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Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 2
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Good Science BooksPage 1 of 3    (1, 2, 3)
I guess you are looking for science books where it is assumed the reader has little or no background beyond high school?

If you actually have some background in science and math, what is often a good place to look is to find out what books Dover has republished. Quite often you can find some real classic works in paperback, at a very good price.

One book I found interesting is a science fiction book about Linguistics called Babel-17. It's kind of old.
Joined: 7/9/2004
Msg: 11
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Good Science Books
Posted: 12/28/2007 10:40:22 PM
"Guns, Germs, and Steel; The Fates of Human Societies" by Jared Diamond, which has been out for a while now is an interesting book if you are into the likes of "Ishmael." Also found "Radical Evolution" by Joel Garreau and "Our Molecular Future" by Douglas Mulhall permenant places on my book shelf.
Joined: 7/28/2007
Msg: 13
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Good Science Books
Posted: 12/29/2007 1:41:14 PM
I would recommend Issac Asimov, his science fiction books are always based on science fact - he had a doctorate in biochemistry from Columbia University. He also wrote lots of books on non-fiction subjects, including science, hopefully they are still in print.
Another series of books are those by James Herriot about the live of a vet in rural Yorksire, England. They start with him just out college in the 1930's. The books are actually about the author's experiences, he is the vet in the books, and includes lots of science details concerning the animals and how he treats them.

Both authors write in a very easy conversational style.
Joined: 4/22/2006
Msg: 15
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Good Science Books
Posted: 12/30/2007 2:13:01 AM
The best book I ever read is "Gödel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter won the non-fiction Pulitzer in 1980. As the title alludes, it's main focus is mathematical logic, art, and music, but it applies well to philosophy, computer science and quite a bit else as well. It alternates between very entertaining "dialogues" and more textbook style chapters.

Almost everything by James Gleick is really good ... I think I've read "Chaos", "Genius", and "Faster" by him.

Richard Feynman wrote several books that are really just collections of anectdotes, but being a scientist, there is quite a bit of science in them. Even better, they are some of the funniest and most entertaining things ever written.

Biographies of scientists often contain lots of good science stuff, and with the extra human aspect are more readable to many ("Genius" is biography of Richard Feynman). If you're into math I would suggest Paul Erdos and Srinivasa Ramanujan.

I found Ray Kurzweil's "The Age of Spiritual Machines" more entertaining/readable and less "encyclopedic" than "The Age of Intelligent Machines" and "The Singularity is Near".

Now I'm starting to wrack my brain a little (and starting to think I should cut back on the websites and magazines and read more books, remembering how much I enjoyed them).

I used to browse the science section at the local public (and sometimes university) library. One that might be hard to find, but I really enjoyed was (I think):
"The quest for absolute zero: The meaning of low temperature physics" by Kurt Mendelssohn

If you're into astronomy, look for Timothy Ferris, I especially enjoyed "The Red Limit: The Search for the Edge of the Universe" largely about the discovery of the expansion of the universe. Though I guess it's a bit dated, having been written before astronomers realized the expansion is speeding up.

I've heard good things about (authors) Paul Davies, Daniel Dennet, Kip Thorne, and Michio Kaku as well.

For science fiction, my all time favorite is "Moving Mars" by Greg Bear ... it's got lots of technical bits in there. I also enjoyed:
the Skolian Empire books (there are quite a few of them) by Catherine Asaro (she is/was a working scientists ... physicist I think, but also wrote romance novels, so these aren't quite as "techie").
the Vorkosigan/Naismith by Lois McMaster Bujold
the Conquerers Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
the Ringworld series by Larry Niven
The Odyssey (2001, 2010, 2061, and 3001) by Arthur C. Clarke

I think I should stop now ;).
Joined: 12/11/2007
Msg: 23
Good Science Books
Posted: 1/3/2008 10:54:52 AM
"Primates & Philosophers: How Morality Evolved" by Frans de Waal.
An excellent read if you're interested in both science and philosophy. Discusses the evolution of human morality and shows how other social animals display similar capacities (particularly primates). The second half of the book consists of response essays by philosophers such as Peter Singer.

"Moral Politics" by George Lakoff.
Applies cognitive science to the study of political beliefs and and the unconscious moral systems that govern them. I found it to be fascinating and quite helpful for understanding how people think in relation to politics.
Joined: 12/25/2007
Msg: 34
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Good Science Books
Posted: 2/2/2008 1:23:09 PM
A book that I refer to a lot is "What Remains To Be Discovered" by Sir John Maddox. Sir John was the editor for "Nature" magazine for 23 years.

Another one that I am reading, but isn't as detailed is one by Bill Bryson, "A Short History of Nearly Everything". Its very readable like may of the other books he has written.
Joined: 9/12/2006
Msg: 40
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Good Science Books
Posted: 2/6/2008 2:09:55 PM
I agree with the recommendation of Bill Bryson's "A short History of nearly everything" I have recommended it to at least five others and all loved it. It traces the beginning of the universe, the history of earth, evolution, etc. The author is very readable and you will ooze information when you complete it.

Also "Flu" by Gina Kolata about the 1918 Flu epidemic, it's enormous proportions and why it scares the s** t out of present day infectious disease experts and the search for it and it's discovery in the permafrost of Alaska and Scandinavia.

Finally, "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell about the whys, wherefores and effectiveness of our abilities to make snap decisions and observations.
Joined: 5/21/2007
Msg: 47
Good Science Books
Posted: 3/11/2008 3:40:59 PM
Two books I have but haven't read are:

The Astonishing Hypothesis, by Crick, is about consciousness I hear.


The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn is about paradigm shifts in scientific thought.

I'm eager to read both . :)
Joined: 11/1/2006
Msg: 48
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Good Science Books
Posted: 3/11/2008 9:55:44 PM

Depends on how advanced your knowledge of science is but this is both a great introduction to psychology and science in general.
Joined: 7/5/2006
Msg: 49
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Good Science Books
Posted: 3/15/2008 2:34:23 AM
The best book I've read lately is 'Healing Gaia' -- Practical Medicine for the Planet.-

Written by James Lovelock....a brilliant mind. He was right about so many things.
The book was published 17 years ago and still rings true.
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