Reality Conditions

Friday, September 08, 2006

To Canada I go

Next Sunday I will be leaving Nottingham. For the next month and slightly more, I will be in Vancouver, working at the University of British Columbia by the grace of a Universitas 21 scholarship. The research group there is ideal for furthering my work, as it includes William Unruh, discoverer of the eponymous effect my research is centered on, and Kristin Schleich, who has done work with my supervisor in related areas. It is bound to be a unique and engaging experience, and I am looking forward very much to it.

Posting will probably take a short rest until I have settled down there. I apologize for the delay in my promised second posting on Huw Price and the arrow of time, but I have been extremely busy this week. Anyway, I am sure you are not taking seriously my promises any more! I have returned Price's book to the university library instead of taking it with me in my trip, but I may still write my post on it if I can remember enough and find the time.
The recently bought books I am taking with me, and on which you might get some comments later, are:

The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. A huge and by the looks of it vastly entretaining trilogy set in the times of Newton and making a swashbuckling epic out of the Scientific Revolution. When I read in my teens The Sleepwalkers, Arthur Koestler’s exhilarating (if not too reliable, I discovered later) history of the Scientific Revolution, I dreamt of writing one day a novel covering the 17th century like a tapestry. This seems to be the book I wished to write.

Truth, by Simon Blackburn. Looks like a clear and careful discussion of those philosophical issues that fascinate me most: the nature of truth, the correspondance (or lack thereof) of mind and language with reality, and the contest between scientific realism and various forms of relativism or pragmatism. In other words, another book I would have liked to write, or at least blog.

In the meanwhile, while you are (I hope) waiting eagerly for me to resume posting, you can entretain yourself by reading the tales of nerdom and geekdom the Science Blogs crowd have to tell. Just go to Tim Lambert's post and follow the individual links on the table. I am quite low on that scale, having scored only 64 at the nerd test on which most ScienceBloggers score over 90. I do have some pretty impressive tales of nerdiness to tell: dedicating breaks at elementary school to draw (out of memory) a map of the world with all the national flags I knew (more than I know now); inventing chess problems at age 12 and retrograde analysis chess problems at age 15, and in a party at age 14 while my friends were starting to flirt with the oppsite sex going instead to a quiet room with a copy of The Memories of Sherlock Holmes I had found. But I must confess (oh, the shame!) that I never saw a full episode of Star Trek. I guess this makes all my extensive knowledge of Tolkien, Star Wars and Asimov worthless and disqualifies me automatically from any nerdish competition.


  • I enjoyed the Baroque Cycle a lot (despite having read THE WHOLE THING on the little screen of a PDA!), and will be waiting to see your comments. I was left with a still unsatisfied appetite for further stories of the scientific revolution; hence, any suggestion you may throw in when you comment on the book will be most welcome!

    By Anonymous Andres, at 4:22 PM, September 17, 2006  

  • Hi Andres (o es hola?). I am now 100 pages into Quicksilver and enjoying it a lot. I have not read other novels about the Scientific Revolution, but Koestler's The Sleepwalkers reads like a novel and contains lots of juicy information on Copernicus and Kepler you won't find anywhere else. It is rather tendentious and idiosyncratic, especially in its very negative portrait of Galileo, but it is a must-read for anyone interested in the period.

    By Blogger Alejandro, at 2:49 AM, September 18, 2006  

  • Hola!

    Ups, recién vi tu respuesta. Agregado al instante Sleepwalkers a mi wish list, y a ver si lo compro pronto. Ánimo con el Baroque Cycle, es largo pero compensa!

    By Anonymous Andres, at 8:08 PM, October 11, 2006  

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