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Hidden Jewels of Scientific Literature


joigus
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Is there a book, or a few, that not many people know, but blew your mind?

The rules:

1) Scientific books: Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Linguistics, Mathematics, Paleontology, Physics,... The lot! But mainstream science.

2) Not "bibles" of the scientific literature, but can be relatively unknown books from famous author. For example: Dirac's Principles of Quantum Mechanics is not allowed, but Dirac's Lectures on Quantum Mechanics, could be OK. Not best sellers.

3) They can be either technical, or popular science

Here's mine: The Quantum Theory of Atoms, molecules, and Photons

by John Avery

It's a book by a quantum chemist that takes you on a journey of basically everything essential about the quantum. The title is very telling of what it does.

Tell me about your hidden treasure.

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14 minutes ago, joigus said:

Is there a book, or a few, that not many people know, but blew your mind?

The rules:

1) Scientific books: Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Linguistics, Mathematics, Paleontology, Physics,... The lot! But mainstream science.

2) Not "bibles" of the scientific literature, but can be relatively unknown books from famous author. For example: Dirac's Principles of Quantum Mechanics is not allowed, but Dirac's Lectures on Quantum Mechanics, could be OK. Not best sellers.

3) They can be either technical, or popular science

Here's mine: The Quantum Theory of Atoms, molecules, and Photons

by John Avery

It's a book by a quantum chemist that takes you on a journey of basically everything essential about the quantum. The title is very telling of what it does.

Tell me about your hidden treasure.

Not sure if the following meets your criteria, but by far the best book I have read, was literally a history lesson on 19th century/20th century science. The book was "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes, detailing the work of scientist from Curie, Bequeral, Rhotegen, to Szillard, Bohr, Bethe, Fermi, Einstein, and Feynman, up to Oppenheimer and the Manhatten project. Literally far more a great history of science, then the actual making, and dropping of the bomb and its after effects. Great read!!!

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What is Real, by Adam Becker.  Fascinating history of quantum foundations, with particular attention to those who pushed back against the long dominance of Copenhagen.  

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1 hour ago, beecee said:

Not sure if the following meets your criteria, but by far the best book I have read, was literally a history lesson on 19th century/20th century science. The book was "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes, detailing the work of scientist from Curie, Bequeral, Rhotegen, to Szillard, Bohr, Bethe, Fermi, Einstein, and Feynman, up to Oppenheimer and the Manhatten project. Literally far more a great history of science, then the actual making, and dropping of the bomb and its after effects. Great read!!!

Yes, you've mentioned it before. It seems to meet my criteria. I cannot be totally sure.

I don't know the book. But that doesn't necessarily mean anything... I'm aware of the ambiguity of my request!

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If I can add another...a book entitled "Longitude" by Dava Sobel...a story about solving the greatest scientific problem of the time, and the carpenter that took up the challenge creating the first working chronometer that could be used at sea on an unstable surface, and away from any observational land forms. His name was John Harrison.

The problem was monumental and the cause of many tragedies at sea in that age of Oceanic exploration. So much so that King George 111 offered prizes and rewards worth millions today.  Even the great Sir Isacc Newton thought it impossible.

Another great and learned read.

Edited by beecee
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I loved "Longitude"!    Sobel made more sense out of navigation, timekeeping and related topics than anything else I've read.  I second BC's recommendation.  

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17 hours ago, TheVat said:

What is Real, by Adam Becker.  Fascinating history of quantum foundations, with particular attention to those who pushed back against the long dominance of Copenhagen.  

Sounds like a kind of topic that's particularly close to my heart. These ones too:

13 hours ago, Peterkin said:

Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas was a favourite of my youth.

Structures - or why things don't fall down by JE Gordon

 

As to,

16 hours ago, beecee said:

If I can add another...a book entitled "Longitude" by Dava Sobel...a story about solving the greatest scientific problem of the time, and the carpenter that took up the challenge creating the first working chronometer that could be used at sea on an unstable surface, and away from any observational land forms. His name was John Harrison.

The problem was monumental and the cause of many tragedies at sea in that age of Oceanic exploration. So much so that King George 111 offered prizes and rewards worth millions today.  Even the great Sir Isacc Newton thought it impossible.

Another great and learned read.

Duly noted. These kind of topics are a little bit off my radar. But the topic is fascinating.

Thank you for the Peebles reference, @MigL. I think I'd heard about it, but haven't read it. I suppose it's a bit outdated now, but duly noted as well.

Thanks all for the contributions.

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1 minute ago, joigus said:

Thank you for the Peebles reference, @MigL. I think I'd heard about it, but haven't read it. I suppose it's a bit outdated now,

Nevertheless, I was particularly impressed by it when I first got it.

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Let me offer a few choice ones.

Courant and Robbins    What is Mathematics ?

Matt Parker   Things to make and Do in the FourthDimension.

David Wells   The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Geometry.

Acheson From    Calculus to Chaos.

Mark Levi    The Mathematical Mechanic.

J E Spice        Chemical Binding and Structure.

Pauling and Pauling   Chemistry

Fred Hoyle       Ice

Hermann Bondi       Relativity and Common Sense

Robert Millikan        Electrons ( + and -) Protons, Photons, Neutrons, Mesotrons and Cosmic Rays.

PS thanks for the thread, +1

Swinnerton Solving         Earth's Mysteries

Steven Vogel Cats     Paws and Catapaults

 

 

Edited by studiot
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Two I mentioned before:

Konrad Lorenz - Behind the Mirror; The Foundations of Ethology.  All of them, really - dated, but well ahead of the curve and quite readable.

Erich Hoyt & E.O. Wilson - The Earth Dwellers - Adventures in the Land of Ants.

 

A very favourite from long ago:

Arthur Koestler - The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe

Excellent story-telling.

(Don't you wish all good books were written by nice people?)

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1 hour ago, Peterkin said:

Konrad Lorenz - Behind the Mirror; The Foundations of Ethology.  All of them, really - dated, but well ahead of the curve and quite readable.

Lorenz and Immelmann (Einfuehrung in die Verhaltensforschung) were folks who originally made me want to study ethology. Unfortunately the funding situation turned me off from it (I did learn how to catch finches with bare hands without injuring them so there is at least that). Sometimes I wished I had stuck with the original plan (greener grass and all that).

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19 hours ago, TheVat said:

I loved "Longitude"!    Sobel made more sense out of navigation, timekeeping and related topics than anything else I've read.  I second BC's recommendation.  

Agreed. A fascinating book. 

I'd also nominate Martin Brasier's "Darwin's Lost World". This is a readable, first hand account of palaeontological research into the development of preCambrian life, i.e. the mysterious stage before things had hard parts that fossilise well. It introduced me to the enigmatic Ediacaran fauna and insights such as as the impact on life of the coming of the mouth.   

 

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17 hours ago, studiot said:

Let me offer a few choice ones.

Courant and Robbins    What is Mathematics ?

Matt Parker   Things to make and Do in the FourthDimension.

David Wells   The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Geometry.

Acheson From    Calculus to Chaos.

Mark Levi    The Mathematical Mechanic.

J E Spice        Chemical Binding and Structure.

Pauling and Pauling   Chemistry

Fred Hoyle       Ice

Hermann Bondi       Relativity and Common Sense

Robert Millikan        Electrons ( + and -) Protons, Photons, Neutrons, Mesotrons and Cosmic Rays.

PS thanks for the thread, +1

Swinnerton Solving         Earth's Mysteries

Steven Vogel Cats     Paws and Catapaults

 

 

Nice mix-and-match. Thank you for taking the time.

I have to tell you, I had you very much in mind when I came up with the topic.

14 hours ago, exchemist said:

Agreed. A fascinating book. 

I'd also nominate Martin Brasier's "Darwin's Lost World". This is a readable, first hand account of palaeontological research into the development of preCambrian life, i.e. the mysterious stage before things had hard parts that fossilise well. It introduced me to the enigmatic Ediacaran fauna and insights such as as the impact on life of the coming of the mouth.   

 

Pre-Cambrian life fascinates me too. I absolutely relished S.J. Gould's Wonderful Life, which is perhaps more widely known. Thank you.

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Actually, Wonderful Life is more about Cambrian, although it does talk about Ediacaran. To me, Edicacaran is even more fascinating. The more primitive, the more fascinating.

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