Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry


I know some of my flisters are of a scientific bent. I am looking for a recommendation for a reputable encyclopedia of science, as up-to-date as these things can be, with basic explanations of most concepts in physics, chemistry, and biology, and suggestions for further reading when the explanations are more involved.

Something that is at least semi-for-the-layman.

It could be book, CD, on-line, whatev. Just real science and not some internet schmuck's metaphysical musings based on metaphorical misinterpretation of real science.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 20th, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
I wish I could help. The only general things I can remember seeing really were for kids and I don't remember any titles. Even Wikipedia, these days, is getting fairly technical in some fields.

Field guides series cover a lot of what you are looking for, but it's not all in one place, handy or cheap.

You do have to watch out for creationists and the meandering musings you were talking about.
Dec. 20th, 2010 05:27 pm (UTC)
Yep, I tried using wikipedia and it was too advanced. So I'd click on the links to get background on the more basic concepts, and they'd be technical, so I'd click on their links, and before you know it, I couldn't even remember where I started.
Dec. 20th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
I am not so worried about the Creationists as I am the New Agers and their take on quantum physics.
Dec. 20th, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC)
I'll check with S.

He'd know about textbooks that are being used now. If you'd want textbooks too, that is.

Edited at 2010-12-20 05:18 pm (UTC)
Dec. 20th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I am thinking something for your average Freshman, as opposed to a kid or a physics professor.
Dec. 20th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
I wonder whether such a thing exists at a useful level. The field is vast. Even a relatively defined subfield like "quantum physics" has a myriad of sub-fields and each sub-field would get a very different treatment depending how sophisticated one was trying to be.
Dec. 20th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
Right now, I'm thinking "not too sophisticated", just trying to get a kiddie-view of it except they won't write quantum physics kiddie books.

I think.
Dec. 20th, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)
I don't think you can do quantum kiddie books and not be misleading. Wasn't it Feynman who said "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics"?

There's a couple of good books on quantum theory, gravity, the standard model etc that aren't too technical; Lisa Randall's Warped Passages is very accessible but, to my taste, a bit too pro string theory. Roger Penrose's The Road to Reality is comprehensive, magisterial and probably read to the end about as often as Hawking's A Brief History of Time! It's really good to dip into though if you need a quick refresher on topics like QCD or Entanglement and it does look at string theory and alternative approaches to reconciling quantum theory and relativity in a fairly balanced way.
Dec. 20th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
Dec. 20th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
There is a series called DK (i've seen them with dinosaur books and human anatomy) aimed at layman but i forget the publisher.

eta okay i think DK is the series name but i don't know specific titles

Edited at 2010-12-20 09:32 pm (UTC)
Dec. 20th, 2010 09:35 pm (UTC)
What does DK stand for?
Dec. 20th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
no clue that's emblazoned across the books
Dec. 21st, 2010 03:43 am (UTC)
that's the one. they have several books but i'm not sure entirely it's what you want
Dec. 21st, 2010 02:01 am (UTC)
DK stands for Dorling Kindersley.


Their books are good, but I've found them to be very basic.
Dec. 21st, 2010 04:29 am (UTC)
Perhaps the fastest way would be to simply ask your flist when an issue comes up. Is this for your writing, or just something you'd like to have around for general knowledge enhancement?

I think chickenfeet has a point-- "I wonder whether such a thing exists at a useful level."

Back in my pre-teens and teens, when I was trying to teach myself basic electronics, it was a constant problem finding suitable books. Either they were "This is an electron. Electrons are what makes electricity. See electrons move along conductors" or they were "This is an electron. Now, on the next page we'll discuss advanced quantum physics."

I ended up just muddling along as best as possible.

Maybe Scientific American has an on-line subscription thing that you could search for and retrieve articles from past issues?

Edited at 2010-12-21 04:30 am (UTC)
Dec. 21st, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
I doubt it would be particularly fast to ask my flist, since I have questions every fifteen minutes this day, and my flist is usually off sleeping, working, eating, or some lame endeavor like that. Sans immediate gratification, I will wander off to see what other sources have to say.
Dec. 26th, 2010 04:05 am (UTC)
I tried to find info on the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology. I worked on its "Yearbook" update once or twice, lo these many years ago--long enough that I couldn't remember how accessible it is to lay readers. It looks fairly understandable for those w/out a formal science education, & it's available online, but w/out a subscription, all you can see is an excerpt from each article. That might be enough, though: for the ones I clicked on, it showed the 1st paragraph, w/the definition & some basic info. Short-term subscriptions are 24 hrs. for $30, 48 hrs. for $50. (I assume that's cumulative, not consecutive!) Articles also have a link at the bottom that says, "Get full access via your library's website," but I don't know how that works. You could also actually go to the library for the (20-volume) book, which might not be feasible on every-15-minutes days unless you can keep a list to take there. Anyway, I hope you find something helpful, whether or not it's this.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )