What I Happen to Be Reading At the Moment

"A thirteen-year-old is a kaleidoscope of different personalities, if not in most ways a mere figment of her own imagination. At that age, what and who you are depends largely on what book you happen to be reading at the moment.”

 

While not 13 anymore, the desire to read almost anything and everything in order to read for fun and for experience is still around. I'm currently working on my PhD in a physical science, but I love to read and books are one of my non-science hobbies.

Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe - George B. Dyson George Dyson's Turing's Cathedral summarizes the history of early computing, especially John von Neumann's involvement with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. While von Neumann was interested in and developed the basis of game theory, his major contribution to the modern world was his leadership of the IAS computing group during the mid-20th century. Shock front calculation to simulate the ignition of a hydrogen bomb was the problem that the first computers were built to solve, but the applications quickly extended to meteorology and biology. The talent of the mathematicians involved in the project was incredible while their collaboration may have been shaky at times. Dyson is very thorough in his treatment of the personal histories of those involved as well as the history of the IAS itself. His treatment is not completely linear at times, though the insights that he provides are interesting and valuable. Dyson interviewed many of the living members of the IAS computation group, including his father, Freeman Dyson. One of my favorite inclusions of Dyson's were passages from the MANIAC computer logs, where the frustrations of programmers are more towards failing vacuum tubes in addition to mistakes in code. While the hardware has changed greatly, the frustration in trying to get a program to run has not changed. Overall, this insightful history of modern computing sheds light on how the modern digital age began and the colorful mathematicians that started it while presenting it all in a highly readable and interesting way.

Currently reading

Native Son
Richard Wright
The Great Glass Sea
Josh Weil
The Elder Edda
Anonymous, Andrew Orchard