Science reading list

Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, authors of Universal: A Guide to the Cosmos, pick 6 scientific reads that inspire them.

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'What do you care what other people think?'

Richard P. Feynman

Feynman was a wonderful writer – his books are all very engaging and inspiring, and they had a big impact on us both. This book is particularly noteworthy because of the superb essay on the value of science at the end, which should be taught in every school.

   

The Double Helix

James Watson

This is an exciting book about one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. It reads almost like a movie script. Watson’s intimate and personal account is controversial, but that shouldn’t detract from his ability to capture the thrill of doing science. 

   

Cosmos

Carl Sagan

A joyful celebration of science and civilization, but also a powerful polemic. Sagan views our existence from the perspective of an astronomer, and implores us to behave as a unified global civilisation on a small planet which must take responsibility for its own survival. 

 

   

The First Three Minutes

Steven Weinberg

Still the best book explaining what happened just after the Big Bang. Weinberg has a no nonsense, almost dead-pan style and his writing is lucid. Not surprising since he is one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century.

   

The Blind Watchmaker

Richard Dawkins

This is a brilliant exposition of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and how complex organisms can emerge from simple rules. The biomorph computer program is great fun.

 

   

The Age of Wonder

Richard Holmes

A beautiful description of why we do science - Davy, Banks, Darwin - they were all correct: science is a romantic pursuit, and the more cynical 21st century view of science as some sort of vehicle for economic progress is plain wrong!

 

More about the authors

 

Universal

Brian Cox (and others)

'Inspirational' Buzz Aldrin

When exactly did life begin? What really happened during the big bang - and before it? Is the universe expanding? Is dark matter real? Do we live in one of many worlds? What's more, how can we prove any of this?

This book is all about how we - any of us - can gain an understanding of the Universe in all its awe-inspiring glory. Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw take us on an epic journey of scientific exploration, revealing how the biggest questions - from the size of the earth to the distance to the stars - are answerable from our own back gardens.

You don't need a Large Hadron Collider or a Hubble Space Telescope to explore the cosmos. You just need this book.

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