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Reading Mixes
22nd-Jun-2006 11:55 am
Books to read to edumacate yourself about science.

This has a decidedly physics lean to it. As I like physics.


The Elegant Universe - Brian Greene

A wonderful way of explaining string theory, which is totally vogue these days.

Six Not-So-Easy Pieces - Richard Feynman

Feynman has to be one of the most accessible brilliant people out there, and he can tell quite a tale. I reccomend everything written by him, but this strikes me as one of the better explanations of Einstein's Relativity and other high physics out there. Worded in a way that anyone from a junior high student to an adult physicist could understand and relate to.

The Science of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Michael Hanlon

You thought it was all silliness? Well, think again. Nerds everywhere discuss things from why 42 could be the answer to what the end of the universe would look like.

The Physics of Star Trek - Lawrence M. Krauss

Another "science of" but this one is worth it. If only because the foreward is written by Stephen Hawking.

A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking

Worth trying to read. Is cool. Well known too.


Contact - Carl Sagan

Yes, there's a movie about this, but the book has so much more to it. Has tangents that go into how simple cryptography, astronomy, and how radio telescopes work. Also has a running commentary hidden in the characters on a number of social topics including sexism, nationalism, and basic human relations. Gorgeous work.

Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson

Long book, but it needs to be. Sort of the must have book to understand in depth cryptography and computers. Dodges between WWII and modern times. Interesting characters and an interesting plotline, much in Stephenson's usual style, which is highly detailed. So detailed it's almost not fiction.

The Diamond Age (Or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer) - Neal Stephenson

Alright, so this is another Stephenson book, but I reccomend it if you can't get through Cryptonomicon. Also of note is the fact I'm not reccomending Snow Crash which is the cyber punk handbook, really. I like this one because it gets into ethics and nanotechnology. Fascinatingly futuristic and yet Victorian, you'll easily get ingrossed in this.

Flatland - Edwin A. Abbott

Reflective on the time period it was written, this is a book explaining geometry and helps a person wrap their mind around the idea of dimensions. Very tongue-in-cheek.

Sphereland - Dionys Burger and Cornelie J. Rheinboldt

The "sequel" to Flatland which is updated for modern times and theories. Oftentimes you can get it in an edition along with Flatland.

If you have any to add, it is much appreciated.
22nd-Jun-2006 04:54 pm (UTC)
umm hello... brief history of time?? u mention hawking!love...and yet! (but this is going on my mix, so no worries)

also, dance for two by alan lightman but only cuz it makes science sound pretty... not really much in terms of reference...

oh yeah, thanks for putting this together! i likey very muchey
22nd-Jun-2006 04:56 pm (UTC)
Hawking's a little thick for most people. I was trying to stick to good layman's stuff. But I suppose I should add it.

Hrm, haven't read Dance for Two. I'll have to check that out.

22nd-Jun-2006 05:16 pm (UTC)
THIS LIST IS AWESOME. I'm going through my bookshelves as soon as I get home to see if I have anything to add to it.

Feynman = love. Greene Sagan and Stephenson are pretty cool too.
22nd-Jun-2006 09:24 pm (UTC)
Ah, The Elegant Universe. Awesome book.

I'd also recommend Carl Sagan's non-fiction work - anything really, but most especially Cosmos, Pale Blue Dot, and Billions and Billions. They're all astronomy/space exploration related, but Billions and Billions also has a bunch of essays ranging from abortion law to the keeping of monkey shrimps. Very easy reading, and highly informative.
23rd-Jun-2006 04:44 am (UTC)
Billions and Billions was a favorite too. XD I was debating putting it up, but it would likely turn into a "OMG SAGAN AND FEYNMAN ARE COOL" list.
24th-Jun-2006 02:52 am (UTC)
There is that risk. Some authors do seem to be incapable of writing books not worth reading.
23rd-Jun-2006 12:14 am (UTC)
I had this on my list of science books too: Alice in Quantumland by Robert Gilmore.
23rd-Jun-2006 04:46 am (UTC)
Kickass. That sounds like a fun one.
23rd-Jun-2006 07:33 pm (UTC)
Nice list! I'm definitely going to see if my library has any of these.

May I recommend The Fourth Dimension : A Guided Tour of the Higher Universes by Rucker. It's a simplified but very readable and entertaining overview of the different theories on how to perceive the fourth dimension and what "the fourth dimension" actually means.
26th-Jun-2006 05:40 am (UTC)
I loved "Surely You Must be Joking, Mr. Feynman!" to the point of shameless pimpage. Now I'm gonna hunt for that book of him! Thanks! ^_^
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