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Old 11-17-2009, 04:46 PM   #1
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Science ebook recommendations

Based on another recent thread about a certain politician, I'm motivated to start one on recent(ish) valuable popular-audience science books that are available as ebooks. Given that the discoveries of evolution and deep time are fundamental cornerstones of modern biological and geological sciences, learning about the history of life on Earth and how that history is unraveled is amongst the most important areas of human knowledge-- and some of the least understood by the lay public. So here are a few useful books for anyone with a thirst for learning. (There are plenty of other titles I have skipped because I didn't find an "official" ebook version of them.)

A great start would be the recent books Your Inner Fish

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Inner-Fis...dp/0307277453/

Only A Theory

http://www.amazon.com/Only-Theory-Ev...dp/B001KVZ6RU/

and Why Evolution Is True

http://www.amazon.com/Why-Evolution-...dp/0670020532/

And I'll go out on a limb and mention Dawkin's most recent book, even though I haven't read it yet:

http://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Show-...dp/1416594787/

Then for the discovery of deep time itself, there is the great book The Map That Changed The World

http://www.amazon.com/Map-That-Chang...dp/0060193611/

along with a book on James Hutton (I haven't read this particular book-- the one I wanted to recommend doesn't have an ebook version)

http://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-Found-...dp/B0009SRZDI/

Other good science book recommendations (no matter what the field) encouraged.
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Old 11-17-2009, 09:12 PM   #2
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Three recommended AZW Kindle ebooks:

Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
by Nick Lane
ASIN: B002D9ZLLO

Omnivore's Dilemma
by Michael Pollan
ASIN: B000SEIDR0

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
ASIN: B000PDZFCK

Three TOPAZ (probably not available as ebooks on other devices):

The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell
by Basil Mahon
SAIN: B000PY449Y

If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... WHERE IS EVERYBODY?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life
by Stephen Webb
ASIN: B001GQ21OU

Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe
by Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee
ASIN: B000TRK90K
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Old 11-17-2009, 10:38 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
Three recommended AZW Kindle ebooks:

Three TOPAZ (probably not available as ebooks on other devices):
All 3 of those are available on the Kindle, at least. I've read Where is Everybody, and have Rare Earth but haven't read it yet. An excellent followup to Rare Earth is Ward's Life As We Do Not Know It, which covers ideas about biogenesis, the RNA world, and theoretical alternatives to protein/amino acid based life. Available as an ebook:

http://www.amazon.com/Life-We-Not-Kn...dp/0143038494/

Really, anything you can find by Peter Douglas Ward is a winner.

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Old 11-17-2009, 11:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardeegee View Post
Based on another recent thread about a certain politician, I'm motivated to start one on recent(ish) valuable popular-audience science books that are available as ebooks.

... And I'll go out on a limb and mention Dawkin's most recent book, even though I haven't read it yet:

http://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Show-...dp/1416594787/
I haven't read it, either, but I've heard nothing but good about it. The latest issue of Free Inquiry contains a four-page excerpt from The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins which serves as the springboard for other articles in that issue.

Here are the science books I've read this year:

* Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson. This book contains far-reaching, fascinating, and sound science from the man who ruined Pluto's reputation.

* Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott under the pseudonym "a square". This book is in the public domain, and can be downloaded at Project Gutenberg. This is a novel, but one that is often referenced by scientists and science professors in trying to clarify our understanding of higher dimensions by imagining a world whose denizens inhabit only two.

* In Search of Time: The Science of a Curious Dimension by Dan Falk.

* Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel by Michio Kaku.

* Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. One of the people discussed by Gladwell in this fascinating book is Paul Ekman, whose work on facial expressions is the inspiration for the FOX TV Show Lie To Me.

* A Brief History of Time: from the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen W. Hawking (1988). An audiobook re-read.

* A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (2005). The classic updated and simplified. A book I re-read on my Kindle.

This week I purchased, but have not yet begun to read, The Large, the Small and the Human Mind by Roger Penrose (Author), Malcolm Longair (Editor), Abner Shimony (Contributor), Nancy Cartwright (Contributor), and Stephen Hawking (Contributor).

Last edited by WT Sharpe; 11-18-2009 at 07:02 PM. Reason: unnecessary capital letters
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:16 PM   #5
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In addition to the books that have been posted here, I'd like to recommend the following websites:

Nature
http://www.nature.com/nature/index.html

This, the BMOC of them all, is of limited use to laypersons like me because so many of it's best features are subscription-only, and subscribing to Nature is not cheap! ($199.00 per year for USA residents.)

The fact that all articles in Nature are peer-reviewed sets it apart from most other sites.

The following are all available as calibre newsfeeds for your e-reader:

Discover
http://discovermagazine.com/

New Scientist
http://www.newscientist.com/news.ns

This is one of my favorite sites. Rarely does a week go by that I haven't visited this site at least once.

ScienceDaily
http://www.sciencedaily.com/

There's an article on today's newspage about how hardening of the arteries has been detected in 3,500 years old Egyptian mummies, which doesn't surprise me. When you're that old, you're bound to have a few health problems!

ScienceNews
http://www.sciencenews.org/

Scientific American
http://www.sciam.com/

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Old 11-18-2009, 06:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
ScienceDaily
http://www.sciencedaily.com/

There's an article on today's newspage about how hardening of the arteries has been detected in 3,500 years old Egyptian mummies, which doesn't surprise me. When you're that old, you're bound to have a few health problems!
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Old 11-18-2009, 07:01 PM   #8
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A couple of more-- a little less recent and a little more historic, but good reads:

Longitude

http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b2...va-Sobel/?si=0

Guns, Germs, and Steel

http://www.amazon.com/Guns-Germs-Ste.../dp/0393061310
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:49 PM   #9
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Saw a reference that reminded me of another couple of great books I read recently (in deadtree form.)

Endless Forms Most Beautiful is available as an ebook (at least on the Kindle)

http://www.amazon.com/Endless-Forms-...dp/0393327795/

But The Making of the Fittest doesn't seem to be

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Fittest...dp/0393330516/
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:56 PM   #10
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The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

If Thomas Henry Huxley was famously "Darwin's bulldog", then Richard Dawkins is probably best described as "Darwin's pit bull". He gets his teeth into an argument, locks on and shakes it until submission is the only option. There's a certain glee when he admits to being "the devil's disciple" or the high priest of "ultradarwinism", and his admission has an undeniably macho swagger about it. Real men (and women) take the toughest line on natural selection. Suffering and pain in nature and humanity are merely there to service the genes. Anything else is "Sentimental, human nonsense. Natural selection is all futile." There is something bracing about belonging to this most astringent and clear-sighted set. Deluded theists! Wishy-washy agnostics! Welcome to the Fight Club. One is reminded of lines by Dawkins's favourite poet, WB Yeats: "Cast a cold eye / On life, on death. / Horseman, pass by."
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:29 PM   #11
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A study that came out yesterday suggesting-- amongst other things-- that the extinction of mammoths and mastodons led to a big shift in plant abundances, reminded me of another good book from a few years back. The ideas in it are mostly speculation, but it is interesting and plausible speculation.

The Ghosts of Evolution:

http://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Evoluti.../dp/0465005527

http://books.google.com/books?id=7-r...age&q=&f=false

Some of the coverage of the study I mentioned:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1120/p02s13-usgn.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34046350...ience-science/
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Old 11-22-2009, 06:43 AM   #12
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This is not a book on science, nor evolution proper, yet I feel it may be of interest to readers of this forum.

The Evolution of God by Robert Wright

I first became interested in Robert Wright when I read the following quote:

"Last year I read a book which influenced me greatly by a man named Robert Wright. It’s called Nonzero, and, did you ever read a book where somebody says what you’ve been thinking, and you immediately decide the author is a genius? We’ve all done it. Because this person puts something, that you’ve been thinking and feeling but could never quite say, in the way you wish you could have said it."
-- President William J. Clinton, Speaking at the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival, May, 2001.

Whatever else may be said about our former President, I think we can all agree that he is an intelligent man, and hearing him refer to another author as a "genius" got my attention. To be sure, Nonzero is still on my waiting list, but his latest book (published earlier this year) stirred my interest even more. In The Evolution of God, Wright details how the Abrahamic God has evolved over time from a tribal to a universal deity. He argues that, despite appearances, the historic trend is toward religious toleration and recognition of our shared humanity. In a world where religious frictions between the Abrahamic religions and between the Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic religions threaten to tear humanity apart, Wright offers compelling reasons why there is room for hope.

A TED talk, "Robert Wright on optimism" (with a smattering of asides touching on biological and cultural evolution), can be found at http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_wright_on_optimism.html.

More on Wright's The Evolution of God can be found here.
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Old 11-22-2009, 06:52 AM   #13
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This is evolution proper:

Podcast: "On the Origin of Species, Revisited"

From New Scientist:

"[W]e have asked the geneticist, evolutionary thinker and author Steve Jones to summarise and update the book for the 21st century - and, we hope, to inspire readers to experience Darwin's astounding, world-changing writing first-hand."

http://www.newscientist.com/cgi-bin/...sited&limit=20
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Old 11-22-2009, 07:10 AM   #14
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To all these recommendations, I would add The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence Krauss. Written back in the mid-90's, it examines all of the science in the Star Trek series, like warp factor speed, 'beam me up Scottie' etc and discusses the actual physics. Very interesting book.
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Old 11-22-2009, 07:21 AM   #15
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WOW! What a wonderful thread! Thanks for all the great recommendations on books and websites. I love Dawkins (even if he is a bit over the top these days ) I try to at least keep up with the goings on in science through some of the listed websites etc.

I'll throw in my 2 cents worth as I run across things.
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