Books I read.

Want to learn more about modern science, physical cosmology and quantum mechanics? If, like me, you are a beginner in these fields, I recommend you to read: "A Brief History of Time" (Stephen Hawking), "Relativity: The Special and General Theory" (Albert Einstein), and "In Search of Schrödinger's Cat: Quantum Physics And Reality" (John Gribbin). Hawkin's "The Universe in a Nutshell" is not awesome.

Recently, we have heard a lot about the Higgs boson particle. I didn't know much about it, so I started reading (thank you reddit for that!). And Oh man, this is hard! I just don't understand most of these things.

So I am now reading books about physics. I want to understand these things better. I am not a physicist or a mathematician. I don't believe I will ever understand correctly these theories (as you need to have a serious math background), but I feel the need to have a better understanding of how our world works.

Here are couple of books I've been reading lately. They mostly talk about relativity, quantum mechanic and particle physics

The Universe in a Nutshell

ISBN 0-553-80202-X - By Stephen Hawking. This is a pretty book (lot of images). Very famous and recommended as a good introduction to understand physics. I found it kind of hard to understand. Especially the cosmology explanations. Hawking tries to simplify his explanations, but I feel like he was mostly explaining the simple things, and skipping the explanations of the complex problems.

If you want to read this book, and if you already have a basic knowledge of modern physics, I think you should read his first popular-science book first:A Brief History of Time.

A Brief History of Time

ISBN 9780553109535 - By Stephen Hawking. He wrote this book before The Universe in a Nutshell. But this one is muuuch better. For me, a total revelation. Seriously. I now understand quantum mechanic better. His cosmology explanations are deeper (black holes everywhere!). You read the book like a story. He is also talking a bit about him and other physicists.

Relativity: The Special and General Theory

ISBN-10: 0517884410 & ISBN-13: 978-0517884416 - By Albert Einstein. With this book, you'll have a good understanding of the Special Relativity theory. You will actually understand it, and will be able to explain it later. The way Einstein makes you ask question to yourself is awesome. You can "feel" how these things work.

The General Relativity part is much harder to understand. You basically have to accept it, or have to dig into some mathematical explanations (not in the book). Gravity doesn't really exist as a force but is a geometry "trick"? Stick with it!

In Search of Schrödinger's Cat: Quantum Physics And Reality

ISBN 0-5533-4253-3 - By John Gribbin. Woooow! So this is a book about Quantum mechanic. And a damn good one! Gribbin is doing an amazing job at making his explanations clear, understandable and enjoyable. And he doesn't take you for an idiot. He is a scientist, and also a very talented writer. Like Hawking in A Brief History Time, his book also relates science history. You learn about scientists. About their mistakes (Plank's mathematic mistake that lead him to suggest a "quanta" of energy). About how they were seeing the world 120 years ago (the "watermelon atom"). And he is very careful with his abstractions. He tells you when his explanations are just "tricks" to make you understand mathematical equations, or if things actually look like he says.

I totally recommend this book.

Any recommendation for my next book? (I also love geophysics and biology!)
10 Jan 2012 / tweet this / @paulrouget / show comments