Monday, October 18, 2010

Books for Science-ophiles

Books have immense power. They can change the way we look at the world or the way we think about things. They can help us understand difficult concepts and turn seemingly boring material adventurous.

Here is a list of great books for scientists that have the ability to do all of those things. You might think that you read enough about science at work, but this reading will be much more enjoyable (as if that’s hard to do).

The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean
I know what you’re thinking: Periodic table—boring. But, Kean manages to show the importance of the elements represented on the table throughout history while also making them interesting. This book is full of anecdotes that might even make you want to retake chemistry. Who knew it could be this intriguing?

Elephants on Acid and Other Bizarre Experiments by Alex Boese
This book examines bizarre experiments that were—sometimes surprisingly—scientifically methodical and published in peer-reviewed journals, but they are nothing like the research you’ve read about all day. From gory Frankenstein-like experiments to studying the myth of “beer goggles”, this book won’t disappoint. If only everyday in lab was this exciting!

The Art and Politics of Science by Harold Varmus
Varmus has had a storied career through science, including winning the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1989 for his work identifying genes that cause cancer, and directing the nation’s foremost medical research institution, the National Institutes of Health. This memoir follows it all, from his early graduate work—in English Literature!—to his foray into the political side of science. A great read for scientists and non-scientists alike.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
An inspiration to many neuroscientists, this book is composed of profiles of patients with neurological disorders. Sacks chronicles the case studies and life stories of each fascinating patient in a riveting and compassionate manner, making it clear that he truly cares about the individuals. You may come away with a different view of people after reading this book.

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