I stopped at Quarks (Reading in the 80's)...

Any new books for non students (Laymen) out there that I can enjoy reading to satiate my thirst for knowlege of what is on the cutting edge of all things small and large (Quantum mechaninics, Cosmology, and astrophysics)? I left off back in the 80’s after reading all I could get by John Wheeler, Fritof Capra, Etc… I still have “The Universe in a nutshell” on my desk.

I’ve seen every show ever made on the discovery and science cahannels but still want more.

I’d love a heads up on something that blends western science with eastern philosophy.

If only I’d stayed in school and been able to write my own book!

Sorry… Forgot to mention that I’ve read all of the books by Alan Watts and Richard Feynman, as well as listened to the lectures that I could find by both of those fine gentlemen online.

You might try Sean Carroll’s From Eternity to Here, which is about our current understanding of the nature of time and how the Universe began. While I’ve not read it personally, I overlapped with Dr. Carroll during his time at U. Chicago, and took a course or two from him. I cannot imagine his writing being anything other than clear, lucid, and entertaining.

Nobel Prize winner Frank Wilczek’s The Lightness of Being comes highly recommended by people I trust (I have not yet read The Lightness of Being, but thoroughly enjoyed and learned from Wilczek’s earlier Longing for the Harmonies).

Thanks guys. I’m firing up my Kindle (hand -me- down from my daughter) right now.

Have you read Hawking’s A Brief History of Time? It looks like that was published in 1988 so you may have already read it.

Did read it. Hawking then left me flat with the un-readable “The Universe in a nutshell”.

By un-readable I mean… Boring.

What’s the local opinion on “The Road to Reality” by Penrose? I have it and I’m (slowly) making my way through it; it’s a fairly good way to learn the math involved, but is there anything I should know before he gets down to teaching the physics?

Since you’re looking for opinions, I’ve moved the thread to IMHO.

I’d recommend Brian Greene’s two books: The Elegant Universe and The Fabric Of The Cosmos. Only the latter is available on Kindle though.

Perhaps Owen Flanagan’s The Bodhisattva’s Brain is something you might enjoy – I’ve not yet read it, but I’m definitely planning to; I very much enjoyed Flanagan in this debate between him and Alex Rosenberg on Philosophy TV.

Personally, I love the book – it’s a grand effort, and used as a sort of ‘atlas’ for finding your way around physics, I think it’s unparalleled. It might not contain the details on anything, but it’s great to get you where you need to be to check them out on your own. It provides an overarching view that you sometimes miss through the standard study of physics, a view only few people can provide. And it’s basically worth the price for Penrose’s illustrations alone – I don’t think there are many people sharing his gift of representing the wholly abstract.

That said, he does have some idiosyncratic views that are a ways removed from the mainstream, and while he is careful to point out where he differs from the consensus (such as there is), I think he in places overstates the case for his own views (which is perhaps only natural). So I would take the things he says about gravity being responsible for quantum state reduction, or his arguments against cosmic inflation with a grain of salt.