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Posts Tagged ‘popular science’

I’m back enjoying the Cambridge life for a fortnight, and already have some cricket lined up. Some comments from a previous post got me thinking …

Cosmic Variance recently polled its readers on what got them interested in science. The most common answer was popular science books, and this was certainly true for me. I discovered the nerdy pleasures of a good book on physics as I finished high school, and still enjoy such books today. Below is a list of some of my favourite cosmology and physics books for the interested layperson, organised alphabetically by author. I obviously don’t agree with everything written in these books, but they all presented the science accurately (to the best of my knowledge) and were thoroughly entertaining.

John Barrow: I’ve read and greatly enjoyed many of Barrow’s writings – New Theories of Everything, Between Inner and Outer Space, Impossibility, Pi in the Sky, The Book of Nothing, The Infinite Book, The Anthropic Principle. He combines mathematics and science seamlessly, loves a good historical anecdote or illustration, and isn’t afraid to wander into regions metaphysical. I think that my personal favourite was “Pi in the Sky”, which was my first introduction to the mind-blowing legacy of Kurt Godel. “New theories of everything” is a great introduction to modern physics and cosmology.

Paul Davies: As with Barrow, I haven’t met a Davies book I haven’t enjoyed – God and the New Physics, The Matter Myth, The Mind of God, The Last Three Minutes, The Goldilocks Enigma. A Davies book will always be wide ranging, from pure mathematics to cosmology to physics to biology. His forays into philosophy are thoughtful, even if I don’t always agree. I’d start with “The Goldilocks enigma” – it’s nominally about the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life but gives a very good introduction to modern cosmology and physics along the way. (more…)

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