Ten Pop-Science Books (And Three SF Ones) You Should Read

Zebtron in the comments to the previous post asked what books on the science I talk about sometimes I would recommend. I thought others might be interested, so rather than a reply, I thought I’d post it here…

Here’s ten books on ‘this sort of thing’ that are popular enough to get hold of. Most of these are ‘pop science’ rather than the hard stuff – if you want to go in-depth a good starting point is the three-volume Feynman Lectures In Physics, von Neumann and Morgenstern’s Theory of Games and Economic Behavior and W. Ross Ashby’s Introduction to Cybernetics (freely, legally available as a PDF here – a great book, but full of *hard* maths)

In Search Of Schrodinger’s Cat by John Gribbin – covers the basics of quantum theory in ways that a layman can understand.

QED – The Strange Science Of Light & Matter by Richard Feynman – more in-depth coverage of what’s actually going on, by one of the greatest physicists of the last century. Proper science but still light on equations.

The Deutsch book reviewed below.


Godel, Escher, Bach, An Eternal Golden Braid
by Douglas Hofstadter – a book which explains Godel’s work in pure mathematics and Turing’s work in computation very well.

Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos by Ian Stewart.

Mr Tompkins by George Gamow – a collection of short stories illustrating various principles of quantum physics and relativity, followed by more in-depth explanations including the mathematics.

The Code Book by Simon Singh. Singh’s recent stuff about alternative health is a load of piffle, but this is a fascinating look at cryptography and mathematics.


How To Lie With Statistics
by Darrel Huff

How To Prove It by Daniel Vellermann – covers concepts of mathematical proof very well.

What Is Life?: with “Mind and Matter” and “Autobiographical Sketches” by Erwin Schrodinger – explains life in terms of fundamental physics.

And five SF novels that cover these subjects very well – if you don’t get it from the science books, these may give you a feel for things:

The Schrodinger’s Cat Trilogy by R.A. Wilson
Anathem by Neal Stephenson
Cryptonomicon, also Neal Stephenson

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5 Responses to Ten Pop-Science Books (And Three SF Ones) You Should Read

  1. Karl Musser says:

    I just started Anathem, looking forward to delving in.

  2. Zebtron A. Rama says:

    Thank you very much Andrew, exactly what I was looking for.

  3. Pingback: Super-Science…Explained « Animantium

  4. Duncan says:

    Seeing you claim five and deliver but three SF novels, I’d maybe suggest ‘Light’ by M. John Harrison to bulk out the list, to four, at least.

  5. Andrew Hickey says:

    I *could* be clever and point out that Schrodinger’s Cat is a trilogy, or I *could* be honest and say I typed up that post in two minutes at work because my home internet was playing up yesterday and couldn’t think of five in that time but forgot to edit the text as I didn’t have time to proofread. Decisions, decisions…

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