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Old 03-25-2009, 07:39 PM   #26
Quicksilvre
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

I think that How to Think About Weird Things by Theo Schick and Lewis Vaughn is the best book on critical thinking I have ever read. It seems to be out of print, but there are dozens of copies available on Amazon.
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Old 03-26-2009, 11:23 AM   #27
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

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Originally Posted by uDevil View Post
Science:

Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality, by Lewis Carroll Epstein. Quick/fun questions and answers for nonexperts. I especially liked the explanation of magnetism as a consequence of relativistic length contraction.

Vibrations and Waves, by A.P. French.

If you like Richard Feynman's autobiograhical stuff, try Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, by Kary Mullis. Dude is certifiable.

Cosmos, by Carl Sagan.

Math

Partial Differential Equations for Engineers, Stanley J. Farlow

Div, Grad, Curl, and All That: An Informal Text on Vector Calculus, by H. M. Schey.

Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem, by Simon Singh and John Lynch.

For mathematical boneheads like me, the following books by Ken Stroud use a programmed approach, which I like very much.

Fourier Series and Harmonic Analysis
Vector Analysis
Laplace Transforms
Complex Variables
Differential Equations
Engineering Mathematics
Further Engineering Mathematics


Philosophy:

A History of Western Philosophy, by Bertrand Russell.

Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl.
I just started reading A History of Western Philosophy by Russell, and its fantastic. I'm not reading it as a serious treatise on any of the philosophers included, but more as a bit of Russell's own philosophy, some of his recounting of world history, and most importantly, his wit and incisiveness. I love Russell, and its always good when a book on the history of philosophy has me laughing out loud in the coffee shop every fifth page or so.

Last edited by vhawk01; 03-26-2009 at 11:25 AM. Reason: you are a dick for linking me that free copy of this book AFTER i bought it btw
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:54 PM   #28
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

Richard Dawkins' "The Ancestor's Tale". I've read a few of his earlier books and have been a little bored by the religious side of his arguments; I don't have too much interest in theological debate, but love biology. This book is big and gives an overview of how the entire animal kingdom has evolved, going backwards from Homo sapien to the first cell that existed. It's full of technically challenging examples and interesting facts about some random animals.

It appealed to me massively as someone who studies physics, and has not learnt anything about biology for so long, it's nice to start learning about genetics and new things again.
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Old 04-25-2009, 04:00 AM   #29
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

An excellent book to read before delving into the sciences, amazing overview of well...nearly everything and very readable to boot, information packed goodness.
Even though it is not too valuable if you already have a firm grasp of natural history, it is still a nice read.

Also, another recommendation for Russel's History of Western Philosophy. Especially the early-middle part of the book. I got sort of lost in the last few chapters ('newest' philosophy) and couldnt focus anymore. Might have been me, not the book, though.
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Old 05-06-2009, 07:33 PM   #30
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

L'Étranger by Albert Camus.
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Old 05-06-2009, 07:47 PM   #31
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

anybody read "Lightness of Being" ?
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Old 05-07-2009, 11:33 AM   #32
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

Nudge - Thaler & Sunstein
A quick, light, but very interesting read on utilitarian applications of behavioral economics and psychology. Should be of particular interest considering Sunstein is now part of the Obama administration.

The Big Book of Concepts - Gregory Murphy
Thorough examination of theory and empirical discoveries relating to how humans form concepts.
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:01 PM   #33
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

Jaynes - Probability Theory
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Old 05-17-2009, 03:59 AM   #34
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay is an extraordinary book worth reading. First published in 1841 with a revised edition in 1852 it delivers on all fronts. The writing is strong and witty. And far from being dated it reads like todays newspaper in many respects. The subjects run the whole spectrum of human folly; from Money Mania (the south-sea bubble, the tulip mania), The Alchymists [sic], Prophecies, Fortune-Telling, The Crusades, The Witch Mania, Haunted Houses, Popular Follies of Great Cities, Relics, and many other subjects.

Make sure to get an unabridged version of the book (check out used books). Some modern publishers have editions that focus only on the money (economic) mania chapters and leave out much that is important and interesting.


From the Preface of the 1841 edition:

"The object of the Author in the follwing pages has been to collect the most remakable instances of those moral epidemics which have been excited, sometimes by one cause and sometimes by another, and to show how easily the masses have been led astray, and how imitative and gregarious men are, even in their infatuations and crimes."

-Zeno
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:38 AM   #35
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

Evoution
Douglas J Futuyma.

Comprehensive coverage. I found it approachable and enjoyable, however it is a set book for a third year university course, so it probably does not count as light reading.
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Old 06-13-2009, 06:19 PM   #36
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

A People's History Of Science: Miners, Midwives, And "Low Mechanicks" (Cliff Conner)


Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness
(I did not have high hopes for this book, thinking it would veer towards new age mush, I could not have been more wrong - excellent introduction to both quantum physics and theories of consciousness and what they might possibly have to say about one another)
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Old 06-15-2009, 06:28 AM   #37
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

*Grunch* - Although I do plan on going back over this thread and checking out at least 10 of the books mentioned here when I get back to the states. However for now im traveling Europe and before I left I threw about 40 audio books on my ipod (courtosy of http://www.librivox.org, DEF CHECK THIS SITE OUT, ITS ALL FREE.. and volenteer some of the books mentioned in this thread plz, that would be awesome!)

But anyway, some (usually short) works I have found to be amazing thus far:
On Liberty - John Stuart Mill
Utilitarianism - John Stuart Mill
The Republic - Plato (Socrates)
Nicomachean Ethics - Aristotle

Fwiw, i think that 'On Liberty' is by far the best thing i have ever read (or heard =P) in my entire life. This guy was so ****ing brilliant I cant even believe it. Lets just say if there was a John Stuart Mill church.. I'd be agnostic, not atheist. ZING
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Old 06-18-2009, 02:51 AM   #38
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

I enjoyed the following:

In Search of Schrödinger's Cat by John Gribbin. Good exposition of the "strangeness" inherent in quantum physics for the layman.

Schrödinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality Sequel of the preceding.

QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard Feynman. It's a very accessible explanation of quantum electrodynamics that manages to be non-trivial without using graduate level math.

Chaos: Making A New Science by James Gleick. Chaos theory and fractals for the general audience.

The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and The Laws of Physics by Roger Penrose. Although I don't necessarily agree with Penrose' views on the nature of consciousness and the (in)feasibility of AI, most of this book is an interesting review of many ideas in math, physics, and theoretical computer science.
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Old 06-20-2009, 09:40 AM   #39
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

A philosophy geek friend of mine (and a huge Russell fan to boot) told me that Russell's Complete History of Western Philosophy isn't entirely accurate. Though I personally would recommend it purely on the basis that (a) Russell is awesome and (b) I happen to prefer the sequence the information is delivered (namely chronologically) to the less flowing alphabetical by subject approach of its competitors (mostly The ... Dictionary of Philosophy where ... is the name of a University or Publishing company).
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:23 AM   #40
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

A Moral Animal-Robert Wright
Non-zero- Robert Wright
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Old 06-30-2009, 12:21 PM   #41
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

Sustainable Energy- without the hot air. David Mackay

This book can be found online at http://www.withouthotair.com


Everyone sould read this book! There are some great books in this thread, many of which i have read, but i would have to say that this book was the most intersting, informative, fun and easy to read.

Not sure if anyone will read this, post or the book but if you read the post you should read the book. You don't know me from 2+2 but i know science. I have just finished a Msci in Physics so am not bad at that and i loved the book. I also gave a copy of this book to my brother who is in highschool and he also love it.

You can read it for free so you have no excuse.

Also have i said I love David Makay and have heard great things about his other information theory book
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Old 08-06-2009, 09:31 PM   #42
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

There is a book I've been looking for that was printed sometime within the last 5 years, but I don't know that title. The gist of the book is an explanation significance and randomness and how some things that seem random aren't and how some things that seem significant are random. I think the author is indian, but Im not sure about that. Does any of that sound familiar to anyone?
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:49 PM   #43
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

is it the one Dennett recommendeds in one of his lectures? About magic tricks in India or something like this?

- mod, delete this post if im wrong
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:56 PM   #44
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

Fooled by randomness by taleb?
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Old 08-09-2009, 11:28 PM   #45
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

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Fooled by randomness by taleb?
Yes! That's the one. Has anyone read that book? Thoughts?
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:47 AM   #46
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

Quote:
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Yes! That's the one. Has anyone read that book? Thoughts?
Search the Books you are Reading thread in The Lounge for that book, there are a couple good posts about it and some interesting discussion.
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:40 PM   #47
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

The Sphere and Duties of Government - Wilhelm von Humboldt
Political Philosophy book.

http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=c...hp%3Ftitle=589
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Old 08-24-2009, 08:30 AM   #48
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rodes (received the Pulitzer Prize and justly so):

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Atomic-...1116601&sr=8-1


-Zeno
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Old 08-25-2009, 01:37 PM   #49
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

Einstein's Dreams By Alan Lightman

I randomly picked up this book up one day and finished in one setting out in my yard. After finishing I couldn't stop thinking about it for days. Awesome, awesome, book.
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Old 09-02-2009, 04:00 PM   #50
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Re: Book "Gems" for SMP

One I've always found fascinating, and quite a bit softer science wise, is Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales. Neurology primarily. It's a quick and fascinating read.

An old school epidemiology classic is Berton Roueche's The Medical Detectives. Not as highbrow as many other books listed here, but as it's certainly a "gem" it's worth mentioning.
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