Physics of the Future: how Science will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku (2011) — author of Physics of the Impossible.
I must confess I did not end up reading the whole thing cover to cover. I started at the back with his conclusion, recognized his complete naivete of the real world, and excessive optimism due to (I assume) having been a gifted scientist and achieving high status without having ever had to be on food stamps or be a retail clerk. He was a co-founder of string theory, so that kind of says a lot by the fact that most people have heard of it, even if only because Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory used to research this aspect of theoretical physics.
This is a pretty readable book on mathematics because it takes a creative nonfiction point of view to illustrate some of the points. He approaches the development of mathematical equations and discoveries by telling the stories of the people who developed or discovered them. As an artist who once took advanced placement math, and really liked algebra, but was doomed by geometry to end that pursuit, I still appreciate the mathematics of beauty and how beautiful mathematics, or elegant equations would stir the sample visual pleasure and the belief that if something is awkward and tough to fit into an equation, it must not be the right equation.
Since I have not done algebra for decades and have only read about physics, some of my understanding of both is very amateur, but this book helped me understand why various things mattered and how they interconnect, and how mathematics is a crucial tool for the world.
Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, and the Bomb, by David C. Cassidy, 2009
back jacket text:
“An excellent follow up on Cassidy’s earlier masterwork, Uncertainty. Cassidy offers deep insight into Heisenberg’s role as a principal founder of quantum mechanics and as the leading German physicist during the WWII years in the quest for atomic energy and weapons. A valuable book, intended for a broad audience of enlightened readers without technical background. I recommend it also for the insights it offers to today’s domestic and international challenges.”
– Benjamin Bederson, Physics Professor Emeritus, NYU, and Manhattan Project member.
Time Bomb: The race between two geniuses to create the one weapon that will decide World War II, by Malcolm C. MacPherson, 1986
Enrico Fermi and Werner Heisenberg, proteges of Nils Bohr, both won Noble Prizes in physics when young men. Fermi fled to USA, Heisenberg stayed in Nazi Germany.
Really good book. Reads like a suspense story. Available used on Amazon.