Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On recommended readings

I strongly recommend the following readings:

  • The art of travel by Alain de Botton: An awesome book on introspection while traveling. De Botton creates trips where the tour guides are thinkers or writers such as Baudelaire (one of my all time favorites), Flaubert, Van Gogh and Ruskin.
  • The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing by Richard Dawkins: This is a collection of good writing by professional scientists, not excursions into science by professional writers. Contains very small, nontechnical articles.
  • The disadvantages of an Elite Education by William Deresiewicz. "Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers" This is a highly recommended reading.
  • Truth and Beauty: Aesthetics and Motivations in Science
    by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. He starts with Heisenberg's definition of beauty as “the proper conformity of the parts to one another and the whole”, and then ponders about the value this concept of beauty has in science. (Simplex sigillum veri. Pulchritudo splendor veritatis)
  • Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar – Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein. My rating for this book 5/5. I love reading it and writing important ideas on my moleskine.
I have gotten all the items from the list online for free: Google with patience ( being a good site)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flying over hurricanes

Hurricane Irene is about to reach the Bahamas. This is a satellite picture (current as of AUG 23rd 09:39pm ET)

I was curious about current passenger airplane pathlines across this hurricane. I wanted to see if there was a significant deviation from a regular (loxodromic) path. Turns out that there isn't, as this picture shows for the flight from American Airlines (Boeing 737-800 AAL 1555), scheduled from Miami Intl (MIA) to Luis Muñoz Marín (SJU), retrieved also at the same time of the previous screenshot:

What is intriguing is that even though airplanes can fly above the hurricane, there are unusually high clouds associated with hurricanes (namely Hot towers, pic below) that can protrude from the troposphere.

I don't know Aeronautical Meteorology, but I would not be comfortable on that plane.

Edit: Introverted intuition at its best.