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Fun with physics: 5 must-reads

education Updated: Aug 03, 2011 11:09 IST

Hindustan Times
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Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman!: Adventures Of A Curious Character by Richard Feynman, Ralph Leighton (contributor), Edward Hutchings (editor), 1985, W W Norton
An edited collection of reminiscences by the Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, the book is based on taped conversations with Feynman’s friend Ralph Leighton. Covering various incidents in Feynman’s life, some are light-hearted in tone, such as his fascination with safe-cracking, while others are more serious, but very readable

Atoms In The Family: My Life With Enrico Fermi
by Laura Fermi, 1987
Laura Fermi’s engrossing account of life with the great atomic scientist, Enrico Fermi, traces their emigration to the United States in the 1930s. Combining intellectual biography with social history, she traces her husband’s career from his childhood, when he taught himself physics, through his rise in the Italian university system coinciding with the rise of fascism, to his winning the Nobel prize, a perfect opportunity to flee the country without arousing official suspicion, and his journey to the US.

What Is Life?: With ‘Mind and Matter’ And ‘Autobiographical Sketches’
by Erwin Schrödinger, 1967, Cambridge University Press
These two essays by Erwin Schrödinger, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, constitute a physicist’s musings about biology, from basic physical principles. The book, especially the first essay, influenced many famous biologists such as Francis Crick.

View From A Height
by Isaac Asimov, 1963, Doubleday
This is a collection of 17 essays by the famous science writer Isaac Asimov, perhaps better known for his fiction. It’s a book of wide-ranging, extremely comprehensible, and highly entertaining facts which capture the beauty and excitement of science. Asimov enlightens and entertains the reader with fascinating inquiries into a wide array of provocative topics: the recipe for the planet earth, the changing concepts of time in a world of split seconds, the possibility of non carbon-based life forms, the physical dimensions of man (among earth’s animals: are we pygmies or giants? Why is an elephant the size it is?), and much more.

Childhood’s End
by Arthur C Clarke, 1953, Ballantine
One of the most famous science fiction novels, its theme of an alien invasion of our planet by a benign ruling race has influenced many works of fiction and cinema, including the author’s own screenplay for Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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