Top astronomy reading this year

Best-of-the-year lists are de rigueur as the turn of the calendar approaches, and Physics World is out with bunch of them, including the best photos, videos, and breakthroughs of 2011. Our favorite, though, is the website’s list of the top physics books of the year.

Here’s the list:

  1. Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science by Lawrence M. Krauss
  2. The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality by Richard Panek
  3. Hindsight and Popular Astronomy by Alan B. Whiting
  4. Engineering Animals: How Life Works by Mark Denny and Alan McFadzean
  5. Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss
  6. Measure of the Earth: The Enlightenment Expedition That Reshaped Our World by Larrie D. Ferreiro
  7. Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet
  8. Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, Scientists, and Cinema by David Kirby
  9. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
  10. Rising Force: The Magic of Magnetic Levitation by James Livingston

Modernist Cuisine, by the way, is a bargain on Amazon.com at $449.12; that’s a savings of $175.88! It’s six volumes and some 2,400 pages.

Hindsight and Popular Astronomy
Seattle Astronomy has reviewed three of the volumes on the list: those by Panek, Whiting, and Greene. We received something of a shoutout on Through the Clouds, a Google group supported by the Seattle Astronomical Society, because of our ability to sniff out the good books. In reality, it was just luck. All three authors did speaking engagements in Seattle this year, creating easy opportunities to talk about, write about, and sell books. Check out our reviews of Hindsight and Popular Astronomy, of The 4 Percent Universe, and of The Hidden Reality. We get many opportunities to hear from Whiting, who is, in fact, a member of the Seattle Astronomical Society and did a talk there last week about variable stars. (Sadly, we had to be absent.) Whiting has been in the midst of an explanation of antimatter on the forum in recent weeks.

Thanks to Physics World for the list. We reckon all of the books make good reading.

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