Monday, March 29, 2010

Influential Books

A current meme in the blogosphere is that people post a list of most influential books [1].  I thought I'd join the parade.


Elements of Chemical Reactor Engineering (2nd edition, 1986) by H.S. Fogler
I thought this was the best-written engineering textbook I used during my undergrad years, and this book (along with the excellent professor I had for Reaction Engineering) inspired my choice for graduate school.  This book influenced me in another way: my father co-wrote some of the chapters, and the resulting royalties helped pay my undergrad tuition.  (When in graduate school, I decided to go into rheology, based on the choices that were available at Northwestern at the time.)

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by R.Pirsig
One of my first encounters with the philosophy of science.  I particularly enjoyed Pirsig's take on hypothesis creation and his discussions of the concept of Quality.


Theory of Polymer Dynamics by M. Doi & S.F. Edwards
Constitutive Equations for Polymer Melts and Solutions by R.G. Larson
I wrote a thesis on analysis of polymer constitutive equations.  The research by these three gentlemen guided my path.

Dynamics of Polymeric Liquids: Volume 1 by R.B. Bird, R.C. Armstrong & O. Hassager
The best graduate-level textbook I used; it was a fantastic introduction to polymer fluid behavior.

Viscoelastic Properties of Polymers by J.D. Ferry
Not just a discussion of polymeric properties, but an introduction to rheological measurements and their interpretation.

Getting What You Came For by R.L. Peters
A how-to guide to graduate school.  Some of the technological systems suggested are out-of-date, but the basic advice here still holds.


The Rheology Handbook by T.G. Mezger
Herr Mezger was a colleague of mine while I was at Anton Paar, and he wrote this introduction to rheological measurements.  I think this is the best basic rheology book on the market.

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by R. Rhodes
Not just the story of the Manhattan Project, but a great history of the experimental and theoretical work done on the atom at the beginning of the 20th Century.  If I were doing any teaching of chemistry or physics, I'd find a way to include this book in the class.  It's a geat summary of how people went about performing basic research.  It's a complete history, so it also discusses the effects of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by J. Diamond
A historical inquiry that asks the question why certain parts of the world have advanced technologically while others have remained static.  Diamond's thesis is that certain areas were advantaged by access to plants and animals that could be domesticated.  Once domestication took place, societies were able to develop, and technological innovation followed.

[1]     This list is amusing, as it has Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, and ... Spider-Man!  In this post, the Spider-Man writer thanks the blog author for being favorably compared to Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

1 comment:

  1. Two books that I have found extremely useful in my career have been
    1) "The Physics and Chemistry of Color - The 15 Causes of Color" byu Kurt Nassau. The subtitle pretty much says it all. There are 15 ways to generate color and he hits them all. I'd say that the book is written at a college junior/senior level, but my son who is a freshman recently picked it up and was still able to gain great insights.

    2) "Thermodynamics" by H.B. Callen. This is a great book but it is not for somebody who is new to thermo. Not because it is advanced, but because it has a unique, axiomatic approach to the subject. It suddenly opens up a huge new viewpoint.