conway
Gosper glider gun from Conway’s Game of Life / "I think when I find the code that generates our world, it will be about six lines." ~ Stephen Wolfram

Books

GENERATIVE GENOMICS

The Recursive Universe: Cosmic Complexity and the Limits of Scientific Knowledge
, by William Poundstone

Looks at the development of cellular automata and John Conway’s Game of Life.

 

A New Kind of Science
, by Stephen Wolfram

The physics of Galileo and Newton seeks to describe nature through mathematics. Wolfram contends that it is better described by simple programs.

 

Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul: What Gnarly Computation Taught Me About Ultimate Reality, the Meaning of Life, and How to Be Happy
by Rudy Rucker

The world as computation and an expansion of some of Wolfram’s ideas.

 

Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos, by Seth Lloyd

Proposes that the universe is a quantum computer.

 

NANOTECHNOLOGY AND FABRICATION

Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology
by Eric Drexler

The pioneering work that presented molecular nanotechnology. A popular presentation.

 

Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation
by Eric Drexler

A more technical presentation of nanotechnology.

 

Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems
Eric Drexler et. al., editors

How molecular manufacturing can happen.

 

Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop—from Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication, 
by Neil Gershenfeld

Architects and designers are familiar with rapid prototyping or 3D printing. Gershenfeld expands the idea to the point where he can go anywhere with a minimum of equipment and make anything from a bicycle to a water pump to a cellphone.

 

Hacking Matter: Levitating Chairs, Quantum Mirages, and the Infinite Weirdness of Programmable Atoms
by Wil McCarthy

Looks at quantum dots that make designer atoms possible.

 

COMPUTATION

The Pattern On The Stone: The Simple Ideas That Make Computers Work
, by W. Daniel Hillis

Presents the basics of computing in understandable terms.

 

Minds, Machines, and the Multiverse: The Quest for the Quantum Computer
by Julian Brown

Describes quantum computing, but more importantly, provides the latest on information theory, which has had tremendous developments in the past twenty years.

 

DNA

DNA: The Secret of Life
, by James D. Watson and Andrew Berry

The whole story of understanding heredity and DNA. Focuses on biology and medicine, but presents the principles that we now apply to generative genomics.

 

A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life
by J. Craig Venter

Venter’s story of his role in sequencing the human genome.

 

The Genome War: How Craig Venter Tried to Capture the Code of Life and Save the Worldby James Shreeve

An overview of the race between Venter and the government’s project in sequencing the human genome.

 

SCIENCE

Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics
by Nick Herbert

Although now over twenty years old, this is the clearest basic presentation of quantum theory available.

 

The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes and Its Implications
by David Deutsch

Presents a new view of reality based on Hugh Everett’s many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics, Karl Popper’s epistemology, Alan Turing’s theory of computation, and Richard Dawkins’s refinement of Darwinian evolutionary theory.

 

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY

Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible, 
by Arthur C. Clarke

Old but never dated, instructs us on how to think about the future.

 

Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
, by Marshall McLuhan

The essential book on the influence of technology on culture and consciousness.

 

The New Humanists: Science at the Edge
by John Brockman

Brockman proposes that scientists today are the new humanists, doing the work of understanding psychology and society.

 

Microcosm: The Quantum Revolution In Economics And Technology,
 by George Gilder

Gilder observes that in the macrocosm (the realm of big industrial machines), when a device become more powerful, it becomes larger, more prone to breaking down, more expensive, and more energy consuming. But in the microcosm (the realm of the computer chip), when a device becomes more powerful, it becomes smaller, less prone to breaking down, less expensive, and less energy consuming.

 

The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
by Thomas L. Friedman

The guide to understanding economics and society in a world of globalization.

 

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer
, by Neal Stephenson

Imaginative science fiction by a master. Covers issues a world of nanotechnology and genomics might face.

 

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
, by Ray Kurzweil

Starts by showing how technology expands exponentially. By 2020, a computer chip will match the human brain in circuitry, and by 2047 a computer chip will have as much circuitry as all of the brains of all of the people who have ever lived.

 

The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress
by Virginia Postrel

Presents an argument for progress, and looks at those who oppose it.

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