Whether you’ve already completed your summer reading list, need some inspiration to get started, or just want to add a few more books to the list, we’ve got some thought-provoking reads for you to consider. Here are a few books written by alumni of the Society for Science Research Competition and some recommendations from alumni to help you think of useful summer additions.
The alignment problem
Brian Christian, WW Norton & CompMr
Scientific literature | Maggie Grasek, STS 2022 graduate recommends “The Alignment Problem” by Brian Christian. “If you’re interested in artificial intelligence,” Magee says, this book “is a good entry-level exploration of the biases behind machine learning.” The author explores the impact of algorithms and artificial intelligence on human life and what it means for the future.
Weaving Sweetgrass: Local Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
By Robin Wall Kimmerer, Milkweed Editions
Scientific literature, philosophy Chinmai Balusu, a 2019 ISEF alumna, reads “Weaving Sweetgrass: Native Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and Plant Teachings” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. “It is an eye-opening reflection on the influence of heritage on the identity of scientists and a redefinition of science from a cultural perspective,” says Chinmayi. In that New York Times A bestseller, Robin, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, embraces the idea that “plants and animals are our oldest teachers,” offering us lessons and gifts.
Basics: Ten Keys to Reality
By Frank Wilczek, Penguin Publishing Group
Scientific literature, Physics| Frank Wilczek, graduate of STS 1967, is the author of Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality, published in January 2022. The Nobel laureate guides readers through fundamental concepts that help us understand the world and how it works, exploring the ideas of time, space, matter and energy. Review by The Washington Post states, “In this age of growing skepticism, he wants his readers—whom he envisions as lawyers, doctors, artists, parents, or simply curious people—to be ‘born again, in the way of science.'”
By Louis Perdue, Independently published
Thriller| Louis Perdue, an ISEF 1966 graduate, is the author of the recently published sci-fi thriller Hellhound. Lewis explains, “The book delves into theories about the quantum basis of consciousness, such as that espoused by Nobel laureate Roger Penrose, and the possible connection to the origins of good and evil.” Lewis examines government documents that deal with an alleged secret military drug designed to “deprive soldiers of empathy and fear, turning them into ruthless killers.”
The last question
Isaac Asimov, Columbia Publications
Science Fiction | Flora Freer, a Broadcom MASTERS 2020 and 2021 graduate, recommends the short story “The Last Question” by Isaac Asimov. A much-loved favorite of sci-fi fans around the world, Flora says, “This was a really good short story involving a universe taken over by entropy.” The author questions the fate of the universe and ultimately what will happen to the human race.
Losing the Nobel Prize
Brian Keating, WW Norton & Company
Scientific literature| Maximilian Dortzweiler, an ISEF 2022 graduate, recommends The Loss of the Nobel Prize by Brian Keating. Maximilian says it is “a book worth reading for scholars, especially aspiring ones. After reading this book, you really feel like you’ve grown as a scientist, with a healthier perspective and the right guidelines in your toolbox.” Review by Scientific news says, “Losing the Nobel Prize dissects the fallible humanity of science but cuts through the ugly details with beauty… Charming and clever, Losing the Nobel Prize jumps between clear explanations of minor science, accounts of personal relationships, and history lessons.
By Maya Sharma, Olympia Publishing House
Scientific literature, Biography | Maya Sharma, an STS 2022 graduate, is the author of Paving, published in 2021. She interviewed 25 women leaders around the world, including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Nobel laureate Ada Yonat. “Paving” discusses the challenges women face in the modern world and draws valuable insights from their remarkable minds.
To make fun of a mockingbird
By Raymond Smolyan, Oxford University Press
Logic Puzzle | Jonathan Shafter, a 1993 STS graduate, reads “To Mock a Mockingbird” by Raymond Smolyan. “A really fun logic puzzle book where you end up constructing and exploring combinatorial logic,” shares Jonathan. Aiming to attract readers of all ages, the author combines a collection of puzzles with a choose-your-own-adventure-style plot, introducing readers to the puzzles commonly found in computer science and artificial intelligence.
The words that made us
By Akhil Reed Amar, Basic books
History | Ethan Chiu, an STS 2022 graduate, reads The Words That Made Us by Achille Reed Amar. “It’s a fascinating dive into the U.S. Constitution and the people and ideas that built the United States,” Eaton shares. Published in 2021, the author assesses the early constitutional questions Americans faced during the formation of the United States and the answers they offer in a vivid account that blends history and law.
Are you one of the alumni of the Society? Think you should be on a reading list? Reach out and let us know!