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Physics Books for Non-Physics Person?

  1. Sep 12, 2008 #1
    Hi guys,

    I'm a senior electrical engineering major. I haven't taken any advanced physics courses, aside from General Physics I and II... and Electromagnetic Theory (junior level). I've always been interested in physics, but in a different sense than most people in this forum.

    I'd like to just casually read about physics, not really compute mathematical equations, etc. I do enough of at work and at school. I'm looking for books (hopefully paperback versions) that someone like me could read during lunch, on the go, etc. to gain a better understanding of the physics world. I don't have any preferences in regard to which branch, but something interesting that a layman would read.

    Any suggestions? (I've already read The Elegant Universe, BTW).

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2008 #2
    You might like "The Nature of Physical Law" by Feynmann.
  4. Sep 12, 2008 #3

    George Jones

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    Character assassination.

    A very interesting book.
  5. Sep 12, 2008 #4
    The Character of Physical Law. My apologies to Ralph Feynmamm.
  6. Sep 12, 2008 #5
    Black Holes and Time warps by Kip Thorne. the best physics book for non physicists I've ever read and I've read a ton of them.
    there are also about 14,985 books by Gribbins. None of them are outstanding, but they are okay.
  7. Sep 12, 2008 #6


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    I liked Road to Reality by Penrose. It has a lot of math, but its still a pretty casual read.
  8. Sep 12, 2008 #7

    Andy Resnick

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    I really enjoy "The Flying Circus of Physics" by Jearl Walker.
  9. Sep 12, 2008 #8
    For best results, read in this order:

    "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson
    "Isaac Newton" by James Gleick
    "Einstein: His Life and Universe" by Walter Isaacson
    "The Universe in a Nutshell" by Steven Hawking
    "Relativity: The Special and the General Theory" by Albert Einstein
    "Death by Blackhole" by Neil DeGrass Tyson
    "The First Three Minutes" by Steven Weinberg
    "QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter" by Richard Feynman
    "The Trouble With Physics" by Lee Smolin
  10. Sep 12, 2008 #9
    Space, Time & Things is a wonderful overview of how physicists think about the world.

    There have been many threads about popular physics books, so you'll want to search the archives.
  11. Sep 13, 2008 #10
    a Short History of Nearly Everything is a great book, not going to teach you a lot of physics, but it is good.
    the Universe in a Nutshell sucked.
  12. Sep 13, 2008 #11
    I absolutely love this book (though I still don't understand much of it). But even if you skip all the math, it is a very "deep" book, maybe too demanding to be consumed during lunch. You definitely have to take your time and concentrate on this book.
  13. Sep 13, 2008 #12
    Thorne's book is great, I 2nd your recommendation. Even if the chapter on wormholes and time-machines is a bit crazy (But all the other stuff in the book is absolutely serious and reliable. Very easy to read too, great for lunch breaks !)

    The material on gravitational wave detectors is a bit outdated, because there has been a lot of activity there during recent years. But that's no problem - HD555, if you are interested I could surely find some online stuff that gets you updated on recent developments.
  14. Sep 14, 2008 #13
    Hawking is a good physicist, but admittedly not the best science educator.
    I loved it anyway.
    There are tons more books I would recommend if I could remember their darn titles...
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