February 23, 2006

Reading List: The Discoveries

The Discoveries: Great Breakthroughs in Twentieth-Century Science, Including the Original Papers by Alan Lightman, 2005

This is a wonderful book. It contains 25 of the most important papers of this, whoops, the last century in physics, chemistry, and biology, accompanied by essays describing the context in which the discoveries were made, the background of the author(s), and the jargon necessary to understand the papers. You can get a lot out of this book even if you never read the papers themselves.

If you really want to understand how the universe works (e.g. you were disappointed by the lack of detail in A Short History of Nearly Everything), this is the book for you. Here are the discoveries chronicled by the papers:
  1. The Quantum
  2. Hormones
  3. The Particle Nature of Light
  4. Special Relativity
  5. The Nucleus of the Atom
  6. The Size of the Cosmos
  7. The Arrangement of Atoms in Solid Matter
  8. The Quantum Atom
  9. The Means of Communication Between Nerves
  10. The Uncertainty Principle
  11. The Chemical Bond
  12. The Expansion of the Universe
  13. Antibiotics
  14. The Means of Production of Energy in Living Organisms
  15. Nuclear Fission*
  16. The Movability of Genes
  17. The Structure of DNA*
  18. The Structure of Proteins
  19. Radio Waves From the Big Bang*
  20. A Unified Theory of Forces
  21. Quarks: A Tiniest Essence of Matter
  22. The Creation of Altered Forms of Life
* 2 papers

I'm planning to post something about each of these discoveries. That's right ladies and gentlemen, I'm actually going to be posting regularly for the next few weeks. Along the way I'll get to ask questions about the nature of reality, the inner workings of scientific discovery, and the purpose of life as we know it.

Now, time for a plug. A few of you (especially those who studied cognitive psychology) might be interested in the following blog/discussion: True Artificial Intelligence, in which various theories of the nature of conciousness are being discussed by articulate, intelligent people.


Post a Comment

<< Home