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Top 10 books of 2011

14 Dec 2011

Which of the books reviewed in Physics World this year stands head and shoulders above the rest? In this podcast, James Dacey reveals the magazine’s list of the year’s top 10 popular-physics books, with help from Matin Durrani and Margaret Harris – plus a special guest appearance by the author of our 2011 Book of the Year


You will hear a little about each of our top 10 books in the podcast, including a short explanation of why we liked them so much. There are a few detours as well, as the three of us seize opportunities to discuss bad physics in films, Richard Feynman’s legacy and the unusual career of one of Stephen Hawking’s postdocs. You will also find out which very well-publicized physics book did not make our list (and why!).

Our selections (see below for a full list) include books on condensed matter, biophysics, astrophysics and astronomy, as well as science history and policy. Regardless of their subject matter, though, all of the choices are well written, scientifically interesting and novel – and we think this year’s winner is a worthy successor to The Strangest Man and The Edge of Physics, which scooped our number-one honours in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

We hope you enjoy hearing about these books as much as we enjoyed reading them. Look out for more books podcasts in 2012!

2011 Books of the Year – alphabetical by author

Engineering Animals Mark Denny and Alan McFadzean

Measure of the Earth: the Enlightenment Expedition that Reshaped the World Larrie Ferreiro

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos Brian Greene

Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, Scientists and Cinema David Kirby

Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science Lawrence Krauss

Rising Force: the Magic of Magnetic Levitation James Livingston

Modernist Cuisine Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet

The 4% Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality Richard Panek

Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout Lauren Redniss

Hindsight and Popular Astronomy Alan Whiting


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