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Dear Fellow Book-Worms, Well, Always being in search of good stuff to read, I have taken to searching the Internet for recommended reading lists (RRLs) in areas of my interest, which happen to be Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science. Here is a compilation of some of the RRLs I have come across. All the matter featured here belongs to the original writers. Copyrights belong to where they are due. My only contribution has been in formatting and PDF-creation. Following sections feature in this volume: Contents Mathematics Biographies General Science Computer Science Astronomy & Cosmology Chemistry Physics
Page No. 03 – 15 16 – 21 22 23 27 – 28 29 – 32 33 – 34
If you have any books to recommend do let me know at: firstname.lastname@example.org I would be glad to include them here. Yours, Gautam.
One of the most frequent complaints of mathematics students is that they do not realise until too late what is behind all the material they write down in lectures: Why is it important? What were the problems which demanded this new approach? Who did it? There is much to be learned from a historical approach, even if it is fairly non-mathematical. Makers of Mathematics S. Hollingdale (Penguin, 1989) There are not many books on the history of mathematics which are pitched at a suitable level. Hollingdale gives a biographical approach which is both readable and mathematical. You might also try E.T. Bell Men of Mathematics (Touchstone Books, Simon and Schuster, 1986). Historians of mathematics have a lot to say about this (very little of it complimentary) but it is full of good stories which have inspired generations of mathematicians. Alan Turing, the Enigma A. Hodges (Vintage, 1992) A great biography of Alan Turing, a pioneer of modern computing. The title has a double meaning: the man was an enigma, committing suicide in 1954 by eating a poisoned apple, and the German code that he was instrumental in cracking was generated by the Enigma machine. The book is largely non-mathematical, but there are no holds barred when it comes to describing his major achievement, now called a Turing machine, with which he demonstrated that a famous conjecture by Hilbert is false. The Man Who Knew Infinity R. Kanigel (Abacus, 1992) The life of Ramanujan, the self-taught mathematical prodigy from a village near Madras. He sent Hardy samples of his work from India, which included rediscoveries of theorems already well known in the West and other results which completely baffled Hardy. Some of his estimates for the number of ways a large integer can be expressed as the sum of integers are extraordinarily accurate, but seem to have been plucked out of thin air. A Mathematician's Apology G.H. Hardy. (CUP, 1992) Hardy was one of the best mathematicians of the first part of this century. Always an achiever (his New Year resolutions one year included proving the Riemann hypothesis, making 211 not out in the fourth test at the Oval, finding an argument for the non-existence of God which would convince the general public, and murdering Mussolini), he led the renaissance in mathematical analysis in England. There is an introduction by C.P. Snow.
Littlewood's Miscellany (edited by B. Bollobas). (CUP, 1986) This collection, first published in 1953, contains some wonderful insights into the development and lifestyle of a great mathematician as well as numerous anecdotes, mathematical (Lion and Man is excellent) and not-so-mathematical. The latest edition contains several worthwhile additions, including a splendid lecture entitled `The Mathematician's Art of Work', (as well as various items of interest mainly to those who believe that Trinity Great Court is the centre of the Universe). Thoroughly recommended. The man who loved only numbers Paul Hoffman. (Fourth Estate, 1999) An excellent biography of Paul Erdös, one of the most prolific mathematicians of all time. Erdös wrote over 1500 papers (about 10 times the normal number for a mathematician) and collaborated with 485 other mathematicians. He had no home; he just descended on colleagues with whom he wanted to work, bringing with him all his belongings in a suitcase. Apart from details of Erdös's life, there is plenty of discussion of the kind of problems (mainly number theory) that he worked on. Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman R.P. Feynman. (Arrow Books, 1992) Autobiographical anecdotes from one of the greatest theoretical physicists of the last century, which became an immediate best-seller. You learn about physics, about life and (most puzzling of all) about Feynman. Very amusing and entertaining. Fermat's Last Theorem Simon Singh. (Fourth Estate) You must read this story of Andrew Wiles's proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, including all sorts of mathematical ideas and anecdotes; there is no better introduction to the world of research mathematics. Singh's later The Code Book (Fourth Estate) is not so interesting mathematically, but is still a very good read. Number J. McLeish. (Bloomsbury, 1991) The development of the theory of numbers, from Babylon to Babbage, written with humour and erudition. Hugely enjoyable. This page was created by David Saum <mailto:email@example.com>. © Faculty of Mathematics <http://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/>, University of Cambridge <http://www.cam.ac.uk/>.
My Favourite Mathematics Books A Beautiful Mind Sylvia Nasar A biography of the game theorist John Forbes Nash. This book formed the basis of the Hollwood film. One of my all time favourite biographies. The Universe and the Teacup K.C. Cole The mathematics of truth and beauty. An elegant study of the way mathematics can provide solutions to everyday problems. The Number Sense Stanislas Dehaene How the mind creates mathematics. Not a book about mathematics itself, but rather about how the brain deals with numbers. What is Mathematics, Really? Reuben Hersh A thought-provoking investigation into the philosophy of mathematics. The Man Who Loved Only Numbers Paul Hoffman The story of Paul Erdos and the search for mathematical truth. Perhaps my favourite biography of a mathematician. 1089, and all that David Acheson A lovely little book that provides a mini tour of many mathematical gems. Discover the magic of 1089 and the mathematics behind the Indian rope trick. Once Upon a Number John Allen Paulos Paulos focuses on stories that revolve around mathematics. These stories provide an ideal environment for non-mathematicians to encounter mathematical ideas and examine them in comfort, without the fear usually associated with the subject. What are the Chances? Bart K. Holland Take a trip into the world of probability, and the influences it may already be having in your everyday life.
Ian Stewart's Books Ian Stewart is one of the most prolific and accessible writers on mathematics. Here are some of his most popular books. Life's Other Secret A guide into some of the fascinating links between mathematics and nature. Does God Play Dice? An exploration of the mathematics of chaos. Figments of Reality A delve into the world of evolution and mind theory. From Here to Infinity An interesting and accessible account of current mathematical topics. The Magical Maze Stewart uses a maze theme to explain the intricate connections between fields in popular mathematics, from game theory to knots to chaos. Martin Gardner’s Books One of the best-loved authors of mathematics books. Here are some of his most popular titles. The Colossal Book of Mathematics Gardner has collected articles from his 25-year old archive of Scientific American articles. The result is this amazing compendium. Classic Brainteasers A collection of favourite puzzles and games. Entertaining Mathematical Puzzles Some excellent games and riddles to lose yourself in. Penrose Tiles to Trapdoor Ciphers An inspired collection of articles from Gardner's Scientific American column. The Wizard of Oz and Who He Was Gardner edited this critical appraisal of the children's classic by L.F. Baum. The Unexpected Hanging and Other Mathematical Diversions Puzzles and anecdotes from the world of popular science. Mathematical Puzzles of Sam Loyd A compilation of some of the most amazing and infuriating games and riddles, created by one of America's leading puzzle experts.
Dover Mathematics Books This publisher has an excellent reputation for their wide range of mathematics books. Here are just a few of their most popular titles. 100 Great Problems of Elementary Mathematics Heinrich D-Orrie A puzzle book that has lost none of its ingenuity in its translation from French to English. A Concise History of Mathematics Dirk Jan Struik An interesting and accessible guide to some of the greatest mathematicians and the remarkable findings they have made. Foundations and Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics Howard W. Eves An interesting, accessible and thorough account. Games, Gods and Gambling F. N. David A study into the history of statistics. A Mathematician Reads the Newspapers John Allen Paulos Investigates and explains the hidden mathematics behind everyday media stories. The Man Who Knew Infinity Robert Kanigel A biography of the brilliant Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Chaos James Gleick A very human and readable account of the study of chaos, from the science writer of the New York Times. Universal History Of Numbers Georges Ifrah Ifrah's account of the history of numbers is an immense treasure trove of mathematical ideas dating back to the invention of numbers. Zero Charles Seife An account of one of the simplest, yet most complicated of ideas in mathematics the number zero.
E: The Story of a Number Eli Maor The E in question refers to the base for natural logarithms. Mathematician Moar turns every student's nightmare into an enjoyable and interesting read. The Golden Ratio Mario Livio This is one of the first accounts of the never-ending number phi, also known as the Golden Ratio, a figure found throughout the laws of nature. Pi In The Sky John Barrow A lively account of the number Pi, from leading cosmologist and science writer John Barrow. Book of Nothing John Barrow Barrow's study on the impact of 'nothing' in the fields of cosmology, physics, mathematics and theology. Mathematics: New Golden Age Keith Devlin An account of major mathematical accomplishments since the 1960's. Mathematics: The Science of Patterns Keith Devlin Devlin explains and investigates patterns in number sequences that have led to the further evolution of mathematical research. A Mathematician’s Apology G.H. Hardy A poignant, moving book by the brilliant mathematician G.H. Hardy, as he grew older in 'a young mans field'. An account of his life and his passion for mathematics. The Mathematical Experience Philip J. Davis & Reuben Hersh Davis and Hersh argue mathematics to be a combination of luck and guesswork, and should be thought of as a human, rather than a physical science. Flatland Edwin A. Abbott This classic fantasy novel published in 1880 explores a flat world where all the inhabitants live in two physical dimensions. The book follows a Flatlands dweller who shockingly discovers the existence of a third dimension. Also available to read online at Caltech.
The Joy of Pi David Blatner A funny, quirky and fascinating account of the history of Pi. Hypatia’s Heritage Margaret Alic Alongside Hypatia, Alic discusses the valuable contributions made by other female mathematicians and scientists throughout history. How Long Is A Piece of String R. Eastaway A clever, contemporary book about some of the mathematical theories that affect everyday life - from how to win 'Who wants to be a Millionaire' to how to write a hit song. Why Do Buses Come In Threes? J. Wyndham, R. Eastaway, T. Rice. Another well written account of modern mathematical theory and its applications. Learn the Ham Sandwich Theorem, and how fast you should run in the rain to stay the driest. The Man Who Counted Malba Tahan A fine mix of story-telling and mathematics, Tahan tells the tale of an Arabian man who dispenses his mathematical knowledge on his travels across the globe. Archimedes Revenge Paul Hoffman A look at the theories involved in modern mathematics. Curious and Interesting Numbers David Wells A thorough and comprehensive listing of numbers from the square root of -1 to lucky numbers. Curious and Interesting Geometry David Wells & John Sharp A fascinating insight into the world of geometry. Statistically Speaking Carl C. Gaither A dictionary of statistical quotations, from Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln to eminent statisticians such as John Tukey. Oxford Concise Dictionary of Mathematics Christopher Clapham An invaluable guide to the language of mathematics.
Statistics Without Tears Derek Rowntree An excellent introductory text to a much misunderstood area of mathematics. Randomness Deborah J. Bennett A pocket-sized book on probability and statistics. Reckoning with Risk Gerd Gigerenzer A cautionary look at the application and misuse of statistics. http://www.simonsingh.com/Mathematics_Books.html
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The Cambridge Quintet, by John Casti Godel: A Life of Logic, The Mind, and Mathematics, by John Casti In the Light of Logic, by Soloman Feferman The Limits of Mathematics, by Gregory J. Chaitin The Unknowable, by Gregory J. Chaitin Lambda Calculi, by Chris Hankin Practical Foundations of Mathematics, by Paul Taylor
Mathematics: a very short introduction Timothy Gowers. (OUP, 2002) Gowers is a Fields Medalist (the Fields medal is the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel prize), so it is not at all surprising that what he writes is worth reading. What is surprising is the ease and charm of his writing. He touches lightly many areas of mathematics, some that will be familiar (Pythagoras) and some that may not be (manifolds) and has something illuminating to say about all of them. The book is small and thin: it will fit in your pocket. You should get it. The Pleasures of Counting T.W. Körner. (CUP, 1996) A brilliant book. There is something here for anyone interested in mathematics and even the most erudite professional mathematicians will learn something new. Some of the chapters involve very little technical mathematics (the discussion of cholera outbreaks which begins the book, for example) while others require the techniques of a first or second year undergraduate course. However, you can skip through the technical bits and still have an idea what is going on. You will enjoy the account of Braess's paradox (a mathematical demonstration of the result, which we all know to be correct, that building more roads can increase journey times), the explanation of why we should all be called Smith, and the account of the Enigma code-breaking. These are just a few of the topics Körner explains with enviable clarity and humour.
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What is Mathematics? R. Courant & H. Robbins. (OUP, 1996) A new edition, revised by Ian Stewart, of a classic. It has chapters on numbers (including ), logic, cubics, duality, soapfilms, etc. The subtitle (An elementary approach to ideas and methods) is rather optimistic: challenging would be a more appropriate adjective, though interesting or instructive would do equally well. Stewart has resisted the temptation to tamper: he has simply updated where appropriate -- for example, he discusses the solution to the four-colour problem and the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. From Here to Infinity Ian Stewart. (OUP, 1996) This is a revised version of Problems in Mathematics (1987); revised of necessity, as the author says, because some of the problems now have solutions -- an indication of the speed at which the frontiers of mathematics are receding. Topics discussed include solving the quintic, colouring, knots, infinitesimals, computability and chaos. In the preface, it is guaranteed that the very least you will get from the book is the understanding that mathematical research is not just a matter of inventing new numbers; what you will in fact get is an idea of what real mathematics is. What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences B. Cipra. (AMS, 1993, '94, '96, '99) This really excellent series is published by the American Mathematical Society. It contains low(ish)-level discussions, with lots of pictures and photographs, of some of the most important recent discoveries in mathematics. Volumes 1 and 2 cover recent advances in map-colouring, computer proofs, knot theory, travelling salesmen, and much more. Volume 3 (1995-96) has, among other things, articles on Wiles' proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, the investigation of twin primes which led to the discovery that the Pentium chip was flawed, codes depending on large prime numbers and the Enormous Theorem in group theory (the theorem is small but the proof, in condensed form, runs to 5000 pages). Exciting stuff. Archimedes' Revenge P. Hoffman. (Penguin, 1991) This is not a difficult read, but it covers some very interesting topics: for example, why democracy is mathematically unsound, Turing machines and travelling salesmen. Remarkably, there is no chapter on chaos. The Mathematical Experience P.J. Davis & R. Hersh. (Penguin, 1990) This gives a tremendous foretaste of the excitement of discovering mathematics. A classic.
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Beyond Numeracy J. A. Paulos. (Penguin, 1991) Bite-sized essays on fractals, game-theory, countability, convergence and much more. It is a sequel to his equally entertaining, but less technical, Numeracy. The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers D. Wells. (Penguin, 1997) A brilliant idea. The numbers are listed in order of magnitude with historical and mathematical information. Look up 1729 to see why it is `among the most famous of all numbers'. Look up 0.7404 () to discover that this is the density of closely-packed identical spheres in what is believed by many mathematicians (though it was at that time an unproven hypothesis) and is known by all physicists and greengrocers to be the optimal packing. Look up Graham's number (the last one in the book), which is inconceivably big: even written as a tower of powers ())) it would take up far more ink than could be made from all the atoms in the universe. It is an upper bound for a quantity in Ramsey theory whose actual value is believed to be about 6. A book for the bathroom to be dipped into at leisure. You might also like Wells's The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Geometry (Penguin, 1991) which is another book for the bathroom. It is not just obscure theorems about triangles and circles (though there are plenty of them); far-reaching results such as the hairy ball theorem (you can't brush the hair flat everywhere) and fixed point theorems are also discussed. New Applications of Mathematics C. Bondi (ed.). (Penguin, 1991) Twelve chapters by different authors, starting with functions and ending with supercomputers. There is material here which many readers will already understand, but treated from a novel point of view, and plenty of less familiar but still very understandable material. Reaching for Infinity S. Gibilisco. (Tab/McGraw-Hill, 1990) A short and comfortable, though mathematical, read about different sorts of infinity. It has theorems, too, which are good for you. An example: . This probably needs a bit of explanation. Loosely speaking: (pronounced `aleph' zero) is the number of integers (which is the same as the number of rational numbers) and is the next biggest infinity. There is another infinity, , which is the number of real numbers. The continuum hypothesis says that , but it was not realised until 1963 that this cannot be proved or disproved. The New Scientist Guide to Chaos N. Hall (ed.). (Penguin, 1991) This comprises a series of articles on various aspects of chaotic systems together with some really amazing photographs of computer-generated landscapes. Chaos is what happens when the behaviour of a system gets too complicated to predict; the most familiar example is the weather, which apparently cannot be forecast accurately more than five days ahead. The articles here delve into many diverse
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systems in which chaos can occur and include a piece by the guru (Mandelbrot) and one about the mysterious new constant of nature discovered by Feigenbaum associated with the timescale over which dynamical systems change in character. Chaos J. Gleick. (Minerva/Random House, 1997) Sometimes, at interview, candidates are asked whether they have read any good mathematics books recently. There was a time when nine out of ten candidates who expressed a view named this one. Before that, it was Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach (Penguin, 1980). Surely they couldn't all have been wrong? Fractals. Images of Chaos H. Lauwerier. (Penguin, 1991) Poincaré recurrence, Julia sets, Mandelbrot, snowflakes, the coastline of Norway, nice pictures; in fact, just what you would expect to find. But this has quite a bit of mathematics in it and also a number of programs in basic so that you can build your own fractals. It is written with the energy of a true enthusiast. © Faculty of Mathematics, University of Cambridge. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------∏ Σ∏
Novel Mathematics A few months ago, I reviewed the Oscar Winning Best Picture A Beautiful Mind and lamented the fact that movies about mathematics are rare. Thinking about this more, the reason there are no movies about mathematics is that the audience is simply too small and movie costs are too great. This is not true of novels, however. Novels do not require a large investment to get published, and it does not matter how small an audience it is as long as there is an audience. So why not devote a page to novels about math, or novels in which mathematics play a large role? I will mention four novels that fit the bill nicely, and will gladly list other suggestions sent to me. Hopefully, we can compile a reading list with helpful suggestions. Here then are four of my favorite mathematical novels (in order of their difficulty and accessibility): The Man Who Counted by Malba Tahan – Malba Tahan is a pen name of a Brazilian mathematician who wrote a collection of stories set in 14th century Persia. It is about a poor traveler who just happens to be good at math, and how he uses these abilities to climb the social ladder. Written to teach simple appreciation of math, each chapter contains a fun math puzzle that has to be solved. Appropriate for all ages and all levels of mathematical know-how.
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Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott – A classic sci-fi novel about A. Square, a two dimensional being who discovers the existence of a third dimension. This book has almost become required reading in High School, as it teaches higher dimensional mathematics better than any lecture could. A new annotated edition edited by writer Ian Stewart is now out in bookstores everywhere. Some exposure to planar geometry is needed to understand parts of the book. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson – Between the bizarre title and the 900 page length, some may be initially turned off by this book. It is really three novels in one, all exploring the science of cryptography. Two of the stories are set during World War II, one from the perspective of a Japanese officer assigned to secure a supply of German gold in the Philippines, and one about a secret group assigned to keep the Germans from knowing that their Enigma code has been broken. The third story is set in present day, about a group of computer hackers who are creating a new international currency based on cryptography, which threatens to change the face of world economics. The three stories often cross paths, and the outcomes of each story are dependent on one another. Best appreciated by computer literate people who at least have a basic understanding of how cryptography works. Permutation City by Greg Egan – (Greg Egan's Home Page <http://www.netspace.net.au/~gregegan/>) Australian author Greg Egan defines the term "speculative science fiction" with his various novels and stories set in worlds where what might be scientifically possible is possible. Set about 50 years into the future where technology exists to scan the human brain in such detail that the scanned brain can be simulated as a computer program. This creates the possibility of immortality for those rich enough to afford the computer cycles. A deeply philosophical satire about the creation of an artificial heaven and an artificial universe. Some knowledge of cellular automata is required to really appreciate the book. Any other good suggestions? For those too cheap to buy any of these books, or too lazy to get to the library, may I suggest some terrific "classic" mathematical short stories: And He Built A Crooked House by Robert Heinlein The Musgrave Ritual by Arthur Conan Doyle where Sherlock Holmes uses trigonometry (actually basic geometry) to solve a 200 year old mystery.
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The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Reader's Suggestions: Here are several you may want to consider, (In no particular order) Fermat's Enigma Simon Singh. I imagine you have probably read this, pretty standard description of the history of the solution to Fermat's therom by Andrew Wiles The Code Book, also by Simon Singh. An excellent book on both modern and ancient cryptography, and explains complex mathematical transpositions as cyphers, Enigma, and public key crypto in greatly accessible detail, a mathematical page-turner if there was one. Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman. Not mathematical per se, but it certainly broaches the subject in terms of relativity, and is readable by the public-at-large, which makes it important. The Visual Display of Quantitative Data by Tufte. This book deals with the math most people are likely to encounter, statistics, and in particular misuse of statistical information, from the USA Today bar-graphs, to misinterpretation of O-ring failure in the Space Shuttle program. Probably my favorite mathematical book ever. The graph of the march of Napolean to and from Moscow is by some considered the best two-dimensional chart in history. Thanks for the web site, and I appreciate your time. Sincerely: Matthew Champion The Mathematical Magpie and Fantasia Mathematica, both edited by Clifton Fadiman. The Search For Mathematical Truth by Paul Hoffman Suggested by Bipwop Further Links: Mathematical Fiction <http://math.cofc.edu/faculty/kasman/MATHFICT/> Lists 258 math related books, short stories, and other media. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------http://www.mathmistakes.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
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Recommended Books about Scientists (Mostly Physicists) Disturbing the Universe by Freeman Dyson Of all the many accounts of 20th century physics I've read, Dyson's has to be my favorite. As the title indicates, Disturbing the Universe has to be the only physics memoir to extensively quote T.S. Eliot. Dyson's presence at remarkably many of the major events of the last fifty years is what makes his memoir worth such compelling reading. Dyson not only did seminal work on quantum electrodynamics, he also had original ideas about space colonization, nuclear power and arms control. Somehow he even had time to advise Stanley Kubrick about 2001: A Space Odyssey. What really sets Disturbing the Universe apart is its moral clarity. Before undertaking a science career, he analyzed statistics about the WWII British bombing campaign and managed at the height of "the last good war" to see the folly and evil behind the strategy of targeting civilians. Dyson's strong sense of ethics infuses his portraits of Oppenheimer, Feynman, and Teller, whom he knew well but does not judge. Charmingly, Dyson is not afraid to run the numbers about any arbitrarily wild-eyed idea. His comparative cost analysis of the Pilgrim expedition to America, the Mormon journey to Utah and the voyage of space colonists to the asteroids is the highlight of this very entertaining and thought-provoking work. Ludwig Boltzmann: Man -- Physicist -- Philosopher Engelbert Broda Broda's brief but entertaining biography of Ludwig Boltzmann is an easy if somewhat unsatisfying read. Touching and funny tales about Boltzmann's life are interspersed with fascinating anecdotes about the birth of statistical mechanics. Unfortunately the book also has long excerpts from Boltzmann's writings about epistemology, which is not what he is remembered for, to say the least. We learn of Boltzmann's job-hopping before his mysterious suicide at age 62 in 1906. Popularly it has always been supposed that the cause of Boltzmann's despair was the advent of quantum mechanics and relativity, but this work shows that belief to be incorrect. It seems almost incredible in 2002, but it was Mach's and Ostwald's attacks on the reality of atoms that most upset Boltzmann. Night thoughts of a classical physicist Russell McCormmach,Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1982. McCormmach's book is a fictionalized autobiography of Ludwig Boltzmann, whose work was unappreciated in his lifetime and who eventually committed suicide. This book is much more entertaining than that description would suggest. Some of the academia jokes are worthy of David Lodge.
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The Beat of a Different Drum: The life and science of Richard Feynman Jagdish Mehra, Jagdish Mehra's The Beat of a Different Drum: The life and science of Richard Feynman is an excellent review of Feynman's personal and professional life, far outclassing Gleick's depressing opus Genius, which added little that was new IMHO. Mehra's book is much better than the title, which reminds me of that horrid Linda Ronstadt song. It traces the development of Feynman's thinking on matters like the path integral in a way that I (who never took a course in field theory) can understand. Mehra's book is not for those who want to read more Surely You're Joking types of anecdotes; it's a serious biography. Lawrence and Oppenheimer Nuel Pharr Davis, New York, Simon and Schuster  N.P. Davis' Lawrence and Oppenheimer is a vivid portrait of two very different men: Lawrence the narrow-minded hick who was the first big-instrument physicist, and Oppenheimer the self-destructive dreamer who nonetheless managed to run the Manhattan Project. A fairly light read with new (to me) info about the history of postwar research funding. From x-rays to quarks : modern physicists and their discoveries Emilio Segre, San Francisco, W. H. Freeman, 1980. From falling bodies to radio waves : classical physicists and their discoveries, Emilio Segre,New York, W.H. Freeman, 1984. Segre's histories of modern and classical physics are full of interesting personalities and anecdotes about how they made their discoveries. There's much more here than you will find in Halliday and Resnick or some other dry tome. These books are also easy to read. A particularly fascinating character is Michael Faraday, the bookbinder's apprentice who learned by reading the books. Faraday invented the motor and the transformer, discovered benzene and pioneered electrochemistry and field theory. Inward bound : of matter and forces in the physical world Abraham Pais, New York, Oxford University Press, 1986. Pais' history of postwar physics explains to us condensed matter folks exactly what it is that all those particle Nobelists did. This book is rather dry IMHO, although the info is interesting. I tried to read Pais' book on Einstein, but couldn't stand it. I'm just too bored with Einstein legends to consume a whole book. The only anecdote I remember from Inward Bound was about Rutherford. Evidently he was out in his family's garden in New Zealand digging potatoes when the news came by mail that he'd been admitted to Manchester University . Evidently he threw down his trowel and proclaimed, "That's the last potato I'll ever dig!"
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Who got Einstein's office? : eccentricity and genius at the Institute for Advanced Study, Edward Regis,Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley, 1987. Regis' book is a bit too frothy for my taste; the science is really watered-down and there's an air of giddiness that seems inappropriate somehow. Nonetheless readers will be rewarded with some fascinating tales of bickering and infighting among the physics glitterati. Learn who turned down IAS posts, etc. Definitely a gossip volume. Alsos Samuel Goudsmit,Los Angeles, CA, Tomash Publishers, 1983. Goudsmit's book is about the US intelligence effort to track the German bomb project during the war. Alsos is truly poorly written, but contains fascinating tales of famous physics personalities. When the German bomb scientists, infamously led by Heisenberg, heard that the US had exploded a nuclear weapon, they didn't believe it! They couldn't conceive that their students, who had fled to the US, had made something work which they could not. The Making of the Atomic Bomb Richard Rhodes, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1986. Rhodes' story of the Manhattan project is probably the best book ever about how physics research is done, IMHO. The Making of the Atomic Bomb is chock-ablock with amusing anecdotes of the bomb projects and fascinating technical detail. If anyone knows a better book about personalities in science, I'd like to read it! Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History. Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb Richard Rhodes, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1995. Rhodes' follow-up is an equally fine book, although more frustrating to read. When the first book ended with a brief account of the explosion of the first hydrogen bomb, I thought, "Of course: everything about the hydrogen bomb is classified. Naturally the book can't continue." I'm quite surprised, therefore, to see how much detail the follow-on volume contains. The story of Soviet espionage in the US during the '40's is just plain painful to read; what were government leaders thinking? The titanic struggle of Edward Teller and Robert Oppenheimer is told in a way that does less credit to Teller and more to Oppenheimer than previous sources I have read (see below). This volume contains much political and technical detail about how decisions regarding The Bomb were made. Despite the fact that I have already completed several books relevant to this subject, I learned a great deal by reading Dark Sun, which draws on many new interviews with participants.
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Edward Teller : giant of the golden age of physics : a biography Stanley A. Blumberg,New York, Scribner's, 1990. A sympathetic view of Teller's life. Did you know that Luis Alvarez, the coproposer of the dinosaurs-killed-by-comets theory, also testified against Oppenheimer? Learn how Teller lost his foot. But in general you have to be really interested in Teller to read this book. "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" : adventures of a curious character Richard Feynman, New York, W.W. Norton, 1985. And What do YOU care what other people think? : further adventures of a curious character, Richard Feynman, New York, Norton, 1988. Feynman memoirs: you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll take up the bongos! Bestsellers. Alan Turing: The Enigma, Andrew Hodges ,Simon and Schuster, 1983. The Enigma is a fine portrait of a scientist who was way ahead of his time not only in computer science, but also in several other fields of mathematics. His work on cryptography, algorithmics, and quantitative biology are explained clearly, and his personal life is also sketched. Alan Turing was a classic example of a misunderstood genius, and the pathos of his life is sure to sadden any sympathetic reader, even those who are straight. The Enigma is a bit long, and the extended metaphors (referring to Turing as Alice, etc.) get a bit irritating, but all in all it is a good read. The Physicists: The History of a Scientific Community Daniel Kevles, Harvard University Press, 1995. The Physicists was a bit a disappointing to me. There is good coverage of the beginnings of physics in the US with Michelson, Henry and Gibbs. In addition the history of radar development at MIT durring WWII and the development of sonar at New London during WWI are given a thorough treatment. Many physics history books gloss over these non-nuclear military developments in a rush to treat the more glamorous Manhattan project in excessive detail. Unfortunately much of the rest of the book is about the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, and, in laborious detail, the prehistory of the National Science Foundation. I would much rather have read more about the founding of the American Physical Society <http://www.aps.org/>. In general Kevles' book gives a lot of attention to statistics and Congressional actions and much less to the development of the culture and institutions of US physics.
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Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War Hugh Gusterson, University of California Press, 1996. Nuclear Rites is an anthropologist's view of two competing tribes, namely nuclear weapons scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Lab and Bay Area antinuclear activists who oppose the Lab's work. Rather than argue about which side is right, Gusterson instead investigates the question of how two groups of mostly middle-class, well-educated people could come to such fervently held and bitterly opposed beliefs. Through extensive interviews Gusterson learns how Lab employees could rationalize working on weapons of mass destruction and why protestors were willing to disrupt their lives by being arrested in "direct action" demonstrations. This unusual approach to the controversy is quite illuminating, and would serve well those who wish to understand other unending debates, such the battles over abortion or gun control. I find many "science studies" books unbearable when they waste energy claiming that scientists' models and theories are elaborate social constructions rather than sensible responses to experimentally observed facts. Refreshingly, Gusterson eschews this viewpoint, being more interested in how weapons scientists think about the unthinkable. As he says, "Indeed, it would seem to me to be almost grotesquely irrelevant and scholastic to argue that the scientific principles of weapons designs are social constructions . . . when the weapons' ability to wipe out entire nations has already been experimentally demonstrated on two cities . . . ." Yes, "grotesquely irrelevant and scholastic" is a perfect description of the humanities' critique of science, particularly that put forward by feminists. Nuclear Rites is an accomplishment in that it puts aside such falderal and approaches the weapons scientists (and protestors) with an open mind. The Map that Changed the World Simon Winchester Winchester's book tells the little known but important story of William Smith, the first geologist to realize the importance of fossils for dating and ordering strata of rock. Smith was a British working-class civil engineer whose fascination with fossils led him to found the science of stratigraphy. Winchester's narrative focuses on the difficulty that Smith had in getting credit for his ideas and his struggles with financial insolvency. While Smith is an appealing character, the book is poorly organized and repetitive. Readers will find themselves wondering, "Didn't anyone edit this manuscript?" While I'm glad to have read The Map that Changed the World, Smith like Tesla deserves a better biographer. Properties of Light Rebecca Goldstein, Goldstein's novel will remind theatergoers of David Auburn's recent Proof as both works feature the basic plot of a graduate student courting the daughter of a mad-genius professor-father. The academic subject matter of Properties of Light is alternative theories of quantum mechanics rather than number theory. Assuredly these are both subjects that have proven altogether too fascinating for many too smart people. Goldstein's protagonists are Samuel Mallach, a washed-
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up and obscure professor, and Justin Childs, a young theoretical physics hotshot. Unfortunately the tale of Justin's collaboration with Samuel and romance with Samuel's daughter Dana is rather bloodless compared to Auburn's hot-tempered play. In an unfortunate afterword, Goldstein informs readers that the reviled Prof. Mallach was based on the well known physicist David Bohm. Goldstein appears not to understand that the unpopularity of local hidden-variables theories derives from their inability to make testable predictions. In fact, the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox and the Bell Inequalities continue to be lively subjects for discussion in physics circles.
Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic, by Anita Feferman My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance, by Emanuel Derman Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger, by Philip Marchand Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics, by John Archibald Wheeler Alan Turing: The Enigma, by Andrew Hodges Bertrand Russell: The Spirit of Solitude 1872-1921, by Ray Monk Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm, by F. David Peat John von Neumann, by Norman McRae Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, by James Gleick Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio, by Tom Lewis Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, by Edward Rice
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General Articles • The Creative Life: Science vs Art, an interview with Greg Chaitin, October 2000. • Slamming [Bill] Gates, The New Republic, by David Shenk, January 26, 1998. • Key Technologies for the 21st Century, Scientific American, September 1995 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Books on Science, History of Science, and Philosophy of Science • • • • • • • Feynman's Rainbow, by Leonard Mlodinow Infinity and the Mind, by Rudy Rucker Investigations, by Stuart Kauffman Travels to the Nanoworld: Miniature Machinery in Nature and Technology, by Michael Gross The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes, by David Deutsch Before the Beginning: Our Universe and Others, by Martin Rees What Will be: How the New World of Information Will Change Our Lives,, by Michael Dertouzous (Director of the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science) The Symbolic Species: The co-evolution of language and the brain, by Terrence W. Deacon How the Mind Works, by Steven Pinker The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, by David J. Chalmers Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity, by John H. Holland Origins of Order, by Stuart Kauffman How is Quantum Field Theory Possible?, by Sunny Auyang The Quark and the Jaguar, by Murray Gell-Mann Shadows of the Mind, by Roger Penrose Invention: The Care and Feeding of Ideas, by Norbert Weiner The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins
• • • • • • • • • •
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• • • • • • • • • • • • • •
My Recommended Reading List on Theory of Programming Languages, by Greg Lavender Computability and Complexity: From a Programming Perspective, by Neil D. Jones Explorations in Quantum Computing, by Colin P. Williams and Scott H. Clearwater The Computer Science and Engineering Handbook, edited by Allen B. Tucker, Jr. Foundations of Programming Languages, by John C. Mitchell On Concurrent Programming, by Fred B. Schneider Algorithmic Information Theory, by Gregory J. Chaitin Information, Randomness and Incompleteness, by Gregory J. Chaitin Information and Randomness: An Algorithmic Perspective, by Cristian Calude Cornerstones of Undecidability, by Grzegorz Rozenberg and Arto Salomma The Structure of Typed Programming Languages, by David A. Schmidt Type Theory and Functional Programming, by Simon Thompson Compiling with Continuations, by Andrew W. Appel Handbook of Logic in Computer Science, Vols 1-3, edited by Samson Abramsky and Dov Gabbay
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Books on Networking, Cryptography, and the Internet • IPv6: The New Internet Protocol, 2nd Edition, by Christian Huitema • Secure Electronic Commerce: Building the Infrastructure for Digital Signatures and Encryption, by Warwick Ford and Michael S. Baum • Computer Networks: A Systems Approach , by Larry Peterson and Bruce Davie • Gigabit Networking, by Craig Partridge • Fiber Optic Networks, by Paul E. Green, Jr. • Applied Cryptography, 2nd Edition, 5th Printing, by Bruce Schneier • Network Security, By Charlie Kaufman, Radia Perlman, and Mike Speciner • The Early History of Data Networks, by Gerard J. Holzmann and Bjorn Pehrson --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Sphere by Crichton – The first book on my list is also the only fiction book on this list. I remember that this was my favorite novel as a teenager. Like the braces-wearing 8th grader dorks that we were, my friends and I would have intense discussions on the deep philosophical issues within the book. I have since grown out of pondering over hokey pseudo-science, but I had to start somewhere. Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension by Kaku – This was the first popular theoretical physics book that I read. I remember that I read this book over and over again in 9th and 10th grades, and it never got dull. Popular science books such as this one are great for getting kids interested in science since it explains the exciting aspects of a theory, in this case hyperspace theory, without providing abstruse mathematical and experimental details. Chaos: Making a New Science by Gleick – This is a classic among popular science books. I first read this sometime during middle school, and I could not understand most of it. When I read it again years later after having taken some college-level math and science courses, I could definitely understand much more of the topic. I enjoyed reading this book because it was not hokey and hand-wavy like the other ones. Gleick treats his audience, no matter if they are laymen or physics Ph.D.'s, with the utmost of respect and presents the information like an experienced science writer. The Cartoon Guide to Physics by Gonick and Huffman – The "Cartoon Guide" series of books presents a topic through approximately two hundred pages of hand-sketched cartoons. When I first read this in high school, I learned a bit about physics but glossed over the details. After I had taken a few physics classes at MIT, I read it again, this time able to understand all of the information in the book. I liked how it presented the information in such a concise and humorous way. Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme by Brodie – I read this book sometime in either 11th or 12th grade, and I let my friends borrow it as well. We had some fun discussions about "memes" and how is has penetrated our popular culture. It is ironic that this book warns people to resist "memes," which are self-replicating packets of information aimed at coercing people to do specific things, yet this book itself employs many "memes" in order to get people like me to buy it, read it, and pass it to friends. Clever, clever marketing and packaging!
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"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Feynman – Nobel prize winner Richard Feynman, an MIT graduate, was one of the most prominent physicists of the 20th century, and also one amazing storyteller. This autobiographical book tells of his many exploits and provides non-stop laughs for any nerd. Six Not-So Easy Pieces: Einstein's Relativity, Symmetry, and SpaceTime by Feynman – Not only was Professor Feynman one of the most prominent physicists of the 20th century, he was also one of the most beloved teachers. In this book, he explains six important topics in modern physics using his remarkable style and only referencing algebra, geometry, and simple differential calculus. It is amazing that he can explain Einstein's theory of relativity (both special and general) in such a small amount of space. It is even more amazing that, as a non-physics major, I could understand most of what he was saying. Number: The Language of Science by Dantzig – I have absolutely no clue on how this book ended up on my bookshelf - I think we bought it at a garage sale years ago - but I am so glad that it did. It chronicles the development of mathematics from ancient times to the 20th century. It actually makes math dramatic and exciting! Isaac Newton by Gleick – An amazing biography of da man by one of the most talented contemporary popular science writers. Enough said. Where Does the Weirdness Go?: Why Quantum Mechanics Is Strange, but Not As Strange As You Think by Lindley – I've always wanted a good introduction to quantum mechanics, without all of the doozie math, and this book gave me exactly what I wanted. The questions, paradoxes, and conundrums raised by this book were a bit disconcerting for my mind, but I found it to be a satisfying introduction to the strange world of quantum mechanics. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Abelson and Sussman – One of the most inspirational and beautiful books on programming ever created. Parts of it read like poetry. I'm not joking. Even if you are never going to program in the Scheme language, you will still learn a lot from this book. And best of all, it's available for FREE online!
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The C Programming Language (2nd Edition) by Kernighan and Ritchie – Yeah, computer books are boring, but this was the original book on the C programming language, written by the creators themselves. This is a must-have book for any computer scientist. Even though it is a tiny book, it explains the C language with remarkable clarity. I have read through this entire book just for fun, even when I did not need to program in C. Go To: The Story of the Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Maverick Scientists and Iconoclasts--The Programmers Who Created the Software Revolution by Lohr - This book presents a fascinating story about the brilliant men and women who launched the computer software revolution, starting with FORTRAN in the 1950's and concluding with the modern free software/open source movement. The author's lack of familiarity with technical terms and writing style bugged me sometimes, but the wonderful organization and presentation of the content more than made up for it. This is definitely recommended reading for anybody who is interested in the culture behind computer science. Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Graham – This is an awesome book which is a must-read for anybody who wants to learn more about the culture of the nerds who love to program computers. It is written with great wit, clarity, and insight. It will also make you fall in love with the LISP programming language, even if you have no idea how to use it. On Lisp: Advanced Techniques for Common LISP by Graham – This is an extremely well-written book on intermediate to advanced concepts in LISP programming. I've looked at a few LISP books before but always thought that they didn't emphasize enough of what was unique and beautiful about the LISP language. I really want to learn more about LISP because it seems so intriguingly different from all the other programming I've done, yet it's a language which far outdates all of the ones I use on a daily basis. I am still trying to make my way through this book since the content is quite dense, but I am very happy with what I've read so far. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is curious in the power of the LISP language. And best of all, in true hacker fashion, it's available for FREE online! -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------http://web.mit.edu/pgbovine/www/reading.htm
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Astronomy, Astro-Physics & Cosmology
There are thousands of books available on the topic of astronomy and can be quite overwhelming for the beginner. We have compiled a list of a few books on topics from learning the constellations to making your own telescope that we feel are worth your time . Most of the books listed here can be found at your local library or from a company such as Astronomy or Sky and Telescope. Hope you enjoy, and remember: Keep Looking Up! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------Getting Started / Basics of Astronomy Beginner's Guide to Amateur Astronomy by David J. Eicher This owner's manuel for the night sky gets beginners off to a great start in the hobby of astronomy. Many topics are covered including types of telescopes, basic astrophotography, and the solar system. To Know the Stars by Guy Ottewell A guide to astronomy for children, teachers, and beginners. Learn constellations by sharing in the lore of their past. Celestial Delights by Francsis Reddy and Greg Walz-Chojnacki A beginning viewer's guide to the best sky shows from now through the year 2001. Miller's Planisphere edited by Ian Ridpath Shows the sky for any day of the year at any hour. Made with waterproof plastic. Moon Map from George Philip, Ltd. A 36 x 26 fold-out map showing over 500 features visible with the naked eye and binoculers. Will Black Holes Devour the Universe? by Melanie Melton 101 complex questions are answered in simple, easy-to-understand explanations. Intermediate Astronomy / Reference Library Burham's Celestial Handbook by Robert Burham, Jr. Provides data, stories, and images for thousands of stars and deep-sky objects. A three-volume set. Consice Dictionary of Astronomy by Jacqueline Mitton Contains 2,300 definitions of concepts important to learning how to speak in the language of astronomy.
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Peterson's Field Guide to the Stars & Planets by Pasachoff and Menzel A pocket-sized reference guide with hundreds of photographs and 72 monthly sky maps. Also includes a TON of information, defiantly the best pocket-reference book available. Uranometria 2000.0 by Tirion, Rappaport, and Lovi Contains 259 charts with 332,000 stars down to mag. 9.5. The ultimate in star charts for the amateur astronomer. Telescope Making How to Make a Telescope by Jean Texereau The classic reference book on how to make a Newtonian or Cassegrain telescope. Build Your Own Telescope by Richard Berry Complete plans on how to build five telescopes with backyard tools. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Astrophotography / CCD Imaging Astrophotography - An Introduction by H.J.P. Arnold A member of Sky and Telescope's Observer's Guide series, this manual is an excellent starting point to learn how to take great photos. Choosing and Using a CCD Camera by Richard Berry An excellent book to pick up before investing in a CCD camera. Explains the procedures and equipment needed to get started in CCD photography. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Cosmology A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking Although an EXCELLENT book that explains many of the new advances in theoretical astrophysics, it is not as easy of a read as it is made out to be. If you have trouble understanding the concepts, Hawking has also written a companion to Brief History. Black Holes, Baby Universes,... by Stephen Hawking A follow-up to Brief History, Baby Universes is an easier read that contains more personal information about Hawking and many transcripts of his lectures. Cosmos by Carl Sagan Although we have not personally read this book, the PBS video series based after it is highly acclaimed.
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Following is a list of books and their authors that have been recommended by chemistry teachers and professors. If you have a personal recommendation for a book focusing on chemistry not listed here please email at email@example.com with the title and author for inclusion in this list. "A Civil Action" by Jonathan Harr "A Short History of Chemistry" by J. R. Parrington "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson (online review) "A Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson "Absolute Zero" by John Shachtman "Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers: Eight Scientific Rivalries That Changed the World" by Michael White. The chapter on Lavoisier and Priestly is excellent. Another good chapter covers the rivalry between Isaac Newton and Leibnitz, over who first developed the calculus. "Alice in Quantumland" by Robert Gilmore – an amusing romp through the world of quantum mechanics - Alice in Wonderland style. "Beethoven's Hair" by Russell Martin "Chemical History Tour: Picturing Chemistry from Alchemy to Modern Molecular Science” (Lavishly illustrated) by Art Greenberg Chemistry Imagined: Reflections on Science by Roald Hoffmann & Vivian Torrence "
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"Crucibles: the Story of Chemistry from Ancient Alchemy to Nuclear Fission" by Bernard Jaffe "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser "Flatland: A romance of many dimensions” Edwin A. Abbott’s tale of inter-dimensional experience. "Heisenberg's War: The Secret History of the German Bomb" by Thomas Powers – The story of the German Atomic Bomb Program during WWII, and the allied attempts to find out about it. The central question of the book is whether Heisenberg deliberately didn't build an atomic bomb for Hitler, or did he just fail to build it due to lack of knowledge or skill. "Ideas in Chemistry: A History of the Science" by David Knight "In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat” by John Gribbon The story of the cat in the box (quantum stuff) "Invitation to Chemistry” by Ira Dufresne Garard "Kepler's Witch : An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother” by James A. Connor "Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World" by Simon Garfield – The story of the first man who made a useful chemical, and started the entire industry of synthetic organic chemistry. "Mendeleev's Dream" by Paul Strathern ~ How he dreamt up the Periodic Table (no, really!) "Molecular Origami" by Bob Hanson "Molecules at an Exhibition: Portraits of Intriguing Materials in Everyday Life” by John Elmsley
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"Napoleon’s Buttons: 17 Molecules that Changed History” by Le Couteur & Burreson "Old Wine New Flasks: Reflections on Science & Jewish Tradition" Roald Hoffmann & Shira Leibowitz Schmidt "Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World” by Nick Lane "Oxygen" by Carl Djerassi & Roald Hoffmann "Radar, Hula Hoops and Playful Pigs" by Joe Schwarcz "Salt" by Mark Kulansky This book depicts the importance of salt throughout history. it is great for teachers who want to do something cross-curricular with social studies. Also good if you want to wow your colleagues with your knowledge of "the only rock we eat." "Schrodinger’s Kittens" by John Gribbon … A sequel to the Cat (obviously) "That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles" by Dr. Joe Schwarcz "The Big Bang, a History of Explosives" (no How-to’s) by GI Brown “The Demon-Haunted World” by Carl Sagan "The Genie in the Bottle" by Joe Schwarcz "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes "The Monkey's Wrench" by Primo Levi "The Periodic Table" by Primo Levi – Autobiographical essays about a Jewish chemist in Mussolini's Italy, and how different elements relate to his life.
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"The Radioactive Boyscout: The true story of a boy and his backyard nuclear reactor" by Ken Silberstein. The case of David Hahn who managed to secure materials and equipment from businesses and information from government officials to develop an atomic energy radiation project for his Boy Scout merit-badge "The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works" by Roger Highfield "The 13th Element: The Sordid Tale of Murder, Fire and Phosphorus" by John Elmsley (Journal of Chemical Education Review) "The Universe in a Nutshell" by Stephen Hawking "Thomas A. Edison, Chemist" by Byron Michael Vanderbilt "Timeline" by Michael Crichton (recommended for discussion on quantum mechanics) "Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood" by Oliver Sacks "Why Things Break" by Mark Eberhart. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------For other Recommended Science Books see:Dr. Elizabeth Christophy's website: http://faculty.sha-excelsior.org/Christophy/recommended_reading.htm "Hal's Picks of the Month" http://www.umsl.edu/~chemist/books/halspicks/halspicks.html The site is self described: "My choices of books and articles are not confined to chemistry; I enjoy reading about many other science and history of science topics, and I make recommendations more for teachers than for students." Chemical Education Resource Shelf : http://www.umsl.edu/~chemist/books ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------http://www.jozie.net/JF/HS_Chem/Resources/RecommendedReading.htm
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Hidden Unity in Nature's Laws John C. Taylor (CUP, 2001) When I asked John Taylor which areas of physics his book covered, he said `Well, all areas'. Having now read it, I see this is more or less true. He takes us from the oldest ideas in physics (about astronomy) to the most modern (string theory). The book is obviously written for an intelligent and interested adult: difficult concepts are not swept under the carpet (there is a chapter on Least Action) and the text is not littered with trendy pictures or jokes. Everything is explained with exceptional clarity in a most engaging manner - almost as if the author was conversing with the reader as an equal. QED: The Strange Story of Light and Matter R.P. Feynman (Penguin, 1990) Feynman again, this time explaining the exceedingly deep theory of Quantum ElectroDynamics, which describes the interactions between light and electrons, in four lectures to a non-specialist audience - with remarkable success. The theory is not only very strange, it is also very accurate: its prediction of the magnetic moment of the electron agrees with the experimental value to an accuracy equivalent to the width of a human hair in the distance from New York to Los Angeles. The Cosmic Onion Frank Close (Heinemann, 1983) Not a great deal has changed on the elementary particle scene since this absorbing survey was written: it was just in time to report first sightings of the Z and W particles. It even reports, with (as it turned out) well-founded scepticism on claims to have seen the top quark. The final chapter makes the all-important link between particle physics (physics on the smallest scale) and cosmology (physics on the largest scale). The energies required to study the latest batch of elementary particles are so great that the Big Bang is the only feasible `laboratory'. The Quantum Universe T. Hey & P. Walters (CUP, 1987) All you ever wanted to know about quantum mechanics, from fusion to fission, from Feynman diagrams to superfluids, and from Higgs particles to Hawking radiation. With potted biographies, historical background, and packed with wonderful illustrations and photographs (including an electron microscope image of a midge). This is an excellent and unusual introduction to the subject. The same authors also wrote a splendid book on relativity (Einstein's Mirror).
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Was Einstein Right? C.M. Will (Basic Books, 1988) Einstein's theory of General Relativity is a theory of gravitation which supersedes Newton's theory and is consistent with Special Relativity. The basic idea is that space-time is curved and you feel gravitational forces when you go round a curve in space, in the same way as you feel centrifugal force when your car goes round a bend. This book is about observational tests of the theory, all of which have been passed with flying colours. In particular, there is a binary pulsar which loses mass by gravitational radiation and, as a result, its period of rotation increases by millionths of a second per year; General Relativity predicts 75. There is much to be learned here about physics, cosmology and astronomy as well as about Einstein and his theory. The Accidental Universe P.C.W. Davies (CUP, 1982) All the buzz-words are here: cosmic dynamics; galactic structure; entropy of the Universe; black holes; many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, but this is not another journalistic pot-boiler. It is a careful and accurate account by one of the best writers of popular science.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------© Faculty of Mathematics, University of Cambridge.
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