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I heard about Yakov Perelman and his books. I just finished reading his two volumes of Physics for Entertainment. What a delightful read! What a splendid author. This is the exact book I've been searching for. I can use it to develop interest for science (math & physics) in my students.

His math books:

  1. Mathematics Can Be Fun
  2. Figures for Fun
  3. Arithmetic for entertainment
  4. Geometry for Entertainment
  5. Lively Mathematics
  6. Fun with Maths & Physics

His physics books:

  1. Physics for Entertainment (1913)
  2. Physics Everywhere
  3. Mechanics for entertainment
  4. Astronomy for entertainment
  5. Tricks and Amusements

I want to get all the above books. Because books from author like this cannot be disappointing. But unfortunately not all of them are available. :(

I also read another amazing book How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method by G. Polya. This books actually teaches you how to think.

In the similar lines if you have any book suggestions (with very practical problems & case studies) for physics & Math (Please don't differentiate between math & physics here. If I can develop interest in one of the subject he'll gain interest in other.) please contribute.

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Cross Post:… –  claws Nov 16 '10 at 9:26
Polya has a companion book to How to Solve It, called Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning (I am pretty sure there are more from him, as well). –  Tom Stephens Nov 16 '10 at 13:49
Alexander Soifer has written some good books of this kind, 'How Does One Cut a Triangle?' in particular. The list of publications on his site: –  Baudrillard Nov 16 '10 at 15:38
Also see:… –  claws Nov 23 '10 at 22:33
Check… –  vonbrand Feb 8 '13 at 20:53

3 Answers 3

I would like to add that books that cultivate interest and critical thinking do not have to be primarily about math (or physics). It is very important to offer young students a broad view of the culture of mathematics and science in general. To this end I recommend Feynman's Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, James Watson's The Double Helix, and P. Yourgrau's A World Without Time, The Forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein.

These books (and many others) offer a glimpse into the lives of some very prolific modern scientists. I am certain that you will find others that can be described this way, and your students will find them on their own, once they know what to look for.

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At the high school level, I like Thinking Physics by Lewis Carroll Epstein very much. It's entertaining and illustrated by cartoons, and it delves deeply into the right and wrong answers to basic physics problems. An example: Can you float a battleship in a bathtub?

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+1 Nice! This author also has a book named "Relativity Visualized"… –  claws Nov 16 '10 at 13:56

As a kid I really enjoyed The Mathematical Tourist by Ivars Peterson (at the time, the 1988 edition). The best part is that it gave just enough detail (for example, on how to compute a particular type of fractal) to inspire me to implement a computer program of my own to carry out the calculation or simulation. In this way it really was a good guidebook for my own mathematical/computational explorations.

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