What are some of the best layman's books on the latest advances in physics?
December 28, 2006 1:53 PM   Subscribe

I've read a few really good works on quantum physics and other cutting-edge sciences, and I'd like to know more. However, I'm coming at this topic from a decidedly non-scientific education. Can someone suggest a few titles?
posted by jackypaper to Science & Nature (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
The God Particle - Leon Lederman

Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos - Dennis Overbye

Both a touch dated, their information and presentation are great, embodying a good balance of technical information with accessibility.

The Republican War on Science and its response Looking For a Fight: Is There a Republican War on Science? - Chris Mooney et al (more politicized and current than the others)

A Chicago production company, 137 Films (self-link, new site forthcoming), is producing The Atom Smashers, a science documentary that follows physicists at Fermilab as they search for the fundamental building blocks of matter and existence.

The film, which contains interviews with Lederman, Overbye, Mooney, as well as other scientists, journalists, and politicians, aims at scientists and non-scientists with interest in these topics.
posted by asuprenant at 2:13 PM on December 28, 2006

You might want to take a look at this earlier thread. Although in that thread the asker expresses a desire to go beyond being a layman.
posted by vacapinta at 2:21 PM on December 28, 2006

I'm with b1tr0t on the Physics for Future Presidents. But if you don't want to see the movie, you can now buy The Book. You can also get it from Amazon.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 2:36 PM on December 28, 2006

...or read the MetaFilter thread.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:54 PM on December 28, 2006

I liked Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe. I think there was a PBS series on it, too.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:28 PM on December 28, 2006

About Time, by Paul Davies. Truly excellent book (have read it twice), written for the layman.

Will throw in a couple of quotes from this site:

"Anyone not shocked by quantum mechanics has not yet understood it." - Niels Bohr

"Nobody understands quantum mechanics" - Richard Feynman
posted by kisch mokusch at 5:35 PM on December 28, 2006

Motion Mountain is worth a look too.
posted by flabdablet at 6:08 PM on December 28, 2006

And, of course, there's The Universe in a Nutshell by stephen Hawking, which is a more reader friendly sequel to About Time. Nice pics in it.
posted by kisch mokusch at 6:31 PM on December 28, 2006

Ugh! Not a sequel to About Time! A sequel to A Brief History of Time.
posted by kisch mokusch at 6:34 PM on December 28, 2006

I loved Chaos-Making-Science
posted by nintendo at 6:35 PM on December 28, 2006

The Trouble With Physics is a nice look at the current state of things.
posted by deansfurniture5 at 9:37 PM on December 28, 2006

Big Bang by Simon Singh is excellent.. the first half of it is essentially a complete history on relativity and quantum mechanics, before it heads into the science of the Big Bang.

Singh is an amazing writer, a scientist himself who has a brilliant knack for explaining complex science to the lay person.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 11:03 PM on December 28, 2006

I second the Physics for Future Presidents.
Down to earth, basic stuff, without all the garble.
posted by senterstyle at 11:44 PM on December 28, 2006

The Dancing Wu-Li Masters is the best one I've read.
posted by KRS at 11:26 AM on December 29, 2006

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