Book Recommendation - Warped Passages by Lisa Randall

A few weeks ago I was watching an interview with Lisa Randall—a cited
physicist working on a theory involving extra hidden dimensions of space
beyond the three that most of us are familiar with (or four if you consider
spacetime). I have no background in physics, but I was fascinated by the
interview. A few things that were evident about her were that she is
passionate about her work, she’s curious about the world (or in her case, I
should probably say the universe or cosmos), that she loves puzzles, and
that she’s in constant search for answers that would better explain the
world we live in.

During the interview she touched on a few subjects that she covers in her
book: Warped Passages – Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s
Hidden Dimensions (Ecco, 2005, ISBN 0060531088). I was so fascinated by
the interview that I had a strong urge to go immediately to the book store
and get a copy. My obvious concern was my physics background (or lack
thereof). The only string (pun intended) connecting me to the book was
that I’m passionate about my work, I love puzzles, and I’m curious about
the world we live in. As much as I would love to know more about physics
as well as many other subjects, I was concerned that I don’t have
sufficient background to grasp even a portion of the material. But then
again, knowing how much effort is involved in writing books and putting
your life’s work and passion into text, I asked myself, how can I compare
this to spending a few bucks? I figured that if I manage to grasp a
quantum of the material, it’s more than I know now. ;)

So, I set off to the nearest book store and got myself a copy. I started
reading it in the hotel room and got fully immersed. Very soon I was
engaged in puzzles which I love so much. Instead of getting the sleep I
much needed before teaching next day, I found myself trying to draw my
own versions of a tesseract (aka hypercube)—one of the structure’s which
the possibility of its existence I wasn’t aware of a day earlier. I then
continued to read about physics theories including Relativity, Quantum
Mechanics, Standard Model, String Theory and Branes, and others, all of
which are just background information to Lisa’s recent work on extra
dimensions, which is mind-boggling.

So what’s between this book and SQL that makes me think that it’s
worthwhile to recommend it to SQL related audience? I feel that it has
everything to do with SQL. SQL is about logic and puzzles and working your
brain to the limit (and beyond). To be really good at SQL you need to be
open-minded, always looking for new ways to solve problems that eluded
you in the past—new ways of thinking; and of course, you need to be
passionate about what you do. Also, data models are an attempt at a
representation of the world we live in, and so are physics models. The
book is not an easy read for us illiterates in physics, but every new subject
is explained so elegantly, and it makes your brain work extra time and in
new ways making the experience fun and rewarding. The amount of
material that I managed to grasp so far exceeded my expectations. I have
to attribute it to Lisa’s teaching and explanatory skills, and to the passion
and fun which are portrayed in the book. I believe that by reading this
book you will be a better SQL programmer; and if not, you will know a bit
more about the world we live in.

I’m not done yet, and am looking forward to continue reading. I thought I
would post a recommendation already; why delay the opportunity for
you? :)


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