Updated Aug 07, 2022

Best Physics Books

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— According to the most prominent book blogs on the internet, these are the best books for physics. Each of the books on this list were recommended in at least three of the articles, ranked by how frequently they were mentioned.

"The whole thing was basically an experiment," Richard Feynman said late in his career, looking back on the origins of his lectures. The experiment turned out to be hugely successful, spawning publications that have remained definitive and introductory to physics for decades. Ranging from the basic principles of Newtonian physics through such formidable theories as general relativity and quantum mechanics, Feynman's lectures stand as a monument of clear exposition and deep insight.

Timeless and collectible, the lectures are essential reading, not just for students of physics but for anyone seeking an introduction to the field from the inimitable Feynman.

Our favourite quote from The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I

It is probably better to realize that the probability concept is in a sense subjective, that it is always based on uncertain knowledge, and that its quantitative evaluation is subject to change as we obtain more information.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking’s book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe begin—and what made its start possible? Does time always flow forward? Is the universe unending—or are there boundaries? Are there other dimensions in space? What will happen when it all ends?

Told in language we all can understand, A Brief History of Time plunges into the exotic realms of black holes and quarks, of antimatter and “arrows of time,” of the big bang and a bigger God—where the possibilities are wondrous and unexpected. With exciting images and profound imagination, Stephen Hawking brings us closer to the ultimate secrets at the very heart of creation.

Our favourite quote from A Brief History of Time

The universe doesn't allow perfection.

Very extensive treatment of Schroedinger's theory and equations of quantum mechanics.

Our favourite quote from Fundamentals of Modern Physics

The international bestseller that inspired a major Nova special and sparked a new understanding of the universe, now with a new preface and epilogue.

Brian Greene, one of the world's leading string theorists, peels away layers of mystery to reveal a universe that consists of eleven dimensions, where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter—from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas—is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy. The Elegant Universe makes some of the most sophisticated concepts ever contemplated accessible and thoroughly entertaining, bringing us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works.

Our favourite quote from The Elegant Universe

The boldness of asking deep questions may require unforeseen flexibility if we are to accept the answers.

The New York Times bestseller from the author of The Order of Time and Reality Is Not What It Seems.

“One of the year’s most entrancing books about science.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Clear, elegant...a whirlwind tour of some of the biggest ideas in physics.”—The New York Times Book Review

This playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics briskly explains Einstein's general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world. Carlo Rovelli, a renowned theoretical physicist, is a delightfully poetic and philosophical scientific guide. He takes us to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds. The book celebrates the joy of discovery.  “Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world,” Rovelli writes. “And it’s breathtaking.”

Our favourite quote from Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

We are made of the same stardust of which all things are made, and when we are immersed in suffering or when we are experiencing intense joy we are being nothing other than what we can’t help but be: a part of our world.

One of the most famous science books of our time, the phenomenal national bestseller that "buzzes with energy, anecdote and life. It almost makes you want to become a physicist" (Science Digest).

Richard P. Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. In this lively work that “can shatter the stereotype of the stuffy scientist” (Detroit Free Press), Feynman recounts his experiences trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets―and much more of an eyebrow-raising nature. In his stories, Feynman’s life shines through in all its eccentric glory―a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah.

Our favourite quote from "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"

You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It's their mistake, not my failing.

From Brian Greene, one of the world’s leading physicists and author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Elegant Universe, comes a grand tour of the universe that makes us look at reality in a completely different way.

Space and time form the very fabric of the cosmos. Yet they remain among the most mysterious of concepts. Is space an entity? Why does time have a direction? Could the universe exist without space and time? Can we travel to the past? Greene has set himself a daunting task: to explain non-intuitive, mathematical concepts like String Theory, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and Inflationary Cosmology with analogies drawn from common experience. From Newton’s unchanging realm in which space and time are absolute, to Einstein’s fluid conception of spacetime, to quantum mechanics’ entangled arena where vastly distant objects can instantaneously coordinate their behavior, Greene takes us all, regardless of our scientific backgrounds, on an irresistible and revelatory journey to the new layers of reality that modern physics has discovered lying just beneath the surface of our everyday world.

Our favourite quote from Fabric of the Cosmos

Cosmology is among the oldest subjects to captivate our species. And it’s no wonder. We’re storytellers, and what could be more grand than the story of creation?

R. Shankar has introduced major additions and updated key presentations in this second edition of Principles of Quantum Mechanics. New features of this innovative text include an entirely rewritten mathematical introduction, a discussion of Time-reversal invariance, and extensive coverage of a variety of path integrals and their applications. Additional highlights include:

  • Clear, accessible treatment of underlying mathematics
  • A review of Newtonian, Lagrangian, and Hamiltonian mechanics
  • Student understanding of quantum theory is enhanced by separate treatment of mathematical theorems and physical postulates
  • Unsurpassed coverage of path integrals and their relevance in contemporary physics

The requisite text for advanced undergraduate- and graduate-level students, Principles of Quantum Mechanics, Second Edition is fully referenced and is supported by many exercises and solutions. The book’s self-contained chapters also make it suitable for independent study as well as for courses in applied disciplines.

Our favourite quote from Principles of Quantum Mechanics

A master teacher presents the ultimate introduction to classical mechanics for people who are serious about learning physics.

"Beautifully clear explanations of famously 'difficult' things," --Wall Street Journal

A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2013.

If you ever regretted not taking physics in college--or simply want to know how to think like a physicist--this is the book for you. In this bestselling introduction, physicist Leonard Susskind and hacker-scientist George Hrabovsky offer a first course in physics and associated math for the ardent amateur. Challenging, lucid, and concise, The Theoretical Minimum provides a tool kit for amateur scientists to learn physics at their own pace.

Our favourite quote from The Theoretical Minimum

The world seems filled with people who are genuinely, deeply interested in physics but whose lives have taken them in different directions. This book is for all of us.

A fascinating exploration of the science of the impossible—from death rays and force fields to invisibility cloaks—revealing to what extent such technologies might be achievable decades or millennia into the future.

One hundred years ago, scientists would have said that lasers, televisions, and the atomic bomb were beyond the realm of physical possibility. In Physics of the Impossible, the renowned physicist Michio Kaku explores to what extent the technologies and devices of science fiction that are deemed equally impossible today might well become commonplace in the future.

From teleportation to telekinesis, Kaku uses the world of science fiction to explore the fundamentals—and the limits—of the laws of physics as we know them today. He ranks the impossible technologies by categories—Class I, II, and III, depending on when they might be achieved, within the next century, millennia, or perhaps never. In a compelling and thought-provoking narrative, he explains:

  • How the science of optics and electromagnetism may one day enable us to bend light around an object, like a stream flowing around a boulder, making the object invisible to observers “downstream”
  • How ramjet rockets, laser sails, antimatter engines, and nanorockets may one day take us to the nearby stars
  • How telepathy and psychokinesis, once considered pseudoscience, may one day be possible using advances in MRI, computers, superconductivity, and nanotechnology
  • Why a time machine is apparently consistent with the known laws of quantum physics, although it would take an unbelievably advanced civilization to actually build one

Kaku uses his discussion of each technology as a jumping-off point to explain the science behind it. An extraordinary scientific adventure, Physics of the Impossible takes readers on an unforgettable, mesmerizing journey into the world of science that both enlightens and entertains.

Our favourite quote from Physics of the Impossible

“If at first an idea does not sound absurd, then there is no hope for it." —Albert Einstein

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER.

The riveting inside story of three heroic astronauts who took on the challenge of mankind’s historic first mission to the Moon, from the bestselling author of Shadow Divers.

“Robert Kurson tells the tale of Apollo 8 with novelistic detail and immediacy.”—Andy Weir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian and Artemis

By August 1968, the American space program was in danger of failing in its two most important objectives: to land a man on the Moon by President Kennedy’s end-of-decade deadline, and to triumph over the Soviets in space. With its back against the wall, NASA made an almost unimaginable leap: It would scrap its usual methodical approach and risk everything on a sudden launch, sending the first men in history to the Moon—in just four months. And it would all happen at Christmas.

In a year of historic violence and discord—the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago—the Apollo 8 mission would be the boldest, riskiest test of America’s greatness under pressure. In this gripping insider account, Robert Kurson puts the focus on the three astronauts and their families: the commander, Frank Borman, a conflicted man on his final mission; idealistic Jim Lovell, who’d dreamed since boyhood of riding a rocket to the Moon; and Bill Anders, a young nuclear engineer and hotshot fighter pilot making his first space flight.

Drawn from hundreds of hours of one-on-one interviews with the astronauts, their loved ones, NASA personnel, and myriad experts, and filled with vivid and unforgettable detail, Rocket Men is the definitive account of one of America’s finest hours. In this real-life thriller, Kurson reveals the epic dangers involved, and the singular bravery it took, for mankind to leave Earth for the first time—and arrive at a new world.

“Rocket Men is a riveting introduction to the [Apollo 8] flight. . . . Kurson details the mission in crisp, suspenseful scenes. . . . [A] gripping book.”—The New York Times Book Review

Our favourite quote from Rocket Men

After the meal, Borman dropped me off at my hotel, then went to visit his wife at the nursing home where she lives. As he drove away, it seemed to me strange—I felt I’d come to know Susan as well as I had Frank, despite having met her for just a few minutes, despite the fact that she had been too ill to speak. When I returned home and transcribed the tapes of my interviews, I understood why. Borman spoke of Susan constantly; there didn’t seem an aspect of his life he could explain without discussing how much she meant to him or how much he loved her. I’d heard the same from Lovell and Anders about their wives. When I discovered that Apollo 8 was the only crew in which all the marriages survived (astronaut careers were notoriously hard on marriages) it didn’t surprise me. In a singularly beautiful story, it seemed only fitting that the first men to leave Earth considered home to be the most important place in the universe.

Twenty-five years after its initial publication, The Making of the Atomic Bomb remains the definitive history of nuclear weapons and the Manhattan Project. From the turn-of-the-century discovery of nuclear energy to the dropping of the first bombs on Japan, Richard Rhodes’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book details the science, the people, and the socio-political realities that led to the development of the atomic bomb.

This sweeping account begins in the 19th century, with the discovery of nuclear fission, and continues to World War Two and the Americans’ race to beat Hitler’s Nazis. That competition launched the Manhattan Project and the nearly overnight construction of a vast military-industrial complex that culminated in the fateful dropping of the first bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Reading like a character-driven suspense novel, the book introduces the players in this saga of physics, politics, and human psychology—from FDR and Einstein to the visionary scientists who pioneered quantum theory and the application of thermonuclear fission, including Planck, Szilard, Bohr, Oppenheimer, Fermi, Teller, Meitner, von Neumann, and Lawrence.

From nuclear power’s earliest foreshadowing in the work of H.G. Wells to the bright glare of Trinity at Alamogordo and the arms race of the Cold War, this dread invention forever changed the course of human history, and The Making of The Atomic Bomb provides a panoramic backdrop for that story.

Richard Rhodes’s ability to craft compelling biographical portraits is matched only by his rigorous scholarship. Told in rich human, political, and scientific detail that any reader can follow, The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a thought-provoking and masterful work.

Our favourite quote from The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Before it is science and career, before it is livelihood, before even it is family or love, freedom is sound sleep and safety to notice the play of morning sun.

Cosmos is one of the bestselling science books of all time. In clear-eyed prose, Sagan reveals a jewel-like blue world inhabited by a life form that is just beginning to discover its own identity and to venture into the vast ocean of space. Cosmos retraces the fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution that have transformed matter into consciousness, exploring such topics as the origin of life, the human brain, Egyptian hieroglyphics, spacecraft missions, the death of the Sun, the evolution of galaxies, and the forces and individuals who helped to shape modern science.

Our favourite quote from Cosmos

Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.

The New York Times bestseller: A provocative, imaginative exploration of the nature and progress of knowledge

“Dazzling.” – Steven Pinker, The Guardian

In this groundbreaking book, award-winning physicist David Deutsch argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe—and that improving them is the basic regulating principle of all successful human endeavor. Taking us on a journey through every fundamental field of science, as well as the history of civilization, art, moral values, and the theory of political institutions, Deutsch tracks how we form new explanations and drop bad ones, explaining the conditions under which progress—which he argues is potentially boundless—can and cannot happen. Hugely ambitious and highly original, The Beginning of Infinity explores and establishes deep connections between the laws of nature, the human condition, knowledge, and the possibility for progress.

Our favourite quote from The Beginning of Infinity

Some people become depressed at the scale of the universe, because it makes them feel insignificant. Other people are relieved to feel insignificant, which is even worse. But, in any case, those are mistakes. Feeling insignificant because the universe is large has exactly the same logic as feeling inadequate for not being a cow. Or a herd of cows. The universe is not there to overwhelm us; it is our home, and our resource. The bigger the better.

From the best-selling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics comes a new book about the mind-bending nature of the universe.

What are time and space made of? Where does matter come from? And what exactly is reality? Scientist Carlo Rovelli has spent his whole life exploring these questions and pushing the boundaries of what we know. Here he explains how our image of the world has changed throughout centuries. From Aristotle to Albert Einstein, Michael Faraday to the Higgs boson, he takes us on a wondrous journey to show us that beyond our ever-changing idea of reality is a whole new world that has yet to be discovered.

Our favourite quote from Reality Is Not What It Seems

The atoms of our body, as well, flow in and away from us. We, like waves and like all objects, are a flux of events; we are processes, for a brief time monotonous.

From "America's nerviest journalist" (Newsweek)--a breath-taking epic, a magnificent adventure story, and an investigation into the true heroism and courage of the first Americans to conquer space. "Tom Wolfe at his very best" (The New York Times Book Review)

Millions of words have poured forth about man's trip to the moon, but until now few people have had a sense of the most engrossing side of the adventure; namely, what went on in the minds of the astronauts themselves - in space, on the moon, and even during certain odysseys on earth. It is this, the inner life of the astronauts, that Tom Wolfe describes with his almost uncanny empathetic powers, that made The Right Stuff a classic.

Our favourite quote from The Right Stuff

In time, the Navy would compile statistics showing that for a career Navy pilot, i.e., one who intended to keep flying for twenty years... there was a 23 percent probability that he would die in an aircraft accident. This did not even include combat deaths, since the military did not classify death in combat as accidental.

Celebrated for his brilliantly quirky insights into the physical world, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman also possessed an extraordinary talent for explaining difficult concepts to the general public. Here Feynman provides a classic and definitive introduction to QED (namely, quantum electrodynamics), that part of quantum field theory describing the interactions of light with charged particles. Using everyday language, spatial concepts, visualizations, and his renowned "Feynman diagrams" instead of advanced mathematics, Feynman clearly and humorously communicates both the substance and spirit of QED to the layperson. A. Zee's introduction places Feynman’s book and his seminal contribution to QED in historical context and further highlights Feynman’s uniquely appealing and illuminating style.

Our favourite quote from QED

What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school... It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don't understand it. You see my physics students don't understand it... That is because I don't understand it. Nobody does.

As you read these words, copies of you are being created.

Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist and one of this world’s most celebrated writers on science, rewrites the history of 20th century physics. Already hailed as a masterpiece, Something Deeply Hidden shows for the first time that facing up to the essential puzzle of quantum mechanics utterly transforms how we think about space and time.  His reconciling of quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of relativity changes, well, everything.

Most physicists haven’t even recognized the uncomfortable truth: physics has been in crisis since 1927. Quantum mechanics  has always had obvious gaps—which have come to be simply ignored. Science popularizers keep telling us how weird it is,  how impossible it is to understand. Academics discourage students from working on the "dead end" of quantum foundations. Putting his professional reputation on the line with this audacious yet entirely reasonable book, Carroll says that the crisis can now come to an end. We just have to accept that there is more than one of us in the universe. There are many, many Sean Carrolls. Many of every one of us.

Copies of you are generated thousands of times per second. The Many Worlds Theory of quantum behavior says that every time there is a quantum event, a world splits off with everything in it the same, except in that other world the quantum event didn't happen. Step-by-step in Carroll's uniquely lucid way, he tackles the major objections to this otherworldly revelation until his case is inescapably established.

Rarely does a book so fully reorganize how we think about our place in the universe. We are on the threshold of a new understanding—of where we are in the cosmos, and what we are made of.

Our favourite quote from Something Deeply Hidden

Quantum Mechanics doesn't deserve the connotation of spookiness in the sense of some ineffable mystery that it is beyond the human mind to comprehend. Quantum Mechanics is amazing; it is novel, profound, mind-stretching & a very different view of reality from what we’re used to.

In Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, things are explained in the style of Up Goer Five, using only drawings and a vocabulary of the 1,000 (or "ten hundred") most common words. Explore computer buildings (datacenters), the flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates), the things you use to steer a plane (airliner cockpit controls), and the little bags of water you're made of (cells).

Our favourite quote from Thing Explainer

By choosing the right words, you can take an idea that's happening in your head and try to make an idea like it happen in someone else's. That's what's happening right now.

Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher is a publishing first. This set couples a book containing the six easiest chapters from Richard P. Feynman's landmark work, Lectures on Physics—specifically designed for the general, non-scientist reader—with the actual recordings of the late, great physicist delivering the lectures on which the chapters are based. Nobel Laureate Feynman gave these lectures just once, to a group of Caltech undergraduates in 1961 and 1962, and these newly released recordings allow you to experience one of the Twentieth Century's greatest minds—as if you were right there in the classroom.

Our favourite quote from Six Easy Pieces

You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight... I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!

This work offers accessible coverage of the fundamentals of electrodynamics, enhanced with with discussion points, examples and exercises.

Our favourite quote from Introduction to Electrodynamics

As long as we are engaged in this orgy of unnecessary terminology and notation…

“YOU HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE” is a common refrain in the emails Walter Lewin receives daily from fans who have been enthralled by his world-famous video lectures about the wonders of physics. “I walk with a new spring in my step and I look at life through physics-colored eyes,” wrote one such fan. When Lewin’s lectures were made available online, he became an instant YouTube celebrity, and The New York Times declared, “Walter Lewin delivers his lectures with the panache of Julia Child bringing French cooking to amateurs and the zany theatricality of YouTube’s greatest hits.”

For more than thirty years as a beloved professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lewin honed his singular craft of making physics not only accessible but truly fun, whether putting his head in the path of a wrecking ball, supercharging himself with three hundred thousand volts of electricity, or demonstrating why the sky is blue and why clouds are white. Now, as Carl Sagan did for astronomy and Brian Green did for cosmology, Lewin takes readers on a marvelous journey in For the Love of Physics, opening our eyes as never before to the amazing beauty and power with which physics can reveal the hidden workings of the world all around us. “I introduce people to their own world,” writes Lewin, “the world they live in and are familiar with but don’t approach like a physicist—yet.”

Could it be true that we are shorter standing up than lying down? Why can we snorkel no deeper than about one foot below the surface? Why are the colors of a rainbow always in the same order, and would it be possible to put our hand out and touch one? Whether introducing why the air smells so fresh after a lightning storm, why we briefly lose (and gain) weight when we ride in an elevator, or what the big bang would have sounded like had anyone existed to hear it, Lewin never ceases to surprise and delight with the extraordinary ability of physics to answer even the most elusive questions.

Recounting his own exciting discoveries as a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy—arriving at MIT right at the start of an astonishing revolution in astronomy—he also brings to life the power of physics to reach into the vastness of space and unveil exotic uncharted territories, from the marvels of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud to the unseeable depths of black holes.

“For me,” Lewin writes, “physics is a way of seeing—the spectacular and the mundane, the immense and the minute—as a beautiful, thrillingly interwoven whole.” His wonderfully inventive and vivid ways of introducing us to the revelations of physics impart to us a new appreciation of the remarkable beauty and intricate harmonies of the forces that govern our lives.

Our favourite quote from For the Love of Physics

What counts, I found, is not what you cover, but what you uncover. Covering subjects in a class can be a boring exercise, and students feel it. Uncovering the laws of physics and making them see through the equations, on the other hand, demonstrates the process of discovery, with all its newness and excitement, and students love being part of it.

The second volume of this authoritative work traces the material outlined in the first, but in far greater detail and with a much higher degree of sophistication. The authors begin with the theory of the electromagnetic interaction, and then consider hadronic structure, exploring the accuracy of the quark model by examining the excited states of baryons and mesons.

They introduce the color variable as a prelude to the development of quantum chromodynamics, the theory of the strong interaction, and go on to discuss the electroweak interaction--the broken symmetry of which they explain by the Higgs mechanism--and conclude with a consideration of grand unification theories.

Our favourite quote from Concepts of Particle Physics

Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4000 hours in space. During this time he has broken into a Space Station with a Swiss army knife, disposed of a live snake while piloting a plane, and been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft. The secret to Col. Hadfield's success-and survival-is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst-and enjoy every moment of it.

In An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, Col. Hadfield takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. Through eye-opening, entertaining stories filled with the adrenaline of launch, the mesmerizing wonder of spacewalks, and the measured, calm responses mandated by crises, he explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement-and happiness. His own extraordinary education in space has taught him some counterintuitive lessons: don't visualize success, do care what others think, and always sweat the small stuff.

You might never be able to build a robot, pilot a spacecraft, make a music video or perform basic surgery in zero gravity like Col. Hadfield. But his vivid and refreshing insights will teach you how to think like an astronaut, and will change, completely, the way you view life on Earth-especially your own.

Our favourite quote from An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

In any new situation, whether it involves an elevator or a rocket ship, you will almost certainly be viewed in one of three ways. As a minus one: actively harmful, someone who creates problems. Or as a zero: your impact is neutral and doesn't tip the balance one way or the other. Or you'll be seen as a plus one: someone who actively adds value. Everyone wants to be a plus one, of course. But proclaiming your plus-oneness at the outset almost guarantees you'll be perceived as a minus one, regardless of the skills you bring to the table or how you actually perform.

Lewis Carroll Epstein explains deep ideas in physics in an easy-to-understand way. Thinking Physics is a perfect beginner’s guide to an amazingly wide range of physics-related questions. The book targets topics that science teachers and students spend time wondering about, like wing lift. Epstein elucidates the familiar but misunderstood — such as how tides work — along with more obscure but fascinating phenomena like the “Bernoulli sub” and the “artificial aurora” created by hydrogen bombs. Broken into many short sections and peppered with Epstein’s own playful hand-drawn illustrations, the book does not simply give the right answer: It also goes into the answers that seem right but are wrong and shows why they are wrong — a rarity in science books. Thinking Physics is a rigorously correct, lighthearted, and cleverly designed Q and A book for physicists of all ages.

Our favourite quote from Thinking Physics

A penetrating exploration of the new physics, including time travel, quantum computers, and the multiverse – as referenced in the film “Avengers: Endgame”

For David Deutsch, a young physicist of unusual originality, quantum theory contains our most fundamental knowledge of the physical world. Taken literally, it implies that there are many universes “parallel” to the one we see around us. This multiplicity of universes, according to Deutsch, turns out to be the key to achieving a new worldview, one which synthesizes the theories of evolution, computation, and knowledge with quantum physics. Considered jointly, these four strands of explanation reveal a unified fabric of reality that is both objective and comprehensible, the subject of this daring, challenging book.

The Fabric of Reality explains and connects many topics at the leading edge of current research and thinking, such as quantum computers (which work by effectively collaborating with their counterparts in other universes), the physics of time travel, the comprehensibility of nature and the physical limits of virtual reality, the significance of human life, and the ultimate fate of the universe. Here, for scientist and layperson alike, for philosopher, science-fiction reader, biologist, and computer expert, is a startlingly complete and rational synthesis of disciplines, and a new, optimistic message about existence.

Our favourite quote from The Fabric of Reality

The whole [scientific] process resembles biological evolution. A problem is like an ecological niche, and a theory is like a gene or a species which is being tested for viability in that niche.

Human life is a staggeringly strange thing. On the surface of a ball of rock falling around a nuclear fireball in the blackness of a vacuum the laws of nature conspired to create a naked ape that can look up at the stars and wonder where it came from.

What is a human being? Objectively, nothing of consequence. Particles of dust in an infinite arena, present for an instant in eternity. Clumps of atoms in a universe with more galaxies than people. And yet a human being is necessary for the question itself to exist, and the presence of a question in the universe – any question – is the most wonderful thing.

Questions require minds, and minds bring meaning. What is meaning? I don’t know, except that the universe and every pointless speck inside it means something to me. I am astonished by the existence of a single atom, and find my civilisation to be an outrageous imprint on reality. I don’t understand it. Nobody does, but it makes me smile.

This book asks questions about our origins, our destiny, and our place in the universe. We have no right to expect answers; we have no right to even ask. But ask and wonder we do.

Human Universe is first and foremost a love letter to humanity; a celebration of our outrageous fortune in existing at all. I have chosen to write my letter in the language of science, because there is no better demonstration of our magnificent ascent from dust to paragon of animals than the exponentiation of knowledge generated by science. Two million years ago we were apemen. Now we are spacemen. That has happened, as far as we know, nowhere else. That is worth celebrating.

Our favourite quote from Human Universe

We're both clever and stupid in equal measure.

Max Tegmark leads us on an astonishing journey through past, present and future, and through the physics, astronomy and mathematics that are the foundation of his work, most particularly his hypothesis that our physical reality is a mathematical structure and his theory of the ultimate multiverse. In a dazzling combination of both popular and groundbreaking science, he not only helps us grasp his often mind-boggling theories, but he also shares with us some of the often surprising triumphs and disappointments that have shaped his life as a scientist. Fascinating from first to last—this is a book that has already prompted the attention and admiration of some of the most prominent scientists and mathematicians.

Our favourite quote from Our Mathematical Universe

There’s no better guarantee of failure than convincing yourself that success is impossible, and therefore never even trying.

Thirty years ago, this best-selling book defined the "conceptual" approach to introductory physics. Today, the Ninth Edition shows how text and media can be integrated to bring physics to life for non-scientists.

Hewitt's book engages readers with analogies and imagery from real-world situations to build a strong conceptual understanding of physical principles ranging from classical mechanics to modern physics. With this strong foundation, readers are better equipped to understand the equations and formulas of physics, and motivated to explore the thought-provoking exercises and fun projects in each chapter. Icons in this new edition direct readers to The Physics Place web site (www.physicsplace.com) where they will find interactive and animated tutorials, video demonstrations, and hundreds of problems and activities. This new text-media combination gives readers more of what they need -whether it's animated explanations or interactive exercises -to make the connections between the concepts of physics and their everyday world. For college instructors and students.

Our favourite quote from Conceptual Physics

What would it have been like to be an eyewitness to the Big Bang? In 2014, astronomers wielding BICEP2, the most powerful cosmology telescope ever made, thought they’d glimpsed the spark that ignited the Big Bang. Millions around the world tuned in to the announcement, and Nobel whispers began to spread. But had these cosmologists truly read the cosmic prologue or, driven by ambition in pursuit of Nobel gold, had they been deceived by a galactic mirage?

In Losing the Nobel Prize, cosmologist Brian Keating—who first conceived of the BICEP (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) experiments—tells the inside story of BICEP2’s detection and the ensuing scientific drama. Along the way, Keating provocatively argues that the Nobel Prize actually hampers scientific progress by encouraging speed and competition while punishing inclusivity, collaboration, and bold innovation. To build on BICEP2’s efforts to reveal the cosmos’ ultimate secrets—indeed, to advance science itself—the Nobel Prize must be radically reformed.

Our favourite quote from Losing the Nobel Prize

Dream interpreters are widely available in person and online. Worst of all, your local newspaper likely has far more space dedicated to astrology than to astronomy.

From the bestselling author of The Theoretical Minimum, a DIY introduction to the math and science of quantum mechanics.

First he taught you classical mechanics. Now, physicist Leonard Susskind has teamed up with data engineer Art Friedman to present the theory and associated mathematics of the strange world of quantum mechanics.

In this follow-up to the New York Times best-selling The Theoretical Minimum, Susskind and Friedman provide a lively introduction to this famously difficult field, which attempts to understand the behavior of sub-atomic objects through mathematical abstractions. Unlike other popularizations that shy away from quantum mechanics' weirdness, Quantum Mechanics embraces the utter strangeness of quantum logic. The authors offer crystal-clear explanations of the principles of quantum states, uncertainty and time dependence, entanglement, and particle and wave states, among other topics, and each chapter includes exercises to ensure mastery of each area. Like The Theoretical Minimum, this volume runs parallel to Susskind's eponymous Stanford University-hosted continuing education course.

An approachable yet rigorous introduction to a famously difficult topic, Quantum Mechanics provides a tool kit for amateur scientists to learn physics at their own pace.

Our favourite quote from Quantum Mechanics

World seems filled with people who are genuinely, deeply interested in physics but whose lives have taken them in different directions. This book is for all of us.

“Unusually well written and informative…Weinberg is one of the world's most creative theoretical phsyicists.”
—Martin Gardner, Washington Post Book World

In Dreams of a Final Theory, Stephen Weinberg, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist and bestselling author of The First Three Minutes describes the grand quest for a unifying theory of nature—one that can explain forces as different as the cohesion inside the atom and the gravitational tug between the sun and the earth. Writing with dazzling elegance and clarity, he retraces the steps that have led modern scientists from relativity and quantum mechanics to the notion of superstrings and the idea that our universe may coexist with others.

But Weinberg asks as many questions as he answers, among them: Why does each explanation of the way nature works point to the other, deeper explanations? Why are the best theories not only logical but beautiful? And what implications will a final theory have for our philosophy and religious faith?

Intellectually daring, rich in anecdote and aphorism, Dreams of a Final Theory launches us into a new cosmos and helps us make sense of what we find there.

Our favourite quote from Dreams of a Final Theory

All logical arguments can be defeated by the simple refusal to reason logically.

Written by noted quantum computing theorist Scott Aaronson, this book takes readers on a tour through some of the deepest ideas of maths, computer science and physics. Full of insights, arguments and philosophical perspectives, the book covers an amazing array of topics. Beginning in antiquity with Democritus, it progresses through logic and set theory, computability and complexity theory, quantum computing, cryptography, the information content of quantum states and the interpretation of quantum mechanics.

There are also extended discussions about time travel, Newcomb's Paradox, the anthropic principle and the views of Roger Penrose. Aaronson's informal style makes this fascinating book accessible to readers with scientific backgrounds, as well as students and researchers working in physics, computer science, mathematics and philosophy.

Our favourite quote from Quantum Computing Since Democritus

More often than not, the only reason we need experiments is that we're not smart enough.

The instant New York Times bestseller about humanity's place in the universe—and how we understand it.

“Vivid...impressive....Splendidly informative.”—The New York Times

“Succeeds spectacularly.”—Science

“A tour de force.”—Salon

Already internationally acclaimed for his elegant, lucid writing on the most challenging notions in modern physics, Sean Carroll is emerging as one of the greatest humanist thinkers of his generation as he brings his extraordinary intellect to bear not only on Higgs bosons and extra dimensions but now also on our deepest personal questions: Where are we? Who are we? Are our emotions, our beliefs, and our hopes and dreams ultimately meaningless out there in the void? Do human purpose and meaning fit into a scientific worldview?

In short chapters filled with intriguing historical anecdotes, personal asides, and rigorous exposition, readers learn the difference between how the world works at the quantum level, the cosmic level, and the human level—and then how each connects to the other. Carroll's presentation of the principles that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness, and the universe is dazzlingly unique.  

Carroll shows how an avalanche of discoveries in the past few hundred years has changed our world and what really matters to us. Our lives are dwarfed like never before by the immensity of space and time, but they are redeemed by our capacity to comprehend it and give it meaning.

The Big Picture is an unprecedented scientific worldview, a tour de force that will sit on shelves alongside the works of Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Daniel Dennett, and E. O. Wilson for years to come.

Our favourite quote from The Big Picture

Illusions can be pleasant, but the rewards of truth are enormously better.

Isaac Newton spelled out in mathematical language the laws of time, force, and motion that have guided the development of modern physical science in his epic 1687 work, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, also known as the Principia. Newtonian physics continues to account for many of the phenomena of the observed world, and Newtonian celestial dynamics is employed to determine the orbits of our space ships, even after more than three centuries and the revolutions of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics.

This authoritative, modern translation, the first in over 285 years, is based on the 1726 edition, Newton's final revised version; it includes extracts from earlier editions, corrects errors found in earlier versions, and replaces archaic English with contemporary prose and up-to-date mathematical forms.

The motions of the earth, moon, planets, and comets are all described by Newton's principles, which include acceleration, deceleration, and inertial movement, fluid dynamics, and the motions of the earth, moon, planets, and comets. The Principia was not only a magnificent work in and of itself, but it also changed scientific investigative procedures. It established the fundamental three laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation, the physical principles that account for the Copernican planetary system as modified by Kepler, essentially putting an end to debate over the Copernican planetary system. I. Bernard Cohen's enlightening Guide to Newton's Principia makes this eminent work fully accessible to today's scientists, academics, and students.

Our favourite quote from The Principia

This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being... This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont, to be called Lord God παντοκρατωρ or Universal Ruler.

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out is a remarkable collection of Richard P. Feynman's greatest short works, from interviews and speeches to lectures and published essays. It's a big, wide-ranging collection that gives you an up-close and personal look at a life in science—a life unlike any other. This book will enthrall anybody interested in the realm of ideas, from his musings on science in our culture through his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

Our favourite quote from The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

It was Feynman's outrageous and scintillating method of teaching that earned him legendary status among students and professors of physics. From 1961 to 1963, Feynman delivered a series of lectures at the California Institute of Technology that revolutionized the teaching of physics. In Six Not-So-Easy Pieces, taken from these famous lectures, Feynman delves into one of the most revolutionary discoveries in twentieth-century physics: Einstein's theory of relativity. The idea that the flow of time is not constant, that the mass of an object depends on its velocity, and that the speed of light is a constant no matter what the motion of the observer, at first seemed shocking to scientists and laymen alike. But as Feynman shows, these tricky ideas are not merely dry principles of physics, but things of beauty and elegance.

No one—not even Einstein himself—explained these difficult, anti-intuitive concepts more clearly, or with more verve and gusto, than Richard Feynman. Filled with wonderful examples and clever illustrations, Six Not-So-Easy Pieces is the ideal introduction to fundamentals of physics by one of the most admired and accessible physicists of all times.

“There is no better explanation for the scientifically literate layman.”—The Washington Post Book World

Our favourite quote from Six Not-So-Easy Pieces

All of our ideas in physics require a certain amount of common sense in their application; they are not purely mathematical or abstract ideas.

". . . full of intellectual treats and tricks, of whimsy and deep scientific philosophy. It is highbrow entertainment at its best, a teasing challenge to all who aspire to think about the universe." — New York Herald Tribune

One of the world's foremost nuclear physicists (celebrated for his theory of radioactive decay, among other accomplishments), George Gamow possessed the unique ability of making the world of science accessible to the general reader.

He brings that ability to bear in this delightful expedition through the problems, pleasures, and puzzles of modern science. Among the topics scrutinized with the author's celebrated good humor and pedagogical prowess are the macrocosm and the microcosm, theory of numbers, relativity of space and time, entropy, genes, atomic structure, nuclear fission, and the origin of the solar system.

In the pages of this book readers grapple with such crucial matters as whether it is possible to bend space, why a rocket shrinks, the "end of the world problem," excursions into the fourth dimension, and a host of other tantalizing topics for the scientifically curious. Brimming with amusing anecdotes and provocative problems, One Two Three . . . Infinity also includes over 120 delightful pen-and-ink illustrations by the author, adding another dimension of good-natured charm to these wide-ranging explorations.

Whatever your level of scientific expertise, chances are you'll derive a great deal of pleasure, stimulation, and information from this unusual and imaginative book. It belongs in the library of anyone curious about the wonders of the scientific universe. "In One Two Three . . . Infinity, as in his other books, George Gamow succeeds where others fail because of his remarkable ability to combine technical accuracy, choice of material, dignity of expression, and readability." — Saturday Review of Literature

Our favourite quote from One Two Three . . . Infinity

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