Well, we asked our readers and friends to tell us about their favourite books related to Science and here’s a list of the most popular ones!
Physics and Philosophy by Werner Heisenberg
This classic account by Heisenberg explains the core ideas of the quantum revolution and his well-known Uncertainty Principle. ‘The theme of Heisenberg’s interpretation is that words and concepts familiar in daily life can lose their meaning in the world of relativity and quantum physics!’
“Dealing with Material science and Mysticism, it’s a perfect combination of two different dimension of knowledge.” – Satyajit Medha.
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
The selfish gene is one of the most fundamental books ever written. It has no single theme but a medley of themes. It largely explores the ideas of altruistic behaviour, competition and cooperation, nature of gene versus organisms, replicators of the life on earth, and ultimately the selfish gene. It combinedly leads us to think about the concepts of genetics and evolutionary biology. In a nutshell, the book is an account of evolution from the perspective of genes and how they struggle mindlessly to survive. The book is an exception by being both capable of changing science and reaching the public at the same time.
“Personally, I like the way the book is intriguing, witty and well written. It gives you an idea that shapes your analytical thinking throughout the entire read. The best part is the examples, you’ll find plenty of them. Anyone who loves ethology would find this book an absolute package. It’s really revolutionary.” – Priyadarshini Singh.
Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynmann by Richard Feynmann
“The main reason why I like this book is Feynman’s natural storytelling method. The stories are brief, compellingly entertaining, and communicates the experimental, investigative outlook on the world that I think is the hardest thing to capture. Feynman both tells excellent stories and, in the process, shows some of his analytically thinking.” – Saswata Sarkar.
The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
“The basic theme: Increasing the enthusiasm of a diverse target audience towards science and more importantly towards fundamental science. The writing style is involving yet jargon-free but doesn’t bypass the important scientific concepts. The book shows a path through which society can easily connect to fundamental science, appreciate applied science and keep the fire of curiosity burning bright within!” – Aditya Dixit.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The novel talks about a monstrous creature that was accidentally created by a scientist when one of his experiments went wrong. How his own invention leads the scientist to his doom forms the basis of the story. It deals with the themes of the obsessive pursuit of science, isolation and its consequences, human guilt and finally the need to check one’s actions.
“The story tells us how ruthless the protagonist is in his pursuit of scientific knowledge and how he alienates himself from human society which ultimately leads him to his doom. It certainly resonates with our modern society where we have lost the value of human relationships in our quest to build a scientifically advanced world.” – Atri Bhattacharya.
How The Laser Happened – Adventures of a scientist by Charles H. Townes
It’s a historical take on the groundbreaking development of LASERs by none other than the great Charles Townes himself where he describes the conception of optical resonators leading to photon amplification in theory to the implementation of it in an actual experimental setup.
Townes writes about how his interest in the fundamentals of microwave spectroscopy lead to the invention of MASERs. The idea of which was then advanced into the optical regime to get optical MASERs which are called LASERs.
“The book in my opinion is one of the best examples of how fundamental, curiosity-driven research can potentially change the face of science over a period of several years. Something I think even Townes hadn’t anticipated fully. In the modern world, we use LASERs everywhere from studying ultrafast processes to LASER machining to bio-medical applications to then pointers we use for presentations and toys used by children. They are everywhere! But we should all take time to sit and realize how none of this would have been possible if Townes hadn’t kept his curiosity in fundamental microwave spectroscopy alive!” – Chirag Arora.
What if? by Randall Monroe
This book contains answers Munroe gave to absurd and hypothetical questions on various scientific topics. The questions tend to be rather weird, assuming a scenario that is extremely unlikely and inquiring a logical conclusion to the situation!
“Because of the absorbing and remarkably hilarious way in which the author has put up scientific arguments and answers to equally hilarious and wierd scientific questions. Strongly recommended for everyone!” – Parth Chandak.
The man who mistook his wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
Suggested by Anangksuh, this book by neurologist Oliver Sacks discusses the case histories of some of his patients. The title interestingly is from the case study of Dr. P, a patient of his who suffers from visual agnosia.
How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg
Well, I think the theme of the book has been quite nicely explained by Subhrangshu himself when he suggested it for this list!
This book shows how extensively mathematics pervades our lives. It provides us with a glimpse of how mathematics could help us make better choices in our daily lives. We are given the tools to sift through the mess of information bombarding us at every instant and make some sense out of all of it. It also promises to help us avoid common pitfalls. Besides, it offers some really interesting insights into things we don’t pay much attention to in the bustle of our daily lives. It is a book of the “simple, yet profound”.
“I like it because of its unique structure. The book is akin to a collection of stories, with some particular mathematical ideas being the protagonists. Each story in this collection is like a chronicle of the protagonists’ achievements, how they came to be used in different situations and in solving a diverse array of problems.”
Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Sean B. Carroll
This book has won several awards for science communication and deals with the emerging field of Evo-Devo (Evolutionary Developmental Biology) and the role of Toolkit Genes!
“As a student of Biological Sciences this new field of Evo-Devo attracts me a lot. The illustrations presented in this book are just amazing and understandable, even for a person with no background knowledge of biology.” – Pinaki Chanda.
The Theory of Everything by Stephen Hawking
How can a list of this sort be complete without mentioning this? This book is a compilation of lectures by Dr. Hawking and deals with a variety of topics- time, space, the cosmos, and what not! The language is very lucid and this is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the scientific ideas behind the theories about the universe!
Bishal Saha who suggested the book for the list said that him being a keen learner of astronomical events especially the black holes, Kuiper belts, Oort clouds, etc. made him love the book so much!
The Emerging Mind by VS Ramachandran
The Emerging Mind’ is a compilation of Dr. V S Ramachandran’s lectures in the 2003 Reith Lecture series. The book walks us through the greatest revolution of all- understanding the human brain. While the chapters dwell into complex elements of neuropathology, the book is self-explanatory as it stops off to carefully explain the relevant neuroanatomy on the way. Also, it flicks through the engrossing concept of neuroaesthetics. Two other books of the genre are ‘Phantoms in the brain’ and ‘The tell-tale brain’.
“My all-time curiosity about the mysteries of our brain drove me to this book. Needless to say, I am a big fan of VSR because ” he will wake you up and dare you to think” as said by Iain McClure. This book is a nice blend of basic neuroscience and complex clinical aspects of neuropathology. And I felt is a good soup properly seasoned with the curiosity factor for science enthusiasts.” – Kalyani Ajayan.
As Amlan, the one who suggested this, aptly puts it, “If you are tired of this boring life, then this book is for you to gain experiences that you will never forget.”
So, how many on the list have you read? Do let us know what you feel about the list and suggest to us more books! Maybe we can do a part 2 of the same in the future!