/ Book recommendations - life after GEB

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crossdressingrodney - on 31 Jul 2017
Greetings, assembled literary masses!

It's taken me since Christmas, but I've finally finished Godel, Escher, Bach. Absolutely loved this book, especially the exploration of the ideas behind Godel's proof and the other results of meta-mathematics. Despite a background as a mathematician, I'd not understood Godel's theorem before.

I thought the hidden tricks and messages in the Dialogues were fantastic (although I definitely missed at least a couple in first reading). The final focus on AI and human cognition was interesting, but not as compelling for me.

I'm looking for recommendations on a similar theme. I also love physics so would appreciate some ideas in that direction too. I spent 18 months working through Feynman's big red books, so I have some physics background already, but I'd like to know more about thermodynamics, nuclear physics, qed, qcd. Prefer stuff presented with a mathematical flavour.

Any suggestions, Ukcers?

https://xkcd.com/917/



jockster - on 31 Jul 2017
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

The Making of the Atomic Bomb
Richard Rhodes
Blue Straggler - on 31 Jul 2017
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

Not quite the same theme, just physics....

Measured Tones - The Interplay of Physics and Music, by Ian Johnstone. I managed about 30 pages of it and then started to get lost (or lazy). I think you'll follow it far better than I did. Seemed really good, but I just couldn't devote my time and brain to it
crossdressingrodney - on 31 Jul 2017
In reply to jockster:

Looks interesting, thanks. I enjoyed Feynman's account of working at Los Alamos in I've of his biographies, but he only focused on the lighter stuff and never really addresses any of the more serious issues to do with building the bomb.
crossdressingrodney - on 31 Jul 2017
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Thank you. I have a student at school who's asking for references on the maths/physics of music, so I will pass this on to them and see what they make of it.
Blue Straggler - on 31 Jul 2017
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

You are welcome! I feel a bit daft recommending a book I have barely read. I just checked its availability on Amazon and it seems OK (there was a time when it was deleted and the only copies were 80 quid or so) - reviews mention some other books along similar lines so it may be worth reading around some reviews before picking this particular one, for your student.
crossdressingrodney - on 31 Jul 2017
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Well the more she reads, the better - and we have access to a good university library if it's hard to get hold of. If she recommends it, then I'll get hold of a copy!
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Jonny on 08 Aug 2017
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
The Fabric of Reality by David Deutsch is a fantastically deep book by a wonderful physicist and very original thinker. Not many numbers, but plenty of profound mathematical ideas.

Metamagical Themas, also by Doug Hofstadter, might interest you more than his other books (if you weren't into the cognitive side of GEB), although it's not nearly so epic. James Gleick's 'Chaos' is getting on a bit, but a fantastic presentation of a fascinating period. His biography of Feynman, 'Genius', is great too, as is The Information.

On a more purely physics front, I can also recommend John Barrow's books, and Lee Smolin if you're feeling speculative (Life of the Cosmos, for starters) - both on the cosmological side of physics, plenty on thermodynamics, less of QED, QCD and nuclear physics. Smolin has some interesting ideas on quantum gravity too, presented in other books, and gets deep into the mathematics, albeit in a largely equation free way.

In the end, though, GEB is something of a one-off. Try to get used to that idea. ;-)
Post edited at 02:05
SenzuBean - on 08 Aug 2017
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

I am a strange loop is another quality book by the same author. I really enjoyed this one.
Jonny on 08 Aug 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:
Yeah - written with deceptive clarity which belies its true depth. But undeniably more focused on the cognitive questions, after dealing with the philosophical foundations.
Post edited at 08:52

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