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Favorite Science/Math Books

What are your favorite science/math books?

Here's some of mine:

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter

The Emperor's New Mind by Roger Penrose

The Colossal Book of Mathematics: Classic Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Problems by Martin Gardner

Mathematical Sorcery: Revealing the Secrets of Numbers by Calvin C. Clawson

My ulterior motive for this thread is that I'm looking for recommendations. :)

Matt Kennedy
Thursday, September 19, 2002

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  Thomas Kuhn.

The Raging /.'er
Thursday, September 19, 2002

The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Richard Rhodes
Dark Sun - The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, Richard Rhodes
Genius (Biography of Richard Feynman), James Gleick
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, Richard P. Feynman
Men of Mathematics, E.T. Bell
Thinking Physics, Epstein
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

A. Coward
Thursday, September 19, 2002

Godel's Proof, by Nagel & Newman - a short classic, recently re-issued after being out of print for years.

What is Mathematics, by Courant & Robbins - another classic, tough going in parts, but well worth it. The second edition has more recent material added by Ian Stewart, any of whose books are well worth reading.

Mathematics: From the birth of numbers, by Jan Gullberg - easier going than Courant & Robbins, but amazingly comprehensive.

The Pleasures of Counting, by Tom Korner - absolutely fascinating.

Fermat's Last Theorem & The Code Book by Simon Singh

If you're interested in the philosophy of mathematics, "The Foundations of Arithmetic" by Frege is short and surprisingly accessible.

Anything by Feynman. My personal favourite in the popular science line is "QED". Also "The Character of Physical Law". They published some of his lectures as "Six easy pieces" and "Six not so easy pieces", but you'd be better off getting the first volume of the "Lectures in Physics", which I believe has all the lectures in those two books and more.

Genome by Matt Ridley

The Language of Genes, and anything else by Steve Jones.

That should keep you going for a while.

Andrew Simmons
Thursday, September 19, 2002

The Britney Spears Guide To Semiconductor Physics:

Darren Collins
Thursday, September 19, 2002

Introduction to Group Theory - W. Lederman
Mathemematicians Delight - W.W Sawyer
Operations Research (An Introduction) - Hamdy Taha

Thursday, September 19, 2002

- The fractal geometry of nature, 1982, Benoit Mandelbrot
- Does God play dice? Ian Stewart

Anything from Simon Singh

And every now and then a random (Dijkstra's manuscript) EWD makes for a healthy and illustrating read:

May his soul reast in peace.

Beka Pantone
Thursday, September 19, 2002

In no particular order:

The Code Book

Contact (Sort of Science yet humbling in scope)

The Self Aware Universe

Brian Greene's book,  can't think of it's name of the top of my head.

and the one that started it all... at least for me...

Black Holes and Baby Universes (Followed shortly by A Brief History).

Gawd I LOVE Books!

Oh, as an aside;  Anyone know who the only author to publish a book in every major division of the Dewey system is? 

Another outstanding science/fictin author!

Brad Siemens
Thursday, September 19, 2002

Oh, I should also chime in for anything that is remotely to do with Richard Feynman!

Brad Siemens
Thursday, September 19, 2002

Was the dewey decimal guy Isaac Asimov?

Joel Spolsky
Thursday, September 19, 2002


If I might say, Outstanding!!! But being a fellow New Yorker, I shouldn't be surprised. :-)

Brad Siemens
Thursday, September 19, 2002

Strange but true.

I was born on Isaac Asimov's birthday and he died on my brother's birthday.  Anyone into numerology?

Brad Siemens
Thursday, September 19, 2002

"The Selfish Gene" is my all-time favorite science book.  I've read it three times, and will probably read it again.

Joel's book-reviews page inspired me to create my own list a few weeks ago (sorry to spam my site here, but it's relevant to the discussion, so...)

Alex Chernavsky
Thursday, September 19, 2002


Good List.

I'm half way through Catcher in the Rye (Yeah ok, so I'm slow) and I gotta say WTF!

Brad Siemens
Friday, September 20, 2002

Just on the subject of reading, I am currently experiencing enormous "readers block" and just can't get started on anything, I'm working pretty hard at present and absorbing some new tech stuff as well as some new business stuff, I've tried to pick up about ten books in the last month or two and can't even make it past about page ten. Then they just sit by the side of the bed until I slide them under to vaccum, I'm sure I felt a book dig into my spine in my sleep last night. It sure as hell was'nt my wife.

Any suggestions for a sure fire drought buster to get me going again? Nothing requiring hard work up front, but something that draws you in.

Friday, September 20, 2002

How the Mind Works - Stephen Pinker
The Selfish Gene, too and Fennymanything too...

Robin Debreuil
Friday, September 20, 2002

Another Feynman book:  What Do You Care What Other People Think?

Math: The Book of Numbers

Paul Brinkley
Friday, September 20, 2002

Bruce Hunt, "The Maxwellians".

Paul Nahin, "Oliver Heaviside: Sage in Solitude".

And if you want to include economics in your science readings:

Buchholz, "From Here to Economy" and "New Ideas from Dead Economists".

The general public's understanding of general science is rather dismal, but understanding of economics is even worse but more important, so I like to encourage people to read the economics books.  Buchholz is quite an easy read.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Meno - Plato

Pi in the sky - John D Barrow

Friday, September 20, 2002

Math: I had "Div, Grad, Curl and All That" by H. M. Schey for a math class, and liked it so much I went out and bought myself a copy afterwards.  It's now in its third edition, and I'm seriously thinking about buying that as well.

Science: "The Aquatic Ape" by Elaine Morgan.  She has also written since then "The Scars of Evolution" and "The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis".

Friday, September 20, 2002

It's not strictly my favourite, (most of them have already been mentioned) but try "Against Method" by Paul Feyerabend. He argues that (essentially) there is no such thing as scientific method, and that no-one follows it, and if they did they wouldn't produce anything useful.

David Clayworth
Friday, September 20, 2002

Some oldies but goodies:

* One, Two, Three, Infinity by George Gamow

* Realm of Algebra by Asimov (introductory but it was cool in fourth grade)

* Progress and Poverty by Henry George (not mathematical, but since we went to economics...)

* I'm just getting started with Lillian Lieber

Friday, September 20, 2002

A random selection

"The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure" by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Rotraut Susanne Berner (Illustrator), Michael Henry Heim (Translator) for kids of all ages.

Brian Green's "the elegant universe"

Kurzweils older book - "Age of Intelligent Machines"

"Silicon Dreams: Information man and machines" - Robert Lucky - great information theory

Ted Nelson's Literary Machines  - if you can get your hands on a copy - read about hypertext as envisioned by the guy who coined the phrase - see what you are missing out on with this World Wide Web thing

Rudy Rucker's Mind Tools - though I don't remember why ;)

Diffusion if Innovations by Rogers

Nick Katsivelos
Friday, September 20, 2002

Gregory Chaitin gives good lecture, so I'd check out his books at the bookstore.  He's an IBM researcher intrigued with incompleteness, and among other things is known for the Chaitin constant, the probability for a machine that a given program running on it will halt. 

Oddly enough, for each machine there's a point past which you can't compute this probability more accurately.

Here's one lecture for fans of GEB:EGB:

He's a lisp advocate who puts Paul Graham to shame, calling Gödel an early lisp programmer.

This book of his is online:

Friday, September 20, 2002

Favourite science/maths books:

"Quantum Field Theory" - F Mandl, G Shaw (easy to follow and understand, a perfect introduction to the subject, definitely my favourite science book)

"Modern Quantum Mechanics" - J.J. Sajurai (a classic)

Rod Buchan
Tuesday, September 24, 2002


Your Gold Box

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I dislike it     I love it!

    Fantasia Mathematica:
    Being a Set of Stories, Together With a Group of Oddments and Diversions, All Drawn from the Universe of Mathematics
    Clifton Fadiman (Editor)

Walt Guyll
Monday, October 7, 2002

The Crest of the Peacock. Non-European Roots of Mathematics. George Gheverghese Joseph. Penguin Books: 1991.

John Saba
Saturday, February 21, 2004

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