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View Full Version : **Neophyte who just read Pale Blue Dot Alert** (where do I go from here?)



Ping Everything
2011-Jan-21, 07:44 AM
I finished reading Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot roughly 2 months ago...and have never stopped thinking about that book. It was the first time I've ever read a book like that in my life. Now I can't stop making this face :eek: upon even the most cursory glance at the sky....

I'm hooked and I'd love to know what books you think might continue the discussions/topics/etc raised in that book.

I'm reading A Brief History Of Time now and it's amazing as well...but quite a bit over my head, I must admit. I hope to be ready for it one day.

Thanks in advance...

Romanus
2011-Jan-21, 10:39 AM
Sagan's Cosmos is another great book; though dated, it's a much broader text that really taps into the relationship between science and history. Truth is, you really can't go wrong with anything he's written.

By other authors:
The Alchemy of the Heavens, by Ken Croswell: One of the very best astronomy texts I've read, by a terribly underrated author. Discusses the basics of astrophysics as it relates to stellar evolution in our galaxy in clear, concise words. You also might be interested in his Worlds without End, about extrasolar planets.

The Five Ages of the Universe, by Fred Adams and Gregory Laughlin. Though also a little dated (it was written before the discovery of dark energy), it's still the best book on the future of the cosmos I've read, and a decent introduction to astrophysics in its own right.

Ping Everything
2011-Jan-21, 03:35 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. I can't wait to check out both Croswell and Adams.

John Jaksich
2011-Jan-23, 01:22 AM
Welcome to BAUTforum---you might want to try some of the work of Brian Greene--and see if it is not too much---or to just whet your appetitie about Mars--Jim Bell's Postcards from Mars

Shaula
2011-Jan-23, 09:51 AM
If you want something short and quite neat I rather enjoyed Astronomer's Stars by Patrick Moore. Introduces the basics of astronomy with reference to a few stars (most of which you can go out and look at IIRC). Plus a few of his slightly off the wall anecdotes. He also did a good one about the Moon called On The Moon IIRC. Started with something like "I'm obviously not on the Moon or I'd be dying". He is an old school lunar astronomer at heart though - so it really is a labour of love.

plant
2011-Jan-23, 11:23 AM
1. "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" Gary Zukav... i know this sounds like a kooky old 'new-age' book but it isn't (at least i don't remember it being thus)... it's the 1st book i ever read about quantum mechanics and it blew my mind.. just skim over the buddhism bits. This was the 1st i'd ever heard about the '2 - slit experiment' and i read it over and over because i couldn't quite believe the universe operated like that.

2. "The 4th Dimension and How to Get There"Rudy Rucker ... i know this also sounds kooky and yes, Rudy Rucker has certainly gone AWAL recently- but this is a great flat=landish book.... a fun introduction to alternative geometries.

I read both about 20 yrs ago (damn i've just realized how old i am!)... and they really inspired me... i can't vouch for accuracy in 2011 but ***** (5 stars for inspiration)

"Cosmos" by Carl Sagan is also great but i think the TV series was better than the book (now available on DVD i think).

p.s. Read "Godel Escher and Bach" and "Metamagical Themas" by Douglas Hofstaedter (consciousness/recursion/linguistics/games), "The Blind Watchmaker" (evolution) by Richard Dawkins... i know these aren't physics/astronomy books but i couldn't resist tacking them on the end. These are books you'll be thinking about for the rest of your life.

Adamas Death Stare
2011-Jan-23, 11:32 PM
Cosmos is essential reading and viewing; this can't be stressed enough. I've read all over the web about Cosmos being dated, yet I've never seen anyone specifically describe how it's dated. The only thing I can think of off of the top of my head that has changed since it was released was that we know the universe to be 13.72 billion years old as opposed to 15 billion years, and we know the shape of the universe whereas in Cosmos it had not yet been determined.

I think that it should be noted that the truths and revelations found in Cosmos far outweigh any invalid science found therein...the heart of Carl's message rings as true today as ever. Hopefully people aren't steered away from reading it just because it's not the most current scientific view of the universe. Really, it should be read before Pale Blue Dot; to me it's the perfect introductory text for laypeople.

Check out the following authors/scientists:

Richard Feynman
Lawrence Krauss
Brian Greene
Michio Kaku
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Phil Plait
Richard Dawkins

Shaula
2011-Jan-24, 06:57 AM
If you are going to read Kaku and Greene then read de Woit afterwards. Both of them are starry-eyed when it comes to String Theory and if you can take the technical discussion de Woit is a good balance. Or just remember that a lot of what they are talking about is only one of several options for a potential theory of everything

Cougar
2011-Jan-24, 01:58 PM
If you are going to read Kaku and Greene then read de Woit afterwards. Both of them are starry-eyed when it comes to String Theory and if you can take the technical discussion de Woit is a good balance. Or just remember that a lot of what they are talking about is only one of several options for a potential theory of everything

Good advice. But it's just Woit. Peter Woit. Not Even Wrong, the failure of string theory and the search for unity in physical law [2006]

Ping Everything
2011-Jan-26, 08:37 AM
Wow...everyone...thank you so much. I really don't know where to start. I suspect I'll find myself at the library tomorrow hoping to nab a copy of The Cosmos.

I was wondering if The Cosmos would just be more reiteration of what Pale Blue Dot discusses but it seems as if there is reason to believe it really is it's own unique and amazing book...I don't know why I assumed that Pale Blue Dot was the updated version/approach to the same topics.

But I honestly hope to read everyone of these books/authors...as soon as I pass my Network+ exam....it's hard to work 40+ hours, study for random IT certs and still make time to have my mind melted by these greats...

I think the main thing that I really enjoy about Sagan is he seems to celebrate the same thing I've always enjoyed about life...being insignificant in the grandest of schemes of things is beautiful...still not sure why I feel that way but I do. I guess the hope of looking further into that is what ultimately has me going back to another Sagan book for answers.

Thanks again! So happy I found this site!

formulaterp
2011-Jan-27, 04:31 AM
The entire Cosmos series is available for viewing on Hulu for free if you are interested. You do have to sit through commercial breaks, but they are tolerable.

http://www.hulu.com/cosmos

grapes
2011-Jan-27, 05:03 AM
Thanks again! So happy I found this site!Welcome to BAUT, Ping Everything!

And anything you read by (or about) Feynman is going to be to your advantage. Some of his easier "freshman" physics lectures from the sixties are compiled in Five Easy Pieces, and Surely You're Joking is entertaining stuff (what's the other one??)

John Jaksich
2011-Jan-27, 06:16 AM
Nearly all of Feynman's books are classics---

The book that has the most bang for the buck is---(after his lectures) ---IMO is his book on Problem Solving----

This review comes directly from Amazon------>

The price that I see there is $25.00




Feynman's Tips on Physics: A Problem-Solving Supplement to the Feynman Lectures on Physics

Editorial Reviews
Product Description
This new volume contains four previously unpublished lectures that Feynman gave to students preparing for exams. With characteristic flair, insight and humor, Feynman discusses topics students struggle with and offers valuable tips on solving physics problems. An illuminating memoir by Matthew Sands — who originally conceived The Feynman Lectures on Physics — gives a fascinating insight into the history of Feynman’s lecture series and the books that followed. This book is rounded off by relevant exercises and answers by R. B. Leighton and R. E. Vogt, originally developed to accompany the Lectures on Physics.

Hardcover: 162 pages
Publisher: Addison Wesley (July 31, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805390634
ISBN-13: 978-0805390636
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches

Spoons
2011-Jan-27, 07:16 AM
I'm reading A Brief History Of Time now and it's amazing as well...but quite a bit over my head, I must admit. I hope to be ready for it one day.

If you find that a bit heavy-going, try out A Briefer History of Time. It's basically the same stuff, but I think it may be a little more accessible. Also possibly slightly modernised. I have only read Briefer, not Brief, so I can't confirm that. But might be worth a look in.

On, and yeah, definitely Feynman's stuff. He's one of the greatest scientific communicators, in my opinion, along with Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

grapes
2011-Jan-27, 02:08 PM
Nearly all of Feynman's books are classics---

The book that has the most bang for the buck is---(after his lectures) ---IMO is his book on Problem Solving----
I hadn't seen this one yet, thanks! I just ordered it.

I fixed up the quote tags too, in your post John, and added the title of the book to the quoted text

Ping Everything
2011-Jan-27, 03:27 PM
Welcome to BAUT, Ping Everything!

And anything you read by (or about) Feynman is going to be to your advantage. Some of his easier "freshman" physics lectures from the sixties are compiled in Five Easy Pieces, and Surely You're Joking is entertaining stuff (what's the other one??)

Great suggestion. I didn't even think to check out his writings. I regularly find myself digging for Feynman gems on the internet. This is one of my favorites (probably nothing new to ya'll):


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFPe-DwULM

Spoons
2011-Jan-28, 08:36 AM
I hadn't seen that 'til about a week ago, and since then I've seen it three time on here. :D

It is great.