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Books For Highschool Students

  1. Nov 28, 2009 #1
    I've been trying to expose my cousin to the beauty of sciences but he's not someone who has read much outside of what is required by school. He's in his third year of high school and while he does very well academically(he was valedictorian in his middle school) he doesn't bother to learn much outside of what is required to get good grades in school. I was worried about giving him information that might overwhelm him so I wanted to find some good books that are only require basic knowledge of various topics because he isn't sure what he wants to major in despite being an outstanding student and is confused about what to do with his life other than the fact that he wants to get into MIT with full scholarship(which he will from the looks of it).

    My cousin is religious but at the same time he is open minded, however, he does not believe in evolution or abiogenesis. So far I have hard copies of The God Delusion and The Varieties of Scientific Experience for him and some various lecture videos and youtube clips. I'd much appreciate some advice for what books I can recommend to my cousin and youtube clips/lecture videos, etc.(just things so he can get a minor taste for science).
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2009 #2
    Understanding Physics by Isaac Asimov is a great book (with lots of information) that introduces physics and is fairly comprehensive. The nice thing about it is that it only requires high school math (no calculus).

    I might de-recommend The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I myself find him to be a complete turn-off and very annoying. In my opinion, he's being counterproductive by being so attacking, and he is so arrogant that people will naturally have a tendency to disagree with him. I will never recommend Richard Dawkins to anybody, as I can hardly stand listening to or watching him.

    Carl Sagan on the other hand was a very thoughtful individual and far from condescending or arrogant. Even his title shows his understanding and acceptance of other thoughts.

    How to Solve it by George Polya is a neat book about problem solving and mathematics. Anything by George Gamow or Richard Feynman would be great as well. They are humorous guys too and well known for their personalities. Freeman Dyson, who has written many books on science, is my last suggestion.

    (Also, every author I've listed above were actually scientists themselves, not just popular science writers.)
  4. Nov 30, 2009 #3
    Here are some pop-science books I remember enjoying when I was in high school:

    For physics there's George Smoot's Wrinkles In Time, which I really liked where he talks about how he travelled around, racing against the clock to get the scientific results he wanted, and explains the nitty-gritty day-to-day work of a cosmologist (I think), and Paul Davies' Superforce.

    For biology, pretty much anything by Stephen Jay Gould or Daniel C. Dennett, but those are all about evolution, so ... yea.

    If you're looking for something closer to a textbook, there's What Is Mathematics? by Courant and Robbins, Mathematics and the Physical World by Morris Kline. For biology there's Biology by Campbell, I've been going through the 4th edition by myself and I'm finding it fun and interesting.
  5. Nov 30, 2009 #4
    On God and Religion by Bertrand Russel was thought provoking to me.

    Dawkins is like the Glenn Beck of Atheism, in my opinion.
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