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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Free Science Ebooks for Your Kindle

Free is everybody's favorite word when it comes to ebooks. Yesterday, we looked at some free epic fantasy and swords & sorcery reads, but today it's about education, not entertainment (unless you're one of those true geeks who find education entertaining!). Let's check out some free science ebooks in the kindle store:

Yes, you can read Einstein on your kindle! Reviewers say...

This is the first book of I have read in which Einstein wrote directly rather than the many reiterations of his works. Sidelights on Relativity is a two part book of lectures in which he gave in 1920 and 1921. The first titled "Ether and the Theory of Relativity." Einstein explores the concepts given by Newton, Maxwell and Lorentz of the ether arguing the universe is not mechanical in nature. The other argument is the purely physical aspect in which the mechanical perspective seems to propose what is seen is that exists, and/or can be measured and proven to exist. That "space without ether is unthinkable," that is, the effects of spce/time gives credence to ethers existence just as "the undulatory surface forming the boundary between water and air alters the course of time." This, then, creates the contradiction. The second lecture is titled "Geometry and Experience" in which Einstein argues Euclidean geometry by noting the difference of experiencing and proposing laws of earth-measurement. He demonstrates this through the plane and the globe asking the reader to imagine the globe and a plane. While the plane is infinite in all directions, similarly one can fill the plane up infinately. This is not an all together accurate picture of our universe. Rather if we imagine a sphere and fill that up, we realize only a finite amount can fill up the space.

If you've been meaning to read Darwin, but just haven't gotten around to it yet, here's your chance to get his classic work for free.

Almost everyone has heard of this book. But, how many people have actually read it? If you haven't yet, it is well-worth reading.

Darwin spent over 20 years researching his ideas, preparing his arguments, and writing this book. He did a great job! "On the Origin" is surprisingly easy to understand. Just look at the beginning. Instead of trying to leap directly into his basic idea and premise, Darwin chooses to gradually lead the reader up to the basic idea of evolution by first point out how humans have caused evolution to occur in our domesticated animals (something very easy for all humans to see even in the 1850s). Darwin then goes on to point out some of the evidence that he and others had seen at that time that indicated that evolution had occurred. His leap in understanding the basic premise of evolution is amazing especially when you consider that he did not understand or have access to information about the basics of genetic passing of traits within species. 

CK-12 Biology I is a textbook for high school students covering cell biology, genetics, evolution, ecology, and physiology.

Biology is one of the fundamental scientific disciplines, and in terms of the impact on our everyday life it is perhaps one of the most important. It is also one of the scientific disciplines with the greatest amount of new research, and hardly a year passes without some new profound discovery being made. Sometimes even the experts are hard to keep up with all of the recent developments, and new and updated textbooks are published on a yearly basis. Unfortunately, the prices of new textbooks have been steadily increasing over the years, so it is incredibly refreshing to come across a well-organized free textbook that can be used in introductory biology classes.

This is by and large a very approachable and well presented introductory biology textbook. It is written with an advanced high school student or beginning college student in mind. Topics covered include foundational topics, chemical basis of life, cell structure and function, photosynthesis, cell division and reproduction, genetics, biotechnology, evolutionary theory, biological classification, ecology, human body, various tissues and organs, and many others. 

This starts with the ancient Chinese, then goes through the Chaldeans, Greeks, and Arabs, then Copernicus and others of the Renaissance, and lastly the 18th and 19th centuries. There are chapters about the telescope and other instruments, the sun, moon, planets and the stars.

The author does a good job of showing how astronomers used the findings of earlier astronomers to increase their own knowledge of the subject. It's amazing to read how much was known about astronomy in the past, and how accurate their findings were. It's also funny to read things which were thought to be true at the time when the book was written. Several people reported having seen a planet inside Mercury's orbit. One man thought Mars had artificially made canals with vegetation growing on their banks. There are lots more. Maybe in 100 years astronomers will be laughing at us for thinking that dark matter and dark energy exist.

CK-12 Life Science covers seven units: Understanding Living Things; Cells: The Building Blocks of Life; Genetics and Evolution; Prokaryotes, Protists, Fungi, and Plants; The Animal Kingdom; The Human Body; and Ecology.

This is by and large a very approachable and well presented introductory life science textbook, and it is written with a high school student or beginning college student in mind. Topics covered include scientific theories in general, the theory of evolution, tools of science, cells, genetics, prokaryotes, fungi, plants, invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, animal behavior, animal tissues, reproductive systems, ecosystems, and the environmental problems. 

These might not be the most scintillating science books on the planet, but there's a lot to be said for the free price tag. Enjoy!