Recommendations for maths/physics books for people who actually quite like the odd equation?

(9 Posts)
slightlyglitterbrained Sun 16-Apr-17 09:12:54

Have been a bit disappointed recently by pop science books on maths/physics that are apparently aimed at people who don't want to see any numbers.

Decades ago I studied both up to A level/early undergrad - so while I've entirely forgotten all the details I can cope with Hard Sums, if explained from scratch. I'm finding that explaining stuff to DS is rekindling my interest (though at 4 he's only getting fairly simple explanations) - so am looking for books about physics or maths that are hopefully a bit more visually exciting than my old physics textbooks.

Any recommendations? Not really looking for kids' books as this is for me and I want something a bit more meaty than "here are some stars. They are very far away! Look at the pretty colours!"

Sadik Sun 16-Apr-17 17:15:23

I don't know if they're the sort of thing you want but I've really enjoyed:
Alex's Adventures in Numberland (perhaps too few sums for what you want, but still very good)
Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh (really excellent)
How To Cut a Cake & other Mathematical Conundrums by Ian Stewart
What We Cannot Know by Marcus du Sautoy

BobbinThreadbare123 Sun 16-Apr-17 17:22:30

Get some books by Michio Kaku. A bit of John Gribbin goes down well, too. Also, not a 'topic' book but more of a diary/documentary book suggestion is how Georg Bednorz and Alex Muller found high temperature superconductors. Fascinating. I will see if I can find the title; I read it when I was about 12 (Muller wrote it) and it got me hooked on physics.

CoteDAzur Sun 16-Apr-17 21:09:07

OP - re "books about physics or maths that are hopefully a bit more visually exciting than my old physics textbooks"

I have some non-fiction recommendations for you:

Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You - Marcus Chown (All QT explained in simple terms and sentences. Really well done, I highly recommend this book)

Alan Turing: The Enigma - Andrew Hodges (Very detailed explanation of how Enigma code was broken AND a thorough explanation of Turing's contributions to the field of mathematics, as well as what the field was like before him.)

The Strangest Man - Graham Farmelo (Biography of Paul Dirac, pioneer quantum physicist and mathematician who "discovered" antimatter through mathematical calculations. Also a fascinating account of the rush towards the atom bomb and its aftermath, with a famous cast including Bohr, Heisenberg, Einstein, Schrodinger, etc)

And this one is historical fiction:

Measuring The World by Daniel Kehlmann (I loved this book, which follows the lives of the world's most acclaimed mathematician Gauss and aristocrat/cartographer Humboldt)

BobbinThreadbare123 Sun 16-Apr-17 22:55:46

I second the suggestion by CoteDAzur about Graham Farmelo's book on Dirac. It is excellent. I was taught at uni by someone who had Dirac as his PhD supervisor. An usual man.

BobbinThreadbare123 Sun 16-Apr-17 22:56:33


slightlyglitterbrained Mon 17-Apr-17 09:47:19

Thanks for the recs! Sound like a few to check out, I like the sound of the Ian Stewart book and have bought the Hodges Turing bio. Will have a browse of the rest next time I'm in a bookshop.

Having thought a bit more since my original post, I think I am particularly interested in books that you have to read with a pen and paper to try things out, rather than reading it straight through like a novel. There are lots of entertaining and absorbing examples of the latter but the former seem less common?

EnjoyYourVegetables Mon 17-Apr-17 09:51:52

J E Gordon's The New Science of Strong Materials is dated in parts, naturally (1968!) but a good read still.

CoteDAzur Mon 17-Apr-17 23:10:10

OP, I think you would also like Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.

You would probably like all his books, actually.

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