Theodore Roosevelt & Howard Taft in The Bully Pulpit

Doris Kearns Goodwin has given another marvellous historical non-fiction, copiously researched and gripping account of what happened in the political, personal and national level during tenure of Theodore and Taft, presidents of America during the great depression. How they singlehandedly and as a team made it happen – to make America more prosperous and with government regulation and ruthlessly regulating unscrupulous American corporations from using bribery and other tactics to control and manipulate market. In this tapestry of intertwining tales, we have the journalistic tales that transformed America along with the presidents informing and cajoling public to force congress and senate into action. Her skill is displayed when she probes each of the protagonists’ childhood, schooling, tradition, habits that shape their adulthood and how society and education had an impact on future presidents and how overall journalism in the heydays without television shaped a progressive society to become world’s first nation is simply spellbinding. I’ve become a fan of her storey telling. But ‘Team of Rivals’ is one notch above than this and I’m expecting even a better one but it depends on the main character of the story and I believe why Team of Rivals takes that notch is because of Abraham Lincoln. Rivalry lends itself to natural storytelling but has to be handled with care and has to be made more attractive, riveting and yearning for more. So waiting for her next masterpiece…..meanwhile some observations from ‘The Bully Pulpit’:

  • Clearly portrays how destiny draws two individuals – one with restless and unceasing energy (Theodore) to a one with a judicial, temperate and amiable predisposition (Taft) to make them rule US of A – during its ascension to world power
  • How each gasps at opportunity not forthcoming and how destiny rewards them in due course is vividly pictured
  • It captures the early 20th century America full of corruption, money laundering, covert and behind the scene activities, collusion among the money spinners in the name of corporations and individuals benefitting from the corrupt government officials – precisely where the current Asian nations are reeling under same problems and hope they get their benediction to raise their standards and achieve super power status in providing basic amenities and rights to citizens
  • I remember reading this: Taft when being president lost one of his personal bodyguards in Titanic mishap
  • How genuine journalists can bring about a change in the corrupt democracies is great and this needs to happen in every society
  • Every citizen deserves a service oriented corrupt free benevolent peaceful and abundant life – to be made sure by their elected statesmen – and to achieve this in emerging democracies, journalists and magazines have to play their surefire part like what McClure and its journalists played – Baker et al.
  • How once in friendlier in terms, both presidents became bitter enemies and reconciled later – is a great story – destiny weaves itself to make changes after changes – ever evolving story line though.

Universe’s Timeline–how long it took from nothing to something?

Computing with Quantum CatsFrom Colossus to Qubits by John Gribbin was scientific page turner. It provided a nice scientific retreat after my school days physics as engineering didn’t cover physics much deeper. There was an interesting bit on big bang timeline and quantum stuff. It traces the computing history from Turing to ENIAC, EDVAC and other  versions and plunges into Quantum Physics briefly. The Schrodinger’s Cat and double slit experiment gets a fair bit of treatment as a precursor to quantum computing introduction. Computing with Quanta starts with Deutsch and the Multiverse. Quotes from ‘The Beginning of Infinity’ book by Deutsh offers a simpler proof of reality of parallel worlds with half-silvered mirror experiment and provides a conceptual basis for quantum computing and a possibility for a quantum computer in turn. Josephson junction discovery is also pivotal in the quantum push. For any quantum computer to work, DiVincenzo’s 5 criteria need to be satisfied. Perhaps we are at at a stage when classical computer era started at 1960’s and in about 20 years around 2035, a workable desktop quantum computer (2048 qubits) is feasible and could revolutionize computing & cloud industry. The impact of quantum on classical computers may be something like what versioning is older software, perhaps when quantum computers reach 3.0, classical may be bygone only to be displayed in a computer museum.

Interesting bit that captured my attention was in ‘Quantum Limits’ provided verbatim here: The scale on which quantization, or graininess, of space would become noticeable is known as Plank’ Length, in honour of Max Plank, the German Physicist who, at the end of 19th century, made a breakthrough which led to the realization that the behaviour of light could be explained in terms of photons. The size of the Planck length is worked out from the relative sizes of the constant of gravity, the speed of light, and a number known as Plank’s constant, which appears at the heart of quantum mechanics-fir example, the energy of photon corresponding to a certain frequency (or colour) of light is equal to that frequency multiplied by Plank’s Constant. The Planck Length is  0.0000000000000000000000000000000001 cm or 10^-33 cm in mathematical notation. A single proton is roughly 10^20 Planck length across, and it is no surprise that the effects of this graininess do not show up even in our most subtle experiments.
The smallest possible interval of time (the quantum of time) is simply the time it would take light to cross the Planck length, and is equal to 10^-43 seconds. One intriguing consequence of this is that as there could not be any shorter time, or smaller time interval, then within the framework of the laws of physics as understood today we have to say that the Universe came into existence (was “born”, if you like) with an age of 10^-43 seconds.