Monday, June 18, 2012

Einstein - His Life And Universe

I just finished reading Walter Isaacson's biography "Einstein - His Life and Universe." I didn't think I'd ever have to read another Einstein biography after "Subtle Is The Lord" by Abraham Pais.

Abraham Pais was a also physicist, a younger protege of Einstein's at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton. He knew Einstein personally; he was versed in the details of his work; he was uniquely qualified to write an intimate biography. His book is remarkable for its level of detail. Book publishers claim that adding a single equation, even one as "simple" and well known to the general public as , would reduce the readership by half.

If that's true, and knowing how rapidly converges to zero, then I must have been the only person on earth who ever bought and read Pais' work. Not only did he have plenty of equations, they included generalized tensors with sub-scripts and super-scripts proudly waving. I'm neither a mathematician nor a physicists, but I've taken a course that included generalized tensors. The presence of metric tensors didn't scare me away or detract from my enjoyment.

As much as I liked "Subtle", I think Isaacson's book was more fun and accessible. He made Einstein seem less like an intellectual, unapproachable deity and more like a real human being. I could appreciate him expressing his frustration towards the folks at Zurich Polytechnic for dithering about a job offer by saying on page 176: "The dear Zurich folks can kiss my..."

Einstein was a man of great humor. He was quite a hit with the ladies - divorced once, married twice, and amorous with a few more. He loved music, especially Mozart for his violin. He was detached from people, yet he had friendships that lasted his entire life.

Walter Isaacson is a terrific writer. I enjoyed this book very much. It makes me want to grad his Steve Jobs biography as soon as possible.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Running Again

It's been too long since my last post. I've got a lot of pent up stuff to write about. I'll certainly improve on my poor showing so far this year.

Part of my problem was being away. I spent part of April in Ireland. Sounds like a post waiting to happen.

Another problem is that today is a perfect, beautiful, late spring day that makes it impossible to stay inside for long. I did well running throughout the winter and spring. I've stuck to half mile repeats on the road in front of my house. I try to pay attention to cadence, rhythm, breathing, pace, and staying relaxed. It's gone very well. I've had no injuries. I can actually say that I've enjoyed running! That hasn't been so for thirty years or more.

It was cool and sunny this morning, with perfect blue skies after a day of steady rain. I decided to head out for a run before lunch. I decided to go for a longer jaunt instead of half mile repeats. There's a route going in the other direction that has a long, gradual hill for the first mile, followed by a right turn and a mile of flat running with a hill at the end. I got to the end of that and took another left and kept going. Buck Road is a pretty one-mile stretch that ends at Route 66. The first three miles went very well for me. I kept up a consistent pace the whole time.

I was tired on the way back. The downhills that helped me on the way out were my enemy on the way home. Potential energy had to be paid back. I walked a couple of times, but nothing excessive; just enough to catch my breath. I finished the six mile run in a decent enough time for me. It wouldn't impress anyone to post it, but in the immortal words of Mark Logan: "Finishing is winning."

I was pleased to finish off such a long run in fine style. I never would have guessed that I'd still be able to run in impromptu fashion on a nice day at my age. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. It'll be a good sign if I recover well.

I started learning how to run again on 20-Jun last year. I've managed to keep it up the whole year through. I hope I can build on that over the next year and get strong enough to take it to another level.

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