Book picks similar to
More and Different: Notes from a Thoughtful Curmudgeon by Philip Warren Anderson
What Is Relativity?
L.D. Landau - 1961
D. Landau and his distinguished colleague G. B. Rumer, employ a simple and straightforward manner to illuminate relativity theory's more subtle and elusive aspects. Using such familiar objects as trains, rulers, and clocks, the authors explain the reasoning behind seemingly self-contradictory ideas in which the relative seems absolute, but the absolute proves to be relative. A series of playful cartoons highlights the authors' witty observations on the laws governing inertia, the speed of light, the relationship of work and mass, and other relativistic concepts."The exposition is masterful . . . a superb book." — New York Times Book Review.
The Time Illusion (Kindle Single)
John Gribbin - 2016
So, why do we perceive a flow of time? Is the future “already there”, and is the past “still there”, even though we are only aware of a single moment of time? Drawing on the latest ideas from both relativity and quantum theory, award-winning science writer John Gribbin (In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat) addresses the questions that have baffled philosophers since antiquity and Zeno’s arrow paradox. Along the way, we find that in the quantum world it is literally true that a watched pot never boils, and learn how physicists have come to terms with the idea of the four-dimensional block universe as an explanation of the distinction between past, present and future. Why do eggs break when we drop them, but never unbreak? The Universe as we know it began in a Big Bang, which in some sense marks the beginning of time. Is it possible that we need to invoke the Big Bang to explain why we never see unbroken eggs? This idea glories in the name “the past hypothesis”, but many physicists regard it as no more than an attempt to sweep the problem of the arrow of time under the rug. Read The Time Illusion and see if you agree!
Fearful Symmetry: The Search for Beauty in Modern Physics
A. Zee - 1986
A. Zee, a distinguished physicist and skillful expositor, tells the exciting story of how today's theoretical physicists are following Einstein in their search for the beauty and simplicity of Nature. Animated by a sense of reverence and whimsy, the book describes the majestic sweep and accomplishments of twentieth-century physics. In the end, we stand in awe before the grand vision of modern physics--one of the greatest chapters in the intellectual history of humankind.
Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann and the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics
George Johnson - 1999
at 21, and was soon identifying the structures of the world's smallest components and illuminating the elegant symmetries of the universe.Beautifully balanced in its portrayal of an extraordinary and difficult man, interpreting the concepts of advanced physics with scrupulous clarity and simplicity, Strange Beauty is a tour-de-force of both science writing and biography.
Building the H Bomb: A Personal History
Kenneth W. Ford - 2015
He worked with - and relaxed with - scientific giants of that time such as Edward Teller, Enrico Fermi, Stan Ulam, John von Neumann, and John Wheeler, and here offers illuminating insights into the personalities, the strengths, and the quirks of these men. Well known for his ability to explain physics to nonspecialists, Ford also brings to life the physics of fission and fusion and provides a brief history of nuclear science from the discovery of radioactivity in 1896 to the ten-megaton explosion of “Mike” that obliterated a Pacific Island in 1952. Ford worked at both Los Alamos and Princeton's Project Matterhorn, and brings out Matterhorn's major, but previously unheralded contribution to the development of the H bomb. Outside the lab, he drove a battered Chevrolet around New Mexico, a bantam motorcycle across the country, and a British roadster around New Jersey. Part of the charm of Ford's book is the way in which he leavens his well-researched descriptions of the scientific work with brief tales of his life away from weapons.Contents: The Big Idea The Protagonists The Choice The Scientists, the Officials, and the President Nuclear Energy Some Physics Going West A New World The Classical Super Calculating and Testing Constructing Matterhorn Academia Cowers New Mexico, New York, and New Jersey The Garwin Design Climbing Matterhorn It's More Than a Boy Readership: A memoir for general readership in the history of science.Key Features: It contains real physics, clearly presented for non-specialists Combining historical scholarship and his own recollections, the author offers important insights into the people and the work that led to the first H bomb Personal anecdotes enliven the book
The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces
Frank Wilczek - 2008
Frank Wilczek has played a lead role in establishing the new paradigms. Transcending the clash and mismatch of older ideas about what matter is, and what space is, Wilczek presents here some brilliant and clear syntheses. Space is a dynamic material, the engine of reality; matter is a subtle pattern of disturbance in that material.Extraordinarily readable and authoritative, The Lightness of Being is the first book to unwrap these exciting new ideas for the general public. It explores their implications for basic questions about space, mass, energy, and the longed-for possibility of a fully unified theory of Nature. Along the way, Wilczek presents new perspectives on many strange aspects of our fantastic universe. Pointing toward new directions where the great discoveries in fundamental physics are likely to come, he envisions a new Golden Age in physics.
Superstrings: A Theory of Everything?
Paul C.W. Davies - 1988
Geared to the layperson, a clear, concise, non-mathematical explanation of the "Theory of Everything" and its profound implications is followed by transcripts of interviews with most of the physicists involved in its development.
Professor Stewart's Incredible Numbers
Ian Stewart - 2015
In Professor Stewart’s Incredible Numbers, Ian Stewart offers a delightful introduction to the numbers that surround us, from the common (Pi and 2) to the uncommon but no less consequential (1.059463 and 43,252,003,274,489,856,000). Along the way, Stewart takes us through prime numbers, cubic equations, the concept of zero, the possible positions on the Rubik’s Cube, the role of numbers in human history, and beyond! An unfailingly genial guide, Stewart brings his characteristic wit and erudition to bear on these incredible numbers, offering an engaging primer on the principles and power of math.
The Hole in the Universe
K.C. Cole - 2001
C. Cole. Once again, acclaimed science writer K. C. Cole brings the arcane and academic down to the level of armchair scientists in The Hole in the Universe, an entertaining and edifying search for nothing at all. Open the newspaper on any given day and you will read of a newly discovered planet, star, and so on. Yet scientists and mathematicians have spent generations searching the far reaches of the universe for that one elusive state—nothingness. Although this may sound like a simple task, every time the absolute void appears within reach, something new is discovered in its place: a black hole, an undulating string, an additional dimension of space or time—even another universe. A fascinating and literary tour de force, The Hole in the Universe is a virtual romp into the unknown that you never knew wasn't there.
Galileo and Newton
William Bixby - 2015
Galileo, the argumentative "wrangler" who demanded that the universe be examined through a telescope rather than by means of a philosophy book, provided the first liftoff, and Newton, the secretive mathematician who searched among his notes to find a mislaid proof for universal gravitation, put the world into orbit. Here, from award-winning journalist William Bixby, are their stories.
Reinventing Gravity: A Physicist Goes Beyond Einstein
John W. Moffat - 2008
But what if, nonetheless, Einstein got it wrong?Since the 1930s, physicists have noticed an alarming discrepancy between the universe as we see it and the universe that Einstein's theory of relativity predicts. There just doesn't seem to be enough stuff out there for everything to hang together. Galaxies spin so fast that, based on the amount of visible matter in them, they ought to be flung to pieces, the same way a spinning yo-yo can break its string. Cosmologists tried to solve the problem by positing dark matter—a mysterious, invisible substance that surrounds galaxies, holding the visible matter in place—and particle physicists, attempting to identify the nature of the stuff, have undertaken a slew of experiments to detect it. So far, none have.Now, John W. Moffat, a physicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, offers a different solution to the problem. The capstone to a storybook career—one that began with a correspondence with Einstein and a conversation with Niels Bohr—Moffat's modified gravity theory, or MOG, can model the movements of the universe without recourse to dark matter, and his work challenging the constancy of the speed of light raises a stark challenge to the usual models of the first half-million years of the universe's existence.This bold new work, presenting the entirety of Moffat's hypothesis to a general readership for the first time, promises to overturn everything we thought we knew about the origins and evolution of the universe.
Godel: A Life Of Logic, The Mind, And Mathematics
John L. Casti - 2000
His Incompleteness Theorem turned not only mathematics but also the whole world of science and philosophy on its head. Equally legendary were GÃ¶'s eccentricities, his close friendship with Albert Einstein, and his paranoid fear of germs that eventually led to his death from self-starvation. Now, in the first popular biography of this strange and brilliant thinker, John Casti and Werner DePauli bring the legend to life. After describing his childhood in the Moravian capital of Brno, the authors trace the arc of GÃ¶'s remarkable career, from the famed Vienna Circle, where philosophers and scientists debated notions of truth, to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived and worked until his death in 1978. In the process, they shed light on GÃ¶'s contributions to mathematics, philosophy, computer science, artificial intelligence -- even cosmology -- in an entertaining and accessible way.
Roland Omnès - 1994
One of the world's leading quantum physicists, Omnes reviews the history and recent development of mathematics, logic, and the physical sciences to show that current work in quantum theory offers new answers to questions that have puzzled philosophers for centuries: Is the world ultimately intelligible? Are all events caused? Do objects have definitive locations? Omnes addresses these profound questions with vigorous arguments and clear, colorful writing, aiming not just to advance scholarship but to enlighten readers with no background in science or philosophy.
Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension
Rudolf Rucker - 1977
A remarkable pictorial discussion of the curved space-time we call home, it achieves even greater impact through the use of 141 excellent illustrations. This is the first sustained visual account of many important topics in relativity theory that up till now have only been treated separately.Finding a perfect analogy in the situation of the geometrical characters in Flatland, Professor Rucker continues the adventures of the two-dimensional world visited by a three-dimensional being to explain our three-dimensional world in terms of the fourth dimension. Following this adventure into the fourth dimension, the author discusses non-Euclidean geometry, curved space, time as a higher dimension, special relativity, time travel, and the shape of space-time. The mathematics is sound throughout, but the casual reader may skip those few sections that seem too purely mathematical and still follow the line of argument. Readable and interesting in itself, the annotated bibliography is a valuable guide to further study.Professor Rucker teaches mathematics at the State University of New York in Geneseo. Students and laymen will find his discussion to be unusually stimulating. Experienced mathematicians and physicists will find a great deal of original material here and many unexpected novelties. Annotated bibliography. 44 problems.