Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

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marshmallow
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Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby marshmallow » Thu Jun 26, 2008 2:46 am UTC

I've found that in my high school, so far most of my science teachers have been inept; going into the field, I feel like I should be better preparing myself and making myself more knowledgeable on the subject in general. If anyone could leave any good references to scientific literature in any field of science, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you. :mrgreen:

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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby Klotz » Thu Jun 26, 2008 2:56 am UTC

The Feynman Lectures on Physics are recommended, although I haven't read them myself.

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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby ks_physicist » Sat Jun 28, 2008 8:46 am UTC

What science? Any science in general?

Feynman is good for physics. What are you interested in?

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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby iop » Sat Jun 28, 2008 3:02 pm UTC

If you want to read about a wide range of sciences without going into crazy depth, Scientific American or the New Scientist are pretty nice.

If you think you want more depth, Nature Reviews (for biology-related stuff), and the Current Opinion series (or any other review-journal) are good. However, these usually require quite some field-specific knowledge, so that may not make too much sense for you.

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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby Minerva » Sat Jun 28, 2008 4:18 pm UTC

iop wrote:If you want to read about a wide range of sciences without going into crazy depth, Scientific American or the New Scientist are pretty nice.


Those publications are not credible scientific journals or textbooks - whilst they make for interesting reading over a coffee, you've got to take what they say with a pinch of salt. Remember the EmDrive controversy involving New Scientist a couple of years ago?

They're basically the tabloid equivalent of Nature or similar.
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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby Indon » Sat Jun 28, 2008 6:37 pm UTC

Good scientific literature, or good and also free to access scientific literature?
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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby Robin S » Sat Jun 28, 2008 9:05 pm UTC

Minerva wrote:They're basically the tabloid equivalent of Nature or similar.
Yes, but how much of the stuff published in Nature is palatable to a student in secondary education, whose education so far has been provided by "inept" teachers?
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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby iop » Sat Jun 28, 2008 9:08 pm UTC

Minerva wrote:
iop wrote:If you want to read about a wide range of sciences without going into crazy depth, Scientific American or the New Scientist are pretty nice.


Those publications are not credible scientific journals or textbooks - whilst they make for interesting reading over a coffee, you've got to take what they say with a pinch of salt. Remember the EmDrive controversy involving New Scientist a couple of years ago?

They're basically the tabloid equivalent of Nature or similar.


I don't remember the controversy, because I rarely read New Scientist. They are obviously not peer- reviewed material, and thus prone to journalistic errors. However, they are at least reasonably understandable, and normally treat relevant subjects. In that sense, they can be considered "good".
Vanity journals like Science, Nature, or PNAS are supposed to publish generally interesting articles that should be accessible to a wider audience, but I often have a hard time understanding stuff outside my field. And I have spent a lot of time at university since high school. Thus, I doubt that these are "good" in the sense of "useful" for even an exceptionally gifted high school student [edit: and it seems that RobinS agrees].

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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby marshmallow » Sat Jun 28, 2008 9:11 pm UTC

Indon wrote:Good scientific literature, or good and also free to access scientific literature?


not necessarily, I get a good discount at local bookstores, lol.

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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby _sandswipe_ » Sat Jun 28, 2008 10:40 pm UTC

It's getting just slightly outdated, but I've found the Asimov books on science-nonfiction to be very good introductions to any field. He's mostly famous for his Robots Foundation sci-fi, but he wrote something like a hundred and fifty nonfiction books, mostly collections of his essays for various magazines. They flow through topics fluidly, giving the basic ideas in an easy to read format and then moving on to it's effect on science in general. He does a lot of perspective as far as talking about the people who make these advances and the conditions around the time too.

Most of his books are available for under five dollars if you can find a good-sized used book store. Halfprice bookstore is a good one.

http://www.amazon.com/Beginnings-Story- ... 20&sr=8-17

http://www.amazon.com/Relativity-Wrong- ... 304&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Edge-Tomorrow-Isa ... 330&sr=1-1
That last one also has some of his best fiction.

http://www.amazon.com/Isaac-Asimovs-Roc ... 708&sr=1-3
perfect for getting a younger brother or sister interested in astronomy

Also go to sites like badastronomy.com, sciencebasedmedicine.com and scienceblogs.com. While some of them have gotten very political, and others are occasionally dense, a good scientific blog can give you the opinion of some vocal experts on cutting-edge advances with easily followed descriptions of all the technicalities.
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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby 1hitcombo » Sun Jun 29, 2008 2:35 am UTC

Minerva wrote:
iop wrote:If you want to read about a wide range of sciences without going into crazy depth, Scientific American or the New Scientist are pretty nice.


Those publications are not credible scientific journals or textbooks - whilst they make for interesting reading over a coffee, you've got to take what they say with a pinch of salt. Remember the EmDrive controversy involving New Scientist a couple of years ago?

They're basically the tabloid equivalent of Nature or similar.


A biology professor of mine gave our class an article by Norman Geschwind published in the 80s about the neuroscience of speech and language processing that was published in Scientific American. The article did a very good job of both giving an overall picture on the remarkable aspects of the studies outlined along with providing more in-depth information to those who had some previous background knowledge. It made me sad that the quality of the articles in Scientific American

Speaking of which, are there any good science magazines out there that don't require you to have a good grounding in the field? I've been trying to find one and it's come to no avail.

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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby Robin S » Sun Jun 29, 2008 2:37 am UTC

That's probably because understanding all the interesting stuff requires knowledge of a hefty amount of technical jargon.
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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby ks_physicist » Sun Jun 29, 2008 5:58 am UTC

You could try some of the more education-oriented journals. Some are more readable than others.

For example, The Physics Teacher is a very readable journal that tends to have simpler topics (as it is focused on a more high-school to undergraduate level). The American Journal of Physics is also educationally oriented, but it has a wider range with more higher-end articles.

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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby zalamazoo » Sun Jun 29, 2008 3:14 pm UTC

1hitcombo wrote:Speaking of which, are there any good science magazines out there that don't require you to have a good grounding in the field? I've been trying to find one and it's come to no avail.


If you're looking for more general interest science reading, Seed Magazine is worth a look. They approach their articles from a cultural perspective rather than straight up science, which can yield some pretty interesting results. For example, they have a regular series pairing an artist and a scientist in conversation -- Marc Hauser and Errol Morris is the latest. But yea, definitely not the place to look for technical news.
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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby The Ethos » Sun Jun 29, 2008 11:11 pm UTC

Science News is a weekly brief on longer articles. Usually very approachable. My dad likes it. I find it funny when we talk about articles I just read in PNAS or NEJM and he's just as up to date as I am.

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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby ThinkerEmeritus » Sun Jun 29, 2008 11:24 pm UTC

I have three suggestions/comments. First, the American Institute of Physics puts out a series of announcements about current news, which you can access here. From that page you can read the most recent note, search for recent notes [just enter any number smaller than the current one in the search form], or if you like the notes, sign up to receive them by mail. The notes are aimed at journalists with little science background and tend to be pretty understandable.

Second, go to a decent library and check out books, at random if necessary. If they are too simple, get harder ones. If they are too difficult, take them back, find the background you need in another book, and then take them out again. I suspect that you had something like that in mind when you asked about books here, but just trying books from the library at least guarantees that the book is easiily available. Any time you finish a book you like, look for a more advanced one on the same topic. I wouldn't worry too much about getting knowledge systematically, just try to find out what you are interested in and read everything on those subjects that you can put your hands on. Your college courses will fill in your knowledge systematically. If you are interested in physics, don't overlook astronomy books. There are a lot of amateur astronomers and hence a good market for serious books for lay astronomers, and there is a lot of physics in astronomy books.

Third, consider textbooks for college courses as your starting point for moving to easier or harder books. These would tend to give you a more systematic background, but generally at the expense of being more tedious to read.

In any case, if you find something you don't understand, ask questions here. Make it clear that your question isn't from homework and you will get lots of good replies.
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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby troyp » Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:54 pm UTC

For evolutinary bioligy, excellent introductions include John Maynard Smith's The Theory of Evolution and Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene. IIRC, the latter had less breadth but more exploration of the conceptual underpinnings of the theory (at times it was tortuously slow, but I still loved it :). Other books I've read by these authors are also good.

re physics: I've read a few of Feynman's lecures and they were great.

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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby INFOHAZARD » Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:20 pm UTC

marshmallow wrote:I've found that in my high school, so far most of my science teachers have been inept; going into the field, I feel like I should be better preparing myself and making myself more knowledgeable on the subject in general. If anyone could leave any good references to scientific literature in any field of science, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you. :mrgreen:



I'm well past my training years, and often peruse medical journal abstracts. I used to go to pubmed.gov, but more recently I discovered Google Scholar. It has all the pubmed and so much more. Waaayyy beyond medical literature.
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Re: Could anyone suggest good scientific literature?

Postby opsomath » Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:05 am UTC

The first sections of Science Magazine are actually quite palatable to someone with some basic science , and the pictures? Gorgeous.


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