Samuel Arbesman is an applied mathematician and network scientist. He is a senior scholar at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and author of the book ,The Half-life of Facts. His research and essays explore how to quantify all aspects of society.
Shane Parrish of farnamstreetblog asked this to Samuel Arbesman.
… Say I’ve anointed you as dictator. What five books would you make every adult read?
This certainly sounds like an intriguing dictatorship. Rather than focusing on my favorite books, I’ll try to limit this to five books that I think are important for thinking about science, knowledge, and society:
Little Science, Big Science by Derek J. de Solla Price — the foundation for a rigorous and quantitative approach for thinking about how science works.
Collected Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges — Interested in thinking about knowledge and infinity? The stories of Borges are essential reading.
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter — from computer science to how the mind works, this book will change how you think about the world of information.
Nonzero by Robert Wright — a wonderful exploration of how the world has become more complicated and better over time, improving each of our lives
The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan—Sagan’s examination of the complexity of the universe and his personal approach to religion as scientific awe
And an optional bonus book for my dictatorship:
How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown — captures the excitement and process of science. It’s also a great story.
For me all the titles look tempting. But if I have to make a choice, I will choose Nonzero to be the first to read. What about you?