Must read books

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  • #26
turbo
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"Chaos" and "Genius" by James Gleick are both entertaining, as is "The Emperor's New Mind" by Penrose.
 
  • #27
The Fabric Of Reality by David Deutsch is absolutely amazing. Engaging, mind-warping, life-changing science and philosophy. A great summary from Wikipedia:

...what he calls the multiverse hypothesis, is one strand of a four-strand theory of everything. The four strands are:

1. Hugh Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics, "the first and most important of the four strands".
2. Karl Popper's epistemology, especially its anti-inductivism and its requiring a realist (non-instrumental) interpretation of scientific theories, and its emphasis on taking seriously those bold conjectures that resist falsification.
3. Alan Turing's theory of computation especially as developed in Deutsch's "Turing principle", Turing's universal Turing machine being replaced by Deutsch's universal quantum computer. ("The theory of computation is now the quantum theory of computation.")
4. Richard Dawkins's refinement of Darwinian evolutionary theory and the modern evolutionary synthesis, especially the ideas of replicator and meme as they integrate with Popperian problem-solving (the epistemological strand).


Michael Lockwood's book The Labyrinth of Time: Introducing the Universe is also great.

Anything by Ray Kurzweil is always a paradigm-shifting read. The Singularity Is Near is brilliant, but a tough one to read from cover to cover - more of a skip around type book.
 
  • #28
Andy Resnick
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Here's a few non-textbooks I've read and found to be thought-provoking:

Goedel, Escher, Bach (Hofstatter?)
Origins of Order (Kauffman)
An Idiot's Fugitive Essays on Science (Truesdell)
Advice for A Young Investigator (Cajal)
 
  • #29
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This list is stolen from a book-club. The idea was this: 100 professors of different fields were told to list the 100 most influential books in the world. The results were compared, and a list of 100 books was compiled. This is that list.

This list is in norwegian. I dont have time to translate all the titles, but I've added the English title where I know what it is or can guess the approximate one. Also, I have removed 2-3 books which are specific to Norway and not of general interest. The list is alphabetical, I've added a few translations in parentheses.

Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969) Minima moralia (Eng: Minima moralia)
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Innføring i kristendommen
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) Eichmann i Jerusalem. (Eichmann in Jerusalem)
Aristoteles (384-322 f.kr.) Den nikomakiske etikk og Om diktekunsten ("Nicomachean Ethics" and "Poetics")
Augustin (354-430) Bekjennelser (Confessions)
Michaíl Bakhtín (1895-1975) Rabelais og latterens historie
Roland Barthes (1915-1975) Mytologier (Mythologies)
Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) Ånd og natur - en nødvendig enhet (Mind and nature)
Zygmunt Bauman (f. 1925) Moderniteten og Holocaust (Modernity and the Holocaust)
Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) Det annet kjønn (The second sex)
Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) Essays (Essays)
Henri Bergson (1859-1941) De to kilder for moral og religion (The two sources of moral and religion?)
Niels Bohr (1885-1962) Atomteori og naturbeskrivelse (I think this might be Atomic Physics and human knowledge)
Pierre Bourdieu (f. 1930) Distinksjonen (The distinction)
Martin Buber (1878-1965) Jeg og du (Me and You)
Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Refleksjoner over den franske revolusjon (Reflections on the French revolution)
Albert Camus (1913-1960) Myten om Sisyfos (The myth of Sisyfos)
Elias Canetti (1905-1994) Masse og makt
Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945) Kulturvitenskapenes logikk
Cicero (106-43 f.Kr) Om pliktene (On duties)
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) Om artenes opprinnelse gjennom det naturlige utvalg (The origin of the species)
René Descartes (1596-1650) Meditasjoner over filosofiens grunnlag (Meditations of first philosophy)
Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) Selvmordet (The suicide)
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Relativitetsteorien (The theory of relativity)
Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) Det hellige og det profane (the sacred and the profane?)
Erasmus Roterodamus (ca 1466-1536) Dårskapens lovtale
Frantz Fanon (1924-1961) Jordens fordømte
Michel Foucault (1926-1984) Galskapens historie
Paulo Freire (1921-1997) De undertryktes pedagogikk
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Innføring i psykoanalyse og Drømmetydning ("Introduction to psykoanalysis" and "The interperation of dreams" )
Betty Friedan (f. 1921) Myten om kvinnen
Egon Friedell (1878-1938) Vår tids kulturhistorie
Hans-G. Gadamer (f. 1900) Sannhet og metode (Truth and Method)
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) Dialog om de to verdenssystemene (Dialog concerning the two chief world systems)
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) Vi er alle søsken
Stephen Jay Gould (f. 1941) Misvisende målinger av mennesket
Jürgen Habermas (f. 1929) Borgerlig offentlighet
Stephen Hawking (f. 1942) Univers uten grenser (I think this is A brief history of time, but the translated title means something else entirely)
G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831) Åndens fenomenologi (The phenomenology of spirit)
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) Væren og tid
Herodot (ca 484-ca 424 f.kr) Historie (History)
Hippokrates (460-377 f.kr) Om legekunsten
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) Leviathan (Leviathan)
Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754) Essays (Essays)
Max Horkheimer og Theodor W. Adorno (1895-1973) og (1903-1969) Opplysningens dialektikk
David Hume (1711-1776) En avhandling om den menneskelige natur (A discourse on human nature)
Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) Muqaddimah - en innføring i den arabiske historie
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Kritikk av den rene fornuft (Critique of the pure reason)
John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) Allmenn teori om sysselsetting, rente og penger
Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Begrepet angst og Øyeblikket ("The concept of dread" and "")
Aleksandra Kollontaj (1872-1952) Revolusjon og kjærlighet ("Revolution" and "Love"?)
Konfutse (ca 551-479 f.Kr) Samtaler (Conversations)
Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996) Vitenskapelige revolusjoners struktur (The structure of scientific revolusion)
Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) Den narsissistiske kultur (The narcissistic culture)
Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995) Den annens humanisme
Claude Lévi-Strauss (f. 1908) Tropisk elegi
Carl von Linné (1707-1778) Den svenske flora (The swedish flora!)
Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989) Den såkalte ondskap
Martin Luther (1483-1546) Lille og store katekisme
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) Fyrsten (The prince)
Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) Det endimensjonale menneske (The one-dimensional human?)
Karl Marx (1818-1883) Kapitalen og Det kommunistiske manifest ("The capital" and "The communistic manifesto")
Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961) Kroppens fenomenologi
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) Om friheten og Kvinnenes undertrykkelse
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) Essays
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) Slik talte Zarathustra og Hinsides godt og ondt ("Thus spoke Zarathusta" and "beyond good and evil")
Arne Næss (f. 1912) Økologi, samfunn og livsstil (Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy)
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) Tanker (Thoughts)
Platon (427-347 f.Kr) Symposion og Faidros (Symposium and Faidros)
Karl Popper (1902-1994) Det åpne samfunn og dets fiender
Neil Postman () Vi morer oss til døde (Amusing ourselves to Death)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) Samfunnspakten (The social contract)
Edward W. Said (f. 1935) Orientalismen (Orientalism)
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) Væren og intet
Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) Om menneskets estetiske oppdragelse (On the aesthetic education of man)
Carl W. Schnitler (1879-1926) Slegten fra 1814
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) Verden som vilje og forestilling
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) Ærefrykt for livet (Something about awe and life..)
Adam Smith (1723-1790) Nasjonenes velstand (The wealth of nations)
C. P. Snow (1905-1980) De to kulturer (The two cultures?)
Susan Sontag (f. 1933) essays: Sykdom som metafor, aids og dens metaforer (Disease as a metaphor?)
Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677) Etikk (Ethics)
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) Om demokratiet i Amerika (On democracy in America)
Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) Den tragiske livsfølelse
Max Weber (1864-1920) Den protestantiske etikk og kapitalismens ånd (The protestant ethics and the spirit of capitalism)
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) Filosofiske undersøkelser (Philosophical investigations)
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) Forsvar for kvinnenes rettigheter
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) Et eget rom (A room of ones own?)
Georg Henrik von Wright (f. 1916) Vitenskapen og fornuften ( Science and reason?)
Peter Wessel Zapffe (1899-1990) Om det tragiske (On the tragic?)

There you go. If you read and comprehend that list, I guess you can consider yourself well educated :)

I own 20 or so, have read 9-ish and fully comprehended 2!

k
 
  • #30
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... recommend some must read books that any well-educated person should read. I like to read(a lot) but sometimes I do not always read the right books. I prefer books on math/science in general considering that I am a physics major. But any books that you have found to boost your knowledge and make you an all around more educated person would also be helpful. Feel free to list and discuss some of the top books that you have read!!I am looking forward to reading you posts!!!
One book that boosted my knowledge no end was:

Confessions of a Philosopher by Bryan Magee

It's the best general book on philosophy I've ever read, gave me great insight into the worlds of music, novel writing, media & politics. And it's an exciting intellectual autobiography. Only a couple of references to physics here and there. There is more to life than physics alone :smile:

For pure pleasure & entertainment while still being able to pretend you are reading a serious master ('cause you are) then try anything by Charles Dickens. David Copperfield to start?

Wot? You want some physics... I really enjoyed reading Wheeler's autobiography "Geons..." recently.
 
  • #31
mathwonk
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ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN" by Robert Fulghum
 
  • #32
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has anyone read Einstein: His Life and Universe?? I am looking into reading this book next, once my semester workload slows down a little..
 
  • #33
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has anyone read Einstein: His Life and Universe?? I am looking into reading this book next, once my semester workload slows down a little..
Yes! It is a very interesting look into Einstein's life. Walter Isaacson is a great writer and explains Einstein's seemingly complex ideas in terms anyone can understand. However, I am no expert.
 
  • #34
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Metamagical Themas: Questing For The Essence Of Mind And Pattern by Douglas R. Hofstadter
 
  • #35
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Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (E.Abbot)
The God Delusion (R.Dawkins)
Hyperspace (Michio Kaku) (I like this one, his other books tend to border fiction)
The Demon Haunted World (C. Sagan)
Billions and Billions (C.Sagan)
(Someone already mentioned Cosmos etc.)
Einstein's Telescope (E. Gates)
Uranium (T.Zoellner)
Science: A Four Thousand Year History (P.Fara)
The Math Book (C.Pickover)

Non Physics/Science books
Art of War (Sun Tsu)
Being and Nothingness (J.P.Sartre)

What are some other great ones that do not require you to already be a Physics PhD?
 
  • #36
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Yes! It is a very interesting look into Einstein's life. Walter Isaacson is a great writer and explains Einstein's seemingly complex ideas in terms anyone can understand. However, I am no expert.
I just read it. It's very well written and shows that it can be an advantage when non-physicists write popular works that involve a lot of physics. Isaacson had a team of physicists and science historians checking the technical details (including Greene and Krauss!) He quotes many intriguing papers from recent researchers into the history of Einstein's physics, so it's a great first-source for anyone wanting to look into how Einstein was thought to have developed his theories, based on the latest historical research. The personal stuff was also very interesting, and based on a lot of new material that was released quite recently.
 
  • #37
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if they dont contain exercises, then yes you can follow the forumulas and trying to get all the steps etc. Or find another textbook or excerixes somewhere else.

Physics is not a science that you gain knowledge by reading, nor math either. One has to practice and encounter difficulties and try to overcome them :)
so would you suggest such a practice book for relativity....

thanks in advance......
 
  • #39
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I would say Billions and Billions by Carl Sagan. It is a great science influential books. Also tackles some philosophical questions
 

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