The Modern Greats
Diane Ackerman is a poet, novelist, and naturalist known for her varied and poetic writings on nature. Her 1995 book “Rarest of the rare” takes a look at the strangest and most endangered species on earth, as well as looking at the preservation efforts to try to save them.
James Gleick: Gleick is supposedly the inspiration for the character “Ian Malcolm” in the film “Jurassic Park”. His first book, “Chaos: Making a New Science”, is an international best-seller which explained the chaos theory and it’s development made “the Butterfly Effect” a well known phrase. His writing is easily approachable despite the difficulty of the subject matter contained within.
Brian Greene: Best known for his work in theoretical physics, specifically the advancement of String Theory, his book “The Fabric of the Cosmos” is a beautifully written and easily digested entry into the advanced realm of quantum physics.
Stephen Hawking: Diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrigs Disease) at 20 years old, he was not expected to live longer than 2 years, luckily for the scientific community he survived into his 70s before passing away earlier this year. This brilliant physicist’s work focuses on the origin and expansion of our universe. “A Brief history of Time”, as well as several other books were written primarily for those of us with less of an understanding of physics (pretty much everyone) to grasp the concepts.
Michio Kaku: A well known futurist, and physicist, he is the co-founder of string field theory, and is working to complete Einstein’s quest to unite the laws of the fundamental forces of nature into one unified theory. He has crafted a number of books for the non-scientific community. “Physics of the Future” is one of the most interesting reads he has written and a good place to start.
Mary Roach: Another writer on this list who’s work is geared towards making science more accessible to the non-scientific community. Her book “Packing for Mars” takes a look at interplanetary travel, other books she’s written have covered a wide variety of subjects including, military science, sex, and death. They are very lighthearted, fun, and written with comedy at heart.
Carl Sagan: Probably one of the best known scientists of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s he worked diligently to bring science out of academia and into the public eye and dialogue. His scientific work focussed on astronomy, cosmology, astrophysics. He is most well known for his book “Cosmos” and the television series of the same name.
Erwin Schrodinger: Though probably best known for his odd relationship with his cat, and the book “What is Life?”, this Nobel Prize winning author also wrote some very interesting technical works on wave theory, quantum mechanics, genetics, and biology.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Lecture tours, television appearances, a weekly radio show, and more have helped to make Neil deGrasse Tyson a household name in science. His books, including “Death by Black Hole” are very humorous and filled with tongue in cheek quips, that make for a light reading experience that’s so much fun you won’t even know you’re learning.
The Classic Greats
Aristotle: Aristotle’s writing cover a wide variety of topics. Most well known for his writings on philosophy, he also wrote heavily on physics, biology, metaphysics, zoology, and politics. Though most of his theoretical writings have been disproven, knowing the changes in the base understanding of our universe that he created is important for any true scientist.
Nicolaus Copernicus: Copernicus wrote many books, essays and studies throughout his life. “On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres” is the single most evident trigger for the “Copernican Revolution” a precursor to the Scientific revolution in the late Renaissance.
Charles Darwin: As with the rest of the names on this list, the science was groundbreaking, and even created new fields of study. His best known work “The Origin Of Species” is actually a well written, though sometimes wordy, and the inclusion of Darwin’s own anecdotes makes it more interesting than any textbook on the subject of evolution.
Galileo Galilei: This “heretic” was accused twice during the inquisition due to his advanced views of the universe. As a result of advocacy of the Copernican model for our universe, among other non-religious ideals he was forced to recant, destroy some of his work, and was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life. Considered by many to be the father of modern science, his work changed our understanding of physics, astronomy, and mathematics, who knows what discoveries he made that never saw the light of day. Some of his writings are still available “Sidereus Nuncius” (“Starry Messenger”) and “Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche Intorno a Due Nuove Scienze” (“Dialogue Concerning The Two Chief World Systems”) are both very worthy intellectual undertakings.
Isaac Newton: Newton was a self described “Natural Philosopher” and one of the greatest minds in his time. He created or advanced nearly every known field of science, and his laws of physics changed the very understanding of how the universe works. The book “Principia Mathematica” became the foundation for most modern scientific study and thought.
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