Science books

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

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statiknights
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Science books

Postby statiknights » Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:06 pm UTC

Hey, I was looking around for reading lists for different subjects. Mathematics, physics, and computational theory were my main focus. The math forum has an awesome thread of books to go through and pick and choose ones that you find interesting. They also have a link to the Cambridge math major recommended reading list which looks very interesting. My question is what kind's of books do people out there recommend for physics majors, or highschoolers looking to read up on some of the interesting concepts in physics?

(I use physics specifically because I am a physics major and therefore a biased party. But books on other topics are welcomed as well.)

There are always the classic books that everyone knows about, but what else is out there that might be interesting to people?

Here are some of the really well known ones, I have to admit that I haven't been outside the realm of these popular books really.
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen William Hawking
The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman, Ralph Leighton, Edward Hutchings, and Albert R. Hibbs (didn't realize there were that many authors)

This list can include novels as well as text books, any topic in any science is welcomed.

And as a side note, how are The Feynman Lectures? I'm considering making a significant investment into them.

sgt york
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Re: Science books

Postby sgt york » Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:41 pm UTC

Don't have anything to add to the books list, but the Feynman lectures are superb. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

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ThinkerEmeritus
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Re: Science books

Postby ThinkerEmeritus » Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:52 pm UTC

sgt york wrote:Don't have anything to add to the books list, but the Feynman lectures are superb. I cannot recommend them highly enough.


Agreed, but they are also difficult for a beginner. Don't be concerned if you find them a bit confusing. The more physics you know, the better they get.
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existential_elevator
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Re: Science books

Postby existential_elevator » Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:06 pm UTC

The Elegant Universe is a very good book; though I'm only halfway through it at the moment, it's been quite enlightening. I'd also recommend Chaos by James Gleick - it's an incredibly interesting read, and all about chaos theory and dynamic systems in theoretical maths and in weather systems.

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Re: Science books

Postby alterant » Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:56 pm UTC

Not a book, but Walter Lewin (of MIT) has video lectures on Classical Physics, electromagnetism, and wave phenomena available for free on iTunes and online. Particularly the first two sets of lectures are very informative & interesting to watch.

It's old, but I really like "Mathematics for the Million" by Lancelot Hogben.
Also highly recommend "How Everything Works" by Bloomfield.
If you're interested in special relativity, nobody explains it better than Einstein in his book for semi-laypeople.

And yeah, the Feynman lectures are challenging but awesome.

statiknights
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Re: Science books

Postby statiknights » Thu Oct 16, 2008 5:39 pm UTC

The Walter Lewin lectures I thought were amazing.

Open Course Ware is an awesome project and I hope it continues to grow.

Anyone have any suggestions for a good book on Fluid Dynamics by chance? I have an idea for a experiment to do but I need to read up on Fluid Dynamics to actually understand what I'm seeing.

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Jorpho
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Re: Science books

Postby Jorpho » Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:02 am UTC

As far as chemistry goes, I really like Joe Schwarcz. Of course, he's not perfect; his books are great when he talks about chemistry, but he gets darn tiresome when he's just summarizing the results of various health studies. Plus he helped spread the false hydrogen beer story. But otherwise, great stuff - if you're studying chemistry, it's good to have something you can talk to people about that they might actually find practical and interesting.

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Re: Science books

Postby Hit3k » Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:59 pm UTC

I recommend Flatland.
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BlackSails
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Re: Science books

Postby BlackSails » Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:20 pm UTC

"The Theoretical Minimum" is a set of lectures by Leonard Susskind at Stanford. They are available for free from ITunesU

It covers what Susskind believes is the minimum background needed to intelligently discuss physics. It comes in both classical and quantum versions.
Last edited by BlackSails on Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:37 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

Atre
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Re: Science books

Postby Atre » Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:35 pm UTC

The Feynman stuff is excellent for the broad understanding (which I'm guessing mean all is groovy for you) but in terms of their actual physics they do a fair bit of the equations in non-SI units, which a bit of a pain.

The best book on Science (in the popular science style) I have ever read is "Deep down Things" by Bruce Schumm. This will actually teach you things as well, it is simply a fantastic account of the standard model and the ways of looking at/understanding particles.

Hawking books, whilst famous, IMO are not the best around but can always be read for the hell of it.

Are you looking for popular science books that give you and outline and pique your interest, or books that are a nice enough read and actually teach you how to do the physics?

PS. Also, I hate Brian Green and his damn books. Not only a read but also an ego trip with the author as your tour guide. Perhaps I'm being unfair but I still HATE the elegant universe more than anything else in print.

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Re: Science books

Postby Virtual_Aardvark » Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:14 am UTC

I personally LOVE Hawking because he uses so few equations, but I do tend to find his explanations a bit unsatisfactory at times. Chaos is excellent and I would also recommend a god college textbook in whatever your interested if you want a brief overview.

On a divergent topic, if anyone has some good recommendations in the bio field I would be delighted. I am particularly interested in retroviruses and the potential for viral engineering. I know that's a bit specific, but anything would be wonderful.
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Scigatt
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Re: Science books

Postby Scigatt » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:17 pm UTC

Here are two books that really get into the theories they discuss(lots of equations, but nothing that can't be picked up by a smart high-school student):

Maxwell's Conundrum: A Serious But Not Ponderous Book About Relativity by Walter Scheider.

Quantum Mechanics and Experience by David Z. Albert


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