Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Flip It - How to Get the Best Out of Everything

Author:       Michael Heppell
Published:  2012
Publisher:   Pearson Education Ltd.
Hardcover:  176 pages

In this book the author offers his approach for thinking and taking actions that lead to higher levels of happiness, confidence, creativity and success. He calls this approach  "Flip It".  
Nothing new about it. Flip It  approach is just another way of looking at things from a  positive and optimistic perspective (Reframing) . 
 The book describes how to apply Flip It thinking in different situations - while interacting with friends, spouses, partners, family; at work; in business etc.
The narrative is supported by ample illustrations,anecdotes and techniques.
 Some of the techniques I liked are :
Friends Grid: Classifying the friends we have in four categories - Poor Me, Grower, Sapper and Groupie depending on how positive/negative and giving/taking they are so that we can choose to spend maximum time with the Growers and avoid the Sappers.
Rock to Resolution : Breaking down a big problem into small chunks; identifying solutions for each of these chunks; and visualizing how the outcome will look if all the solutions were in place.
Link Words: An idea generation technique - picking a random word and forming a network of words linked to this word; then choosing a couple of words from the network at random and develop a link between them.
The book is written in a conversational manner with a sense of humor and is a good  light reading material. But it does not have an USP which can clearly differentiate it from other self-help books in the market,

Table of Contents:

  1. Finding Flip It
  2. Flip It for confidence and happiness
  3. Flip It for friends, love and family
  4. Flip It for health
  5. Flip It for money
  6. Flip It for success
  7. Flip It for creativity
  8. Flip It at work and in business
  9. Flip It for your fantastic future

10. Flip It when you’re having ‘one of those days
11. Flip It for everything else


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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mathematics of Life: Unlocking the Secrets of Existence

Author:       Ian Stewart
Published:  2011
Publisher:  Profile Books Ltd.
Hardcover: 368 pages

 I remember my high school days in late seventies, when the students who wanted to join the science stream but were not confident about their mathematical abilities would choose PCB (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) instead of PCM (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics)  as their subjects. 
Seems like this escape from mathematics is no longer an option in twenty-first century !

Many of the important questions opened up by modern discoveries in biology cannot be answered without significantly drawing upon the knowledge of mathematics.
Therefore in the present times biologists and mathematicians are collaborating on finding solutions to such questions especially those related to nature and origins of life itself.
The former pose the biological questions or describe a set of experiments, while the later develop a mathematical models to simulate them.

Welcome to the field of Mathematical Biology ! This book is a layman's primer on this subject.

It explores several connections between mathematics and biology, viz; -  the Human Genome Project; the structure and function of the complex molecules that coordinate the complex process of life; the shape of viruses; the organization of cells; the form and behavior of entire organisms and their interaction in the global ecosystem; evolutionary games that led to huge diversity of life in earth; the workings of the nervous system and the brain; nature of life; possibility of alien life forms.
The theory behind these connections encompass a wide range of mathematical concepts - probability, dynamics, chaos theory, symmetry, networks, mechanics, elasticity, knot theory.

While I don't claim to have understood each and every topic discussed in this book, I found it a really interesting read and would recommend it to anyone who is a keen reader of  popular science genre.
 Pythagoras the renowned mathematician of ancient Greece once said,"All things are numbers" Ian Stewart, the author of this book and a mathematician of the modern era  has shown that this statement is true to a great extent in life forms.


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