Hopefully this will either help you find some present ideas for difficult people, or some new ways to procrastinate over the exam period.
The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters Mark Henderson
The concept of this book, as Henderson details in the introductory chapter, can be summed in the words “precisely what politicians think is less important than how they think.” It asks the reader to consider whether they think scientifically, and how doing so can improve many varied areas of society.
In the following eight chapters, he presents his arguments for “why science matters to…” politics (voting), government (policies), the media, economics, education, justice, medicine and the environment. A true scientist, Henderson encourages us to question what we are told, and he presents strong evidence to support his arguments (references included so that you can see for yourself).
A must for politics students, and interesting reading for anyone else.
For the Love of Physics Walter Lewin
In this book, Professor Walter Lewin tells the story of how one man fell in love with physics, encouraging you to do the same, be it for the first time, when your eyes are initially opened to the magic of science, or allowing you to fall all over again after the frustration of exams or thesis writing or living in the real world has turned you bitter.
You will be enthralled by all the little everyday things you previously took for granted. Lewin is an especial lover of rainbows and the wonders of light. The journey he takes you on is also incredibly personal, detailing what it was like to grow up in the Netherlands during the Second World War, and what his life is like now.
I would say with confidence that I don’t think any teacher has ever been more loved and appreciated by their students. And he has so many; he has affected the lives of not just those who have been in his classes in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but worldwide. This is with good reason. It is very easy to make new, ground-breaking science exciting, but to make the core, fundamental “boring background concepts” seem magical the way Walter Lewin does takes a real gift.
Galaxies: A Very Short Introduction John Gribbin
The Very Short Introduction series are published by Oxford University Press and feature a range of authors who are experts in their subjects, with now over 400 titles. Gribbin’s introduction to galaxies is one in particular, picked here for its full coverage of the topic in an easy style to follow, starting from the very basics of the physics of astronomy, and including the history and future of the study of galaxies.
It may now be common knowledge that we live in a galaxy that is just one of many billions more of these hosts of millions of stars, but it was only proven that there are otheer galaxies outside of our own as late as the 1920s; it is a young science, and since then the study of galaxies has taught us so much more about our universe, including bringing us the discovery of the evidence of dark matter. If you are burning to find out more, you needn’t be an astrophysicist to follow a VSI to Galaxies.
How to Live Forever (and 34 Other Really Interesting Uses of Science) Alok Jha
Since followed by How to Solve the Da Vinci Code (&34ORIU of Maths) and How to Destroy the Universe (&34ORIU of Physics), by Richard Elwes and Paul Parsons, this is an easy-to-pick-up-and-put-down-again-as-you-please book that you can read bit by bit in any order, good if you are often short on time.
Alok Jha is a science writer for the Guardian and ITV News science correspondent, and unsurprisingly a very engaging and informative science communicator. How to Live Forever is a light, entertaining book, which won’t have you bogged down in complicated concepts, but brings to life the things that science can do, including how to start a plague, how to build a brain, and how to become invisible – recommended (by Dallas Campbell, science presenter) for “anyone who hasn’t thought about science since school”.