Having recently completed my degree (pause for graceful acknowledgement of congratulations), I am very excited to start learning things on my own, rather than for classes. To this end, I recently found myself exploring the 500s–the science section. Science books may sound intimidating, but if you’re imagining a lot of dry, technical books full of equations and smelling of formaldehyde, you’re in for a surprise. The 500s are home to fascinating books that you don’t need an advanced degree to understand.
“The New Time Travelers” by David Toomey. Time travel: science fiction or potential fact? Toomey provides an overview of several physicists’ views on time travel, including Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan. Although we may not be able to hop in a time machine (yet?), it’s fun to think about the potential and the paradox of time travel.
“How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming” by Mike Brown. Poor Pluto. When I was in school, we learned that it was a planet–it was the pizza in the mnemonic “My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.” As of 2006, however, Pluto is now a “dwarf planet,” and it’s all Mike Brown’s fault. The author tells the story of how his lifelong dream of discovering a planet led to a controversy that inflamed the astronomical community.
“Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions” by Brian Hayes. In these twelve essays, Hayes muses on the ways mathematics affects everyday life. Each essay also includes an “Afterthoughts” section in which Hayes addresses readers’ responses to his essays, as well as advances made since their original publication.