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Next Book Suggestions?

  1. Jul 22, 2005 #1
    I just stumbled across this forum a days ago. It is quickly becoming my new favorite place to spend those slow times at work. :tongue2:

    Anyway, I was wondering on some books suggestions. I am not really too far along in my classes so really technical books might be a tad hard to get through.

    Since the first of the year I have read:

    The Universe in a Nutshell
    A Brief History of the Universe
    Principia (only the first 400 or so pages then the math got a bit too much so I am waiting until I can finish it)
    The Elegant Univese (both book and dvd)
    The Fabric of the Cosmos
    Some Random papers here and there

    I think that is about it.

    I would like to stay on that level of reading since I am not too far along with school yet. All those books I listed were pretty easy to follow, except Principia of course. :wink:

    Thanks for the help. :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2005 #2
    Road to Reality and that one for stephen hawkign bday like 2-3 years ago...
  4. Jul 22, 2005 #3
    well I suggest "The theory of everything" by Stephen Hawking and
    a book that I'm currently reading "the code book" by Simon Singh i found them very interesting books and I think you'll like them too. ;)
  5. Jul 23, 2005 #4


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    I'm not really into physics, but I've loved everything that I've read by Feynman. You might be interested in QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. I suggest checking out whatever Feynman books your library has so you can get a feel for how he writes and teaches and see if you like him. Even his autobiographies are informative.

    I assume you're talking about Newton's Principia, not Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica. But just in case you're talking about Principia Mathematica, I really wouldn't try to learn math or logic from it; It's not that kind of book.
  6. Jul 23, 2005 #5


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    It's also badly out of date. A century of tremendous progress in mathematical logic has come and gone since it came out.

    In general I want to raise the issue of whether we should go back to original sources in learning physics and mathematics. The original discoverers often had only a murky understanding of the fields they discovered. Sort of like learning geography from Columbus.
  7. Jul 24, 2005 #6


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    Other than some inspiring moments, like
    "This preservation of favourable variation and the rejections of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection."​
    trying to learn from the 'originals' has always left me discouraged. Either they were writing for an audience of their peers (which I wasn't) or it was just old- the bad kind of old. It may depend upon the book, but the ones I've read were better for inspiration - there are some great moments - or adding to your appreciation and perspective.
  8. Jul 25, 2005 #7

    It is the one by Newton, translated by Cohen and Whitman. It was a bit much and gave up a little over half way through.

    I have downloaded a couple Feynman lectures, they were pretty good. I'll go check out some of his books as well. Thanks. :smile:

    I have the code book as well. My mom got it for me a while ago. Pretty good, I don't think I finished it though. :rofl:

    And I hate to say it, but I like reading the newer books a lot more. For some reason they just hold my interest a lot better.
  9. Aug 2, 2005 #8
    You should most definately look into reading more by Michio Kaku.

    - Parallel Worlds
    - Visions
    - Einstein's Cosmos
    - Beyond Einstein

    Black Holes & Time Warps by Kip Thorne is also very good.
  10. Aug 2, 2005 #9
    I agree. Trying to learn from the classics is difficult. I suppose its like trying to learn to speak english by reading shakespeare. But once you understand the subject matter, even if only in principle, I think it is a great idea. Like you said, to read 'evolution of species' or 'principia' and think to yourself "This is what started it all," is really inspiring.
  11. Aug 2, 2005 #10
    Here's some books from my tiny library:

    - Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynmen (Feynmen)
    - The Character of Physical Law (Feynmen)
    - The Scientists (Gribbin)
    - Euclid's Window (Mlodinow)
    - Feynmen's Rainbow (Mlodinow)
    - The Men Who Measured the Universe (Gribbin)
    - In Search of Schrodinger's Cat (Gribbin)
    - E=mc^2, A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation (Bodanis)

    - Feynmen Lectures on Physics (Feynmen) [these are nice, but I'd say they're above the rest mentioned.]

    I'd say generally anything by John Gribbin is nice.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2005
  12. Aug 4, 2005 #11
    I just finished Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan... I highly reccommend it.

    Next on my list:
    The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
    Cosmos by Carl Sagan
    Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan
    The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

    I'm open to other suggestions as well.
  13. Aug 8, 2005 #12
    I just finsihed that one not too long ago. One of my favorites so far.

    I ended up with Six Easy Pieces and Six Not So Easy Pieces, both by Feynman. They were pretty good. The local bookstore didn't have much at the time. I think I'll try some of those others by Michio Kaku.
  14. Aug 11, 2005 #13
    Did it repeat a lot of the same stuff from The Elegant Universe?
  15. Aug 11, 2005 #14
    I've been told that no one has ever read the book through. Russell didn't read all the parts that Whitehead wrote, and Whitehead didn't read all the parts that Russell wrote.
  16. Aug 11, 2005 #15
    No, not really. I can't remember a ton from the Elegant Universe book, but I watch the Nova stream at work a lot when I am bored. The Fabric of the Cosmos goes into a lot more detail. I remember I liked it a lot more than The Elegant Universe book.
  17. Aug 12, 2005 #16


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    That wouldn't surprise me. :zzz: :wink:
  18. Aug 12, 2005 #17


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    in reference to posts 5,6, i disagree in the strongest possible terms. as Abel is reported to have answered to the question as to how he obtained such an in depth understanding of mathematics, he replied: "because I read the masters and not the pupils". anyone who has not read euclid, einstein, newton, galois, or riemann or gauss, cantor or mumford or serre, or hirzebruch, does not know what he is missing.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2005
  19. Aug 12, 2005 #18


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    Funny, it was that very quote that encouraged me to attempt to 'read the masters'. :smile:
    Sorry, let me clarify and correct myself. I don't think people should skip the masters; I remember finding some very helpful spins on familiar ideas from some masters. Euler's Foundations of Differential Calculus comes immediately to mind. And I was referring to new, poineering material, discoveries, inventions, etc., not to just any writing by a 'master'. I meant that the ones I've seen weren't good introductions to a subject. I think they weren't good introductions because they seemed to be written for the author's peers, professionals who already had the knowledge and experience necessary to analyze these new concepts, and/or the author was making a full blown defense of their ideas - and none of this is what I want in an introduction. And for some older works, you have to deal with an antiquated style too. It's also just a generalization, as I was careful to note. Do you disagree with this point?

    Edit: I also wasn't tailoring my advice to stand up to being taken out of context. The OP clearly set a level of difficulty, which I had in mind and don't think the 'originals' are at. I think they would leave the OP discouraged, as they did me.
    And I thought of an exception. It may not be familiar to people here, but Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was my introduction to the subject, and I loved it. I don't quite understand why, but while, for example, I found Darwin's numerous examples tedious, Smith's equally numerous examples were fascinating and made the book that much better.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2005
  20. Aug 12, 2005 #19


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    my apologies. of course you are right some old works are more useful than others.

    i recommend reading the old masters perhaps after learning something about what they were trying to say from modern sources.

    i myself greatly enjoyed reading riemann after a long career studying modern interpreters of his ideas. even then it was clear he understood the material he created far better than our own contemporaries do.
  21. Aug 12, 2005 #20


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    I'm glad you brought it up; I obviously didn't give the right impression. :smile:
    I don't know how old his work is, but that's amazing that people haven't made more progress.
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