100 books like Our Mathematical Universe

By Max Tegmark,

Here are 100 books that Our Mathematical Universe fans have personally recommended if you like Our Mathematical Universe. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present

J. Baird Callicott Author Of Greek Natural Philosophy: The Presocratics and Their Importance for Environmental Philosophy

From my list on how and why science began.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied Greek philosophy in college and graduate school and wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on Plato. In response to the environmental crisis, first widely recognized in the 1960s, I turned my philosophical attention to that contemporary challenge, which, with the advent of climate change, has by now proved to be humanity’s greatest. I taught the world’s first course in environmental ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1971 and, with a handful of other philosophers, helped build a literature in this new field over the course of the next decade—a literature that has subsequently grown exponentially. With Greek Natural Philosophy, I rekindled the romance with my first love. 

J.'s book list on how and why science began

J. Baird Callicott Why did J. love this book?

This book persuasively answers our question why science originated exactly when and where it did: the advent of a unique method of writing, the Greek alphabet, in the context of cosmopolitan democratic societies.

As a result, Greek culture underwent a transition from “orality” to “literacy.” And with that revolution in communications technology came a rewiring of human consciousness. Literacy fostered individual rather than community identity and abstract conceptual rather than concrete narrative thinking. These are the necessary conditions of science as opposed to myth.

Individual thinkers, liberated from the self-proclaimed divinely inspired myth makers, wrote down bold theories about the stuff, forces, and laws of nature, which were available to other individual thinkers not by word of mouth, but in stable visual form, thus inspiring them to formulate better theories. 

By Eric A. Havelock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Muse Learns to Write as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most original and penetrating thinkers in Greek studies describes the transformation from oral culture to literacy in classical times and reflects upon its continued meaning for us today.

"Fresh insights into the orality-literacy shift in human consciousness from one who has long been studying this shift in ancient Greece and has now brought his vast learning and reflections to bear on our own times. This book is for a wide audience and calls for thoroughly rethinking current views on language, thought, and society from classical scholarship through modern philosophy, anthropology, and poststructuralism."-Walter J. Ong

"All in all,…


Book cover of Greek Science in Antiquity

J. Baird Callicott Author Of Greek Natural Philosophy: The Presocratics and Their Importance for Environmental Philosophy

From my list on how and why science began.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied Greek philosophy in college and graduate school and wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on Plato. In response to the environmental crisis, first widely recognized in the 1960s, I turned my philosophical attention to that contemporary challenge, which, with the advent of climate change, has by now proved to be humanity’s greatest. I taught the world’s first course in environmental ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1971 and, with a handful of other philosophers, helped build a literature in this new field over the course of the next decade—a literature that has subsequently grown exponentially. With Greek Natural Philosophy, I rekindled the romance with my first love. 

J.'s book list on how and why science began

J. Baird Callicott Why did J. love this book?

A renowned historian of science, Clagett carries the story of Greek science forward all the way to the sixth century CE—a span of 1200 years. From that point in time, Greek science passed into the hands of Islamic scholars who advanced it further, especially the mathematical sciences.

This book is not, like ours, organized chronologically and developmentally but according to modern scientific domains—biology and medicine, mathematics, physics, and astronomy. And it focuses on specific scientific inquiries, while we focus on more general and fundamental things like ontology (what exists), cosmology (the overall structure of the universe), the laws of nature, and the drivers of change and motion.

This book is thus a complement to ours in its wide historical sweep and in what it highlights.

By Marshall Clagett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Greek Science in Antiquity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Greek Science in Antiquity is a comprehensive book written by Marshall Clagett that explores the scientific advancements made by ancient Greeks. The book covers a wide range of topics, including mathematics, astronomy, mechanics, and medicine, and provides a detailed account of the theories and discoveries made by Greek scientists from the 6th century BCE to the 5th century CE. The book begins by examining the early Greek philosophers and their contributions to the development of science, including Thales, Pythagoras, and Aristotle. It then delves into the mathematical achievements of the Greeks, such as the invention of geometry and the discovery…


Book cover of The Greek Concept of Nature

J. Baird Callicott Author Of Greek Natural Philosophy: The Presocratics and Their Importance for Environmental Philosophy

From my list on how and why science began.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied Greek philosophy in college and graduate school and wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on Plato. In response to the environmental crisis, first widely recognized in the 1960s, I turned my philosophical attention to that contemporary challenge, which, with the advent of climate change, has by now proved to be humanity’s greatest. I taught the world’s first course in environmental ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1971 and, with a handful of other philosophers, helped build a literature in this new field over the course of the next decade—a literature that has subsequently grown exponentially. With Greek Natural Philosophy, I rekindled the romance with my first love. 

J.'s book list on how and why science began

J. Baird Callicott Why did J. love this book?

According to the Bible the world was created by God. In Greek mythology, the world was born of Gaia (Earth) sired by Ouranos (Sky).

The Greek natural philosophers retained this assumption but demythologized it. Their word “phusis“ translates into English as “nature” (which is of Latin origin, itself originally meaning “birth”). The words “physics,” “physical,” “physician,” etc. are derivatives. As Nadaff explains, the primal meaning of “phusis“ is “growth” and the principal project of early Greek science was to explain the birth and growth of the cosmos.

Because humans and human society are worldly things, they are parts of nature and the order of nature is reflected in the human social order. But actually the human social order was projected onto nature. Thus, for example, do we speak of the “laws” of nature.

By Gerard Naddaf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Greek Concept of Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explores the origin and evolution of the Greek concept of nature up until the time of Plato.


Book cover of Timaeus

J. Baird Callicott Author Of Greek Natural Philosophy: The Presocratics and Their Importance for Environmental Philosophy

From my list on how and why science began.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied Greek philosophy in college and graduate school and wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on Plato. In response to the environmental crisis, first widely recognized in the 1960s, I turned my philosophical attention to that contemporary challenge, which, with the advent of climate change, has by now proved to be humanity’s greatest. I taught the world’s first course in environmental ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1971 and, with a handful of other philosophers, helped build a literature in this new field over the course of the next decade—a literature that has subsequently grown exponentially. With Greek Natural Philosophy, I rekindled the romance with my first love. 

J.'s book list on how and why science began

J. Baird Callicott Why did J. love this book?

A follower of Socrates, Plato is best known today for his moral and political philosophy. But, unlike Socrates, he was also deeply engaged in natural philosophy.

Plato, however, differed sharply from all the others: he contended that the cosmos was created by a divine craftsman as “a moving image of eternity.”  We treat Plato as a cryptic member of the Pythagorean School. And in Timaeus he expounds an ancient form of mathematical physics.

He correlates the four ancient elements—fire, earth, air, and water—with four of the five regular stereometric figures: the pyramid, cube, octahedron, and icosahedron, respectively. These constitute the mathematical—as opposed to material—atoms composing the four classical elements. And Plato correlates the fifth regular solid, the dodecahedron, with the form of the universe as a whole.

By Plato, Peter Kalkavage (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Timaeus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Both an ideal entrée for beginning readers and a solid text for scholars, the second edition of Peter Kalkavage's acclaimed translation of Plato's Timaeus brings enhanced accessibility to a rendering well known for its faithfulness to the original text.

An extensive essay offers insights into the reading of the work, the nature of Platonic dialogue, and the cultural background of the Timaeus. Appendices on music, astronomy, and geometry provide additional guidance. A brief outline of the themes of the work, a detailed glossary, and a selected bibliography are also included.


Book cover of A Brief History of Time

Eugene Terry Tatum Author Of Flat Space Cosmology: A New Model of the Universe Incorporating Astronomical Observations of Black Holes, Dark Energy and Dark Matter

From my list on science of universe (cosmology).

Why am I passionate about this?

My passionate scientific interest in cosmology began several decades ago as a Stanford student while moon-lighting as a cloud chamber photo scanner at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). An initial interest in particle physics merged with an interest in cosmology because the Big Bang theory is about both. Developing a unique cosmology model and collaborating with other cosmologists around the world was a natural extension. Following numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications, our book summarizing them was one, as well. Taking a passionate interest in anything and sharing it with others is an important first step!

Eugene's book list on science of universe (cosmology)

Eugene Terry Tatum Why did Eugene love this book?

I love Stephan Hawking’s A Brief History of Time because it was the first book that inspired me to become a cosmologist. It is a terrific overview of the science behind the modern belief in the Big Bang and what has followed.

It is told with Hawking’s wry sense of humor and unique ability to make complex concepts understandable to the layperson and budding scientist, which I was at the time. It is a fantastic start for my readers of all persuasions.

By Stephen Hawking,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Brief History of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in an internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world's greatest thinkers. It begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at the heart of space and time, from the Big Bang to black holes, via spiral galaxies and strong theory. To this day A Brief History of Time remains a staple of the scientific canon, and its succinct and…


Book cover of Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe

Dan Falk Author Of In Search of Time: The History, Physics, and Philosophy of Time

From my list on the universe for people who want the big picture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the universe since childhood – ever since my parents took me to the countryside in rural Nova Scotia, where the stars shone with wondrous intensity. At first, I borrowed books about space and the universe from our local library for fun; now, as a full-time science writer, I read these books to stay informed about the latest ideas shaping our understanding of the cosmos. (I also read them in order to review them on BookLab, a podcast I host together with science writer Amanda Gefter.) I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have!

Dan's book list on the universe for people who want the big picture

Dan Falk Why did Dan love this book?

This book covers a dizzying array of human thought: Greene’s trademark is physics, of course – but in this wildly ambitious work, the Columbia University physicist also dives into evolution, the origins of human culture, the origins of art and music and religion – even the puzzle of consciousness and the paradox of free will. He tackles the deepest of questions – including the problem of finding “meaning” in a universe governed only by the laws of physics. Be prepared to go slow. Your brain will get a workout – but it will be worth every minute of your time.

By Brian Greene,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Until the End of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the world-renowned physicist and bestselling author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, a captivating exploration of deep time and humanity's search for purpose

In both time and space, the cosmos is astoundingly vast, and yet is governed by simple, elegant, universal mathematical laws.

On this cosmic timeline, our human era is spectacular but fleeting. Someday, we know, we will all die. And, we know, so too will the universe itself.

Until the End of Time is Brian Greene's breathtaking new exploration of the cosmos and our quest to understand it. Greene takes us on a…


Book cover of Strange Matters: Undiscovered Ideas at the Frontiers of Space and Time

H Chris Ransford Author Of In Search of Ultimate Reality: Inside the Cosmologist's Abyss

From my list on weird thrilling science universe.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I felt profoundly dissatisfied by the pat and cardboard cutout explanations that some teachers offered for life and the universe: there had to be more! I decided to go into science. The explanatory power of science is 'next level,' to use a contemporary phrase, and unless and until we explore it, we'll miss the beauty and sheer wonder of the universe. Neither should we overly specialize: science is not compartmentalized, but vastly different fields of science feed into and reinforce one another. Popular science has an essential role to play: irrespective of how arcane hard science may appear to be, its story can always be told in everyday words.

H Chris' book list on weird thrilling science universe

H Chris Ransford Why did H Chris love this book?

This often startling book provides a tour d'horizon of unsettled questions in modern physical science and, most importantly, of the intriguing directions the answers could take. It should inspire many in the rising generations of students to take the baton from their elders and seek a career in science at the edges of human understanding. A book I so wish had already been around when I began studying physics.

Tom Siegfried is a distinguished science journalist. 

By Tom Siegfried,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strange Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Scientists studying the universe find strange things in two places?out in space and in their heads. This is the story of how the most imaginative physicists of our time perceive strange features of the universe in advance of the actual discoveries.

It is almost a given that physics and cosmology present us with some of the grandest mysteries of all. What weightier questions to ponder than, "How does the universe work?" or "What is the universe made of?" There are any number of bizarre phenomena that could provide clues or even answers to these queries. The strangeness ranges from unusual…


Book cover of The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality

Govert Schilling Author Of The Elephant in the Universe: Our Hundred-Year Search for Dark Matter

From my list on the mind-boggling mysteries of cosmology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was caught by the astronomy virus when I was 15 years old and had my first view of Saturn through a telescope. Ever since, I’ve enjoyed writing about everything cosmic for a wide variety of audiences. Cosmology is one of my favorite topics, it’s really the most enigmatic scientific discipline. Who knows, someday, a young, brilliant 21st-century genius will find the solution to all those riddles by formulating a whole new view of the birth and evolution of the universe. That’s my secret hope.

Govert's book list on the mind-boggling mysteries of cosmology

Govert Schilling Why did Govert love this book?

This is my favorite book about the discovery of dark energythe mysterious stuff that is currently speeding up the expansion of the universe.

It all started in 1998 when cosmologists presented their evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. I was completely stunned and puzzled. I already knew that most of the mass in the universe is in the form of mysterious dark matter, but now I had to acknowledge that the cosmos also contains a large amount of equally puzzling dark energy.

Richard Panek’s book helped me to get to grips with this new reality: the people, planets, stars, and galaxies that we know of constitute just a few percent of everything there is. Panek is a skilled writer; I thoroughly enjoyed how his book not only describes the science but also portrays the scientists.

By Richard Panek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 4 Percent Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Fascinating . . . One of the most important stories in the history of science.”— Washington Post

In recent years, a handful of scientists has been racing to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, and every star and planet. The rest is completely unknown.
Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this cosmos-shattering conclusion. In vivid detail, he narrates the quest to find the “dark” matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy that make up 96 percent of the…


Book cover of The Five Ages of the Universe: Inside the Physics of Eternity

Geraint F. Lewis Author Of A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos

From my list on the mysteries of the cosmos.

Why am I passionate about this?

With a PhD in astrophysics, cosmology is my day job. My research focuses upon the dark-side, the dark matter and energy that have shaped the evolution of the universe. My scientific journey began long ago with “How and Why Wonder Books”, from dinosaurs and evolution to astronomy and space exploration. I have always devoured tales about the fundamental universe, not only the immensity of the cosmos around us, but also the lives of the tiny bits-and-pieces from which matter is made. I still read a lot of popular science, especially on the history of life on Earth, and the future impact of Artificial Intelligence. 


Geraint's book list on the mysteries of the cosmos

Geraint F. Lewis Why did Geraint love this book?

What does tomorrow hold for the universe? Through this book, the authors step into the far future of the cosmos, starting from our universe today, lit with stars and galaxies, to a hundred trillion years hence when the last star has died. But at this point, the story has only just begun, and the authors continue to the distant time when matter will eventually melt, and black holes will evaporate into the background. Whilst some of the physics is speculative this is an exciting ride which reminds us, like everything, the universe is slowly and steadily winding down.

By Greg Laughlin, Fred Adams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Five Ages of the Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE FIVE AGES OF THE UNIVERSE is a riveting biography of the universe which describes for the first time five distinct eras that Adams and Laughlin themselves defined as a result of their own research. From the first gasp of inflation that caused the Big Bang, through the birth of stars, to the fading of all light, THE FIVE AGES OF THE UNIVERSE describes the death of our own sun, tremendous fiery supernovae explosions, dramatic collisions of galaxies, proton decay, the evaporation of black holes and the possibility of communications when there are no planets or stars or even black…


Book cover of The Little Book of Cosmology

Marcus Chown Author Of The Ascent of Gravity

From my list on physics and physicists.

Why am I passionate about this?

Formerly a radio astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Marcus Chown is a writer, journalist, and broadcaster. His popular books include 'The Ascent of Gravity' – The Sunday Times Science Book of the Year; Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand; Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You; and Solar System for iPad, winner of The Bookseller Digital Innovation of the Year.

Marcus' book list on physics and physicists

Marcus Chown Why did Marcus love this book?

The most striking thing about the night sky is that it is mostly black. But if your eyes, instead of seeing visible light, could see a type of invisible light known as microwaves, it would be white. The entire Universe is glowing with the “afterglow” of the big bang fireball. Greatly cooled by the expansion of the universe in the past 13.82 billion years, the “cosmic background radiation” now consists of low-energy radio waves, principally microwaves.

Imprinted on this radiation is a “baby photo” of the universe when it was a mere 400,000 years old and matter was beginning the long process of clumping under gravity that would culminate in galaxies such as our own Milky Way. From that photo can be extracted the numbers that define our Universe, from its age of 13.82 billion years to the fact that 70 percent of cosmic mass-energy is in the form of…

By Lyman Page,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Little Book of Cosmology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The cutting-edge science that is taking the measure of the universe

The Little Book of Cosmology provides a breathtaking look at our universe on the grandest scales imaginable. Written by one of the world's leading experimental cosmologists, this short but deeply insightful book describes what scientists are revealing through precise measurements of the faint thermal afterglow of the Big Bang-known as the cosmic microwave background, or CMB-and how their findings are transforming our view of the cosmos.

Blending the latest findings in cosmology with essential concepts from physics, Lyman Page first helps readers to grasp the sheer enormity of the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in cosmology, math, and physics?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about cosmology, math, and physics.

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