Picks

Annus Mirabilis: 1905, Albert Einstein,and the Theory of Relativity

John and Mary Gribbin have written a book with a somewhat broader scope than Rigden's on the same topic. The first 138 pages of constitute a brief biography in three chapters: The First Twenty-Five Years, The Annus Mirabilis, and The Last Fifty Years.

Einstein 1905: The Standard of Greatness

This year marks a century since Albert Einstein published five of the most influential papers in the history of science, all submitted between March and September of 1905.

The Fly in the Ointment: 70 Fascinating Commentaries on the Science of Everyday Life

Joe Schwarcz has done it again. This host of a science call-in show in Montreal and Toronto has put together another collection of his commentaries on the science of everyday life. All four of his previous books have been "Hal's Picks", and you can find all of them in the Index. As usual, most of the science is chemistry.

The Climate of Man - I, II, and III

It was not that many years ago that one could reasonably defer judgement about global warming. But the evidence that our planet's climate is changing at a pace that can only presage disaster is becoming so compelling that only the US executive branch can't see it. Even the Bush administration now acknowledges that there may be a problem, but not one that would require significant action.

A Mathematician at the Ballpark: Odds and Probabilities for Baseball Fans

Back in the 1960's, I was captivated by "Percentage Baseball" by Earnshaw Cook. Now long out of print and a collector's item, this book was a forerunner of the "science" of SABRmetrics (after the Society for American Baseball Research) that refers to the scientific (statistical) evaluation of the game.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" is one of the most thought-provoking books I have read in the last few years. It is an examination of the factors that have led societies to flourish and to gain ascendency over one another.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

We teachers of science tend to assume that our students are largely rational - that they can be brought to understanding through a gradual accumulation of experiences that lead to conclusions about how the world works, and that nature can be led to disclose herself through a logical process.

The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty

How do you know that no two snowflakes are exactly alike? Does it matter? For the scientist, the similarities between snowflakes are just an interesting, and probably much more important, than their differences. The author of the text in "The Snowflake" is Chairman of the Physics Department at Caltech.