Here I maintain a list of physics books, documents, blogs, and lectures I read / watch or that I have put on the (virtual) bedside table.
The collection is not some carefully crafted, balanced list - I am not searching for resources to add them here but I add what is interesting to me as a professional or a dilettante science blogger. I apologize for the mixture of German and English resources, and the structure is always work in progress.
This list had been formerly curated on my blog, on a page called Physics Books on the Bedside Table. I decided to migrate these links over here as in 2014 I had started to curate all my tech / science links on radices.net.
Popular Science Books 'enthusiastic'
- The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll
- Knocking On Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate our Universe by Lisa Randall
- Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions by Lisa Randall
- The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking
Popular Science Books 'critical' (Note: This is not 'Alternative science')
- The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin.
- Farewell to Reality: How Fairytale Physics Betrays the Search for Scientific Truth by Jim Baggott. See a review on wavewatching.net here.
History of Science and Biographies of Physicists
- The Strangest Man, a biography of Paul Dirac by Graham Farmelo. See also the review by Peter Coles.
- carnotcycle – the classical blog on thermodynamics, by Peter Mander.
- Physics on the Fringe by Margaret Wertheim. I blogged about his book here.
- Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick.
- Isaac Newton by James Gleick
- Einstein: A Biography by Jürgen Neffe
- Inside The Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Ray Monk
Quantum Physics, Quantum (Field) Theory
Oersted Medal Lecture 2002: Reforming the Mathematical Language of Physics, as recommended here. Actually, this is about all of physics and how more powerful, concise, and elegant Geometrical Algebra would do away with concepts that just appear tacked on – as there is an underlying hidden structure. It is useful in classical physics but especially to understand the seemingly weird world of the complex wave function.
- Lectures on Quantum Field Theory by David Tong. Videos of his lectures delivered at Perimeter Institute can be found here (different formats available). These lectures were my starting point for (re-)learning QFT having been exposed to mainly condensed-matter-related and non-relativistic quantum statistics and 'second quantization' 20 years ago.
- Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell, a concise textbook by Anthony Zee. David Tong highly recommends this book, saying tongue-in-cheek: He lies to you all the time, but in a good way. It is not an easy read because the presentation of the material is quite condensed. You have to fill a lot of intermediate steps in derivations. On the other hand this makes it a great book for serious self-study. It shows that Zee is a gifted writer of popular science books as well as his conceptual overviews are spot-on and very helpful for tackling the hard stuff.
- I trust Graham Farmelo on this and put Stephen Weinberg's book on my To-read-list.
- Student Friendly Quantum Fielf Theory by Robert D. Klauber. Klauber describes and writes out details in derivations, avoids all references to so-called trivial, obvious and easy steps, and he refers to his own learning QFT often. The book seems to have been written from the learner's perspective – he often anticipates those typical baffled student's questions and answers them before you dared to ask it. More praise in this post of mine.
- A lecture on Quantum Field Theory in German, by Gerhard Soff. I like these lecture notes because topics are reviewed from different angles (such as: canonical quantization versus path integrals) and the derivations are done in detail for all the different options.
- The Fun is Real. Blog author Warren Huelsnitz definitely meets his goal: to sort through the myths and misconceptions, and the excessive and misleading hype, associated with quantum physics.
- An Island In Theoryspace – an awesome blog by Jaques Pienaar on physics (mainly of the quantum variety) and sometimes also on its interface with philosophy.
Quantum Computing and Quantum Cryptography
The first field that rekindled by excitement for physics in about 2003, having worked in IT already for some years.
- wavewatching.net. A blog written by a physicist and IT consultant who tries to separate fact from VC fiction and to predict what impact quantum computing will have on corporate IT.
- Lecture notes on General Relativity by Sean Carroll plus his No-nonsense summary on GRT.
- Special and General Relativity – a German textbook by N. Dragon that covers it all. Amazing what kind of material is available for free! Using an unsual way to present Special Relativity (German) – I learned from physicspages.com that this is called k calculus.
Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics
Fascinating water, water vapor, and ice
- Mpemba effect from a viewpoint of an experimental physical chemist, the winning paper in this contest.
- Lecture on the 2nd law and thermodynamics – a summary of what has happened since Boltzmann.
- A lecture on Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics in German, by Michael Potthoff. I searched for lecture slides rather than notes in order to use them as quick “refresher” on the subject. These slides are excellent because very concise but still complete.
Classics: Basics and fundamentals – books and blogs that cover all of physics
- The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Vol. 1 is available online since September 2013!
- The 6 volumes my former professor in Theoretical Physics has written: Wilhelm Macke, who was Heisenberg's PhD student: Ein Lehrbuch der Theoretischen Physik: Teilchen – Felder – Wellen – Quanten – Thermodynamik und statistische Mechanik – Quanten und Relativität (Basically: Mechanics – electrodynamics – fields – thermodynamics and QFT). I was more than happy to discover that so many second book shops are now selling used books over the internet – and that Prof. Macke's books are still available as they have been out of stock when I was a student.
- The German physics text books I used in high school (last 4 years) by Josef Schreiner. I am still in awe of the way Schreiner was capable of tailoring all of classical and modern physics to high school students – incl. quantum mechanics and relativity at a rather advanced, but still accessible level.
It is very interesting to compare Feynman's and Macke's books – they have been published at about the same time and might serve as good examples for both excellent, but different ways to describe physics from scratch – 'American' versus 'German'.
- A very detailed blog – physicspages.com – Physics Tutorials with lots of examples, introductions and the author's solutions to text book problems.
- Scientific Finger Food: Sebastian Templ achieves his goal – quote from his About page: “I give my best to break it down into simple language. In doing so, I hope that I can serve you some pieces of physics, which I like to think of as being clear to me, in 'delicious and manageable bites' “.
- motionmountain.net: Six volumes on physics, written by a physicist who works as an innovation manager. Probably the most professional hobby / moonlighting physics project I have come across.
Classical (point particle) mechanics
- The physics of rotation by Cleon Teunissen. Classical mechanics at its best, see for example: Gyroscope Physics.