Recommended Physics Books

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m741
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Recommended Physics Books

Post by m741 »

When I was much younger I read a lot of popular physics books (eg, Stephen Hawking). I haven't read any in a while but would like to get caught up.

What are your top 3 recommendations for non-technical physics books? I'd be more interested in books with a modern slant (dark matter/dark energy/string theory), but well-written and accurate trumps everything.

Thoughts?

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Re: Recommended Physics Books

Post by jacob »

By non-technical, do you mean "contains no equations" or that you don't need 4 years of grad level math just to start understanding it, i.e., complex numbers and linear algebra are okay?

m741
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Re: Recommended Physics Books

Post by m741 »

I was looking for 'no equations,' but if there are good comprehensive books about modern physics with university math I'd consider checking them out.

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Re: Recommended Physics Books

Post by jacob »

For string theory et. al. I'd just browse the latest publications from the usual suspects like Brian Greene and Michio Kaku. I'm more partial to more "practical physics" e.g. a book that explains "why gold is yellow" and that kind of stuff. Sorry, I'm not much help here, but I've only read one book about fancy physics since I actually started studying it ;-P

If you're interested in _understanding_ quantum mechanics, this is an awesome book
http://www.amazon.com/The-Structure-Int ... 674843924/
If you're somewhat comfortable with matrices and know what the squareroot of -1 is, then this is a great book. Deep but non-technical. Unfortunately such books are very rare!

If you like to read equations for fun and inspiration but don't bother about following along with pen and paper, the Feynman Lectures provide a comprehensive review of modern physics up to year 1940 or thereabouts. Anything more modern than that, and the math grows quite long-haired. You can pretty much forget about [even] comprehending quantum field theory or general relativity on the math level without spending a couple of years in grad school.

Another way of saying that is that when I finished my MSc in 2000, I had a fairly solid understanding of what was known in most fields until year 1950, some depth in the subatomic fields until year 1970-80 (that was my primary focus, I switched to astro later on), and contemporary understanding in a very very narrow specialty. A lot was known by the end of WWII.

Seneca
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Re: Recommended Physics Books

Post by Seneca »

I loved Feynman's Six Easy Pieces and Six Not So Easy Pieces. QED is great reading too.

Link to the Lectures- http://www.feynmanlectures.info/flp.html

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Sclass
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Re: Recommended Physics Books

Post by Sclass »

I think you might like Physics for Future Presidents.

borisborisboris
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Re: Recommended Physics Books

Post by borisborisboris »

Second what Seneca said. QED was really good!

Six Easy Pieces I think does have a few equations, and is really good also, but the first four (I think, was a while ago) chapters felt a little too easy / duplicative of basic high school physics.

Six Not So Easy Pieces was my favorite because of the chapters on relativity. It has equations, but they are, I think, needed. If you took calc in high school (even if you don't really remember it) it will add, rather than take away, from his explainations

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Re: Recommended Physics Books

Post by jennypenny »

If videos are an acceptible suggestion, I'll add Veritasium. It's a good link launch, too.
http://www.youtube.com/user/1veritasium/about

I also like 2veritasium but it's a little less science-y http://www.youtube.com/user/2veritasium/about .

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