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Nadeau, Robert
The non-local Universe Oxford University Press, 1999ISBN: 0195132564
cover
Mentioned in
Local Realism
Co-author
Kafatos,Menas
Many people have sought a mystical side to the new discoveries in physics, in particular in quantum theory. I think of these attempts as a mostly harmless amusement, but I have to say that I felt that The non-local universe possibly wasn't so harmless. Maybe the later parts of the book aren't so bad. The authors speculate about the evolution of the mind - a bit of a just-so story perhaps, but interesting and readable. The last part of the book gets on to the postmodern take on science. The authors clearly think that there's something wrong with this, but don't want to insult the postmodernists - I thought it was rather funny really. Continued..
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Nagel, Ernest
Godel's proof Routledge, 1958ISBN: 0415355281
cover
Mentioned in
Gdel's incompleteness theorem
Co-author
Newman,James R
Gödel's incompleteness theorem has a reputation of being mysterious and difficult to understand. In Gödel's Proof Ernest Nagel and James R Newman give a clear explanation of the basics of the proof. They explain the background to the proof and in particular the search for a way of proving consistency of a system of axioms. They then exhibit a system where such a proof is possible - the propostional calculus. The book continues with chapters on the concept of mapping in mathematics, and on Gödel numbering, finishing off with the proof of the incompleteness theorem itself. Continued..
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Nahin, Paul
An imaginary tale : the story of the square root of -1 Princeton University PressISBN: 0691027951
cover
Mentioned in
road to reality
Imaginary and Complex numbers have the reputation of being difficult. Maybe it's their name - calling them 'Bombelli numbers' might not sound so bad. This work takes a non-textbook approach to the subject, but if you find complex numbers scary then I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to you - there are quite a lot of equations. On the other hand the mathematics isn't particularly difficult. I would say that it is aimed at the keen high-school students, who will get a foretaste of more advanced mathematics. Those with a little more mathematical knowledge should enjoy it as a bit of light reading. Continued..
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Time machines : time travel in physics, metaphysics, and science fiction Springer, 1999ISBN: 0387985719
cover I'm a firm believer in the idea that science fiction stories are an excellent resource in the study of philosophy. In 'Time machines' Paul Nahin brings together an extensive list of fictional examples of time travel, and uses this to illustrate ideas in the science and philosophy of time. Thus we are introduced to wormholes, Gödel's rotating universe, and other ways of travelling in time. Nahin also gives plenty of consideration to the paradoxes which this might cause. Overall this book gives an accessible introduction to some deep ideas, as well as suggesting plenty of further reading. Continued..
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Nakahara, Mikio
Geometry, topology and physics Institute of Physics, 2003ISBN: 0750306068
cover
Mentioned in
road to reality
For those who have studied physics to undergraduate level. the abstract geometrical mathematics of research level theoretical physics might seem like a different language. Geometry, topology and physics by Mikio Nakahara helps to bridge that gap. The book starts with a couple of chapters going over undergraduate level physics and mathematics. This is followed by chapters on homology and homotopy groups. Much of the book looks at topics relating to differentiable manifolds, including Riemannian geometry, complex manifolds and fibre bundles, but with an emphasis on their use in quantum theory rather than general relativity. Continued..
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Narlikar, Jayant
The lighter side of gravity Cambridge University PressISBN: 0521565650
cover In this book, Narlikar describes our understanding of gravity and its implications for the behaviour of the universe we live in. The reader is introduced to Newton's laws of motion and gravity and see how they were superceded by Einstein's theories of relativity. The implications of the general theory of relativity such as black holes are then investigated. Narlikar makes good use of diagrams, and has plenty of astronomical photographs, thus linking the book to observational results, rather than it being too abstract. If you want more than the 'pop' descriptions of cosmology and gravitation, but don't want to get into mathematics, then this book should suit you. Continued..
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An Introduction to Cosmology Cambridge University PressISBN: 052179028X
cover
Mentioned in
Cosmic horizons
Student level cosmology textbook
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Seven Wonders of the Cosmos Cambridge University Press, 1999ISBN: 0521638984
cover The title Seven wonders of the Cosmos suggested to be that this would be a 'coffee table book' - that is a book which showed off some impressive astronomical objects without going into the theory. However, that is not what I found - the book does contain quite a bit of astrophysics. Jayant Narlikar's presentation skilfully makes this accessible to the novice (I felt that it was less suited to those with some experience in the subject), hence the book seems best suited to those who have developed an interest in astronomy and want to find out more about it, without going too much into the technicalities. Continued..
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Nasar, Sylvia
A Beautiful mind Faber & FaberISBN: 0571212921
cover 'A Beautiful Mind' is Sylvia Nasar's account of the life of the mathemetician John F Nash, in particular his long mental illness and his gradual recovery. The book deals well with getting inside the mind of Nash as his behaviour becomes more and more irrational, showing how from his point of view it might seem to be the rational thing to do. We also see the dilemma of those caring for Nash - how intervention makes them seem hostile to him, but how doing nothing just allows the illness to get worse. In the end allowing him to 'haunt' the maths department without any pressure seemed to lead to his eventual recovery. Continued..
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Nettle, David
Strong Imagination Oxford University Press, 2001ISBN: 0198605005
cover The nature of mental illness has been the subject of a great deal of debate. Is it a case of being different rather than ill? How much is it 'in the genes' and how much is caused by the environment? And are the most creative individuals also those who are bordering on madness? In Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity, and Human Nature David Nettle looks at many such questions. Continued..
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Newman, James R
Godel's proof Routledge, 1958ISBN: 0415355281
cover
Mentioned in
Gdel's incompleteness theorem
Co-author
Nagel,Ernest
Gödel's incompleteness theorem has a reputation of being mysterious and difficult to understand. In Gödel's Proof Ernest Nagel and James R Newman give a clear explanation of the basics of the proof. They explain the background to the proof and in particular the search for a way of proving consistency of a system of axioms. They then exhibit a system where such a proof is possible - the propostional calculus. The book continues with chapters on the concept of mapping in mathematics, and on Gödel numbering, finishing off with the proof of the incompleteness theorem itself. Continued..
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Nicholls, Henry
Lonesome George Macmillan, 2006ISBN: 1403945764
cover
Mentioned in
Full Review
In 1971 a lone tortoise was found on the Galapagos island of Pinta. He is thought to be the last such Pinta tortoise, and in Lonesome George: The life and loves of a conservation icon Henry Nicholls tells his story. A significant theme of the book concerns attempts to get George to reproduce, with the selection of genetically similar females from other islands, but little response from George himself. Nicholls looks at what is being done and at what might be done in future to get round this problem, including more speculative options such as cloning. Continued..
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The Way of the Panda Profile Books, 2010ISBN: 9781846683688
cover The giant panda is an iconic animal, but a century and a half ago it was barely known - bordering on a mythical creature. In The Way of the Panda: The Curious History of China's Political Animal Henry Nicholls tells its story. Continued..
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Nicolson, Iain
Gravity black holes and the universe David & CharlesISBN: 07153784
Mentioned in
Black Holes
Non technical book dealing with the history of the theory of gravity, leading up to more recent work on black holes and cosmology, including Hawking radiation and Inflation.
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Nield, Ted
Supercontinent Granta, 2007ISBN: 9781862079434
cover The continents are spread around the globe at present, but in a couple of hundred million years it is likely that they will join together to form one giant continent, Novopangaea. In Supercontinent: Ten Billion Years in the Life of Our Planet Ted Nield tells of how the continents come together in this way. Novopangaea of course gets its name from Pangaea, the last such supercontinent, which was here about three hundred million years ago. Continued..
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Nielsen, Michael A
Quantum Computation and Quantum Information Cambridge University PressISBN: 0521635039
cover
Mentioned in
quantum computing
Co-author
Chuang,Issac
The book on quantum computing. Aimed at new researchers, but readable by anyone with a serious interest in the subject.
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Reinventing discovery Princeton University PressISBN: 0691148902
cover In Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science Michael A Nielsen explains how the internet is changing the way science can be done and calls for us to adopt these changes as soon as we can. Continued..
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Nightingale, J
A short course in general relativity SpringerISBN: 0387942955
cover
Mentioned in
stretchy space
Co-author
Foster,James
This book originally came out as a Longman mathematical text, and I found it to be a good book for learning the subject - well laid out as with other books in the series. I haven't seen the second edition yet, but I've heard that it moves away from the structure of the first edition, which may be a change for the worse.
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Noble, Denis
The music of life Oxford University Press, 2006ISBN: 0199295735
cover In The Selfish Gene Richard Dawkins argued that the gene was the most important part of living things. In The music of life:biology beyond the genome Denis Noble argues against such a reductionist viewpoint. He uses the metaphor of music, saying that just as a printed score or the data on a CD don't represent the emotional effect of a musical piece, so our genes don't code for the full complexity of a living organism. Others have made a similar claim, but in this case it is made by someone who has done significant work in computational biology and certainly knows what he is talking about. Continued..
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Noel, William
The Archimedes Codex Orion Books, 2007ISBN: 9780297645474
cover In 1998 a mystery buyer paid over $2000000 for a very important book. There were fears that this would mean a return to the obscurity it had suffered for most of the previous century. The Archimedes Codex: Revealing The Secrets Of The World's Greatest Palimpsest tells how this did not happen. William Noel explains how he had the task of extracting information from this document. It seemed like a hopeless task: the copy of Archimedes work had been scraped of and replaced by a prayer book, what remained had been examined in detail in 1906, and the book had suffered serious deterioration since that time. Despite these problems Noel tells how modern scientific techniques have found out much that is new about Archimedes. Continued..
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Nolte, David D
Mind at light speed Simon & Schuster, 2001ISBN: 0743205014
cover At first glance I took this book to be a fairly shallow look at the gee-whiz technologies that might come about in the future. When I got down to reading it I was pleasantly surprised. David Nolte has a deep knowledge of the subjects he tackles, whether it's Einstein's 1905 papers or the collapse of behaviourist psychology. But the book doesn't need specialist knowledge on the part of the reader; I would say that if you have a basic knowledge of computers then you will have no problems with this book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a peek at the possibilities for the future of computers. Continued..
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Norris, Christopher
Quantum Theory and the Flight From Realism Routledge, 2000ISBN: 0415223229
Mentioned in
Local Realism
North, John D
The measure of the universe Dover Publications, 1965ISBN: 0486665178
When trying to push forward the boundaries of a subject of study its important to know something of its history, both to avoid pitfalls which have been made before, and to re-evaluate old ideas, to see if they might be of use. The measure of the universe by John D. North provides a useful historical resource for the subject of cosmology, in particular that of the first half of the twentieth century. The book was written over 40 years ago, but I feel that this is a plus, as it meant it was closer to the action. Today we talk of the FLRW cosmological model, and this book looks at the contributions of each of these four scientists, as well as the Einstein- de Sitter model, the ideas of Milne and the later ideas of a steady-state universe. To get the most out of the book it is important to work through the mathematics in it, but this is generally fairly straightforward. Continued..
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Novikov, Igor
The River of Time Cambridge University PressISBN: 0521467373
cover
Mentioned in
Wormholes
The philosophy of time can be a confusing subject, with long winded ways of saying the obvious, but in this book Igor Novikov manages to avoid falling into this trap. As an expert in relativity, Novikov shows that modern physics can give more substance to discussions about time. He desciribes how ideas about time have developed, from the thoughts of Plato and Aristotle, up to the 20th century. The bulk of the book investigates the nature of time from the general relativistic viewpoint, looking at the big bang and black holes. The final chapters of the book look at the possibility of time travel via wormholes in space. Overall the book presents some deep ideas in a non-technical manner. Continued..
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Physics of black holes Kluwer AcademicISBN: 902772685X
cover
Mentioned in
Black Holes
Co-author
Frolov,Valery
Comprehensive textbook on black holes. Well presented
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Evolution of the Universe Cambridge University PressISBN: 0521241294
cover
Mentioned in
stretchy space
Rather philosophical book on cosmology
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Obmascik, Mark
The Big Year Bantam, 2004ISBN: 0553815512
cover Some people can get pretty obsessive about their hobbies, but there can be few who compare with the three birdwatchers described by Mark Obmascik in The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession Continued..
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O'Hare, Mick
How to Fossilise Your Hamster Profile Books, 2007ISBN: 9781846680441
cover If you think that science can only be done using expensive materials and equipment then you should take a look at How to Fossilise Your Hamster: And Other Amazing Experiments For The Armchair Scientist. Mick O'Hare will give you plenty of ideas for experiments which you can do using everyday things. Continued..
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Oliveri, G
Truth in Mathematics Clarendon PressISBN: 019851476X
cover
Mentioned in
Excluded muddle
Co-author
Dales,H G
A variety of papers on the question of mathematical truth. Mathematical of course, but readable by the non-specialist.
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O'Neill, Luke A J
What is Life The next fifty years Cambridge University Press, 1995ISBN: 052145509X
cover
Co-author
Murphy,Michael P
In 1943 Erwin Schrödinger wrote 'What is Life', a book which is considered to have had great influence on the future of biology, in particular inspiring physicists such as Francis Crick to take an interest in the subject. 'What is Life? The next fifty years', is based on lectures given to mark the 50th anniversary of Schrödinger's book. Scientists such as Stephen J Gould, Roger Penrose, and Jared Diamond look at which of Schrödinger's predictions have come to fruition and which may form the basis of future research. If you're interested in what eminent scientists think are the hot topics in biology then you should take a look at this book. Continued..
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O'Shea, Donal
The Poincare Conjecture Allen Lane, 2007ISBN: 9781846140129
cover At a first glance at the Poincaré Conjecture it can be difficult to see what all the fuss is about - it seems to be saying something which is faily obvious. So it's useful to have a book such as The Poincaré Conjecture; : In Search of the Shape of the Universe, in which Donal O'Shea explains what the conjecture is really claiming, and why mathematicians have had such a hard time proving it. The book starts with a look at how people deduced the shape of the earth, pointing out that even after it was circumnavigated, they couldn't be sure what would happen if you kept going north - maybe you would go on for ever, or even reappear in the south. Continued..
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Osmer, Patrick
The farthest things in the universe Cambridge University PressISBN: 0521451701
Co-authors
Pasachoff,Jay
Spinrad,Hyron
When we look into space, it is natural to try to push our observing techniques in order to see as far as possible. The Farthest things in the universe is an account of what astronomers have found when they do this. The book is composed of four chapters, each written by an expert in the subject. The first chapter, by Jay M. Pasachoff, introduces the reader to the expansion of the universe, and describes the methods used to determine the distances of objects. In the second chapter Ed Cheng describes the Cosmological Microwave background radiation, and looks at what it tells us about the early universe. Continued..
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Osserman, Robert
Poetry of the Universe Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1995ISBN: 0297815164
cover I have to say that I felt that the preface of Poetry of the Universe was something of a disaster. Robert Osserman seemed to suggest that just as Columbus' voyage in 1492 had shown that the Earth wasn't flat, so the COBE microwave map showed that space wasn't flat - I would say that both ideas were seriously flawed. As I continued with the book I felt that I had been a bit hasty in my judgement, at least on the issue of the Earth. The book in fact gives an excellent account of how the size and shape of the Earth was known two millennia before Columbus, and of the problems its curvature presented for mapmakers. Continued..
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Ouellette, Jennifer
Black Bodies and Quantum Cats Penguin Books, 2005ISBN: 0143036033
cover Physics is sometimes thought to be a subject which is remote from everyday life, only to be followed by experts. In this book, based on a monthly column in APS news, Jennifer Ouellette shows that this is not the case. The book takes various episodes in the history of physics and describes them in terms which the non-technical reader will understand. - with plenty of references to modern novels and films providing metaphors for the underlying physics. Thus Jurassic Park is used in the explanation of Chaos Theory and Blade Runner in the discussion of Artificial Intelligence. Its a well written book and although the chapters are in chronological order they are independent of each other so its perfectly suited to dipping into whan you feel like a bit of light reading. Continued..
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