Physics World celebrates the best of this year’s books

29 Nov 2012 iopp"> iopp

This month’s Physics World boasts a bumper books section, providing a useful resource for those on the lookout for stocking fillers this Christmas. Five books are reviewed in depth and another five are given shorter reviews in the regular “Between the lines” section of the magazine.

Three of the books reviewed – The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation, Life’s Ratchet: How Molecular Machines Extract Order from Chaos and The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters – also appear in Physics World’s top 10 books of the year and will compete to be the overall Book of the Year 2012, which will be announced in mid-December.

The shortlist, revealed today, 29 November, on the Physics World blog, recognizes “well-written, scientifically interesting and novel” pieces based on physics and related disciplines that have been reviewed in the magazine throughout 2012.

As well as the three books reviewed in December’s issue, the shortlist includes David Kaiser’s account of how a group of “hippies” helped revive physics in the 1970s; a sequel from Chad Orzel, this time explaining how to teach relativity to your dog; and Joel Achenbach’s book about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

George Szpiro’s colourful history of how physicists got into the financial industry is also included, as is John Gribbin’s biography of Erwin Schrödinger, which skilfully combines Schrödinger’s contributions to quantum mechanics with tales of his often complicated personal life and his legacy for modern scientists.

Here is the shortlist in full:
· A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea: The Race to Kill the BP Oil Gusher by Joel Achenbach
· The Science Magpie: A Hoard of Fascinating Facts by Simon Flynn
· The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner
· Erwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution by John Gribbin
· The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters by Mark Henderson
· Life’s Ratchet: How Molecular Machines Extract Order from Chaos by Peter Hoffmann
· How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture and the Quantum Revival by David Kaiser
· How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog by Chad Orzel
· Pricing the Future: Finance, Physics and the 300-Year Journey to the Black-Scholes Equation by George Szpiro
· Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything by Margaret Wertheim.

The winner of Physics World’s Book of the Year 2012 will be announced in a special podcast on Tuesday 18 December.