10 Books for Science Nerds
A list of books recommended for science nerds, by a science nerd.
1. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry — Neil deGrasse Tyson
There’s no better way to start the list than with Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, an easily readable tale of the universe written by “your personal astrophysicist,” Neil deGrasse Tyson. As the title states, the book takes you on a journey through astrophysics at a level that is sure to spark the interest of any science nerd, without feeling like you’re sitting through a dense lecture. If you’d like to learn the nature of the universe, and think about some other interesting topics like black holes and quantum physics along the way, then this book is right up your alley.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is available on Amazon and Audible.
2. The Disappearing Spoon — Sam Kean
How would you react if you went to stir sugar into your tea only to have the spoon dissolve right before your eyes? Sam Kean guides the reader on a wonderful journey through the periodic table with stories that will leave you in awe of the elements and secrets within. Enjoy reading the fascinating histories of the elements of nature and learning a bit of chemistry along the way. The Disappearing Spoon is perfect for aspiring chemists and science-aficionados alike.
The Disappearing Spoon is available on Amazon and Audible.
3. The Half-Life of Marie Curie — Lauren Gunderson
This play adapted to audiobook portrays the friendship between famed chemist/physicist Marie Curie and mathematician/inventor Hertha Ayrton and presents a unique look at the struggles faced by Curie as her affair with physicist Paul Langevin threatens the recognition of her second Nobel prize. The Half-Life of Marie Curie is performed by Kate Mulgrew and Francesca Faridany at the Minetta Lane Theatre.
The Half-Life of Marie Curie is available on Amazon and Audible.
4. How the Universe Got Its Spots — Janna Levin
Theoretical cosmologist and professor of physics Janna Levin takes the reader on a uniquely personal journey through the day-to-day social and professional life of a scientist working on one of the most intriguing cosmological questions: Is the universe infinite? Through unsent letters to Levin’s mother, How the Universe Got its Spots sheds light on the thought experiments that allow cosmologists to explore the furthest reaches of the universe.
How the Universe Got its Spots is available on Amazon.
5. Isaac the Alchemist — Mary Losure
We’ve all heard the story of the apple that inspired Isaac Newton’s idea that maybe the force pulling a falling apple to the ground is the same as the one keeping the Moon in orbit around the Earth. But, what fewer people know is that the “father of physics” spent a great deal of time studying the darker arts of alchemy. In Isaac the Alchemist, Mary Losure explores the early life of Newton and the secrets hidden within his alchemical papers.
Isaac the Alchemist is available on Amazon and Audible.
6. The Future of Humanity — Michio Kaku
What do we do when the human race can no longer inhabit Earth? Via climate change, overpopulation, the depletion of resources, or even the death of the Sun, humans will eventually need to venture to other star systems. Since the closest star is just over three light-years away, which makes for a not-so-timely journey, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku explores some alternative routes to ensuring the long-term survival of the human race and other interesting topics in The Future of Humanity.
The Future of Humanity is available on Amazon and Audible.
7. What If? — Randall Munroe
What If? Is a quirky compilation of scientific questions and answers submitted to the website of webcomic xkcd creator Randall Munroe. From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hit the ground? How much force power can Yoda output? How many LEGO bricks would it take to build a bridge capable of carrying traffic from London to New York? The answers to these absurd hypotheticals, and many more, are found within What If?
What IF? Is available on Amazon and Audible.
8. The Only Woman in the Room — Eileen Pollack
The Only Woman in the Room is an eye-opening look at the struggles faced by women in STEM programs. Eileen Pollack shares the experience of getting a Bachelor’s degree in physics (graduating summa cum laude) from the unique point of view of one of the first females to earn such a degree from Yale; shining light on the inherent biases in the school system as well as the smaller deterrents that push women away from the sciences.
The Only Woman in the Room is available on Amazon and Audible.
9. The Elegant Universe — Brian Greene
Could all matter be manifestations of incredibly tiny vibrating strings? In The Elegant Universe, leading string theorist Brian Greene brings one of the most complicated scientific ideas down to Earth in an easy to read format that makes string theory accessible to the everyday nerd.
The Elegant Universe is available on Amazon and Audible.
10. The Grand Design — Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow
Answering one of the most controversial questions regarding science and religion, whether the “grand design” of the universe implies an intelligent creator, Leonard Mlodinow and the late Stephen Hawking explore the history of the universe and unveil how quantum fluctuations in the early universe lead to the stars, planets, humans, and everything else you see around you. The Grand Design offers compelling scientific evidence for how the universe came to be.
The Grand Design is available on Amazon and Audible.
Okay, so most of these recommendations are physics-related. But in my defense, physics can be described as the “base science.” All scientific disciplines can be boiled down to the study of physical interactions with enough refining. At its core, what is medicine but the application of chemistry? And what is chemistry but the applied physics of how atoms and molecules interact? The ideas within these books apply to almost all scientific disciplines in one way or another, and many of them cover a vast range of scientific topics even though their focus may be on physics. Hopefully after reading a few of the books on this list, anyone with an open mind to science can look at the universe we live in with a slightly new perspective.
Do you have a book you’d recommend for science nerds? Leave it in the comments below!