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Thread: What books about the universe should I read?

  1. #1 What books about the universe should I read? 
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    Hi,

    I'm a 17 year old Dutch guy who's interestet in space and that kind of stuff. I know a little about space, black holes and death star's, but not that mutch. Unfortunetly I'm not very good in physics and chemistry so I choise differenct subjects in school. I on the other hand am very interestet in these kind of things.
    So my question is are there and books/movies you recommend i should read/see to know more/whatever about space, space travel, the origen of space, and that kind of stuff?
    Stuff I'm interested in which might help you pick books/documentaries:
    The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy
    Dicovery's space month
    Mass Effect
    Doctor Who (just the space stuff, not the history of earth stuff, except when it involves UFO's)
    10 ways to destroy the earth (an article on livesciene.com which inspired me to aks this questions

    I'd be really thankfull if you'd came up with some not to difficult books/whatever because google doesn't really help.

    Thanks very much

    Pepijn


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  3. #2  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    The Elegant Universe by Brian Green is generally thought to be a readable look at cosmology.

    If you want to know more about spacetravel I recommend an excellent online site, Encyclopedia Astronautica.


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  4. #3  
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    one Two Three.... Infinity by George Gamow
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  5. #4 books 
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    'The Emperors New Mind' - Roger Penrose or if you prefer something a little less technical you could try 'The Universe in a Nutshell' Stephen Hawking or his most recent tome 'The Grand Design' which is also a very approachable book. The new Roger Penrose book 'Cycles of Time' contains a good helping of maths but is a very interesting proposal.

    I have read 'The Elegant Universe' - 'Brian Greene' and it is pretty good though it does have a very long winded explanation of black body radiation.

    You can of course pick up a fair bit from reading these forums but be aware there are a few folks putting out their own 'theories' up for discussion. I would stick to published authors initially. This will eventually allow you to make your own judgement on the thoughts of people on the fringe of the subject. I'm not saying it is a bad thing to air theses thories and we should always keep an open mind but as Einstein once said 'not so open that our brains fall out'
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  6. #5  
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    hi, you could also read older books from Hawking; for example his "a brief history of time" in the 1988 version, you can get it at amazon.com for less than 10$. Older books might not be up to date, but not in the case of Hawking's book, It's really good stuff. Look for the "a brief history of time" documentary at YouTube from 1991 as well, It's very inspiring (I felt so).

    greetings
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  7. #6 Re: books 
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    Quote Originally Posted by tszy
    You can of course pick up a fair bit from reading these forums but be aware there are a few folks putting out their own 'theories' up for discussion. I would stick to published authors initially. This will eventually allow you to make your own judgement on the thoughts of people on the fringe of the subject. I'm not saying it is a bad thing to air theses thories and we should always keep an open mind but as Einstein once said 'not so open that our brains fall out'
    Any fool who has a book out is a "published author".

    You won't go wrong by reading the work of first-rate researchers --- Feynman, Weinberg, etc. Here are a few

    A Brief History of Time --Stephen Hawking
    Black Holes and Baby Universes and other Essays -- Stephen Hawking
    The Universe in a Nutshell -- Stephen Hawking
    The Future of Spacetime -- Stephen Hawking, Kip Thorne, Igor Novikov, Alan Lightman
    The Nature of Space and Time -- Stephen Hawking and Roge Penrose
    The First Three Minutes -- Steven Weinberg
    The Discovery of Sub-atomic Particles -- Steven Weinberg
    Dreams of a Final Theory -- Steven Weinberg
    The Character of Physical Law -- Richard Feynman
    QED -- Richard Feynman
    The Pleasure of Finding Things Out -- Richard Feynman
    The Meaning of it All -- Richard Feynman
    The Quark and the Jaguar -- Murray Gell-Mann
    Beyond Star Trek -- Lawrence Kraus
    Space, Time and Gravity -- Robert Wald
    The Trouble with Physics -- Lee Smolin
    The Emperor's New Mind -- Roger Penrose
    The Road to Reality, A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe -- Roger Penrose
    The God Particle -- Leon Lederman
    Conversations on the Dark Side of Physics -- Edward Teller
    Superstrings -- edited by Paul Davies and J. Brown
    The Inflationary Universe -- Alan Guth
    The Elegant Universe -- Brian Greene
    The Fabric of the Cosmos -- Brian Greene
    Relativity, the Special and General Theory -- Albert Eiinstein


    BTW Hawking's latest, The Grand Design, is awful.
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  8. #7  
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    The fabric of the cosmos
    i have this book, and i finished reading it, and to me the material inside seems alittle advanced even for those who aren't science experts(i am assuming the book targeted for audiences in which they have no profound background in science). But it was indeed fantastic both in content and the way he wrote it.

    QED
    by Feynman has to be my personal favorite so FAR. tHough i have to say i didn't understand everything inside.

    Just asking, Doc. i know you are not interested in Michio Kaku, but i think his book "Hyperspace" is pretty interesting also.
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  9. #8  
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    cosmos by carl sagan should be anyone's first
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  10. #9 Re: books 
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    BTW Hawking's latest, The Gtrand Design, is awful.
    Why you say that?
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  11. #10 Re: books 
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Vegan Marxist
    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    BTW Hawking's latest, The Gtrand Design, is awful.
    Why you say that?
    I had the misfortune to read it.

    It is an attempt to explain the "mysteries of the universe" in terms of M theory. But nonody, including Ed Whitten who proposed it, can yet even define what M theory is. It may eventually be something great, but for now the biggest open question is "What is M theory ?" It is not ready for prime time, and certainly is not the Rosetta stone for decoding the universe.

    That book is a poor work, apparently intended to capitalize on Hawking's name.

    His A Brief History of Time is much better.
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  12. #11 A Good read......... 
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    As a basic book, get yourself a copy of Bill Bryson's "A short history or nearly everything" - it covers most topics in modern science, from the Layman's point of view and its a darn good read.
    The hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme. - Poet John Masefield.

    www.leohopkins.com
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  13. #12 Re: What books about the universe should I read? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by pepisbom
    Hi,

    I'm a 17 year old Dutch guy who's interestet in space and that kind of stuff. I know a little about space, black holes and death star's, but not that mutch. Unfortunetly I'm not very good in physics and chemistry so I choise differenct subjects in school. I on the other hand am very interestet in these kind of things.
    So my question is are there and books/movies you recommend i should read/see to know more/whatever about space, space travel, the origen of space, and that kind of stuff?
    Stuff I'm interested in which might help you pick books/documentaries:
    The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy
    Dicovery's space month
    Mass Effect
    Doctor Who (just the space stuff, not the history of earth stuff, except when it involves UFO's)
    10 ways to destroy the earth (an article on livesciene.com which inspired me to aks this questions

    I'd be really thankfull if you'd came up with some not to difficult books/whatever because google doesn't really help.

    Thanks very much

    Pepijn
    Hello Pepisbom. I am very glad that you have an interest in this topic. One of the books that I will suggest, that is old but very helpful, is "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. It is a great book to start out with, but some basic knowledge of at least middle school science is needed. I think it will help you through your researches, good luck.

    If you want some good information about this topic, you can also jump into my blog anytime. http://scikronos.blogspot.com is the adress. Have fun!
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  14. #13  
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    Does anyone have an opinion about a book with the title "The Fabric of Reality" by David Deutsch. I bought it some time ago but have not read it so far.
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  15. #14  
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    Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellatha
    Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.
    Have you considered An Introduction to Introductory Differential Geometry?
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  17. #16  
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    The Black Hole War by Leonard Susskind
    "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lord Sidious
    The Black Hole War by Leonard Susskind
    A waste of paper.

    The book purports to resolve the black hole information paradox by mens of string theory. But it relies on theory that is neither fully defined nor fully developed coupled with the Ads/CFT correspondence that is but a conjecture.

    Susskind does not even have the integrity to tell the reader that he is using the AdS/CFT correspondence, let alone that the validity of it remains an open question.
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  19. #18  
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    it still helped me understand stand black holes and quantum mechanics more
    "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon
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  20. #19 Books on Cosmology 
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    One extremely helpful book to understand the fundamentals of the history of the universe is BANG! the complete history of the universe by Patrick Moore, Brian May and Chris Lintott.
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lord Sidious
    it still helped me understand stand black holes and quantum mechanics more
    If you want a popularization that discusses black holes try Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps;Einstein's Outrageous Legacy;

    If you want a popularization that discusses quantum theory try richard Feynman'sQED

    Thorne is co-author of the classic Gravitation, a graduate text on general relativity and is a world-class relativist.

    Feynman received the Nobel Prize for his work in formulating quantum electrodynamics.

    Some of what you learned from Susskind's books might even be correct. He is a good physicist. His popularizations are junk.
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  22. #21  
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    Earlier on, in this thread, I asked for any opinions about the popular science book "The Fabric of Reality" by David Deutsch.
    I hope to get some responses this time around.
    Apart from that I also feel there is useful information, for the layperson, in the thread.
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  23. #22 The Five Ages of the Universe 
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    I particularly enjoyed The Five Ages of the Universe by Fred C. Adams and Greg Laughlin (Free Press, 2000), for not only does it discuss the origins of the universe as so many other books do, it also uses current theories of the universe to predict what it will look like in epochs to come. Particularly fascinating was its conjecture about what intelligent life might look like in the "dark age" of the universe (remember the Ents in the Lord of the Rings who took a long time to finish a thought - consider a life form that took a million years to do so).
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