Popular science book recs

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Postby Philip Graff » Sun Mar 28, 2021 1:34 pm

What are some popular science books you'd recommend, and why would you recommend them? Good content, the writing style, delivery of information etc.
I'm thinking of things along the lines of sapiens, 6th extinction, and I'd even throw in nature writing as it seems to have taken off again lately with H is for hawk.
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Postby extendedphenotype » Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:06 pm

The double helix
The selfish gene
Elephant memories

The double helix is perfect because it’s a narrative of the discovery with the details added along the way rather than like chapter 1 what is a nucleotide or something like textbooky like that

Selfish gene does a great job of explaining how evolution works and it’s just really interesting.

Elephant memories is a bit harder to get through than the other two but it’s worth it. They follow a group of elephants through a couple of generations. There are some nice pictures in the middle of the book. A young elephant periodically returns to its mother’s skull. Jesus fuck. The “humanity” of these things.
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Postby Science » Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:45 pm

The Making of the Atomic Bomb
Hackers
Where Wizards Stay Up Late
The Soul of a New Machine

I just like reading about how things got built.
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Postby Science » Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:48 pm

I’ve lined up a bunch of reading about reality and consciousness too. Not sure which I’ll end up liking but these are all well regarded.

Image
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Postby Marza » Sun Mar 28, 2021 3:00 pm

i wish I could quote post all the times I've recommended behave on this board but the search is gaslighting me

anyway it's behave. it's the material from Sapolsky's 25 lectures at stanford on human behaviour and neuroscience and biochemistry and game theory etc etc. he deliberately tries to avoid categorical thinking and writes in very readabale colloquial way. Highly recommended if you're interested in politics or criminal reform.
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Postby funkfunkfunk » Sun Mar 28, 2021 3:10 pm

Pale blue dot.

Carl Sagan is the absolute dude. Engaging, easy to read, and radically humanist.
jockesh or jakesh in farsi means pimp and unlike american in farsi pimp is a big insult and commonly applied to scoundrels and bad people like bush jr and i dont know of a word for actual jocks i dont think its a thing in iran but also anyway i wanted to say i believe in nothing
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Postby a new dad for all » Sun Mar 28, 2021 3:14 pm

Endless Forms Most Beautiful - Sean B Carroll.. a little bit more textbooky, but incredibly interesting, perfect follow-up to selfish gene, lots of like “..woah..” bits
Sex at Dawn - Christopher Ryan, again really interesting and lots of different examples of sexuality through different eras and cultures, blows apart tired redpill “men are promiscuous and horny and women are not” ideas
The Red Queen - Matt Ridley - more indepth and textbooky, more about the evolution of different sexual behavior throughout different species and evolutionary history, not so anthro focused as Sex at Dawn
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Postby Grendel » Sun Mar 28, 2021 3:16 pm

James Gleick- The Information
Douglas Hofstadter- Gödel, Escher, Bach

Math-y without having to do any math.
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Postby woozy ducks » Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:26 pm

I liked What Mad Pursuit more than Double Helix

If you're not too plagued out- The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett

If Godel, Eschel, Bach is too hefty - Godel's Proof by Nagel

The Code Book by Simon Singh for an overview and development of cryptography
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Postby woozy ducks » Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:28 pm

Science wrote:The Making of the Atomic Bomb




I've heard this is great
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Postby Ted Pikul » Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:37 pm

Strange glow: the story of radiation.
loaf angel wrote:I love how Ted makes every thread as a testament to how fucking boring he is.

"I bought a new garden hose mk 2"
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Postby Gutslab » Sun Mar 28, 2021 8:47 pm

good thread. gonna DL all these books for an upcoming road trip and not end up reading any of them
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Postby woozy ducks » Sun Mar 28, 2021 8:48 pm

what are the good tornado books
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Postby concerning » Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:03 pm

Image

this book was bonkers
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Postby winjer » Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:12 pm

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World - Iain McGilchrist
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Postby pretty yeoman » Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:33 pm

Cool thread idea!

The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions - Peter Brannen

The Crystal Desert: Summers In Antarctica - David G. Campbell

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why - Laurence Gonzales
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Postby Philip Graff » Sun Mar 28, 2021 10:13 pm

so many great recommendations, thanks everyone

I can't believe I forgot to recommend my FAVOURITE nature/science/biography book, the invention of nature by andrea wulf, it's a biography of alexander humboldt, and it is absolutely astounding what this man was able to accomplish in his life, the people he met, the countries he traveled to, and his insane influence on the thinkers of the next generation.

Image

I would also recommend superintelligence by nick bostrom - read a few years ago, a little dense, but mostly readable, about the dangers of AI

extendedphenotype wrote:Elephant memories

Elephant memories is a bit harder to get through than the other two but it’s worth it. They follow a group of elephants through a couple of generations. There are some nice pictures in the middle of the book. A young elephant periodically returns to its mother’s skull. Jesus fuck. The “humanity” of these things.


this sounds awesome, I read a novel called the white bone by Barbara Gowdy last year, told from the point of view of an elephant about her and her herd's life story, I cried.

woozy ducks/grendel - have had GDE on my shelf for a few months but haven't cracked it open yet. looking forward to it now

concerning wrote:Image

this book was bonkers


this also looks good, super similar to another book I'd really recommend to anyone interested in octopus intelligence called 'The Soul of an Octopus' by Sy Montgomery
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Postby woozy ducks » Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:02 pm

concerning wrote:Image

this book was bonkers


ya i liked this too

real quick read
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Postby winjer » Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:09 pm

winjer wrote:The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World - Iain McGilchrist


this one is pretty dense as far as pop sci goes... but i strongly recommend it to anyone interested in neuroscience, psychology, or literature. it’s a brilliant work

Why is the brain divided? The difference between right & left hemispheres has been puzzled over for centuries. In a book of unprecedented scope, McGilchrist draws on a vast body of recent brain research, illustrated with case histories, to reveal that the difference is profound—not just this or that function, but two whole, coherent, but incompatible ways of experiencing the world. The left hemisphere is detail oriented, prefers mechanisms to living things & is inclined to self-interest. The right hemisphere has greater breadth, flexibility & generosity. This division helps explain the origins of music & language, & casts new light on the history of philosophy, as well as on some mental illnesses. The 2nd part of the book takes a journey thru the history of Western culture, illustrating the tension between these two worlds as revealed in the thought & belief of thinkers & artists, from Aeschylus to Magritte. He argues that, despite its inferior grasp of reality, the left hemisphere is increasingly taking precedence in the modern world, with potentially disastrous consequences.


McGilchrist read English at New College, Oxford, but having published Against Criticism in 1982,[3] he later retrained in medicine and has been a neuroimaging researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital in south London.[3] McGilchrist is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and has three times been elected a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.[3]
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Postby tricksforchips » Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:36 pm

The End of Everything by Katie Mack

Image

So good.
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Postby Philip Graff » Mon Mar 29, 2021 12:35 am

winjer wrote:
winjer wrote:The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World - Iain McGilchrist


this one is pretty dense as far as pop sci goes... but i strongly recommend it to anyone interested in neuroscience, psychology, or literature. it’s a brilliant work

Why is the brain divided? The difference between right & left hemispheres has been puzzled over for centuries. In a book of unprecedented scope, McGilchrist draws on a vast body of recent brain research, illustrated with case histories, to reveal that the difference is profound—not just this or that function, but two whole, coherent, but incompatible ways of experiencing the world. The left hemisphere is detail oriented, prefers mechanisms to living things & is inclined to self-interest. The right hemisphere has greater breadth, flexibility & generosity. This division helps explain the origins of music & language, & casts new light on the history of philosophy, as well as on some mental illnesses. The 2nd part of the book takes a journey thru the history of Western culture, illustrating the tension between these two worlds as revealed in the thought & belief of thinkers & artists, from Aeschylus to Magritte. He argues that, despite its inferior grasp of reality, the left hemisphere is increasingly taking precedence in the modern world, with potentially disastrous consequences.


damn, that sentence has hooked me - I'll keep an eye out for it at the used bookstores in town

has anyone read the string theory book by brian greene, I've always wanted to but don't know if it's still relevant or if the science already been surpassed
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Postby woozy ducks » Mon Mar 29, 2021 12:41 am

i have never been able to finish a brian greene book
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Postby number none » Mon Mar 29, 2021 2:01 am

Philip Graff wrote:so many great recommendations, thanks everyone

I can't believe I forgot to recommend my FAVOURITE nature/science/biography book, the invention of nature by andrea wulf, it's a biography of alexander humboldt, and it is absolutely astounding what this man was able to accomplish in his life, the people he met, the countries he traveled to, and his insane influence on the thinkers of the next generation.


two more in this vein

Image

It's about island biogeography in general, but it's also a partial bio of Alfred Russell Wallace

Image

features Joseph Banks, William and Caroline Herschel and Humphry Davy, among others
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Postby winjer » Mon Mar 29, 2021 2:12 am

yeah the age of wonder is a good read
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Postby winjer » Mon Mar 29, 2021 2:12 am

also, any stephen j gould book
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Postby echo » Mon Mar 29, 2021 8:14 am

concerning wrote:Image

Yes
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Postby echo » Mon Mar 29, 2021 8:16 am

I think naomi oreskes has a new book coming out this year but in the meantime merchants of doubt is pretty great and readable
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Postby David Lobster Wallets » Mon Mar 29, 2021 12:09 pm

Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World by Amir Alexander
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Does a great job of connecting the development of calculus to the political ideology of the time which i found very interesting. the math is very approachable I think.

Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity by David Foster Wallace:
Image
Good book that is very accessible but it can get a little too hand-wavey at times which can lead to confusion later. Way too many footnotes obviously.

Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh:
Image
can get heavy in parts but those parts are skippable

Zero: The biography of a dangerous idea by Charles Seife
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Haven't read this but I've heard that it's really good and very accessible

An Imaginary Tale: The Story of the Square Root of -1 by Paul J. Nahin
Image
No idea about this book, I'm just sharing it because of the Remedios Varo painting on the cover is incredible.
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Postby Locust Valley 3 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:03 am

number none wrote:
Image

features Joseph Banks, William and Caroline Herschel and Humphry Davy, among others



Started this last night it rules
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Postby Kuma » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:07 am

Thankful for this thread, I've been wanting to read more in this vein. I'm gonna start with Behave.
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