Recommended reading

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Warm Lug (January 07, 2008, 18:03:23 PM):
Hawking's "Brief History of Time" was my first eye-opener.

Two more books with the same theme but from different perspectives:
- Timothy Ferris "The Whole Shebang" (I urge y'all to read it)
- Bill Bryson "Brief History of Almost Everything"
The latter being a particularly good read because it was written by a historian and storyteller. The attention to personalities (I never knew Newton was such a jerk) provided fresh insights.

Any books by or of Feynman, especially the one compiled by his daughter, Michelle: "Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From The Beaten Path."
This is a valuable collection of Feynman's correspondence, providing wonderful humor and a special appreciation of how he dealt with his Nobel Prize.
"The Feynman Lectures" should be compulsory reading to any freshman. At least then "Six Easy Pieces", followe by "Six Not So Easy Pieces".

John Horgan, ex staff writer for Scientific American. His first book: "The End of Physics.", I particularly enjoyed. At about the time of its publication, Horgan disappeared off the S.A. staff writer list. Could it be he upset too many scientists?

Hugh Eales: "Riddles In Stone. Controversies, Theories and Myths About Southern Africa's Geological Past" Wits University Press.
Read it!!

And lastly:

William (not Bill) Nealy: "Kayak. The animated Manual of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique." Menasha Ridge Press. 171pp. ;D
bluegray (January 12, 2008, 10:04:16 AM):
Thanks, looking for something to read right now, will start with some off your list ;)
- Bill Bryson "Brief History of Almost Everything"
The latter being a particularly good read because it was written by a historian and storyteller. The attention to personalities (I never knew Newton was such a jerk) provided fresh insights.

I also recently read this book. Quite enjoyed it. On a similar subject, you might also want to read Science: A History 1543-2001 by John Gribbin. In my opinion, written with a bit more insight into the scientific world. For that matter any book by Gribbin is highly recommended.
Warm Lug (January 25, 2008, 14:26:56 PM):
Thanks, Bluegray.
I had a rare break for 5 days and my first stop was Exclusive Books. A also visited two other branches and was disappointed not finding a "science" section in any of the three stores??!!

I'm back from my brief holiday during which time I read "Charlie Wilson's War" by George Crile (between glorious bouts with crayfish, kabeljou and dry white).

Its a rather startling account (at least, to me) of how a maverick Texas congressman wheeled and dealed the CIA into its biggest foreign adventure. I'm referring to the CIA's "covert" backing of the Mujihadeen in Afghanistan against the occupying Russians in the 1980's. At 500-something pages of smallish print, it does go on a bit, but as far as I can make out, the author went to some lengths to verify his factual content. If even half of the anectdotes are true, its worth taking note of how dramatically world affairs can be influenced by just a few unknown, but powerful individuals.

Has anyone else noticed Exclusive Book's removal of their "science" sections?

I'll see if I can find John Gribbins work on Amazon or Loot.
ArgumentumAdHominem (January 25, 2008, 17:24:07 PM):
Has anyone else noticed Exclusive Book's removal of their "science" sections?

Not the branches that I visit ???

I've been shopping in the science section at Greenstone, Eastgate and Village Walk (maybe that one's a Facts and Fiction). Last year I bought a few books at those branches.

Actually, I went into a CNA at Sandton City in December and I saw the most laughable mis-categorisation ever! In the Science section was Sylvia Browne's "Exploring the Levels of Creation". I laughed, I took a picture (intending to blog about it at some stage) and then I became worried that the average believer of woo might be encouraged by seeing a book like that on the science shelves. I tracked-down the section manager and pointed-out the obvious problem. I suggested that it probably belonged in a section on religion (Sylvia has her own church after all and the book is about creation) or some-such similar section. She took one of the books to her workstation where she looked-up the ISBN to see the publisher's info about the book. At this point I wanted to chime in that it isn't important where the publisher thought that it belonged but rather what the subject was about. Before I opened my mouth she said "You're right, the category is Self help and popular psychology".

On the way out of the shop I took a walk past the very long religion shelves and cast a look back at the science section, woefully under stocked (about ten titles including the Guinness Book ??? with multiple copies to fill the shelves of what should have been thirty or forty titles) and less than one third the size.

Perhaps that is why some branches of book stores are removing the section?

*sigh*
ArgumentumAdHominem (February 04, 2008, 20:47:02 PM):
TED.com

I absolutely love this resource ;D

Cram-packed with quotable quotes ...
Quote from: Richard Dawkins on militant atheism - April 2007 http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/113
An atheist is just somebody who feels about Yahweh the way any decent Christian feels about Thor or Baal or the Golden Calf. As has been said before; we are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in, some of us just go one god further.

And the discussion by Daniel Dennett on dangerous memes is so full of brilliance I'd have to transcribe the whole video just to cover the bits I loved.

I found my way here last week when I heard about Gell-Mann's talk on the meaning of beauty in mathematics, the unified theory and more.

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