the sound of its savage ungovernable moan.

You are both of you, sombre, secretive and deep:
Oh mortal, thy depths are foraye unexplored,
Oh sea--no one knoweth thy dazzling hoard,
You both are so jealous your secrets to keep!

And endless ages have wandered by,
Yet still without pity or mercy you fight,
So mighty in plunder and death your delight:
Oh wrestlers! so constant in enmity!

Take this journey with this book. It's going to be the furthest journey to the closest place, the dark corners of your soul.
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Satellite Communications Systems: Systems, Techniques and Technology (Wiley Series in Communication and Distributed Systems)
Satellite Communications Systems: Systems, Techniques and Technology (Wiley Series in Communication and Distributed Systems)
by Gerard Maral
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £86.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An invaluable textbook for all satellite engineers and graduate students of telecommunications, 25 Feb. 2013
The discipline of the satellite engineering is characterized by the interconnectivity between the various systems of the spacecraft. Even though there are various specializations in accordance to the system in study, a satellite engineer due to the aforementioned interconnectivity must have an overall knowledge of all the systems of a telecommunication spacecraft. The Flight Dynamics Engineer for instance must, far apart from mastering the celestial mechanics, be aware of the following:

1. The TTC (Telemetry-Tracking and Command) subsystem in order to understand how the maneuver increments are translated to satellite commands.
2. The OBDH (On Board Data Handling) subsystem in order to understand how the uploaded commands are realizing internally the execution of each maneuver.
3. The CPS (Combined Propulsion Subsystem) with which every maneuver is executed with the aid of thrusters.
4. The ADCS (Attitude Determination and Control Subsystem) in order to understand the constrains set by the celestial phenomena on the time of maneuver execution and also realize the impact of the solid body rotational mechanics on the way a maneuver is actually executed by the thruster firings (off-modulation technique-alteration of ADCS modes during maneuver execution).
5. The Thermal Subsystem in order to understand how the temperature of the fuel and the oxidant changes the maneuver efficiency.
6. The Payload Subsystem in order to understand the constraints put on the orbit by the telecommunication mission itself.
7. The Ground Segment comprising from the TCR antenna and the systems used for telemetry retrieval and processing.Localization measurements acquired from TCR antennas have erros, due to various sources, which may have a significant impact on the accuracy of orbit determination.

This excellent book has a well-balanced presentation of all these subsystems. I must point out though that the primary, and most thoroughly analyzed, topic of Satellite Communications Systems is the satellite communication techniques which render it as a unique textbook for graduate students of telecommunications. The future buyer must check the contents of the book in the web to verify the diversity and the plethora of the topics covered by the book.

All topics are presented with many educational diagrams and the right amount of mathematics for someone who would like to have an overall point of view of all the subsystems of telecommunication satellite without plunging and get lost in details.

I fully recommend this book without any reservation for all satellite engineers and graduate or undergraduate students of telecommunications.

The MATLAB 5 Handbook
The MATLAB 5 Handbook
by Eva Part-Enander
Edition: Paperback
Price: £39.99

2.0 out of 5 stars An arid presentation of commands, 23 Feb. 2013
This review is from: The MATLAB 5 Handbook (Paperback)
MATLAB is an extremely powerful and user friendly language for scientific programing. The user can execute in a couple of minutes, even if he is a novice, very complicate calculations including algebra, definite integrals and solution of ordinary and partial differential equations. The greatest power of MATLAB is its toolboxes which specialize in various scientific fields and also its ability for very flexible and fast building elaborate plots.

I've used MATLAB many times to help me validate numerical algorithms build in C++. I consider this book one of the worst books of programming I've ever read. It's a handbook which just lists the majority of commands in MATLAB but it doesn't help you learn this language and appreciate its power. It might sound strange but even a programmer's book can be very interesting for the reader when it is full of useful examples and have a logical structure. This book is only useful as a reference book containing many commands presented in the most arid way.

I don't recommend this book. I've tried to use it many times and in every single effort I found it cumbersome to use it help me understand this versatile language.

Emotional Vampires: Dealing With People Who Drain You Dry
Emotional Vampires: Dealing With People Who Drain You Dry
by Albert J. Bernstein
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A useful survival guide to human zoology, 23 Feb. 2013
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One of the worse curses of human beings is that it is very difficult for them to understand that the diversity of human emotions and the levels of their depth and intensity concerning the contact and communication with others is as rich as the diversity of our facial characteristics. The situation resembles Plato's Allegory of the Cave. We all are prisoners of our own personal cave where the only thing we can understand from the outside world, and especially the way the others feel about this world, is merely some shadows whose shape depend primarily on the shape of our cave wall. Most of the human misery appearing during our interaction with the others is due to the ignorance of been living in such a cave. We are misled to believe that the depth of others emotions having to do with justice, communication, friendship, collaboration, trust, dignity, interpersonal functioning and even love, is exactly the same as ours. It takes time for the great revelation that we all leave in the Tower of Babel.

Bernstein's book is a field guide for this Babel. It helps you understand that some people are not just "difficult", "needy", "mean", "dramatic" or "immature". These persons, with whom you may feel that communication is almost impossible and that there is always a hidden agenda in their interaction with you, have severe psychological problems which even though they are not enough to characterize them as insane, they are enough to make your life miserable if you come closer to them as a collaborator, neighbor, spouse, friend or even worse lover. The "Emotional Vampire" catalogs all the peculiar behaviors of "difficult" personalities with the very simple manner avoiding the technical language of phycology. All the personality disorders listed in this book can also be found written in texts of phycology but not in a very inteligible way. The listing of these disorders helps in a multitude of ways:

1. First of all the writer helps you understand that all these are patterns because human behavior is itself governed by laws.
2. Each pattern is presented with its behavioral characteristics to help the reader recognize the specific disorder.
3. Having recognized the specific disorder, the books tell you what else to expect and even better how to avoid these people of damaging your soul, your carrier or your family.

All these are presented with a very friendly language almost picturesque which is easily understandable from anyone who has come in contact with one of these "difficult" personalities. The key to understand the whole book and use it effectively for your emotional protection is the paragraph "Immaturity Versus Evil" in chapter 2 "Maturity and Mental Health". In accordance to this paragraph:

...Emotional Vampires are not intrinsically evil, but their immaturity allows them to operate without thinking about whether their actions are good or bad. Vampires see other people as potential sources for whatever they happen to need at the moment, not as separate human beings with needs and feelings of their own. Rather than evil itself, vampires' perceptual distortion is a doorway through which evil may easily enter...

This is a very valuable word of caution because the most dangerous and invisible "difficulty" is the emotional shallowness. Every effort of yours to communicate with such cursed persons is utterly pointless. You may try to speak them through logic but this is a mistake because human beings eventually contact through emotions and these kinds of vampires have no ability to feel the same things as you do. If it is a collaborator in your job try to minimize your interaction with him but if it's a spouse, a family member or even worse a lover then things are much worse. You should consider this person as dead and dump him or her not because they are bad but because communication with them is futile and the only thing one might succeed with his effort, is to get psychological wounded. Bernstein helps you understand that we are given gifts and curses from nature that we haven't chosen ourselves. The book speaks about protection and not about ethics or criticizing others because we should not forget that we also are one of these "others".

I recommend this book for its content, structure and easiness of reading.

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