What Science Books Are You Currently Reading?

Recommend, review, and discuss science related books that you have read, movies/tv programs you've watched, or Podcasts you listen to.

What Science Books Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Deftil on July 19th, 2008, 7:04 am 

Share what scientific books you are reading. Tell us as much or as little as you'd like about the books. I figure people read good ones all the time but don't feel like making an entirely new thread dedicated to them, so.... here's this thread.

I finished Sociobiology: The New Synthesis by E.O. Wilson about a week ago. It was quite good. I made a thread about it here: http://www.philosophychatforum.com/bull ... php?t=9556

Currently I'm reading Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley. 344 pages, published in 1999.

The book devotes one chapter to each pair of human chromosomes. Since one (unnumbered) chapter is required to discuss the sex chromosomes, the final chapter is number 22. Ridley was inspired to adopt this model by Primo Levi's book The Periodic Table.

The book discusses various ways in which genes affect human life, from physiology to disease and behaviour. The book covers the history of genetics, including Mendelian inheritance, eugenics, James D. Watson and Francis Crick, nature versus nurture and genetic engineering. The book takes a reductionist view of biology and evolution and is pro-sociobiology and evolutionary psychology.


Wikipedia page on Matt Ridley

Amazon page on Genome

I'm enjoying the book so far (am 160 pages in) but I'm not always a fan of Ridley's style. For lack of a better word, I'd say he's kind of smart-alecy sometimes. I also don't like the fact that he sometimes appears to be trying to cater to the religious types. At one point he briefly mentioned something about where the soul could have been imparted into the genome. =/
But later in the book he seems be adamant that there isn't a mind-body dualism. At any rate, overall, I'm finding the book quite enjoyable and fairly informative.
Deftil
 


Postby Nick on July 27th, 2008, 12:07 pm 

I'm currently reading a mixture of "Introduction to Elementary Particles" by Griffiths and "Introduction to High Energy Physics" by Perkins to try and keep up with some standard model lectures despite having only taken up to second year particle physics courses.
Nick
 


Postby Deftil on August 23rd, 2008, 5:31 am 

Recently checked out The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World by Paul Davies. So far it's both scientific and philosophical and I'm enjoying it.

http://www.powells.com/biblio/9780671797188
Deftil
 


Postby Nick on August 24th, 2008, 6:02 pm 

I am borrowing The Theory of groups (JJ Rotman) and Elements of Group Theory for Physicists (AW Joshi) at the moment (on top of the physics books I should actually be reading).
Nick
 


Postby Rettaw on August 25th, 2008, 3:36 pm 

Currently I'm reading "Space, Time, and spacetime" by Lawrence Sklar. It's a book about the epistomological reasons to belive in geometry basically. I haven't read all of it yet, but it's been quite ok so far.

I'm also reading "the shaggy steed of physics", which claims to be a book about the two body problem and how it appears in physics, but as far as I've gotten is mostly just a quite terse recap of classical mechanics. I've grown quite bored with it so I should hand it back to the library soon since I mostly don't touch it.

Also I've got "rubber and rubber ballons", a book about rubber ballons and the thermodynamics needed to describe them. Mostly I think I borrowed it because in the first paragraph of the introduction one finds the line "Indeed, there are much more than fun an games to be had with ballons."
Rettaw
 


Postby Deftil on August 25th, 2008, 3:48 pm 

Rettaw wrote: Currently I'm reading "Space, Time, and spacetime"

Also I've got "rubber and rubber ballons"


hmmm interesting title formats there

Rettaw wrote: Mostly I think I borrowed it because in the first paragraph of the introduction one finds the line "Indeed, there are much more than fun an games to be had with ballons."


lol

yea, that's a pretty good line acutally
Deftil
 


Postby Highwaystar101 on August 26th, 2008, 4:12 am 

Stephen Hawking - Universe in a nutshell

But I tend to read more periodicals and journals than books nowadays.

Besides no-one can beat discworld lol
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Postby Highwaystar101 on August 26th, 2008, 6:44 am 

Actually, does anyone read new scientists books "How to fossilise your hamster" and the others.

Also, I just brought the mensa maths and Logic puzzle book off Amazon for £1... bargain
Highwaystar101
 


Postby Nick on August 26th, 2008, 7:33 am 

Someone gave me the new scientist hamster book for christmas, I've never bothered to pick it up though.
Nick
 


Postby DreamCatcher on September 17th, 2008, 5:05 pm 

"Tao of physics" by Fritjof Capra.Someone read it ?
DreamCatcher
 


Postby Deftil on December 5th, 2008, 12:40 am 

The Probable Universe: An Owner's Guide to Quantum Physics by M. Y. Han

Was at the library and looking for something short and about science and I came across this one. I have no idea if it's any good, but it's short and about science. And I've had a lot of questions about QP for awhile so maybe this will help me understand a bit better.

http://www.amazon.com/Probable-Universe ... 0830641920
Deftil
 


Postby asocialnorm on January 3rd, 2009, 11:17 pm 

Would anyone be able to recommend a starter philosophy book that's relatively easy to read and does not contain too much jargon. I find it really hard to read books (let's just say I am a short story kind of a person or a poem).
Deftil, I know you've recommended something above; however, I can't help but wonder if it's something I can read without any background on Philosophy and it's beginnings.

Thank you.
ASN
asocialnorm
 


Postby CanadysPeak on January 4th, 2009, 4:19 pm 

A good starter book on philosophy is Bertram Russell's A History of Western Philosophy As the name implies, it only covers western thought, but if you live in western culture that's a good place to start. It doesn't have a lot of jargon, but easy to read? Russell could put a gargoyle to sleep. And, of course, it has nothing from the last fifty years or so.

If you're interested in modern tecnophilosophy, I'd recommend Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind
CanadysPeak
 


Postby CanadysPeak on January 4th, 2009, 4:25 pm 

Oh, and to answer the original question, I'm reading (or perhaps trying to read) Roger Penrose's The Road to Reality. It's absolutely interesting and fairly easy to read except that the problems are extremely difficult (and there are no answers in the back!).

I am also reading (I normally have perhaps up to 10 books underway at any time - sort of senior ADD I suppose) for the second time Lewis Epstein's Relativity Visualized. It gives a wonderfully illustrated and light-hearted explanation of what Einstein might have meant.
CanadysPeak
 


Postby asocialnorm on January 4th, 2009, 9:13 pm 

CanadysPeak wrote:A good starter book on philosophy is Bertram Russell's A History of Western Philosophy As the name implies, it only covers western thought, but if you live in western culture that's a good place to start. It doesn't have a lot of jargon, but easy to read? Russell could put a gargoyle to sleep. And, of course, it has nothing from the last fifty years or so.

If you're interested in modern tecnophilosophy, I'd recommend Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind


Thank you for the recommendation CanadysPeak. I am going to attempt to read Deftil's recommendation first as it covers a lot of historical philosophers and I believe it will give me a good base for your recommendation.

That said, can you please elaborate on the term "Tecnophilosophy". This is the first time I am hearing this and I was unable to find anything significant via Google search either.

Thank you.
asocialnorm
 


Postby CanadysPeak on January 5th, 2009, 9:45 am 

I apologize for missing the spelling error. That should have been technophilosophy or techno-philosophy or techno philosophy; try all three ways for Googling. It has several aspects: our relationships with machines; the meaning of AI; and the extent to which we can be reduced to networks of electrochemical processes are a few.

You might also look at Martin Heidegger for an opposition view. At least I think so, I'm not really smart enough to understand Heidegger.

Thanks for the question.
CanadysPeak
 


Postby Deftil on January 15th, 2009, 12:30 pm 

What Evolution IS
by Ernst Mayr

It has a foreword by Jared Diamond. I pretty much already know what evolution is, but I don't suppose it hurts to review and possibly fill in any holes in my understanding. Also, I had never read anything by Mayr before and he seems to be a pretty big deal in evolutionary biology so I thought it'd be a good idea to read this. Also, Mayr lived to be 100 years old, and this book was published when he was 97.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Evolution-Er ... 0465044263


I've also read/ am reading a couple of books that have a lot of scientific content, but also have plenty of philosophical content so I listed them in the Books section of PCF, but I will briefly note them here as well.

The Mind
by Richard M. Restak, M.D.
Although written as a corollary to a new nine-part PBS series being aired this fall, The Mind stands independently as a good source of information for the layperson. Following the same pattern he used in The Brain ( LJ 10/15/84), also an earlier PBS series, Restaka scientist, physicist, neurologist, and author of several medical science booksexplores the development of the mind from conception through old age, emphasizing thinking processes and language development. He also explains mental processes and the new research on depression, pain, addiction, and violence. Much technical information is presented, but Restak's lucid explanations, interspersed with human interest stories, photographs, and diagrams, make the material appealing and easy to digest.

http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Richard-M-Re ... 1569562849


The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
Geoffrey Miller

It applies the principles of sexual selection in an attempt to explain the evolution of human intelligence and creativity.

http://www.amazon.com/Mating-Mind-Sexua ... 038549517X
Deftil
 


Postby Sodalite95 on January 23rd, 2009, 4:30 pm 

Hello, I'm new to this forum and I've been wanting to delve more deeply into different topics in science for some time, so I appreciate everyone sharing what they're reading.....

I was wondering if anyone has read The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene? If so, what were your thoughts?

My background is more in social sciences, with just a little dabbling into biology and its subfields, so the book looks more than a little bit daunting. Someone had recommended it to me, though. If someone has a really good recommendation for a good book for an intro to physics, I would appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks!
Sodalite95
 


Postby Deftil on February 1st, 2009, 2:05 pm 

Sodalite95,

I havent read any of them but Ive heard good things about Greene's books.

I'm now reading

The Naked Ape
by Desmond Morris

http://www.amazon.com/Naked-Ape-Desmond ... 0440362660
Deftil
 


Postby Lincoln on February 2nd, 2009, 8:19 am 

Sodalite95 wrote:Hello, I'm new to this forum and I've been wanting to delve more deeply into different topics in science for some time, so I appreciate everyone sharing what they're reading.....

I was wondering if anyone has read The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene? If so, what were your thoughts?

My background is more in social sciences, with just a little dabbling into biology and its subfields, so the book looks more than a little bit daunting. Someone had recommended it to me, though. If someone has a really good recommendation for a good book for an intro to physics, I would appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks!

What kind of physics?

I know Greene (only professionally and not very well, but we chat occasionally about popular writing) and he's a great communicator. His first book is good in the beginning and then gets hard. If you can be a bit more specific on the type of physics in which you are interested (quantum, relativity, modern physics, strings, LHC, extra dimensions, what?), I can perhaps make more appropriate suggestions.
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Anyone seen Darkmatter

Postby wolfhnd on April 17th, 2009, 3:35 am 

http://www.darkmatterthefilm.com/

Sounds like science research is the central theme of this movie?
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Postby Hylke on April 23rd, 2009, 6:34 pm 

@Abishai

How are you liking the people's history? I was thinking of reading it soon.

Forme at the moment: the best American Science Writing of 2007. My first book of this serie and I must say I am quite amazed at how great the selection is.
Hylke
 


Re:

Postby Watson on May 5th, 2009, 11:17 pm 

DreamCatcher wrote:"Tao of physics" by Fritjof Capra.Someone read it ?




Yes, I think I have it and read it, but that must be 1992-1993. The Emperiors New Mind vintage?
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Re: What Science Books Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Lincoln on May 7th, 2009, 11:24 am 

Capra's book is mediocre Buddhism/Taoism and wretched physics. The book's era was 1975. I read it in about 1980.

Dreadful and successful book. I'm jealous.
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Re: What Science Books Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Watson on May 7th, 2009, 12:59 pm 

It was soft cover so I obviously have a reprint of x generations. It was later in life that I decided to only buy the most current books and they only come as hard cover. (the good ones) Earlier this year I read "Einsteins Telescope" dealing with the latest techniques of using gravitational lensing to look further into the Universe history than before possible. Definitely interesting and easy to read for the most of us.
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Re: What Science Books Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Paralith on May 12th, 2009, 3:48 pm 

For anyone interested in behavior I would highly recommend Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of a Social Mind. It discusses in detail the studies and experiments the authors conducted on Chacma baboons in the Okavango delta, as well as summarizing other cognitive experiments done on a variety of primate species.

And for something a little more fun, King Solomon's Ring is a very entertaining set of anecdotal stories from Konrad Lorenz, one of the first animal behavior scientists who thought the best way to study certain animals was to let them wander freely around his house.
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Re: What Science Books Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Deftil on June 13th, 2009, 6:25 pm 

I recently finished Full House by Stephen Jay Gould. In it he argues against the idea that a progression to increasing complexity is a defining characteristic of evolution. It's pretty interesting but I'm not fond of his style. He seems to like to pat himself on the back and he feels the need to make biblical allusions regularly. As some may know he often would relate sports to science, and he does so in this book with a whole section on the extinction of .400 hitting in baseball. I'm still not sure how I feel about that, and if it added anything to my understanding of the actual subject matter of the book.
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Re: What Science Books Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Watson on June 16th, 2009, 10:14 am 

"Deciphering the Cosmic Number", by Arthur Miller. Part way through I was checking the jacket to see if it was on the right book, as it had nothing to do with a cosmic number. It is a biography on Wolfgang Pauli and various associates of the day. It was not what I was expecting, but very interesting and well written just the same. I just picked up "Antimatter", by Frank Close. I gather from the first pages it is intended to educate the public on the subject so they don't think Cern will become conCern.
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Re: What Science Books Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Lincoln on June 16th, 2009, 5:56 pm 

If I'm not mistaken, Close's book is much older than the CERN broohaha. Besides, that's black holes, not antimatter.

If you wanted to worry about antimatter, it's Fermilab that's top dog.
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Re: What Science Books Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Watson on June 17th, 2009, 11:36 am 

Antimatter, by Frank Close, first published 2009, for my collection of first editions. Have you not heard of the antimatter bomb in Vatican story. I also had not heard the Tunguska explosion was thought to be an anti matter touch from space? I thought there would have been enough matter in outer space, in the path of such, that it would dissolve/annihilate relatively quickly. It sounds like the old meteor explaination didn't leave a tell tale crator.
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