Book Review: Isaac Newton, by James Gleich

Isaac Newton is arguably the most important physicist and the most important mathematician.  In physics, he discovered his three Laws of Motion, Universal Gravitation and a raft of things in optics and other sciences as well as inventing the reflecting telescope.  In mathematics his great invention was the calculus.

James Gleich wrote a justly popular biography of Richard Feynman, but Feynman was a very charismatic character.  Newton was reclusive, unfriendly, and habitually secretive, so he is a much harder target for a biographer.  Even many of his notebooks disappeared from public view for centuries.

Gleich sketches his childhood.  His father died when he was small, his mother remarried and her husband didn't want him around so he was shipped off for a number of years.  Some of his earliest experimentation was with sundials, which he made many of.  He was always an experimenter and builder of tools.

His years at Cambridge were filled with study but he was all but invisible to c…

Impeachment Hearings

...Off to a soporific start except for Devin Nunes's comic turn as a deranged Putin operative.

Your Next Uber Driver

It seems that they will work for Fruit Loops.

Trump to Ukraine:

Nice country you got there.  Be a shame if you didn't have any Javelin antitank missiles to defend it.

But there is this one favor you could do for me.

Quora: Why Are Physicists So Smart?

My favorite answer:
Physicists are ungainly, untalented, unattractive, unpopular, and predominately undesirable people, who weren’t good at sports and couldn’t get dates in high school. This freed up their time for math and/or science, which they happened to be good at/interested in. Physicists, therefore, spend their whole lives in their niche, using their one ability trying to achieve fame and acceptance in an academic context. Also, they can’t dance. Frankly, I got to say the "can't dance" part stung a bit.

Just Like a Virgin...

...coding for the very first time.

I'm taking a class in Astro which requires computer problems in the form of Python notebooks.  I actually took a course in Python once, but I have no clue anymore as to how the hell to program in it much less store the result in notebooks.  OK, that's a slight exaggeration.  Hello World only took me two tries, but a more serious problem is that it is so long since I actually did programming for a living that I really don't get the technology of packages, etc.

There is also a lot of syntax I need to learn or relearn.

I'm thinking of asking Joe Biden if he has a spare record player on which I can listen to some tutorials.

Is Out of India Dead?

The origins of the peoples of India has long been a contentious issue.  India has a population that looks, and is, racially diverse.  Several major language groups are represented in the hundreds of languages and dialects of India.  Notably, several of them are closely related the languages of Europe and Iran - the Indo-European languages, which are not only global in extent but probably spoken by more people than any other, with the possible exception of Chinese.

These IE languages in India are clearly descended from Sanskrit, the language of the founding documents of Hinduism and Indian culture.  So a central question is who were these people who spoke something like Sanskrit, called themselves Aryans, and occupy a central role in all of Indian culture since.  German linguists appropriated the name and claimed that the Aryans were in fact Germans who had invaded India.

Anthropology and especially modern genomics tells a different story.  The IE languages were brought to Europe (incl…