Layman's Books on Physics and Cosmology

A Listmania! list by Bryan J. Higgs (Milford, NH USA)
(REAL NAME)   
The list author says: "My formal education culminated in a Ph.D. in Elementary Particle Physics, but many years ago. After obtaining this degree, I moved into the computer industry, and eventually into an academic position in Computer Science. The Computer industry served me well until I retired, when I found myself regaining interest in the latest in Particle Physics and Cosmology.
This is a list of those books I've read in recent years."
Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman
1.  Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick
The list author says:
  "A biography of Richard P. Feynman, Nobel prize-winning physicist, teacher, and bongo player.

No one can claim that Feynman was not an interesting character! He was also a genius of the first order, with a unique approach to solving physics problems.

Highly recommended!"
$14.30   Used & New from: $0.01
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)

Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann and the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics
2.  Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann and the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics by George Johnson
The list author says:
  "A fascinating account of the work and quirks of Murray Gell-Mann, and his interactions with the equally unusual Richard P. Feynman. Very different characters, the two worked together at Cal Tech for a number of years.

This book is equally interesting for its coverage of the physics (in layman's terms), and for the descriptions of the characters.

Highly recommended!"
$17.64   Used & New from: $0.44
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

Alpha and Omega: The Search for the Beginning and End of the Universe
3.  Alpha and Omega: The Search for the Beginning and End of the Universe by Charles Seife
The list author says:
  "I liked this book.  I found the writing clear and the ideas well described.

Recommended."
$13.53   Used & New from: $0.01
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

The Elegant Universe
4.  The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
The list author says:
  "Excellent book, by a leading practitioner.

Highly recommended!"
Used & New from: $4.45
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (714 customer reviews)

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The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality
5.  The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality by Brian Greene
The list author says:
  "Having read the author's "The Elegant Universe", I was hoping that this book would continue on in the same mold.  However, I found it rather more difficult going, and as a result came away a little disappointed.

Recommended."
$11.52   Used & New from: $0.99
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (367 customer reviews) | 8 customer discussions

The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?
6.  The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? by Leon Lederman
The list author says:
  "An entertaining book by a Nobel prize-winning experimental physicist.

One of the reviews says "The funniest book about physics ever written."  That may be a little overstated, but Lederman certainly does have a good sense of humor.  It is also clear that he has an ego -- but I imagine that's not rare among Nobel prize winners.

Highly recommended!"
$13.51   Used & New from: $3.17
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)

Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe
7.  Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe by Leon Lederman
The list author says:
  "Another excellent book by a Nobel prize winner.
This time, Lederman gains a co-author, Christopher T. Hill, a practicing theoretical physicist in his own right.

Lederman's humor and ego both come through again.

Highly recommended!"
$17.04   Used & New from: $4.46
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

Great Physicists: The Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking
8.  Great Physicists: The Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking by William H. Cropper
The list author says:
  "This book is a biography of the major physicists from Galileo through Stephen Hawking. It sounds dry, but I found it to be a fascinating and well-written book.

Highly recommended!"
$17.12   Used & New from: $0.50
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe (P.S.)
9.  Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe (P.S.) by Simon Singh
The list author says:
  "Having read Simon Singh's earlier books, "Fermat's Enigma" and "The Code Book", I was expecting a lot from his "Big Bang", but came away disappointed.  His writing was good, but just when it was starting to get interesting, he stopped.  There was precious little on the latest developments.

Recommended."
$12.87   Used & New from: $0.99
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)

Science: A History
10.  Science: A History by John Gribbin
The list author says:
  "A great book about the history of science, from Galileo to modern times.  It is about the history and the personalities of all those sometimes amazing people who have contributed to science as we know it today.

Note: This is exactly the same book as "The Scientists" by the same author.

Highly recommended!"
Used & New from: $5.34
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors
11.  The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors by John Gribbin
The list author says:
  "This is an excellent book.

Since it is word-for-word identical to the book "Science: A History" by the same author, just read my review of that book.

For some reason, publishers make a habit of changing the title (and little or nothing else!) from the UK edition to the US edition.

Highly recommended!"
$14.51   Used & New from: $5.28
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

Longing for the Harmonies: Themes and Variations from Modern Physics
12.  Longing for the Harmonies: Themes and Variations from Modern Physics by Frank Wilczek
The list author says:
  "I loved the Introduction to this book.  So, I had high hopes for the rest of the book.  I was slightly disappointed, but I think mainly because the rest of the book struck me as being a little advanced for the typical non-physicist (whatever that might mean).  On the whole, I found that the book contained some very valuable information that I had not found before.

Highly recommended!"
$9.77   Used & New from: $2.49
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science
13.  Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science by David Lindley
The list author says:
  "I was hoping that this book would delve into the meaning of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.  I was disappointed.  Lots of philosophical discussions, but not much of real interpretation.  I did find the coverage of Niels Bohr to be interesting -- he comes across as an overly pedantic bore (sic).  I had not heard that elsewhere.

But still recommended."
$11.96   Used & New from: $2.63
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics
14.  Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics by Bruce A. Schumm
The list author says:
  "This is the best book I've read so far to explain the so-called Standard Model -- the most successful physical theory ever.

I've reviewed it on its Amazon page, where I have more space than I do here.  For more details, go and find it to read my review.

Highly recommended!"
$24.05   Used & New from: $12.15
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

The Universe in a Nutshell
15.  The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking
The list author says:
  "This is a wonderful book.  The text is very engaging, and the illustrations are outstanding.

I also found it rather peculiar. It purports to describe the universe to a layman, but it also moves into relatively advanced topics without much explanation.  As one who has read a lot on these topics, I was comfortable, but I had to wonder how much a typical layman would become lost.
Highly recommended!"
Used & New from: $0.50
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)

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The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model, the Unsung Triumph of Modern Physics
16.  The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model, the Unsung Triumph of Modern Physics by Robert Oerter
The list author says:
  "I enjoyed this book.  It's a well-written and reasonably up to date (2006) account of the Standard Model and the people whose discoveries and inventions contributed to it, with a focus mostly on the 20th century and beyond.

Highly recommended!"
$13.24   Used & New from: $0.91
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (Princeton Science Library)
17.  QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (Princeton Science Library) by Richard P. Feynman
The list author says:
  "This is a delightful book that I meant to read years ago, and only just did.
Feynman tries to explain QED, including his "sum of all histories" approach, which he applies to explanations of reflection, refraction, diffraction, and the focusing lens. In the last chapter, he talks about some of the later dilemmas relating to QCD, Weak interactions, and so on.

Strongly recommended!"
$14.09   Used & New from: $7.11
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)

The Accelerating Universe: Infinite Expansion, the Cosmological Constant, and the Beauty of the Cosmos
18.  The Accelerating Universe: Infinite Expansion, the Cosmological Constant, and the Beauty of the Cosmos by Mario Livio
The list author says:
  "A very interesting book. Mario Livio writes well, and in an engaging manner, with good analogies.  This book gives a very good overview of current models of the universe, although much has happened since its publish date (2000 in my edition).

Highly recommended!"
$14.88   Used & New from: $0.01
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe
19.  Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe by Martin J. Rees
The list author says:
  "Martin Rees, Britain's Astronomer Royal, has written a fine book that is at once enlightening on Cosmological thinking (as of ~2000), and very understandable to the lay reader.  I found it an easy and interesting read.

Highly recommended!"
$11.68   Used & New from: $0.22
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
20.  From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean M. Carroll
The list author says:
  "I had high expectations of this book, given that I've seen some of Sean Carroll's written and video work, and mostly my expectations were met.  It was just that the last ~20% was pretty difficult to understand.  It seems that entropy is a hard subject to appreciate.

Highly recommended!"
Used & New from: $0.12
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews) | 2 customer discussions

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Before The Beginning: Our Universe And Others (Helix Books)
21.  Before The Beginning: Our Universe And Others (Helix Books) by Martin J. Rees
The list author says:
  "This book started out very well, with clear explanations of recent cosmological discoveries.  However, I found the last 20% to be rather repetitive and, while highly speculative, less interesting that I hoped.

Recommended."
$13.47   Used & New from: $0.01
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?)
22.  Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?) by Brian Cox
The list author says:
  "This is a delightful little book.  It is written in very clear language, with very good analogies and amusing side-comments and references.  It contains the clearest explanations I've read of many topics, including the origins of special relativity, how mass results from the (as yet undiscovered) Higgs boson, and even gauge symmetry in field theory (not an easy one!).

Highly recommended!"
$12.73   Used & New from: $1.99
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)

Einstein's Telescope: The Hunt for Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe
23.  Einstein's Telescope: The Hunt for Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe by Evalyn Gates
The list author says:
  "Einstein's Telescope (which refers to lensing due to General Relativity) is a fascinating and well-written book about some of the latest discoveries about the cosmos and techniques that attempt to learn more about it.

It became a little harder to read towards the end, but it was all very interesting

Highly recommended!"
$15.34   Used & New from: $2.51
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

A Zeptospace Odyssey: A Journey into the Physics of the LHC
24.  A Zeptospace Odyssey: A Journey into the Physics of the LHC by Gian Francesco Giudice
The list author says:
  "Don't be put off by the unusual title; this is a really well-written and fascinating book.  I particularly liked the author's analogies used to explain potentially difficult topics.

Highly recommended!"
$40.64   Used & New from: $28.47
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

The Hunting of the Quark: A True Story of Modern Physics (Touchstone Book)
25.  The Hunting of the Quark: A True Story of Modern Physics (Touchstone Book) by Michael Riordan
The list author says:
  "This is a very readable book that conveys the excitement and competition during the late 20th century, building up to the Standard Model of physics.  The author is not afraid to tell about the personalities of some of the physicists involved, not all of which are positive.

Highly recommended!"
Used & New from: $0.01
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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The Inflationary Universe
26.  The Inflationary Universe by Alan H. Guth
The list author says:
  "I liked this book a lot.  It contains good explanations for some pretty abstract topics, plus the author's reminiscences were interesting -- he is the originator of the "inflationary theory".  There were also some pretty speculative topics covered.

Highly recommended!"
$14.53   Used & New from: $4.38
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom
27.  The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo
The list author says:
  "This is an extremely interesting book.
It succeeds in describing an extremely complex and often troubled man, together with the historical context through which he lived, and the characters (both scientific and other) he connected with.
Furthermore, the author writes well, and engagingly.

Highly recommended!"
Used & New from: $0.38
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

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Customer Discussions about products in this list
Discussion Replies Latest Post
Why is this book not available for the Kindle 0 Jul 15, 2014
Space-time. 4 Jul 31, 2012
Albert Einstein's theory of gravity is generally explained in a wrong way 2 Jul 25, 2012
The Elegant Universe 2 Jul 25, 2012
Anything new? 1 Jun 11, 2012
should i read the book first? or watch his movie? 4 Oct 29, 2011
Albert Einstein's theory of gravity is generally explained in a wrong way 4 Apr 25, 2011
God playing dice? 7 Apr 22, 2011
Albert Einstein's theory of gravity is generally explained in a wrong way 0 Feb 16, 2011
The box with the red and blue lights question. 3 Jan 25, 2011
From Sean Carroll 1 Jan 24, 2011
Eternity is Here 0 Jan 24, 2011
 
   

About this Listmania!

 

Author

Bryan J. Higgs (Milford, NH USA)
(REAL NAME)   
Qualifications: Ph.D. Elementary Particle Physics
Last updated: 4/23/11
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