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Best science book that changed your life

  1. Jul 27, 2016 #1
    • Just like books by "Jules verne" changed Dr emmit brown's life in the movie " Back to the future" and then he decided that he should dedicate his life for the love of science.
    • Book that motivated you for science.
    • I am waiting to hear your story so get set go.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2016 #2
    Should this be in Science Fiction?

    It could be in Fantasy if you think I read science books.
  4. Jul 29, 2016 #3
    Thank you for this opportunity to offer up two very important books in my life. The first one is a book by Walter Freeman called "Societies of brains" (1995) which is a popular book and mix of strong brain science, philosophy, and poetry that didn't turn me on to brain science but reinforced why that was my first love:


    The second book is entitled "Einstein's mistakes" by Hans Ohanian which was really instrumental in propelling me to develop a passion for physics later on in my life. You want a story about the book, well here's one. I actually found the book in an off-campus bookstore of Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Washington state. It was just serendipity that I found it. The PLU people call themselves "Lutes" and I was walking around the library admiring the "Lutes" sports T-shirts. This was a real cool bookstore, btw, two stories, modern architecture, a barista/smoothie bar in the lobby, plenty of big couches/chairs to pick up a book and read for a while. So I got myself a coffee and browsed the books for sale on the shelves. This was an official university bookstore so they had sections that were specifically designated for certain classes. There was actually a biology section for Bio 101 or something like that and I checked out the textbook to make sure it wasn't some creationist BS or else I was going to march on campus, but it checked out OK.

    But a lot of the books there were also religiously oriented, many versions of the bible, etc. So I'm perusing many versions of the bible and then I see this book called "Einsten's mistakes." The first thing I thought was that this was written by a religious whacko trying to "diss" Einstein, and that's the only reason this book is here in this library. But it was exactly the opposite, sure enough, it goes into great detail about Einstein's many mistakes, going way beyond the cliche examples of the cosmological constant and quantum theory. But the book is actually nothing other than the best testimonial to Einstein's genius I've ever read. So I don't know if the book was housed there because they thought it was anti-science and they goofed or not. I like to think it was because it makes a better story.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  5. Jul 29, 2016 #4
    Thanks diracpool for sharing your story, I have just orderd einstein's mistakes.
  6. Aug 6, 2016 #5
    Hey can any budy post this question in science and fiction , I don't know how to do this.
  7. Aug 6, 2016 #6
    Two things I've known about myself since I can remember. One, I've always wanted to drum, I have always rapped out rhythms with my fingers; and two, I've always had an interest in science. However, it was Organic Chemistry by Morrison and Boyd that determined my decision to become a chemist.
  8. Aug 7, 2016 #7
    wohoo , its a good book
  9. Aug 7, 2016 #8


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    It's been a while since I've ready any popular science books relating to physics. Some interesting books in other sciences aimed at the layperson that I've enjoyed recently:
    1. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins - this is a great overview of biology and genetics for the layperson, although perhaps somewhat dated now. I think he has an https://www.amazon.ca/Selfish-Gene-Richard-Dawkins/dp/1491514507out though.
    2. The Drunkard's Walk by Leonard Mlowdinow - a very well-written book on that introduces basic statistics
    3. https://www.amazon.ca/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/0385676530- I'm not sure if this book is really more of a "psychology/neuroscience" book on not. Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in economics of all things for a lot of this work. But I think it presents some really interesting stuff on how people think, and it explains why we're so bad at statistics.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  10. Aug 8, 2016 #9
    What started me on the road to PF was A Brief History of Time and Hyperspace.
  11. Aug 8, 2016 #10
    And what started me for the love of physics is your site physics forum it is relally awesome, hyperspace is also a nice book
  12. Aug 9, 2016 #11
    The best recommendations i can give you:
    _The first ever book that i read "A Brief History Of Time" which was what pushed me into reading science books.
    _"The Perfect Theory" is an amazing book about the history of general relativity from it's first appearance until today. Amazing book!
    _"Stuff Matters" is a really fun book about nearly every material on Earth. When you read that one you will never look at the world like you used to.
  13. Aug 9, 2016 #12


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    Jules Verne.
  14. Aug 9, 2016 #13
    Not quite sure if this qualifies as a 'science book' , but _BASIC Computer Games_ by David Ahl (1978 edition - for microcomputers) was a rather significant book in the development of my thought process. I came across this book when I was in the 5th grade (along with a bunch of my similarly computer interested classmates). I went to a school in NYC with access to a time sharing PDP-11 running RSTS/E. The mainframe was located at another school. We had two TI 'Silent 700' terminals that communicated at 300 baud and printed on thermal 'fax' paper.

    Back then, if you had access to a computer, you pretty much had to code your own software. This book was not very verbose. The programs were mostly taken from the pages of _Creative Computing_ magazine. The listings in the book were mostly limited to a short descriptive paragraph or two, the actual code (in BASIC... usually without specifying the variant, thus making programs with peek and poke statements a bit of a crapshoot) and a short transcript of the program being run. Needless to say, I spent innumerable hours poring over the book, the code, imagining its implementation and even trying to code some of them in (at least before finding a semi-public but less than well advertised account with working versions of most of them). A favorite way to really learn how they worked was to get a local copy of a given program and then delete or change individual lines of code, and then see what happens.

    The exploration of the code made for several meaningful intellectual revelations. One of the most memorable of which is the realization that an arbitrary number of spatial dimensions could be expressed by simply adding a separate variable to a list of coordinates. There was a tic-tac-toe program and a 3-D tic-tac-toe program. The 3-D version had a lot more code, but it was all related to the play of the game. The 'locations' on the board were represented by just another variable. I know that this is pretty obvious but it was a fairly mind expanding realization to a kid in the fifth grade. I even remember the specific moment - walking back from the bathroom to study hall. Anyway that realization was a very memorable moment. Bunch of other neat things in that book.

    Looks like you can look at a scan of the actual book:

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