Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Science books

From Cocktail Party Physics by way of Stranger Fruit... bold the ones you've read, asterisk the ones you intend to read:
  1. Micrographia, Robert Hooke
  2. The Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin
  3. Never at Rest, Richard Westfall
  4. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, Richard Feynman
  5. Tesla: Man Out of Time, Margaret Cheney
  6. The Devil's Doctor, Philip Ball
  7. The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Richard Rhodes
  8. Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos, Dennis Overbye
  9. Physics for Entertainment, Yakov Perelman
  10. 1-2-3 Infinity, George Gamow (I've not read this, but I've read Mr. Tompkins in Paperback)
  11. The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene
  12. Warmth Disperses, Time Passes, Hans Christian von Bayer
  13. Alice in Quantumland, Robert Gilmore
  14. Where Does the Weirdness Go? David Lindley
  15. A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
  16. A Force of Nature, Richard Rhodes
  17. Black Holes and Time Warps, Kip Thorne
  18. A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking (I listened to it on tape on a drive to the Dallas CSICOP conference in 1992)
  19. Universal Foam, Sidney Perkowitz
  20. Vermeer's Camera, Philip Steadman
  21. The Code Book, Simon Singh
  22. The Elements of Murder, John Emsley
  23. *Soul Made Flesh, Carl Zimmer (I'm currently reading this)
  24. Time's Arrow, Martin Amis
  25. The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments, George Johnson
  26. Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman
  27. Godel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter
  28. The Curious Life of Robert Hooke, Lisa Jardine
  29. A Matter of Degrees, Gino Segre
  30. The Physics of Star Trek, Lawrence Krauss
  31. E=mc<2>, David Bodanis
  32. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, Charles Seife
  33. Absolute Zero: The Conquest of Cold, Tom Shachtman
  34. A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, Janna Levin
  35. Warped Passages, Lisa Randall
  36. Apollo's Fire, Michael Sims
  37. Flatland, Edward Abbott
  38. Fermat's Last Theorem, Amir Aczel
  39. Stiff, Mary Roach
  40. Astroturf, M.G. Lord
  41. The Periodic Table, Primo Levi
  42. Longitude, Dava Sobel
  43. The First Three Minutes, Steven Weinberg
  44. The Mummy Congress, Heather Pringle
  45. The Accelerating Universe, Mario Livio
  46. Math and the Mona Lisa, Bulent Atalay
  47. This is Your Brain on Music, Daniel Levitin
  48. The Executioner's Current, Richard Moran
  49. Krakatoa, Simon Winchester
  50. Pythagorus' Trousers, Margaret Wertheim
  51. Neuromancer, William Gibson
  52. The Physics of Superheroes, James Kakalios
  53. The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump, Sandra Hempel
  54. Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, Katrina Firlik
  55. Einstein's Clocks and Poincare's Maps, Peter Galison
  56. The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan
  57. The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins
  58. The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker
  59. An Instance of the Fingerpost, Iain Pears
  60. Consilience, E.O. Wilson
  61. Wonderful Life, Stephen J. Gould (haven't read this, but I've read all of his books of collected Natural History articles)
  62. Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard
  63. Fire in the Brain, Ronald K. Siegel
  64. The Life of a Cell, Lewis Thomas
  65. Coming of Age in the Milky Way, Timothy Ferris
  66. Storm World, Chris Mooney
  67. The Carbon Age, Eric Roston
  68. The Black Hole Wars, Leonard Susskind
  69. Copenhagen, Michael Frayn
  70. From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne
  71. Gut Symmetries, Jeanette Winterson
  72. Chaos, James Gleick
  73. Innumeracy, John Allen Paulos
  74. The Physics of NASCAR, Diandra Leslie-Pelecky
  75. Subtle is the Lord, Abraham Pais
I'd add some Oliver Sacks and A.R. Luria (neuroscience case studies), V.S. Ramachandran's A Brief Tour of Consciousness, Charles Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, and some philosophy of science like Larry Laudan's Science and Relativism (nicely written in the form of a dialogue between advocates of different views), Philip Kitcher's The Advancement of Science, Thomas Kuhn's The Copernican Revolution, John Losee's A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, and Ian Hacking's Representing and Intervening. There are lots more to list, but those are a few that I've read. My science reading has leaned very strongly towards cognitive psychology, neuroscience, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science, which is only weakly represented on the above list, and on the creation/evolution debate, which isn't really represented on the above list at all, except by Darwin himself.

Now John Lynch can tell me that I really need to read Origin of Species.

UPDATE (August 28, 2008):

Enhanced with P.Z. Myers' additions:
  1. Ascent of Man, Jacob Bronowski
  2. Basin and Range, John McPhee
  3. Beak of the Finch, Jonathan Weiner
  4. Chance and Necessity, Jacques Monod
  5. *Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation, Olivia Judson (reading now)
  6. *Endless Forms Most Beautiful, Sean Carroll
  7. Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, Carl Zimmer
  8. Genome, Matt Ridley
  9. Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond
  10. It Ain't Necessarily So, Richard Lewontin
  11. On Growth and Form, D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson
  12. Phantoms in the Brain, VS Ramachandran
  13. The Ancestor's Tale, Richard Dawkins
  14. The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution, Elisabeth Lloyd
  15. The Eighth Day of Creation, Horace Freeland Judson
  16. The Great Devonian Controversy, Martin Rudwick
  17. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Oliver Sacks
  18. The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould
  19. The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment, Richard Lewontin
  20. Time, Love, Memory, Jonathan Weiner
  21. Voyaging and The Power of Place, Janet Browne
  22. Woman: An Intimate Geography, Natalie Angier


Hume's Ghost said...

I've got a gorgeous Barnes and Noble HC edition of all five of Darwin's books that I've been meaning to read but haven't gotten around to yet ... I'm pretty sure I read Voyage of the Beagle in the 7th grade and did a report on it but I'm not sure.

Another book I'd add to the list is The Road to Reality by Roger Penrose. I started reading it last year and had to stop because the material was too engaging for me to do the usual 3-4 books at a time deal.

When I post this I think I'm going to add some more philosophy of science books in, too.

How has Soul Made Flesh been? I've wanted to read that for years now.

Jim Lippard said...

I've not had a chance to read any more of Soul Made Flesh since I started it during my vacation, but so far it's been excellent. I think I'm about four or five chapters in.

Danny Boy said...

Soul Made Flesh, like Zimmer's other books, is well written and very engaging. As for the list, I think I've read only seven. Shameful, I know.

Hume's Ghost said...

I mispoke about Road to Reality. I should have said "demanding" rather than "engaging." The book has practice problems in it to help you learn the math and science - I had planned on working out the problems - graded easy, intermediate, and difficult. They all seemed fairly difficult to me despite having once been decent at calculus based physics.

Hume's Ghost said...

college intro level physics, of course.

Einzige said...

It's amazing how quickly that stuff goes. I aced my first semester of calculus a couple years ago (I even helped proofread a few chapters of this text) but I'd be lucky if I could find the limit of a function today.

Jim Lippard said...

I picked up Soul Made Flesh again. I'm six chapters in, and came across this sentence that I'm not happy with: "Boyle was impressed by the way that a dead man's nails could keep growing for months, long after the rational soul had left his body." (p. 144)

Sure, that's what Boyle *thought* he was seeing, but Zimmer doesn't note that this is a myth.

Hume's Ghost said...

I was in the library today to return a book and could not resist checking out a copy of Zimmer's Microcosm that was featured on the New Books shelf.

I also noticed that my library has a new service that allows you do check out on-line editions of books which you can then burn onto cds. I'm hoping they eventually get plenty of public domains books available this way. I jogged my way through Plato's Republic on my IPod earlier this year.

Hume's Ghost said...

D'oh! I forgot to mention The Scientists. And I even made that my Book of the Year for 2007 (that being the best Doubter related book I read during the course of the year.)

Jim Lippard said...

Added to my wish list. Thanks!

Danny Boy said...

Here are my additions to the list (some are already listed by PZ):

Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner
Chance in the House of Fate by Jennifer Ackerman
Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science by Martin Gardner
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
Just Six Numbers by Martin Rees
Reinventing Darwin by Niles Eldredge
The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert Bakker
The God Particle by Leon Lederman

Hume's Ghost said...

I just remembered that Discover did a list of top science books about year and a half ago.