Resolution

This year, I made up my mind to free some time and resolved to read more books. I intend to complete 20 books. Let’s see how it holds up. goodreads


I will post the reviews of the books as and when I complete reading here.


1/20
Leonardo da VinciLeonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The word genius would be an understatement. His meticulous notes makes me want to get back to writing rather than typing stuff out.

“When his analogy between the macrocosm of earth and microcosm of man turned out to be flawed, he revised his thinking and put forth a new theory. He possessed the willingness to be open-minded.” It’s quite hard to accept that one’s theories are flawed in some fashion nowadays. I often stumble upon some heated twitter discussions with one refuting the approaches of the other.

He envisioned the mathematics of continuous quantities (calculus had not yet been invented). He represented shadows, colors, movement, water waves, curly hair, the passage of time which were depicted as having infinite precision. What struck me most was the continuous representation of contours instead of hard edges.

There is so much I want to write about but I’ll restrict to perspectives.
As a computer vision enthusiast, his conception of perspectives of objects in the scene is something that has fascinated me the most. His pursuit into depiction of objects projected onto a flat plane led him to investigate how the objects enter the eye and are rendered. He went on to dissect the eyes and create detailed and beautiful diagrams of eyes and of course other body parts. His wasn’t satisfied with the linear perspective which shows how the size of the objects is related to their distance from the point of view. He wanted to convey depth through changes in color and clarity. His ideology that the objects that are far away ought to be less detailed is highly visible in his portrayal of Saint John the Baptist. His portrayal of The Last Supper is ripe with visual perspectives.

I could just go on and on…

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2/20
The Wright BrothersThe Wright Brothers by David McCullough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An amazing read. Such perseverance, calm faith in ultimate success, their mutual consideration has no bounds.

Finally, at six-thirty, Wilbur turned his cap backward, and to Berg, Bollee, and the others said quietly, “Gentlemen, I’m going to fly.” He released the trigger, the weight dropped, and down the rail and into the air he swept.

The brothers took the long established, supposedly reliable calculations and tables prepared by Chanute, Lilienthal and Langley as a gospel which proved to be wrong and could no longer be trusted. The accepted tables were, in a word, WORTHLESS. I wonder how long the current metrics in ML & CV will hold the test of time.

Their works were cast out like a leper from distinguished people of the time. Some of the quotes:
“The dream of flight is no more than a myth. And were such a machine devised what useful purpose could it possibly serve? Were it even successful, it would carry nothing heavier than an insect” by astronomer and professor at JHU. “…I used to chat with them in a friendly way…because I sort of felt sorry for them…neglecting their cycle business to waste their time day after day on that ridiculous flying machine.”

The worked hard in silence. Although their contemporaries like Langley had crowd of reporters when he wanted to test his machine. There were very few who took interest in what the brothers were to accomplish.

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