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Three physics books for the lay reader

Posted by Melissa on August 8, 2010

Here’s an interesting question asked of faculty from a variety of fields: What are three books that you feel are most helpful/interesting for lay readers who want to learn more about your field?

My answer comes with two caveats.
1) When I read for pleasure, I rarely read popular science books. I either read novels or non-fiction books on other topics. Since I will only recommend books I’ve read, I have a limited list from which to choose.
2) As with media coverage in general, it seems that the majority of physics books for a popular audience focus on particle physics, string theory, or astrophysics. As a condensed matter experimentalist, these books don’t reflect my interests well. Hence my first two books walk the line between materials science and physics.

Three recommended books about physics for lay readers:

As a bonus, I’d also recommend the novel Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman.

What would your three books be?

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One Response to “Three physics books for the lay reader”

  1. arjendu said

    For some reason, David Deutsch’s ‘The Fabric of Reality’ is the book I always want to recommend to those who want to learn a bit more about the interesting ways in which one can choose to think about quantum mechanics, evolution, computation, if you take these things to the appropriate philosophical end points.

    Richard Feynman’s ‘Six Easy Pieces’ comes to mind as examples of beautiful explanations sketched in imaginative ways.

    And then there’s ‘The Canon’ by Natalie Angier (though it’s not so much a physics book as a science book).

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