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Thursday, 31 January 2013

From My library (1) : 5 Unique Books With a Difference to Satiate your Imaginative Hunger and also stimulate your grey Cells

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 5 Unique Books With a Difference to Satiate your Imaginative Hunger and also stimulate your grey Cells




 A major scientific revolution has begun, a new paradigm that rivals Darwin's theory in importance. At its heart is the discovery of the order that lies deep within the most complex of systems, from the origin of life, to the workings of giant corporations, to the rise and fall of great civilizations. And more than anyone else, this revolution is the work of one man, Stuart Kauffman, a MacArthur Fellow and visionary pioneer of the new science of complexity. Now, in At Home in the Universe, Kauffman brilliantly weaves together the excitement of intellectual discovery and a fertile mix of insights to give the general reader a fascinating look at this new science--and at the forces for order that lie at the edge of chaos.

We all know of instances of spontaneous order in nature--an oil droplet in water forms a sphere, snowflakes have a six-fold symmetry. What we are only now discovering, Kauffman says, is that the range of spontaneous order is enormously greater than we had supposed. Indeed, self-organization is a great undiscovered principle of nature. But how does this spontaneous order arise? Kauffman contends that complexity itself triggers self-organization, or what he calls "order for free," that if enough different molecules pass a certain threshold of complexity, they begin to self-organize into a new entity--a living cell. Kauffman uses the analogy of a thousand buttons on a rug--join two buttons randomly with thread, then another two, and so on.

At first, you have isolated pairs; later, small clusters; but suddenly at around the 500th repetition, a remarkable transformation occurs--much like the phase transition when water abruptly turns to ice--and the buttons link up in one giant network. Likewise, life may have originated when the mix of different molecules in the primordial soup passed a certain level of complexity and self-organized into living entities (if so, then life is not a highly improbable chance event, but almost inevitable).

Kauffman uses the basic insight of "order for free" to illuminate a staggering range of phenomena. We see how a single-celled embryo can grow to a highly complex organism with over two hundred different cell types. We learn how the science of complexity extends Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection: that self-organization, selection, and chance are the engines of the biosphere. And we gain insights into biotechnology, the stunning magic of the new frontier of genetic engineering--generating trillions of novel molecules to find new drugs, vaccines, enzymes, biosensors, and more. Indeed, Kauffman shows that ecosystems, economic systems, and even cultural systems may all evolve according to similar general laws, that tissues and terra cotta evolve in similar ways. And finally, there is a profoundly spiritual element to Kauffman's thought. If, as he argues, life were bound to arise, not as an incalculably improbable accident, but as an expected fulfillment of the natural order, then we truly are at home in the universe.

Kauffman's earlier volume, The Origins of Order, written for specialists, received lavish praise. Stephen Jay Gould called it "a landmark and a classic." And Nobel Laureate Philip Anderson wrote that "there are few people in this world who ever ask the right questions of science, and they are the ones who affect its future most profoundly. Stuart Kauffman is one of these." In At Home in the Universe, this visionary thinker takes you along as he explores new insights into the nature of life.

Stuart Alan Kauffman (born September 28, 1939) is an American theoretical biologist and complex systems researcher who studies the origin of life on Earth.

In 1971, Kauffman proposed the self-organized emergence of collectively autocatalytic sets of polymers, specifically peptides, for the origin of molecular reproduction Reproducing peptide, DNA, and RNA collectively autocatalytic sets have now been made experimentally. He is best known for arguing that the complexity of biological systems and organisms might result as much from self-organization and far-from-equilibrium dynamics as from Darwinian natural selection, as well as for applying models of Boolean networks to simplified genetic circuits. His hypotheses stating that cell types are attractors of such networks, and that genetic regulatory networks are "critical" have found experimental support.




Next is a 2006 techno-thriller novel by Michael Crichton, the last to be published during his lifetime. Next takes place in the present world, where both the government and private investors spend billions of dollars every year on genetic research. The novel follows many characters, including transgenic animals, in the quest to survive in a world dominated by genetic research, corporate greed, and legal interventions.

Welcome to our genetic world. Fast , furious, and out of control. This is not the world of the future - it`s the world right now. Is a loved one Missing some body parts? Are Blondes becoming Extinct? is everyone at your dinner table of the same species?  Human and Chimpanzees differ in only 400 genes; is that why a Chimp fetus resembles a human being? And should that worry us? There`s a New Ganetic Cure For Drug Addiction - is it worse than the disease?

We live in the time of Momentous Scientific Leaps, a time when it`s possible to Sell our Eggs and Sperm online for thousands of dollars and to test our spouses for genetic maladies. We live in a time when one fifth of all Our Genes are owned by Someone else, and an unsuspecting person and his family within their Chrosomomes......

Devilishly clever , Next Blend fact and Fiction into a breathless tale of a new world where nothing is what it seems and a set of new possibilities can open at every turn. Next  challenges our sense of reality and notions of Mortality. Balancing The Comic and the Bizarre with the genuinely Frightening and Disturbing. Next Shatters our assupmtions and reveals Shocking new choices where we least expect.

John Michael Crichton (October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008) was an American best-selling author, producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction, and thriller genres. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and many have been adapted into films. In 1994, Crichton became the only creative artist ever to have works simultaneously charting at No. 1 in television, film, and book sales (with ER, Jurassic Park, and Disclosure, respectively).

His literary works are usually based on the action genre and heavily feature technology. His novels epitomize the techno-thriller genre of literature, often exploring technology and failures of human interaction with it, especially resulting in catastrophes with biotechnology. Many of his future history novels have medical or scientific underpinnings, reflecting his medical training and science background. He was the author of, among others, The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Congo, Travels, Sphere, Rising Sun, Disclosure, The Lost World, Airframe, Timeline, Prey, State of Fear, Next (the final book published before his death), Pirate Latitudes (published November 24, 2009), and a final unfinished techno-thriller, Micro, which was published in November 2011.




a group of scientists began to formulate a plan to assemble the complete sequence of all 3 billion letters of human DNA. After years of argument about the cost and wisdom of a quest to systematically sequence our genetic makeup, the human genome project finally got under way in 1990, with 2005 as the scheduled year of completion. "When the project was launched as a joint venture between the US and UK governments in 1990, it was inconceivable that anyone else would have the technology, the expertise or the financial resources to even enter the race, let alone win it. In 1998, however, the brash scientist, millionaire and world-class Yachtsman J. Craig Venter announced that his company, Celera, would use high-powered sequencing machines to complete the sequence from scratch, in three years. "Going beyond the headlines and the newsprint, The Sequence tells the compelling story of the race between the official government-sponsored project led by the brilliant geneticist Francis Collins, and the renegade biotech company founded by Venter. Venter's aim was to be able to patent hundreds of genes and sell precious information about the genome sequence to the pharmaceutical industry, for a fortune. Collins's brief was to speed .

THE SEQUENCE is the definitive account of what has been described as the single most important scientific breakthrough of modern times - the elucidation of mankind's complete genetic script. It is a story in which science, politics, business and society meet head on. At its heart is the race between the $3 billion Human Genome Project led by the brilliant geneticist Francis Collins, and a renegade biotech company founded by the scientist-entrepreneur J. Craig Venter. This riveting book takes the reader into the labs and lives of these and other researchers who in late 2000 completed the first draft of the human genome. Regardless of who 'won' the race, the stakes involved in this remarkable work are staggeringly high.

Kevin Davies

Author, The Sequence

Author, The $1,000 Genome

Editor in Chief, Bio-IT World

Founding Editor, Nature Genetics

Kevin Davies, Ph.D., is the author of Cracking the Genome, an inside account of the race for the Human Genome Project hailed by one reviewer as “A rollicking good tale about an enduring intellectual monument.” His book, The $1000 Genome, details the revolution in personal medicine as individuals can affordably read their complete DNA sequence.
Davies is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Bio-IT World, a monthly magazine covering technology in the life sciences, published by Cambridge Healthtech Institute. He is the founding editor of Nature Genetics and has also worked at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Cell Press.
A frequent commentator on genome issues in print, television and radio, Davies has delivered lectures on the genome project and its impact on medicine in Tokyo, Beijing, Delhi, Madrid, London, Dublin, Boston, and San Francisco.
A graduate of Oxford University, Davies earned his PhD in genetics from St Mary’s Hospital, University of London.




Sanghi explores the myth of Kalki - the final avatar of Krishna (also known as Vishnu in Indian mythology) - through a tale of murder and an ensuing chase that travels back and forth in time from Vrindavan and Mathura to a classroom in St. Stephen's College in Delhi, across lifetimes.

Forty-five-year old professor Ravi Mohan Saini, who teaches the history of mythology at St. Stephen's College, is the unlikely sleuth who scouts on the trail of a "poor" little rich boy Taraak who believes he is Kalki. In Sanghi's gripping tale, Kalki is a serial killer who embarks on his bloody journey with the murder of Anil Varshney, a young symbolist in Rajasthan. Varshney is Saini's oldest friend. And his murder at the beginning of the narrative - a la "The Da Vinci Code" - becomes the spur in Saini's life, turning him into a sort of Robert Langdon, the star of Dan Brown's cult classic - looking for clues to the gruesome death.

"I was influenced by the 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail'. Dan Brown came as an afterthought. But had I not read Dan Brown , I would not have written "The Rozbal Line" and delved into the sacred feminine...It is like two sandwiches on a platter with different 'chutneys'," Sanghi told IANS.

Sanghi breaks his saga with interludes from the life of Krishna.The writer speaks of the deity in first person at the beginning of every chapter - recounting from the birth of the deity to his journey to Dwarka. And the subsequent destruction of the kingdom.

The writer chose the Mahabharata as his reference point. "This (life of Krishna) is the stuff we have heard of - I have used it not from a mythological perspective but from a historical perspective. I like to look at mythology as the hidden truth. Get rid of the layers of colours and frills and what we will be left with is a single sliver of truth," Sanghi said.

"The Krishna Key", however, moves closer to history - one that is recorded in the Puranas about the last avatar of Vishnu - than his two previous novels. In "The Rozbal Line", Sanghi spun a fictional tale of murder and redemption around the Christian myth of Jesus Christ fleeing to Kashmir soon after crucifixion to live a long and fulfilling life. In "Chanakya's Chant", he plays on the myth of Chanakya to spin a modern-day political thriller.

"The Kalki Purana and the Bible have substantial cross-pollination. For me, Kalki is nothing else in the book but the backbone for the thriller construct. The Kalki Purana had many references to Vishnu and I wanted to understand more about Vishnu," Sanghi said.

The writer started out with C. Rajagopalachari's translation of the Mahabharata in English. "I wanted to have a historical perspective of Krishna, how his life is spoken about in the sacred texts. The Mahabharata has an appendix to it - the Harivamsh that talks of Krishna's life from the time he is born to the time Dwarka goes down in a deluge," Sanghi said.

The book serves a more basic purpose. It draws the thriller addicts and the Gen Y to the rich archive of Indian history and myths that have sprung around events before our time.

Ashwin Sanghi (born January 25, 1969) is an Indian author. He has written several books on thriller fiction based on historical, theological and mythological themes. He is one of the Indian conspiracy fiction and is part of a broader trend of retelling Indian history or mythology in a contemporary context.

Sanghi completed his schooling at the Cathedral & John Connon School, graduated with a BA (Economics) from St. Xavier’s College and earned an MBA from the Yale School of Management. He joined his family’s business in 1993. He wrote his first novel in 2006 and thereafter continued to pursue dual careers, as a businessman as well as a writer. He is part of the overall trend of young professionals and businessmen turning to writing as a parallel career




The Shiva of The Secret of the Nagas is not the unsure and ambiguous nomad from the first book, but a happy, confident man. He has left behind his homeland and settled into the role of being the saviour quite comfortably. Sati and he are happily married. The weed in the plains is better. The one dark spot is Shiva’s need to avenge the murder of his friend, Brahaspati, who was killed by a mysterious Naga assassin in The Immortals of Meluha. Despite the snake on the cover, the Nagas have little serpentine about them. They are all humans with physical abnormalities who have been abandoned by their family because the law demands Nagas be exiled. The Nagas have their own kingdom and the exact location of their capital, Panchvati, is a carefully guarded secret. In the course of The Secret of the Nagas, Shiva learns that appearances can be misleading. The identity of the Naga assassin and Panchvati are discovered, and among the new additions to Shiva’s entourage are Kali, Ganesh, Kartik and Parashuram.

Amish’s retelling of myths in The Secret of the Nagas is not particularly fun or clever. Unlike in The Immortals of Meluha, getting Amished in The Secret of the Nagas leads to far less interesting versions of both Kali and Parashuram. Ganesh is perhaps the worst hit because so little of his story actually makes sense. The uncomfortable relationship between Shiva and Ganesh in Hindu myths gets beaten to flat simplicity. More subtly hit is the Bengali community. A substantial part of The Secret of the Nagas concerns Brangas, who are Amished Bengalis from an ancient era. The Brangas are clever and rich but are afflicted by a weird plague for which the natural antidote is peacock blood. So, in order to survive, Amished Bengalis have to kill the national bird and drink its blood. Plus, the prime minister of the Branga kingdom is a man festooned with gold jewellery, whose name is Bappiraj, thus bringing music director Bappi Lahiri into the Shiva Trilogy.

Amish’s attempts at philosophy are as half-baked as the characters and plot. For example, he suggests thoughts are radio waves that could be communicated by temples, which were actually powerful transmitters (see pages 111-112). Unlike Bappiraj, who is clearly an attempt at humour, the temple-transmitter theory is elaborated upon in all seriousness. Now, thanks to Amish, we’re seeing the temples of India as the Facebook for ancient priests.

Amish Tripathi (born on 18 October 1974) is an Indian author. He is known for his novels The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of the Nagas. Tripathi's debut work The Immortals of Meluha was a surprise bestseller, breaking into the top seller charts within a week of its launch.

Amish Tripathi is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. Although he originally wanted to be a historian, Tripathi initially chose a career in finance because he couldn't afford the former. He worked for 14 years in the financial services industry, in companies such as Standard Chartered, DBS Bank and IDBI Federal Life Insurance, before starting his writing career.

The Immortals of Meluha, Tripathi's first novel, was published in February 2010. It is the first book in the Shiva Trilogy. The second book in the series, The Secret of the Nagas, was released on 12 August 2011. The third installment, titled The Oath of the Vayuputras, is expected to be released in March 2013. The trilogy is a fantasy re-imagining of the Indian deity Shiva's life and adventures.

The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of the Nagas, the first two novels by Tripathi, have been commercial successes. Amish's books have sold a million copies in the span of two years with a gross retail sale of Rs 22 crores. The Shiva Trilogy has been referred to as "one of the most successful book series in the history of Indian publishing".

The movie rights of The Immortals of Meluha were purchased by Dharma Productions in early 2012.

 5 Unique Books With a Difference to Satiate your Imaginative Hunger and also stimulate your grey Cells

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