Book Audits: “The Battery: How Portable Power Sparked a Technological Revolution” by Henry Schlesinger

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A few weeks back, I was in dire need of a battery and searched my whole house twice to find one, but couldn’t. Eventually bought one the next day. Co-incidentally, on the same day, found this book in our college library when browsing the shelves. On any other day, I would have overlooked this book. On that particular day, it caught my attention and I started reading it. And I was very glad that I did.
I was highly skeptical about the book (I endured an Electrochemistry course during my Master’s) but the author did a good job of making it interesting enough to keep the reader engaged. I wish I had read it before the electrochemistry episode, but better late than never. Even though the book is about batteries, there are significant detours about the ‘new’ technologies that used batteries and stories behind their emergence (telegraphs, transatlantic telegraphic line, radio, watches, transistors…).
By the end of the book, I’m a little wiser about batteries and their evolution than I was before. Next time I hold a battery in my hand, I would definitely take a moment to awe at the efforts that were put in achieve the current compact form from its initial design of Layden jar which harnessed static electricity, through the voltaic pile, a stack of electrodes and the galvanic cells with sloshing electrolytes to the modern dry cells packing in more power to meet the increasing energy demands of the technology-rich and energy-hungry generation. Although the battery development had plateaued over the last two decades, considering the current energy scenario, I guess there will be another surge (scientific community predict otherwise.)
I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in knowing the historical background of everyday things.

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Book Audits: “My Inventions and Other Writings” by Nikola Tesla

Book Audits: “My Inventions and Other Writings” by Nikola Tesla

The current educational system is teaching what to think instead of how to think. We set boundaries upon ourselves without even asking why. Reading this book made me question that.
Reading this nearly 100-year-old book (98 years, actually) changed my view about certain things which we take for granted.

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Autobiography of this scintillating inventor who owns 700 patents is . . . I wouldn’t say inspiring. Despite his inventions and their impact on the modern society, his name is known to a handful, unlike the household name of Edison. He died in a hotel room where he spent most of his last days, with debts. It’s depressing to some extent. But it encourages us to think crazy, beyond boundaries.
The book tells you about his passion for science and innovation. It tells you about the out of box thinking of Tesla, which may, at times, seem spectacularly absurd. Some topics are quite unfathomable for me. (I don’t have a degree in electrical engineering.) But others were fascinating.
He doesn’t shy away from telling his worst experiences and failures. He even talked about philosophy, the concept of Karma, even though he didn’t use that term.
He was too ahead of his time. He predicted many things in the book, which would have seemed utterly ridiculous to his contemporaries. But some of those ideas have been realized and used extensively in the current world. So, who’s to say that the rest won’t be realized in future?

In Tesla’s words: “The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of a planter – for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way.”

Book Audits: Slumgirl Dreaming

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While I respect and appreciate Rubina’s work in movies, my opinion below is solely regarding this book.
Reading this book sitting in a comfy chair, taking breaks in between to have food and snacks can only make me experience very little of what is written in the book (That doesn’t mean you have to go to slum to read it). It is about the journey of a slum girl towards achieving her dreams (duh! It’s in the name.) I like to think that I have some degree of empathy, but I felt this story to be too whiny and narration to be borderline narcissistic (she’s just a kid, I know). The actual effect the story would have had was dwarfed because of the childish way it was narrated in. Instead of feeling sorry for the kid living in the slum, I felt a little bit irked at the constant wishful thinking (maybe I too was like that when I was a kid, but lost it in the process of growing up). But her sense of wonderment shows the depravity of contact with the external world and also refreshes the reader’s sense of wonderment. Most of us are used to wonderful things but fail to appreciate them (like basic necessities and small comforts).
In the book, her talent was projected rather as a gift she was born with, thereby undermining it. Like everything was being set in place for her and she just have to grab the opportunity presented (much like the story of the film). This precludes the book from being categorized as inspirational. The ending seemed kind of pleading for help. As one proceeds towards the end, one can observe that reality dawns upon the protagonist, like people forgetting their promises, being deceived by the middlemen among others. But she didn’t let this crush her dreams. The girl proceeds to live her life towards fulfilling her dreams and ambitions.
On the whole, this book is a nice (auto)biographical account of a slumdog (I couldn’t resist 🙂 ) achieving success and reaching stars, with a message of hope (verbatim): If a slum kid can win an Oscar, then a slumdog can surely become a millionaire.

Book Audits – The Secret of Dreams

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This is a brief discourse addressed to the uninitiated on different types of dreams and their significance in the physical world with ample instances that bolster the thesis. To a non-believer, it may seem like a bunch of utter bull crap, since there was no scientific evidence except for the word of a few who experienced the things discussed. Yet, some cases were persuasive enough for the hesitant lot to sway their opinion. One has to read it with interest or open mind to keep oneself from fling away the kindle or pc (this is a kindle edition). Audio book is also available for free (provided by Librivox).
So, read it for a change from your routine, to open the door to infinite possibilities and to keep the flame of ‘wonder and mystique in this scientific world (where existence requires proof)’ in your inner child alive instead of whiling away time by crushing confectioneries or endlessly running on railway tracks 😛 .