Wednesday, July 01, 2009


My holiday reading was "Dune" by Frank Herbert, which I first read when I was but a teenager.

Re-reading it has been a strange experience: the intelligence, plot complexity and sophisticated back-story are as I recall them from so many years ago. However, I'm a little more experienced in literary analysis these days and assess the quality of writing more critically.

Herbert is good, certainly, but there is a kind of plodding, painting-by-numbers methodicalness especially in the earlier parts. It's very much a boy's coming-of-age fantasy with, I suspect, limited interest for girls. Anyway, Clare didn't seem very gripped when I read her parts of it in camp, and on the ferry.

I am sufficiently engaged, however, to continue the journey I first took so many years ago, and the next three (Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune ... sorry titles, aren't they) are on their way.

While we were en vacances, I erratically engaged with SM358, my OU Quantum Mechanics course, steadily working through the thickets of algebra constituting the time-independent Schrödinger equation of the Coulomb interaction Hydrogen atom.

I'm probably going to say this with more conviction after a later chapter looks at relativistic corrections, but atoms seem very clunky, unmodular things in this universe: not very well designed at all.

On the strength of seeing the extraordinary magic Schrödinger conjured from his equation, I ordered Schrödinger: Life and Thought by Walter J. Moore. Schrödinger was an extraordinary character, whose scientific genius was basically powered by sex with his friends' wives. They don't recommend that in OU courses.