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Recommendations for SEVERAL intro science texts

  1. Dec 22, 2013 #1
    Check out this image from the wikipedia article on "science":

    I'm looking for some recommendations. I'm interested in checking out one (or possibly two) introductory textbooks on each of the subjects in the "hierarchy of science" section. That is:

    Cell Biology (or just General Bio)
    Functional Biology (or just General Bio)
    Sociology (I could skip this, honestly I do not consider it a science)

    To give you some background, I have a B.A. in Philosophy and have recently returned to school to study Biological Sciences. What's frustrating me is that I am learning things in bits and pieces, but there is no "big picture." I have yet to take any mathematics beyond high school math at this point, and I could probably use some review there, so I would prefer texts that are not math heavy.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2013 #2
    For molecular & cellular biology, Moleular Biology of the Cell (Alberts) seems to be widely used textbook. I've only read a few chapters of it and can't comment much. For more biochemical approach you can try Principles of Biochemistry (Lehninger).

    For physiology, I can recommend Silverthorn's Human Physiology. It was a good book and I learned a lot. If you know basics of molecular&cellular biology you can pretty much skip the first unit. I've also heard that Medical Physiology (Boron) is a good physiology book. Silverthorn (and I think Boron too) concentrate on human physiology, which in my opinion is a good thing. If you want a more general book animal physiology (that covers stuff like insects, birds etc.), you can read Animal Physiology by Hill.

    If you want just one biology book, there's Campbell's Biology, which at least here is the book for first year biology studies. It covers most of basic biology; cellular&molecular, ecology, evolution, physiology (plants and animals) etc. I don't remember if it has microbiology in it, though.

    At the moment I'm going through Matter & Interactions by Chabay & Sherwood. It covers first year calculus based mechanics and E&M. It's my first calculus based physics book ever, so I can't really compare it to anything, but having read 25% of the book, I really like it. I never took high school physics but I'm not struggling to understand the contents. The book has a bit non-standard approach to first year physics, covering things like relative momentum and relative energy in the mechanics chapters. It also encourages programming and numerical methods. There even is a set of programming exercises at the end of each chapter. But if you are looking for a less math heavy book, I don't know if you should read this one.

    I don't know about mathematics books since I've just read the material that the professors have provided.

    You probably should work on your math skills before looking at physics. Biology I always found easy to learn, so
    I guess you should start with math and move to physics, while working on your biology degree.

    If you really want to learn even the basics of all those subjects, it will take a lot of time so you probably won't be able to achieve that without committing a big part of your free time on it. Then there always is the question of if it's worth it to devote much time to learning the "big picture". But only you know the answer to that question.

    Just to let you know; half a year ago I had taken the first year bio studies and some programming. Now I've taken 1.5 years of bio studies, focusing on physiology, and I'm working on first year proof based maths and calculus based physics. I'm not sure what I'll end up majoring in, but I've found it really exciting to learn science more broadly. You just have to make sure that you are not forgetting to specialize in something; our time may be limited even if our interests aren't.
  4. Dec 22, 2013 #3
    Thank you for the recommendations. I guess what I'm trying to achieve here is a way of trying to nibble at the "big picture" here and there on my own time, while taking bigger bites when I'm taking classes.

    Most of these subjects are requirements for the major - biology, physics, math, and chemistry. Psych 101 I already took, and Logic was part of my Philosophy education. So that really only leaves Geoscience and Astronomy. I'm going to have to learn most of them at some point anyway, but I thought the hierarchy was interesting and would like to build a reference library to refer to as I piece everything together. I am planning on going into Biotech, but I'm interested in how all these subjects intersect.

    In a sense, there is only one subject: science.
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