Books - current reading, recommendations, reviews

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I don't know if there's a thread like this here that already exists.

I'm wondering if anyone has recommendations for good QM or astrophysics books - but preferably aimed at the general reader. (Or popular science writing on other topics that you recommend.) Anyone has an opinion about Max Tegmark's Our Mathematical Universe?
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It's been quite a while since I read it, so don't ask me for a synopsis, but at the time, I found Paul Davies's "The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World" very worthwhile. It makes its case by blending science with philosophy for a general audience.
(This post was last modified: 2018-08-01, 03:47 PM by Laird.)
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I read this a long time ago and found it very informative although it is a somewhat fictionalised account with imagined conversations, etc. Nevertheless, the history is accurate as are the biographies and the descriptions of scientific discoveries and developments. I thought the book had disappeared into literary limbo but I'm happy to see that it has now been released on Kindle. 

Ian, I don't know if it is what you are looking for but I would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of science - particularly quantum physics.

https://www.amazon.com/Triad-Physicists-...0953621901

Quote:Rooted in extensive research, faithful to historical fact, TRIAD examines the parallel development of psychoanalysis and quantum physics in the early part of the century. Next to physics and psychoanalysis the book also explores the Jewish cultural connection. This, the third element of the triad, takes the reader from provincial ghetto to Budapest cafe society, from Kabbalah to enlightenment, from the mysteries of the universe to the mysteries of the universe. Numerous and unexpected family ties between the practitioners of the various arts enlivens the author's exploration of the counterintuitive theories, and monumental discoveries which have changed our lives. The historical novel format allows the author to probe and expound the major themes of the book: the role of the unconscious in the creative process, the evolution of radical ideas, the importance of cultural and family history, the role of professional rivalry, jealousy, friendship and hero worship.

A fascinating and unusual book with a rich, rich cast – Sándor Ferenczi, George de Hevesy, Sigmund Freud, Niels Bohr, Wolf Pappenheim, Ernest Rutherford, Carl Jung, Wolfgang Pauli, Ernst Mach, Michael Heilprin, Kurt Gödel, John von Neumann, Fritz Paneth, Paul Bernays, Rudolf Ortvay, Wolf Pascheles, Toni Freund, Leopold Breuer, Gizella Ferenczi, Joseph Paneth, Elma Pálos, Baruch Fraenkel, Lajos Lévy, Samuel Hammerschlag, Joseph Breuer, Lou Andreas-Salomé and Rabbi Moses Schreiber, the Chatam Sopher - to name but a few.
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
(This post was last modified: 2018-07-31, 11:27 AM by Kamarling.)
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(2018-07-31, 03:45 AM)Ninshub Wrote: I don't know if there's a thread like this here that already exists.

I'm wondering if anyone has recommendations for good QM or astrophysics books - but preferably aimed at the general reader. (Or popular science writing on other topics that you recommend.) Anyone has an opinion about Max Tegmark's Our Mathematical Universe?
This is one of his older papers.  Ian Thompson is a Principal Investigator in Condensed Matter Physics and leading a quantum research project across multiple laboratories.  http://www.generativescience.org/ps-papers/qmc1h.html

Not a huge fan of Tegmark as his ideas are rooted in the "Many Worlds" of Everett.
(This post was last modified: 2018-08-01, 01:23 PM by stephenw.)
(2018-07-31, 05:39 AM)Laird Wrote: It's been quite a while since I read it, so don't ask me for a synopsis, but at the time, I found Philip Davies's "The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World" very worthwhile. It makes its case by blending science with philosophy for a general audience.
You mean Paul Davies.  I am enough of a "groupie" to have a signed copy of one of his many works.
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(2018-08-01, 01:21 PM)stephenw Wrote: You mean Paul Davies.  I am enough of a "groupie" to have a signed copy of one of his many works.

I've only read one, I have a copy in my hand right now, "The Fifth Miracle" (unsigned). I enjoyed reading it, but can't offer a review as it was a number of years since I last read it.

Actually, I may have read others by Davies, as a library copy.
(This post was last modified: 2018-08-01, 01:32 PM by Typoz.)
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Luke Barnes and Geraint Lewis' book, A Fortunate Universe, is superb.

It is written for a popular audience and is relatively easy to read, but they definitely discuss more complex topics in physics/astrophysics and QM if you're familiar with such things.  It's a good length and is very informative and they provide numerous analogies/examples that clarify the points they are trying to make. There's also a decent amount of humor. It's very readable.

They also present multiple viewpoints, theories, and hypotheses throughout the book without, at least in my estimation, any real sense of bias. And the final chapter is a discussion, in essence, between Barnes and Lewis about some fair conclusions from what we know right now. I think they take a very balanced and reasonable approach to things, and they explain their respective rationales for their thoughts well.

I would heavily recommend it and I think it fits the genre you are talking about pretty snugly, Ninshub. It's also not gonna break anyone's bank even though it's a hardcover. Here's the link:

https://www.amazon.com/Fortunate-Univers...1107156610
(This post was last modified: 2018-08-01, 01:51 PM by Dante.)
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Thanks guys. That one sounds particularly good, Dante, especially with the presentation of different perspectives. I have a very basic familiarity with QM so that I can follow general books and maybe slightly advanced ones, but I've been in the mood for a well-written, current enough, popular science book on astrophysics especially.

But any recommendation on any other other science book is welcomed by me. Keep 'em coming!

Also, I meant this thread for everyone, to share what they're reading, and make suggestions, on any topic, not just psi or science. So don't be shy!
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(2018-08-01, 02:00 PM)Ninshub Wrote: Thanks guys. That one sounds particularly good, Dante, especially with the presentation of different perspectives. I have a very basic familiarity with QM so that I can follow general books and maybe slightly advanced ones, but I've been in the mood for a well-written, current enough, popular science book on astrophysics especially.

But any recommendation on any other other science book is welcomed by me. Keep 'em coming!

Also, I meant this thread for everyone, to share what they're reading, and make suggestions, on any topic, not just psi or science. So don't be shy!

I really would recommend it if you're interested. It is very recent, first published in 2016, and I know Barnes on both his twitter and blog consistently posts any updates from studies that might impact or be related to the book. So it's as fresh as it gets in terms of taking account of all the newest research. And yes, they really do present multiple points of view from numerous sources so you can kind of feel out the strengths and weaknesses for yourself, before kind of taking a position themselves at the end (and Barnes and Lewis do not ultimately agree in their conclusion, but as I said, draw out their reasons for what they think). Just well worth the read, and while being more well-versed might help understanding some things, their target audience was anyone and they write it that way.

In terms of other books, I also read Thomas Nagel's Mind and Cosmos not long ago. It's really interesting and also is well worth the read, and like A Fortunate Universe will not break the bank. It's also relatively short. Nagel has been discussed here at least a bit, but I think he asks a lot of important questions and doesn't sugar coat issues with certain belief systems. It's a good book. Here's that one:

https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Cosmos-Mater...0199919755

Jim Tucker's book, Life Before Life, is a good intro to some of the past-life studies that have been done. You may have already read that one, Ninshub. I think it's worth reading.

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Before-Child...9HG5FTXX65

Been rereading Lord of the Rings too, which is always wonderful. If anyone hasn't read those or The Hobbit they live up to all the hype, at least for me. 

And if anyone is looking for a book that's really just a great story, I've always loved The Count of Monte Cristo. The abridged version is still great, but the unabridged is really fantastic. To Kill a Mockingbird is another one of my favorites.
(This post was last modified: 2018-08-01, 02:33 PM by Dante.)
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(2018-08-01, 01:21 PM)stephenw Wrote: You mean Paul Davies.

Yes, I do - thanks for the correction. I have read one or two of his other books (even longer ago) and also found them worthwhile so I understand why you'd become a groupie!

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