View Full Version : Reading list requested

2003-May-06, 03:50 AM
I'm looking for some good books on the history of ideas in physics. I'm mostly looking for how the ideas started and evolved. I've heard--mostly on this board--how Einstien started with Maxwell's equations in coming up with SR. When I was in high school they pretty much went into what SR was, not how ol' Albert came up with it.

So what I'm looking for I guess is the background, the interplay among the big names, the stories behind the big ideas.

I'm running out of books; having a list handy when hit the bookstore would be cool.

Thanks ahead of time,

2003-May-06, 04:02 AM
Here are a few to try:

Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

Blind Watchers of the Sky by Rocky Kolb

The Discoverers by Daniel Boorstin

Good Luck

2003-May-06, 04:49 PM
Here's another vote for Blind Watchers of the Sky.

Great book.

Eta C
2003-May-06, 05:58 PM
You could also try "Physics for Poets" by Robert March. It's a non-techical text that starts with Galileo and traces the development of mechanics through Newton to Einstein with stops for Maxwell, Lorentz along the way. It finishes up with the development of quantum mechanics from the initial discoveries of Rutheford and Thompson through Bohr, Heisenberg and the rest.

The American Physical Society (www.aps.org) and the American Institute of Physics (www.aip.org) have some links to info on the history of physics and astronomy. They also have some links to other physics sites.

2003-May-06, 07:34 PM
The Second Creation by Robert P. Crease and Charles C. Mann is a narrative of 20th century particle physics; the authors interviewed Howard Georgi, Julian Schwinger, and other physicists for the book.

2003-May-07, 01:31 AM
Also check out this not too recent post on BABB. (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4693&sid=6121dcbda613ef32b0cda4647028e631)

2003-May-10, 12:55 AM
Thanks to all for your suggestions. Between these and Bob Carrol's list, I should be set for keeping my nose in a book all Summer.


2003-May-10, 11:29 PM
The Discoverers by Daniel Boorstin is listed. Also he wrote 'The Creators' and 'The Inventors'