Imagine the Universe!

Ed's Reading Recommendations

Book Recommendations

  • "Moments of Vision: The Stroboscopic Revolution in Photography" The Stroboscopic Revolution in Photography" by Harold E. Edgerton and James R. Killian (MIT press, Cambridge, MA 1979) - I received a copy of this book as a prize for a photo contest at the Science Museum of Minnesota while in high school. The author, Harold Edgerton (, was the guy who invented the electronic flash used in photography. His innovation revolutionized scientific, portrait, and sports. A nice example of a photo he's very famous for ( that's in a lot of science books. You have a playing card and a bullet going through it. If you enjoy art, there are at least a half dozen photos that you'd see and say "I've seen that photo before," because they're iconic images by Professor Edgerton.

  • "Mathematics: A Human Endeavor" by Harold R. Jacobs (W.H. Freeman and Company, New York, 1970) - A wonderful middle school math textbook. It contains a wonderful collection of cartoons and graphs and things. If you enjoy visual thinking, you will enjoy this book, even if you (believe you) do not like mathematics. Mathematics is the language of science - it can take a little effort to learn - it is deeply linked to patterns and symmetry.

  • "Tales About Metals" by S. Venetsky (Mir Publishers, Moscow, 1978) - I'd recommend reading this to kids around age six to twelve. It's a history of the discovery of various metals. It has interesting pictures, and talks about what they're used for. It's a children's book, but as an adult, I still enjoy it.

  • "Fire of Genius - Inventors of the Past Century: Based on the Files of Popular Science Monthly Since Its Founding in 1872" by Ernest Victor Heyn (Anchor Press/Doubleday, New York, 1976). When I first read this, I remember being fascinated. It's comprised of short write-ups about the inventions - from the light bulb to the sewing machine and hundreds of others. This is definitely worth finding and reading.

More Suggested Reading

  • Edwin Abbott Abbott, "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions", 1952, Dover Publications, New York.

  • W.A. Bentley and W.J. Humphreys, "Snow Crystals", 1962, Dover Press, New York.

  • C.V. Boys, "Soap Bubbles and the Forces which Mould Them," 1959, Doubleday Anchor Books, New York.

  • Betty Edwards, "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence", 1979, J.P. Tarcher, Los Angeles, CA.

  • George R. Frost, "From Sun to Sound", 1961, Waverly Press, Baltimore, MD.

  • Brian Green, "Icarus at the Edge of Time" 2008, Random House, New York. (This is a wonderful boardbook retelling the ancient Icarus myth. It can be a useful tool in bringing black holes and their implications to motivated middle school aged youth.)

  • Douglas R. Hofstadter, "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid", 1979, Random House, New York.

  • Philip Morrison and Phyllis Morrison, "Powers of Ten: About the Relative Size of Things in the Universe", 1982, Scientific American Press, New York.

  • Henry Petroski , "The Evolution of Useful Things", 1992, Vintage Books, NY.

  • Mario Salvadori, "Why Buildings Stand Up: The Strength of Architecture," 1980, WW Norton and Company; Matthys Levy and Mario Salvadori, "Why Buildings Fall Down", 1992, WW Norton and Company.

  • Catherine Thimmesh, "Girls Think of Everything - Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women", 2000, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.

  • B.N. Ivanov, "Fundamentals of Physics", 1986, Mir Publishers, Moscow. (Interesting bit to ponder regarding the invention of the airplane, "...a heavy steam engine installed on the aeroplane constructed by marine Mozhaiskii (1881 Russia) did not allow it to take off. Wilbur and Orville Wright (1903 USA), who were bicycle mechanics, used a much lighter and more efficient internal combustion engine, made by them, and a catapult for take off. They made a series of flights lasting for half an hour each..." Having all the elements in hand to realize an innovation can be just as important as the underlying idea. Champion and believe your ideas, however, be willing to set them aside until things can come together in a natural way. It is interesting to note that "failures" and the lessons learned can be recycled later if and when the need they satisfy is encountered. Carefully observe and keep an open mind - take good notes, read widely, and know and attribute prior art - in time the necessary connections will come together.)

  • R.P. Feynman, R.B. Leighton, M. Sands, "The Feynman Lecture Series on Physics", 1963, Addison-Wesley Publishing, Reading MA.

  • Publication Date: January, 2011

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Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

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