Kindle or Real books?

I have one-word answer for you: BOTH! This is what I do. I just can't help it, but I really, really love both. It's really like asking: "Beauty or Brains"? Both, of course!

So, let's go through pluses of both real quick, just so that you can see why, if you care about reading, you should have both.

1. Kindle

  • Kindle is so practical and compact that you can carry it literally everywhere. It even fits in the back pocket of your jeans. You only need to be careful when sitting down. But who sits down, without something to read anyway? :)
  • You can take thousands of books with you, no matter where you go. If you try to take a trip and you want to bring more than one book along, be prepared to leave a lot of clothes behind. Or just put a Kindle in your pocket.
  • As it's not a "tablet", but it uses e-ink technology, battery lasts for like a week. There are just no battery problems, ever. You can charge it wherever there's a USB port available and a micro-USB cable handy.
  • You can read PDFs on it! Simply copy the PDF into the documents folder, and you can read them on Kindle.
  • It's easy on the eyes. Like reading from paper. Again, it's not a tablet. It's based on e-ink technology. It doesn't have this glow that phones and tablets have.
  • You can highlight and "take notes" without damaging the books.
  • It's actually EASIER to read on a Kindle than to read a "Real Book". This one was like a revelation to me and it's something I would have never guessed before. When you are holding a book, you almost always need to use both hands, as papers have the tendency to run away if you're not holding them. With Kindle, you can only use one hand to hold it and to turn the pages, and you have your other hand free .. for other stuff. Or simply to lean on it. However you wish.
  • Get the book instantly. Click and it's there. OK, this also might be a minus, as bookstores are really ... dare I say ... romantic places.
  • Books are lot less expensive in Kindle edition. There's a huge, huge amount of free ones, too. All the classics, you can get them all for free basically. This is also a huge point for me. You can buy a lot of good books in Kindle version for only a few euros.
  • Read at night time more easily. No getting up to turn off the light.

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A few facts about the Universe everyone should be aware of

Here's a few facts I learned (or better said - picked-up) during my long-time fascination with the Universe. I am not an expert in any of this, but I like to acquire information. I also like to share with others what I learned. So, here goes ...

1. Universe is big. Really BIG.

To start thinking about the size of the Universe we don't need to immediately start thinking about billions of light-years to have an idea that Universe is really big. For the start, it's enough to think only about the distance between us and the star that is closest to the Earth.

The closest star to the Earth (outside the Sun) is Proxima Centauri, at 4.22 light-years distance. So, how much is a light-year?

Light moves at speed of 300 000 (three-hundredth thousand) kilometers per second. A light-year is a distance light travels in a year. So, by using some math, we get that one light-year is actually 9.461x1012 km, or better said - 9.461 trillion (nine trillion) kilometers.

Hubble's New Shot of Proxima Centauri, our Nearest Neighbor

Hubble's Shot of Proxima Centauri, our Nearest Neighbour.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA. (source)

 

The fastest man-made object in history is the Voyager 1 probe, which "as of 2013, was moving with a relative velocity to the Sun of about 17030 m/s" (wikipedia). Even at this speed, it would take Voyager 73.000 years to reach the star closest to us. Remember, it's only 4.22 light-years.

And only our galaxy has a diameter of 100 000 light-years.

Humanity knows that universe is at least 91 billion light-years in Diameter. How? Well, because this is actually the size which we can see with any type of light. We calculated that Universe is 13.8 billion years old. And we also know that universe is expanding. As light travels to us, the universe itself expands. The red-shift in the light enables us to calculate when the light was emitted. So, if light left 13 billion years ago, this distance is now 46 billion light-years in either direction.

This is just the size of the Observable Universe. The total size of the Universe is much bigger and also probably Infinite.

Here's a few videos that help to understand this.

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My Reading List - Issue #1: Simon Blackburn - Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy

I'm one of those people that like to read. I only wish I had more time to read all the programming books and also all the great and important stuff which has nothing to do with development.

I have always had more than a passing interest in philosophy, so last year I got this interesting book from Amazon. Kindle Edition costs only 8 Euros here in Germany, which I would say is 8 Euros well spent.

It's a relatively simple introduction to all the big questions you might ask yourself at some point. And parts of it really help to expand your mind a bit, once you start thinking about all the concepts presented here. I have read it and for many moments I was really stunned while following author's train of thought, because sometimes you're just not programmed to think in a certain way. Take this small example:

... let us imagine a man who, while standing on the street, would say to himself:

"It is six o'clock in the evening, the working day is over. Now I can go for a walk, or I can go to the club; I can also climb up the tower to see the sunset; I can go to the theater; I can visit this friend or that one; indeed, I also can run out of the gate, into the wide world, and never return. All of this is strictly up to me, in this I have complete freedom. But still I shall do none of these things now, but with just as free a will I shall go home to my wife".

This is exactly as if water spoke to itself: "I can make high waves (yes! in the sea during a storm), I can rush down hill (yes! in the river bed), I can plunge down foaming and gushing (yes! in the waterfall), I can rise freely as a stream of water into the air (yes! in the fountain), I can, finally boil away and disappear (yes! at a certain temperature); but I am doing none of these things now, and am voluntarily remaining quiet and clear water in the reflecting pond.

Arthur Schopenhauer, Essay on the Freedom of the Will

 

This quote is used in the book when author speaks about free will. The book has many more interesting quotes, concepts and discussions about philosophical themes and I would really recommend it to anyone looking to expand their mind, if even by just a little bit. Reading this book will definitely do that.

Scientists have directly detected Gravitational Waves

I'm not a scientist and I don't claim to understand a lot about this apparently HUGE scientific discovery, but I don't think this should stop me in sharing some videos I watched and articles I read. After all, here I'm assuming the role of a mere messenger, a messenger that was always fascinated by space and science. I also believe that every scientific discovery is a sign of mankind's progress towards a better future.

"This illustration shows the gravitational waves thought to be produced by two orbiting white dwarf stars in a binary system called J0651, according to an August 2012 study."

Credit: NASA - Taken from space.com

Gravitational waves are "ripples" in spacetime which behave like waves when you throw a stone in water, going outwards from the source. Now for the first time this effect has been observed on Earth. See this video from ESA where Gravitational Waves are Simply Explained With A Cube And Marble:

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Interesting Twitter Accounts to Follow - "No Development" edition

As passionate Twitter users would say "Facebook is for connecting with people you went to high school with. Twitter is for connecting with people you wish you went to high school with".

This is my small collection of interesting twitter accounts you should follow. This is a "No Development" edition, meaning there will be no developers' or IT accounts in here. This is a topic for another post because there are so many "must-follow" developers and development accounts out there. So, on with the list. It is sorted in no particular order.

United Nations - @UN

"The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after WW II by countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights."

 

Bill Gates - @BillGates

Gates is a programmer, inventor, former CEO of Microsoft and a philanthropist. Right now he's trying to save the world.

 

Neil deGrasse Tyson - @neiltyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, cosmologist and author. He tweets great stuff not only about space, but about science and humanity in general.

 

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