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Textbooks with a focus on how things were discovered?

  1. Dec 5, 2014 #1
    maybe i'm looking in all the wrong places or its too much detail for one text. all the books i find just give an overview of this without going into detail. I'm teaching myself maths, physics, chemistry and molecular biology, and I'm trying to understand the fundamental concepts (ive learnt them before but i didnt bother trying to understand why they are true, i just accepted it, because i dont think they really taught us this in school). I want to find detailed descriptions of what experiments were done, how they were done and the reasoning behind them; and for maths i want rigorous definitions and proofs and what practical applications there are. it would really help if they make it easy to understand too. are there any good books or textbooks from any of these areas that have this? if not, any tips for researching this stuff? thanks for your help :-)
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2014 #2


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    I think you would be better off just reading the actual paper published by the discoverer of whatever you wish to learn about. What you want is not something that a textbook is intended to offer.
  4. Dec 5, 2014 #3


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    Why don't you take a look at my blog...


  5. Dec 5, 2014 #4
    The history is usually separate because it is unfortunately convoluted: ideas were gained, lost, misdirected, and rediscovered in seemingly unrelated fields over and over again. In many cases, the order in which topics are introduced today are not the order in which they were discovered: the original discoveries remained vague or ungrounded until decades or centuries later. So I understand why the most efficient methods of presenting new concepts are not usually aligned with presenting their history as well. However, I have also pursued the history of various concepts independently of learning the topics. I've found the following books to be excellent.
    John Stillwell's Mathematics and Its History
    Stephen Hawking's The Dreams That Stuff Is Made Of
    Eli Maor's e: The Story of a Number
    Paul Nahin's An Imaginary Tale: The Story of [itex]\sqrt{-1}[/itex]
    Roger Penrose's The Road to Reality
    Taylor/Wheeler's Spacetime Physics
    The latter does not teach special relativity historically, but its exercises are full of actual experiments and references to landmark research papers that will provide the realistic viewpoint of what specific empirical results we base our understanding of special relativity on.
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