Rogue Physicist.  Free resources for physics education © 2006-2016 Dorian Pascoe.  Email: dorian.pascoe@hotmail.co.uk

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...brilliant books...



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Free e-books :)



Here are some books that I found interesting or informative or fun.  Hopefully you will enjoy them too!  They cover a wide range of topics - from physics to neurology to science fiction and beyond.


They are presented in no particular order, but I have divided them into fiction and non-fiction sections to maintain some illusion of organisation.


Also, I thoroughly recommend you check out Project Gutenberg.  They have a digital library of public domain ebooks, including a vast collection of HG Wells science fiction classics.


The books are free and most are available in a variety of formats, so work well with any e-readers (e.g. kindle), apps for Android and Apple smartphones, tablets or PCs.  Go and explore, and I hope you find something you enjoy!












My favourite recent read - July 2015


The Humans (Matt Haig).

Very quirky, and a fun analysis of many aspects of the human condition :)  It was chosen as a 2014 World Book Night title.


"A wonderfully funny, gripping and inventive novel... ...Haig uses the tropes of science fiction to explore and satirise concepts of free will, love, marriage, logic, immortality and mercy with elegance and poignancy" (The Times)


"A brilliant exploration of what it is to love, and to be human, The Humans is both heartwarming and hilarious, weird, and utterly wonderful. One of the best books I've read in a very long time" (S J Watson)


"Extraordinary" (The Independent)


"Utterly wonderful" (Mark Billingham)


"Matt Haig's hilarious novel puts our species on the spot" (Guardian).


Read a full review here, and  find it on Amazon here.













Another favourite read


The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Oliver Sacks).  An utterly fascinating collection of essays.  Absolutely incredible.



"The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is populated by a cast as strange as that of the most fantastic fiction. The subject of this strange and wonderful book is what happens when things go wrong with parts of the brain most of us don't know exist... Dr Sacks shows the awesome powers of our mind and just how delicately balanced they have to be" Sunday Times.


"Who is this book for? Who is it not for? It is for everybody who has felt from time to time that certain twinge of self-identity and sensed how easily, at any moment, one might lose it" The Times.


"This is, in the best sense, a serious book. It is, indeed, a wonderful book, by which I mean not only that it is excellent (which it is) but also that it is full of wonder, wonders and wondering. He brings to these often unhappy people understanding, sympathy and respect. Sacks is always learning from his patients, marvelling at them, widening his own understanding and ours" Punch.










The Time Machine.


A favourite classic


The Time machine (H.G. Wells).  A brilliant classic.


Old (first published in 1895), but a timeless classic - which is a little ironic.  It's a great read, and is available free in ebook format, from the fantasic Project Gutenberg.





















The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)

Brilliantly funny and absurd :)


Thirty years of celebrating the comic genius of Douglas Adams... On 12 October 1979 the most remarkable book ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor (and Earth) was made available to humanity – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace bypass and his best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. At this moment, they’re hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed with the big, friendly words: DON’T PANIC. The weekend has only just begun... Volume one in the trilogy of five.










1984 (George Orwell).

Very dark and thought provoking - a FANTASTIC read.


One of the bestselling books of the twentieth century, 1984 is the dystopian classic that introduced such Orwellian terms as “ Big Brother".  It is 1984. The world is in a state of perpetual war and Big Brother sees and controls all.  Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party and propaganda-writer at the Ministry of Truth, is keeping a journal he should not be keeping and falling in love with Julia, a woman he should not be seeing.  Outwardly compliant, Winston dreams of rebellion against the oppressive Big Brother, risking everything to recover his lost sense of individuality and control of his own future.










The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon).

A wonderful insight into the highly logical mind of a boy with asperger's syndrome.


Narrated by a fifteen-year-old autistic savant obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, this dazzling novel weaves together an old-fashioned mystery, a contemporary coming-of-age story, and a fascinating excursion into a mind incapable of processing emotions. Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. At fifteen, Christopher's carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbour's dog Wellington impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.










Angels & Demons (Dan Brown).

A bit trashy, but an exciting storyline, with some cursory science woven through.


"World-renowned Harvard symboligist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization - the Illuminati. Desperate to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and the most secretive vault on earth . . . the long-forgotten Illuminati lair."









Deception Point (Dan Brown).

Trashy but fun, with a spacey-sciency theme :)


When a new NASA satellite detects evidence of an astonishingly rare object buried deep in the Arctic ice, the floundering space agency proclaims a much-needed victory...a victory that has profound implications for U.S. space policy and the impending presidential election.

With the Oval Office in the balance, the President dispatches White House Intelligence analyst Rachel Sexton to the Arctic to verify the authenticity of the find. Accompanied by a team of experts, including the charismatic academic Michael Tolland, Rachel uncovers the unthinkable - evidence of scientific trickery - a bold deception that threatens to plunge the world into controversy...






















The Physics of Superheroes (James Kakalios).

A fun book using real physics to examine ideas about super powers.


The Physics of Superheroes applies the reality of physics to the fantasy of comic books. James Kakalios explores the scientific plausibility of the powers and feats of the most famous superheroes - and discovers that in many cases the comic writers got their science surprisingly right. Along the way he provides an engaging and witty commentary while introducing the lay reader to both classic and cutting-edge concepts in physics.










A Walk Through the Heavens (Milton D. Heifetz & Wil Tirion).

A good book for aspiring astronomers!


A Walk through the Heavens is a beautiful and easy-to-use guide to the constellations of the northern hemisphere. By following the unique simplified maps, readers will be able to easily find and identify the constellations and the stars within them. Ancient myths and legends of the sky are retold, adding to the mystery of the stars. Written for the complete beginner, this practical guide introduces the patterns of the starry skies in a memorable way. No equipment is needed, apart from normal sight and clear skies










In Search of Schrodinger's Cat (John Gribbin)

A good introduction to quantum ideas.


Quantum theory is so shocking that Einstein could not bring himself to accept it. It is so important that it provides the fundamental underpinning of all modern sciences. Without it, we'd have no computers, no science of molecular biology, no understanding of DNA, no genetic engineering.  In Search of Schrodinger's Cat tells the complete story of quantum mechanics, a truth stranger than any fiction. John Gribbin takes us step by step into an even more bizarre and fascinating place, requiring only that we approach it with an open mind. He introduces the scientists who developed quantum theory. He investigates the atom, radiation, time travel, the birth of the universe, super conductors and life itself. And in a world full of its own delights, mysteries and surprises, he searches for Schrodinger's Cat - a search for quantum reality - as he brings every reader to a clear understanding of the most important area of scientific study today - quantum physics.









The Case of the Missing Neutrinos: And Other Curious Phenomena of the Universe (John Gribbin).

A great read, and very accessible.  A glimpse into the weird, wonderful (and sometimes mysterious) world of particle physics and solar physics.



Bestselling science writer John Gribbin explores - and explains - black holes, supernovas, the big bang, and the mysterious case of the missing neutrinos, in this "wonderfully lucid...primer to the dizzying intermarriage of cosmology, astronomy, and particle physics". (Publishers Weekly)










How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog (Chad Orzel).

A great read.  Difficult ideas put into the context of simple, often squirrel-orientated, analogies.



When Quantum Physics expert Dr Chad Orzel went to adopt a dog he never imagined he would end up with one as inquisitive as Emmy. Could she use quantum tunnelling to get through the neighbour's fence and chase bunnies? What about quantum teleportation to catch squirrels before they climb out of reach? In this witty and informative book, Orzel and Emmy 'the talking dog' discuss the key theories of Quantum Physics and its fascinating history. From quarks and gluons to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, this is the perfect introduction to the fundamental laws which govern the universe.  How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog covers a lot of the ideas we study in AS chapters 6 and 7, and puts most of the concepts as analogies involving dogs chasing squirrels.










Chaos (James Gleick).

The fascinating story of a very intriguing and beautiful branch of mathematics.  A great read.



The twentieth-anniversary edition of the million-copy-plus Bestseller.  This edition of James Gleick's groundbreaking bestseller introduces to a whole new readership the story of one of the most significant waves of scientific knowledge in our time. By focusing on the key figures whose genius converged to chart an innovative direction for science, Gleick makes the story of chaos theory not only fascinating but also accessible, and opens our eyes to a surprising new view of the universe.










Does Anything Eat Wasps? (New Scientist)


The first of the brilliant series of books by New Scientist.  Every year, readers send in thousands of questions to New Scientist, the world's best-selling science weekly, in the hope that the answers to them will be given in the 'Last Word' column - regularly voted the most popular section of the magazine. Does Anything Eat Wasps? is a collection of the best that have appeared, including: Why can't we eat green potatoes? Why do airliners suddenly plummet? Does a compass work in space? Why do all the local dogs howl at emergency sirens?










Why don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?  (New Scientist).


The second of the brilliant series of books by New Scientist.  Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? is the latest compilation of readers' answers to the questions in the 'Last Word' column of New Scientist, the world's best-selling science weekly. Following the phenomenal success of Does Anything Eat Wasps? - the Christmas 2005 surprise bestseller - this new collection includes recent answers never before published in book form, and also old favourites from the column's early days. Yet again, many seemingly simple questions turn out to have complex answers.










Do Polar Bears Get Lonely? (New Scientist).


Do Polar Bears Get Lonely? is the third compilation of readers’ answers to the questions in the ‘Last Word’ column of New Scientist, the world’s best-selling science weekly. Following the phenomenal success of Does Anything Eat Wasps? (2005) and the even more spectacularly successful Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze? (2006), this latest collection includes a bumper crop of wise and wonderful answers never before seen in book form.  As usual, the simplest questions often have the most complex answers.










How To Make a Tornado (New Scientist).


Science tells us grand things about the universe: how fast light travels, and why stones fall to earth. But scientific endeavour goes far beyond these obvious foundations. There are some fields we don't often hear about because they are so specialised, or turn out to be dead ends. Yet researchers have given hallucinogenic drugs to blind people (seriously), tried to weigh the soul as it departs the body and planned to blast a new Panama Canal with atomic weapons. Real scientific breakthroughs sometimes come out of the most surprising and unpromising work.










How to Fossilise Your Hamster (New Scientist).


How can you measure the speed of light with chocolate and a microwave? Why do yo-yos yo-yo? Why does urine smell so peculiar after eating asparagus (includes helpful recipe)? How long does it take to digest different types of food? What is going on when you drop mentos in to cola? 100 wonderful, intriguing and entertaining scientific experiments which show scientific principles first hand - this is science at its most popular.