We always imagine that there is a difference between a specialization and a hobby, as specialists in a field usually pay attention mainly to academic matters, while amateurs pay attention to books that simplify science, but this is not often true, as some specialists in precise scientific fields are also They are enthusiasts of these sciences, and usually follow the latest and most important publications in these areas.
That is why we decided in “For Science” to turn to some of these specialists to talk about the most prominent public books that affected their scientific culture. The first to respond to us and welcomed the idea was Dr. Moataz Imam, Professor of Physics at State University of New York Cortland, and visiting professor at Zewail City of Science and Technology.
Diving into the depths of the universe
Imam is particularly interested in science communication activities and disproving pseudoscientific myths through social media, and already has a published simplified book titled “Are we there yet. The search for a theory of everything”, in which he is interested in introducing the non-specialist reader to the latest developments in the field The theory of “everything”, which in its entirety represents the attempts of physicists to build a new theory of modern physics that combines the contradictions of the theory of relativity and the rules of quantum mechanics.
“Imam” begins his conversation with “For Science” by recommending a book that he considers – as he put it – “one of the best books dealing with the subject of particle physics”, which is the book “The first three minutes” by the famous American physicist, Stephen Weinberg, He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1979, jointly with the two scientists, Muhammad Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashaw.
As it appears from the title, this book (issued in 1977) is concerned with presenting the first three minutes of the universe’s life since the moment of the Big Bang. In order to understand what happened during it, and it really affected the whole future of the universe that followed these three minutes right up to the present moment.
In addition to this book, “Imam” suggests in his talk to “Al-Ilm” one of the masterpieces of Isaac Asimov, a Russian-born American writer who specialized mainly in biochemistry. In his book “Atom,” he provides a very simple detail of the long history of this concept. The scientific that began with the philosopher Democritus dealing with him more than two thousand and five hundred years ago, then to Newtonian physics (after the famous scientist Isaac Newton), and then through the achievements of quantum mechanics, until the eighties of the last century.
Another scientist who won a Nobel, “Imam” was keen to talk about his books, the American physicist Kip Thorne, and his book “Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy.” Thorne was also the scientific advisor to one The most captivating science fiction movie of this century is “Interstellar”.
Introducing black holes—perhaps the most interesting physics topic to the lay reader around the world—Thorne not only presents what black holes mean, their genesis, structure, fate, and the secret of their central importance in contemporary cosmology, but is primarily concerned with presenting This concept developed from the time of Newton two hundred years ago, all the way to the nineties of the last century.
Finally, Imam puts forward a proposal for a book on a theory still in the making, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian. Green, a well-known American physicist, added that a documentary of the same name is available online and translated into Arabic on the YouTube video platform.
“The Elegant Universe” is a huge book, beginning with a detailed introduction to relativity and quantum mechanics, then moving on to the history of string theory, and then to its basics, and how it looks at time and space, before addressing superstring theory, and at the end of the book deals with the expected effects in The future For all the foregoing developments in physics, “Imam” explains that this theory is still not proven in the laboratory, and therefore the reader should be careful in what he derives from this book, noting that “books simplifying science do not dispense with detailed study if the reader wants an understanding deeper into these issues.
The origins of the wonderful diversity of this world
Hisham Salam, assistant professor at the Institute of Global Health and Human Environment (I-GHHE) at the American University in Cairo College of Science and Engineering and founder of the Center for Vertebrate Paleontology at Mansoura University, was our second Egyptian scholar to respond to book nominations for a general audience of readers.
“Salam” drew attention several years ago locally and globally by discovering the dinosaur “Mansourosaurus” in the Egyptian Western Desert, and since then he has continued – with his research team – to reveal the secrets of the Egyptian land and the creatures that lived on its surface tens of millions of years ago, and “Salam” is one of the Professionals active on social media; It reviews scientific facts and research achievements in the field of evolutionary biology.
Salam begins his suggestions with one of the translated books on evolutionary biology into Arabic, Why Evolution Really? From diverse scientific evidence validated by the scientific community on evolution, by reviewing the results of a flood of recent discoveries in the fossil record from many regions around the world, and also by linking recent evidence from genetics, anatomy, and molecular biology together.
Salam explains that this book is “suitable for a wide range of readers, and anyone with an open mind and an impartial search for scientific facts will find a safe haven away from the whirlpools of pseudoscience,” adding that the book also exposes some misconceptions about evolution for the purpose of correcting them. .
To form a comprehensive and historical scientific idea of evolutionary biology, Salam suggests the book “The Princeton Guide to Evolution”, which includes contributions from senior researchers in several fields related to this science, such as genealogy, genetics, life history, selection, adaptation, evolutionary processes, genes, genomes, phenotypes and the evolution of behavior. society and humans.
The previous book differs slightly from the Science simplification books, as it is somewhat advanced, and Salam nominates it for the category of “Undergraduates, Graduates, Scientists in Related Fields, and Anyone else with sufficient and serious scientific education related to development.”
At the conclusion of his interview with “For Science”, “Salam” says: “Personally, and by the nature of my work in the research and academic field, I tend to rely on scientific research published in scientifically sound periodicals, and there are many books whose chapters are interspersed with scientific research subject to review and scrutiny.” In this context, he nominates A Search for Origins book. This book presents the journey of the famous American scientist Elon Simon, who spent more than half a century documenting the origins of mammalian ancestors in the Fayyum region in Egypt. The book is more complex than its predecessors, according to Salam: “I admit that the standard of the book is not suitable for a general audience, but it remains an important source of real science.”
Intelligence, brain and other things
The third response was to Dr. Muhammad Medhat Ali, associate professor of biomedical sciences and researcher at Ohio State University and Zewail University of Science and Technology; Besides his research interests, he is an active member on social media to pursue his two passions, music and running, and often gives advice related to the latter.
“Ali” begins his suggestions with a book “On Intelligence” by the American computer scientist Jeff Hawkins, in which the author – in the words of “Ali” – “reshapes our relationship with computers, where the expected revolution in both neuroscience and computing is in one fell swoop, Through a new understanding of the concept of intelligence.
In this book, “Hawkins” presents a coherent theory that explains how the human brain works, from which he sets out to answer an important question in the domain between computing sciences, neurosciences and philosophy: Why are computers unintelligent? Then it answers the most important question: How can we one day build smart computers?
The writer believes that the brain is not a computer in the understandable sense, but rather a memory system that stores experiences and makes predictions about this world based on them, suggesting that the system that builds these predictions represents the basis of human intelligence, perception, creativity and awareness.
Ali also suggests the book “The Secret of Talent: It’s Not Born, It’s Developed, and How Does It Happen?” (The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How), in which New York Times best-selling journalist and author Daniel Coyle explores the latest technologies from brain science in order to learn where talent comes from, how it grows, and how we can To make ourselves smarter?!”, according to Ali’s expression in his statement to Al-Alam.
The book is distinguished by providing practical advice that you can implement in your life, and it is presented to almost all groups, from parents, teachers, coaches, entrepreneurs and anyone else, the author relies on advanced neuroscience and research that collected its results on trips to nine hotspots of talent in the world, to reach In the end, there are three basic elements that allow a person to develop his talents, the first relates to how to perform tasks, the second is how to develop enthusiasm and passion, and the third is about the most effective teachers and trainers.
As for his third nomination, “Ali” moves away a little from the domains of neuroscience, and presents an excellent mixture that combines futurology and physics, which is the book “Physics of the Impossible” by Michio Kaku, the widely known American physicist, who presented many documentaries. .
In his statement to Al-Alam, Ali said: “Just like lasers, televisions, and smartphones that people who lived 100 years ago considered impossible, the famous physicist Michio Kaku explores the extent to which science fiction technologies and devices that are considered impossible today can become commonplace. In the future”.
In this book, Kaku divides the impossible into three types. The first is techniques that are impossible today, but do not violate the known laws of physics, and therefore we can see them achieved within a century or two. As for the impossibilities of the second type, they are those technologies that lie on the edge of our understanding of the material world, Like time travel, and therefore it is expected that you will see it within several thousand years, as for the impossibilities of the third type, they are techniques that violate the known laws of physics, but we can one day in the very distant future develop different physics to achieve them, such as perpetual motion machines, the book in its entirety collects Between sober science and brilliant imagination.
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