Greetings, fellow Earthlings. Your theme for this week practically oozes sexy, sexy…science. Science is awesome. Science is the reason we have computers and Tumblr. Need I say more?
Those people who make science happen are sometimes called scientist. Or science-person. Or Dark Wizard, King of All She Surveys. I think that’s the Latin term. Anyways, you may think of scientists as boring people obsessed with their charts and their maths and test tubes full of bubbling chemicals or whatever. But the good ones are super smart. I mean I’m sure there are stupid scientists, just like there are stupid people everywhere. But the good scientists have massive brains the size of obese children (so I’ve been told) and smart people tend to be pretty goddamn interesting. Because smart people and good scientists are curious about everything, and
occasionally almost always a little crazy, their lives are awesome. Or if not awesome, at least extremely fascinating. And they do a lot more than chartmath.
Here are some of my favorite non-fiction books about real-ass science people who got their science on in awesome ways.
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman
by Richard P. Feynman
Written by the man himself, this loose autobiography is full of awesome. If you’re never heard of Feynman before, he was a beyond-clever physicist who won a Nobel and worked on the Manhattan project, among about a million other things. His interests ranged far and wide beyond pure physics, and this book recounts many of the adventures he had in the course of his life. I first read this book when I was about eleven and it has stuck with me ever since. If it can engage an eleven year-old, it can engage you. And it will. Because Feynman is amazing.
UPDATE: Apparently there’s a bit of controversy about Feynman because he was quite the misogynist. I’m not going to argue with that, though I haven’t read this book in years and don’t remember the specifics. The fact remains he was a very smart and interesting man and perhaps it’s a good thing that time machines don’t exist because we shouldn’t always meet our heroes.
Oliver Sacks is just a wonder and a delight. This autobiographical retelling of his childhood growing up in WWII-era England, experimenting with chemicals and being far more clever than most people as full-grown adults, is so much more interesting than most novels. Granted, I wanted to hate him for being such a smart kid, but you really can’t hate him. I mean look at that adorable old face:
Someone on Goodreads commented that they were unable to finish this book because they weren’t smart enough, and to that I say absolute horseshit. If you give up on this book it’s not because you’re stupid, it’s because you’re too boring to sit down and use your thinking skills for five damn minutes. This is another book I first read as a preteen and I had no problems understanding it. In fact, this was probably the book that instilled in me the love of science that I still carry today. I remember reading and rereading this book probably half a dozen times throughout my early teen years. It’s fabulous. If you don’t read it, you’re making a mistake. This is also a GREAT book to get for that teenager or preteen in your life. I don’t recall many ‘inappropriate’ themes, and Sacks is such a wonderful storyteller that it will overcome even short attention spans.
Bonus Book: A Brief History of Time
by Stephen Hawking
This isn’t a biography, but it is an awesome science book, so I am including it here. Stephen Hawking, who everyone knows because he was on that one episode of the Simpsons (obviously) and who also happens to be one of the most intelligent astrophysicists to ever have lived, wrote a book about time and the nature of the universe as science currently understands it – and somehow, he makes it understandable for the average layperson. Wow that was a long sentence.
The truly incredible thing here is that he managed to turn an extremely complex, difficult-to-get-into subject into something that normal people who might not even have that much of an interest in physics would be able to enjoy and understand.
It’s not the easiest book to read, but there are plenty of explanatory-type pictures and overall I think it’s probably the best book for laypeople who want to know more about the nature of the universe to read. This book is also a great springboard, because he introduces a lot of theories and concepts, and if you’re more interested in a particular facet you can do more research on your own.
So y’all, there’s a few science books to keep you going over the weekend! I’ll be back next Thursday with another book roundup. If you have any suggestions for themes or have more books to add to this list, let me know below.