Currently reading

The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers
Ayn Rand, Tore Boeckmann, Leonard Peikoff
The Name of the Rose
Umberto Eco
David Mitchell
To the Lighthouse
Virginia Woolf
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Edward Gibbon, Daniel J. Boorstin, Gian Battista Piranesi, Hans-Friedrich Mueller
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Douglas R. Hofstadter
Perfect Wrong Note - Learning to Trust Your Musical Self
William Westney
The Prince
Niccolò Machiavelli
The Varieties of Religious Experience
William James
Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy
G. Lee Bowie, Robert C. Solomon

The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next

The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science and What Comes Next - Lee Smolin This is possibly the best physics book I've ever read. Most physics books acknowledge that there are certain unknowns such as dark matter or certain aspects of string theory, but they all cleverly hide the real, and somewhat desperate, situation with contemporary physics. It's rare to find someone in any field who is willing to say "despite appearances, we don't know really what's up." Smolin does exactly that. He argues that we are in the slowest period of innovation in physics of at least the last 100 years. String theory, super-symmetry, superstring theory, M theory and all related theories are far, very far, from being proven, disproven or even potentially provable by any known experiments. The Large Hadron Collider, which could possibly lend some actual evidence for super-string theory, hasn't done it yet, and more importantly, will never be able to take us much closer to knowing if string theory is anything more than elegant math. In fact, we can't conceive of any experiment that would. Yet crazily, despite it's tenuous position as a real scientific theory, string theory remains hugely influential and is often couched in the same language of consensus as other, much better proven theories. Smolin argues that if we can't make observations that could prove or disprove string theory or, at minimum, come close in either direction, and we've been working on it for over 25 years without any sign of a solution, it might be time to start looking elsewhere. It's tough to do that though since the theory is so entrenched in the elite corridors of academia. In other words, there are huge sociological barriers that must be crossed before physics can begin to be "healed." The Trouble With Physics is a rollercoaster. Smolin sets up string theory as a beautiful and elegant theory that seems so easy to accept, then, once you've started to really appreciate it, he systematically tears it down. The book feels honest, insightful and sincere. It has completely changed the way I think and read about not only physics, but any science where there is a consensus that lacks the characteristics of historically successful theories.