(Pre-corona times) wine trip | Bi-Weekly Update

Hey, this post was created a couple weeks ago actually, and I somehow never posted it. So I’m going to create a newer one, with all this corona stuff really impacting my life as it does many right now, but enjoy this light-hearted one hahha. Also my france/germany trip was before outbreaks happened in the area.

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • The stranger by Albert Camus (currently reading)
  • On earth we’re briefly gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (currently reading)
  • Night sky with exit wounds by Ocean Vuong
  • Felicity by Mary Oliver
  • Soft science by Franny Choi
  • Ordinary beast by Nicole Sealey
  • Corazón by Yesika Salgado
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord

Added to TBR:

  • Loveless by Alice Oseman (ace! character! and fantastic author)
  • Red, white & royal blue by Casey McQuinston (gay royal romance)
  • Akata witch by Nnedi Okorafor (YA fantasy)
  • Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (magical realism & mental illness; fractured sense of self, set in Nigeria)
  • How to make a wish by Ashley Herring Blake (YA f/f romance)
  • Crier’s war by Nina Varela (queer fantasy; i’m promised f/f romance, bisexual and lesbians and enemies to lover trope)
  • Come to the rocks by Christin Haws (mermaids with f/f romance)
  • Storm in a teacup by Helen Czerski (science! physics! this could be very good or very bad)
  • Tesoro by Yesika Salgado (poetry)

Three things on my mind:

  • I’m still doing this physics first year of university thing, funny enough. Is it crazy that I thought I would fail before now? It’s not going great overall, but I really like the physics and uni and friends part. One reason it’s not going great overall; I’ve been sick. A bit of a physical illness. But mostly, looking back, my productivity has been greatly damaged by mental illness as well, leading to general inconsistency. Ah yes, I was also diagnosed with a mental illness this week. Which I didn’t think would happen? But it made sense and oh well, it’s going to take some time to get used to having a label on my troubles.

  • I was in France!! And Germany!! Drinking wine!! With this physics & maths wine club I’m in. I became a real wine enthusiast on one (1) trip, and two wine tastings. I also might’ve smiled too wide at the table when the last and most fancy wine expert basically GURGLED his wine, like in parodies. AND MY BOYFRIEND, GERMAN-SPEAKING, HAD TO TRANSLATE THIS GUY SAYING IN A STERN VOICE “THIS MIGHT SEEM STRANGE, AS THE YOUNG WOMAN IS LAUGHING, BUT IT HELPS TO -” (insert expand surface and tastebuds and all that explanation). I was too many glasses of wine in and too entertained to be embarassed, but it was embarassing. And beautiful – the whole trip. The most embarassing moment, for who I’m not sure, happened while we were all learning about making wine, from someone who had more humor. My best friend said what I itched to say, but decided not to; “oh we make wine too”, pointing to the leader of the group. And he had to swifly try, and fail, to explain is that our university wine club’s wine is not made from grapes picked carefully and hundreds of year’s of expertise; but y taking basically grape juice, adding yeast and trying to get a high alcohol percentage. I smiled the whole rest of the tour, while the wine expert repeatedly turned to our leader and spoke to him like he knew the process, waiting for the moment we were alone and my best friend to get yelled at. It was all I hoped for. Lesson learned; don’t expect a bunch of physics & math students to take the social cue in any situation.

  • So the trick to read more books again is to take a flight to France/Germany (it was the border, so we were both places), as well as be just sick in general and forced to relax aka read.

Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman | Book Review

Genre: physics, nonfiction

Pages: 140

About the book

Richard Feynman is a well-known physicist, he was awarded the Nobel Prize of physics in 1965 for his developments to the quantum field theory. This book isn’t lying when it claims he’s one of the most brilliant physics teachers as well, particularly well-known for this introduction series of lectures from Caltech university in 1964, that this book is based on.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: four

My background going into this book: one and a half year into physics classes. I read this book a while ago and just now decided to post the review, the day after I sent my application for a physics bachelor at university!

The only reason this isn’t getting five stars are that the lectures are older. This book was first released in 1994, it’s an abbreviated form of the 1964 Feynman Lectures, which has been edited later. I just feel as an introduction this should have more side-notes on later development (just a couple words) and where to find more information on them, because it’s meant as an introduction.

The way Feynman talks about physics de-mystifies it, and makes it accessible. As someone who is going into physics, I’ve already learnt to love formulas. They say so much in so few sentences! It’s like abreviations, but you got to have an understanding of what they mean. Feynman is so aware of this, and instead put physics concepts into words, very elegantly. I really do get why he’s so looked up to. He’s up there with Stephen Hawking, in the quality of his writing. I’ve read parts of Einstein’s biography, and while he was a incredible scientist, his lectures were known from the beginning for jumping straight to the top-level difficult problems, leaving most of his students behind. I think Feynman explains really well concepts of physics, that we look at the universe and create certain rules or theories through observations and experiments that explain what we see. But also gets into more specifics, where my favourite parts were comparing physics to other science fields, the history of finding particles that everything in the world is made of, about the strangeness of fluid physics (especially turbulent fluids, Smarter Every Day made a great video about it that I’ll link to down below) and conservation of energy as a great intro to the concept of energy that everyone hears so much about, but usually don’t understand.

What I felt reading this book: not so weird for loving physics, and that more people would if this was the type of intro they got

A great bit of info on the questions around laminar and turbulent flow (fluid physics) with some nice fontains)

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking | Review

Pages: 200

Genre: science – physics

Synopsis

A beautifully written book about our universe and how and why it was designed. It’s written for people of many different levels of knowledge of physics already, from short and clear explanations of atoms to mentioning a few things I personally need and want to look more into like string theory, bosons, where plancks constant comes from and Feynmans sum over histories. This is a book trying to give philisophical answers based on scientific history and theories. As the book says itself:

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Why do we exist?

Why this particular set of laws and not some other?”

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five

I’ve honestly never read a full Stephen Hawking book, even though I take physics classes and am very interested in it. I was personally really surprised at how much I understood, that I’ve gone through in classes before and this book looked more at the “why” behind it, the connection that I so much love. This is the book you need to read if you’re interested in the how and why’s of the universe, no matter what level of understanding you’re at now! 

This book absolutely made me reflect on the nature of the universe, even though I already have some experience there. It also made me so very excited about learning more, and what we could find out in the future, with newer technology. Multi-verse and possibly no objective reality existing are examples of rabbit-holes of information and theories I love to fall into, so this book was ideal.

Favourite quotes

“While concending that human behaviour is indeed determined by the laws of nature, it also seems reasonable to conclude that the outcome is determined in such a complicated way and with so many variables as to make impossible in practice to predict.”

“[…] philosopher David Hume who wrote that although we have no rational grounds for believing in an objective reality, we also have no choice but to act as if it is true.”

“Such calculations show that a change of as little as 0.5 percent in the strength of the strong nuclear force, or 4 percent in the electric force, would destroy either nearly all carbon or all oxygen in every star, and hence the possibility of life as we know it. Change those rules of our universe just a bit, and the conditions for our existence disappear!”

“If the [M-] theory is confirmed by observation, it will be the successful conclusion of a search going back more than 3.000 years. We will have found the grand design.”

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli | Review

Pages: 90

Genre: science, physics

okay, I’ll admit I chose this book because of its beautiful cover. I mean look at it:

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In this book you get basic concepts and breakthroughs in physics described in a poetic way. It’s a short book with seven brief lessons (who would’ve guessed), well-written and focused on keeping the reader interested. At points the explanation is overly simplified, even for someone who’s about to take (basically) her first physics class, but I understand how more information might’ve destroyed the flow of the writing. It would’ve been better with footnotes (or something similiar) leading to more in-depth sources so you can actually understand the thing being explained.

The book got better the further into it I got, and lesson five on heat was perhaps the most interesting. Maybe because that was the one I knew the least about beforehand? Rovelli’s explanations was mostly good, but I was frustrated more than once at the tendency to mention a concept or name and never explain it further. I basically had wikipedia open, which I don’t feel should be this necessary.

It’s a good book for the person who’s not into physics and don’t usually think about the concepts on how tiny/big the world are and so on. It’s clear that the author knows what he’s talking about, both in the subject and the writing. Not to mention the beautiful cover and marketing. Personally the book was a nice read, but I didn’t feel I got much out of it. Made me realize I might as well open my actual physics textbook, if only I remember where I’ve buried it.