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                Following the Universe Tour
    Hedgeschool suggests material on magnitudes and then lists the sciences and some books that are interesting for each science, in the following order:
1   Physics       2  Chemistry        3  Biology
4  Geology      5  Meteorology     6  Astronomy
7  Cosmology

    You will notice that "general science" is missing; it is often a course lacking in depth. The magnitudes program is general, as are history, philosophy, and the mathematics of pattern. See:
History of Science — see History page [Link]
Philosophy of Science — see Philosophy page [Link]
Patterns in Nature — see Math page [Link]
 Science Links
History Page

Boecke, Kees 
    In the 1940's, Kees Boeke wrote a little volume called, Cosmic View: the Universe in 40 Jumps. It was the original magnitudes book and the entire (and very simple) text is now available online. This or any of several colorful and well-conceived lovely spin-offs if you run a search for “powers of ten.” 

Daly, Mary O. 
    Following Kees Boeke's lead, I have written The Universe in My Hands, link which walks the reader through various objects that he is likely to find in each size range. It is set up as a 6th-grade course in general science, but it can be pursued at any point, and in fact it helps to pursue it twice, a few years apart, to make the idea clear. 
    Certain mathematical concepts that underlie the mangitudes may be a stretch in primary grades and even 5th or 6th grade, (depending on your math program) but will come to life at a later time. 


Bethell, Tom 
Questioning Einstein makes a very important contribution to the study of relativity, which Einstein was not comfortable with as its consequences developed. Readable and important. Not politically correct; don't make it an excuse for failing to learn modern physics...

Epstein, Lewis 
Thinking Physics presents many physical and mechanical principles and will help correct your thinking in important ways. It’s written in the form of questions with multiple choice answers followed by an explanation of the correct answer. Unexpected; delightful!

Minnaert, Marcel 
The Nature of Light and Color in the Open Air is a wonderful old book, reprinted by Dover, with a whole series of home-made experiments involving light and atmospheric effects. Minnaert is here giving the physics of many things that we see every day, as well as a few that are rare. It will change how you notice the world about you.
    Perhaps he developed his incredibly simple style teaching physics in a Ferman prison during World War II, when he belonged to the Belgian resistance. 

Physics 2000 
For electricity and magnetism, the Physics 2000 site is very good and provides links to deeper information on each topic. 

Rizzi, Anthony 
The Science Before Science is actually a work of philosophy, the philosophy that underlies our science. 
Physics for Realists is a high school physics text based on philosophical realism. 
    Who should care about the philosophical foundations of a physics text? Well, it's just like evolution in biology. There are facts, and there are interpretations based on philosophy. Catholics, with an Incarnate Lord, are philosophical realists. 

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Atkins, P.W. 
Molecules is an amazing and beautiful little book to get you into the what atoms do in combination. It is not a complete text, but I guarantee you will never see things the same way after reading this. It’s wonderful.
    Atkins also wrote The Periodic Kingdom, a little volume with a striking image that should accompany any student through the challenges of a serious high school chemistry course which it does assume. Atkins is a gifted teacher and his presentation of the Periodic Table is unique.
    Unfortunately, Atkins is an atheist, and this occasionally intrudes on this work, — little insulting remarks. It’s annoying, but he’s such a born teacher that I do recommend him.

Daly, Mary O. 
Chemistry 001 |Link| will get you started on the Periodic Table in an accessible and attractive way, any time from 3rd grade to late middle school. |Link to Bromine page|  Later, when you have to memorize the periodic table, you will be so far ahead!

David’s Whizzy Periodic Table 
This applet from the Physics 2000 site is not to be missed by anyone in chemistry.

Emsley, John 
Nature’s Building Blocks, is full of intriguing information about each element, an indispensable reference, and one likely to make chemistry a memorable study. Actually, it lies in the background for Chemistry 001. It’s just fun to read.

Williams, Joel  
Joel Williams has a visually accessible concept of the electron and its orbits, orbits which he believes to be specific, and he explains how his ideas work in the lab, the equations, and in reality. He rejects the idea of an electron as merely a probability field. He also has an intriguing essay on gravity. Williams has a very respectable CV, and worked at Los Alamos for many years before retirement. 
See his Rethinking the Atom The reason Joel Williams' work is important is that he challenges the the perennial impulse to sidestep any theory that implies order in the realm of the infinitesimal. The secular position is that things are irrational at the bottom. Dr. Williams has impeccable credentials, and as you move more deeply in chemistry, you will enjoy his work. Even at a fairly elementary level, you will appreciate a geometric presentation, one you can visualize. Link


Behe, Michael 
Darwin’s Black Box carefully defines intelligent design and explains how it comes into view in the study of biology. 
Of course there was much to-do about it, much criticism, in response to which he wrote The Edge of Evolution. This explains exactly how much, and how little, evolution can accomplish by accident.
Behe is not a creationist, not a Young Earther. He is a Catholic and he does believe in God,​o ur wonderful creator.

Daly, Mary O.
Creator and Creation |link|  will help you navigate the topics of creation and evolution. 

Elpel, T. J. 
Botany in a Day is a wonderful piece, having all the information that is really useful for first for identifying plants and then for getting a sense of their chemistry and thus also their herbal uses. The drawings are very good, and also, because plants are introduced by family, a whole dimension of their form naturally comes to the reader's attention. This is really a field guide. 

Ridley, Matt 
Genome and The Agile Gene present the concepts of gene, chromosome, and the genome in an accessible and engaging manner. In Genome, one gene on each chromosome is introduced. Ridley is certainly an unapologetic Darwinian, and this may put you off, but he is a good writer.

Wile, Jay 
Apologia ministries has a biology text that is very accessible to home educators and free of secular offenses in regard to Darwinism, but is such a creationist piece that these topics in his books are almost useless. You can skip the worst chapters on not-evolution, and the rest may be helpful. What can you do with photosynthesis and the Krebs cycle, after all? Keep in mind that online applets of all such concepts are really excellent: colorful, clear, and engaging.

On-Page Links

Hedge School
Hedge School
    Most of the books listed below are found in the essay on the A Curriculum for the Culture of Life, [Link] or in the proposed science curriculum at the end of it. Many are books I have used as a teacher, either as text or as background for my teaching; others have come to my attention since then.
    A few represent the thinking of scientists whose work has been studiously ignored because they don't toe the secular line which is: It's all chaos and accident at the bottom, "sound and fury, signifying nothing."     
    Of course there are thousands of other good books. 
See Love2learn.net [Link] for many more book reviews in the natural sciences.


Cutler, Alan 
    The Seashell on the Mountaintop is a fairly good read about St. Niels Stenson, the father of geology. Pleasant high school read. The author is not Catholic, but not deliberately anti-Catholic. Stenson became a convert and then a bishop, decisions that are hard for a non-Catholic to understand. I think he would have preferred that he stick with geology. 

Daly, Mary 
    A Doorway of Amethystlink offers a Catholic perspective on the major themes of geology.         The study of geology involves an understanding of the great changes of the earth it eventually touches upon our planet's great age, and since geologic forms provide evidence for a sequential history of life forms, presenting these alongside the names of their Catholic discoverers dissipates the anti-religious theme that pervades most geology texts.

McPhee, John 
Annals of the Former World by John Mc Phee is the next step up, an incredibly literate and far-ranging introduction to geology from the perspective of a trip across the US on Interstate 80. It is actually a collection of five books that McPhee wrote over 20 years, and if you don’t want to commit to such a large volume, you can get the book that pertains to your part of the country.

Roadside Geology of...
      There is a series of books, Roadside Geology of... [one state after another], which will allow you to get right into your local geology. Not every state has one, but there are quite a few and a neighboring state will give clues to your own if your state is missing from the collection.
        These are ideal for a homeschool study, because they explain the geological forms that are visible alongside the main roads in each state. 

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(The study of weather, not the study of meteors.)
Cloud Appreciation Society
Just the best club to join. See Pretor-Pinney below.

Daly, Mary 
    To gain an understanding of the Coriolis effect, go to my science blog, marydaly.wordpress.com, find (from the top menu) the page with links for “Corey’s Bow” and read the story. It’s very important to be aware of the Coriolis Effect, not only for storms, but for any trajectory that goes through the sky, such as a cannon ball.
    That was the challenge of writing Corey’s Bow, and I think it worked. All math, even trig, is common observation made systematic and easy to extend. Math is not supposed to be the only way to express something. The Coriolis effect is the result of several motions, and this makes it hard to understand, but it's very important. 

Dunlop, Storm 
The Weather Identification Handbook: The Ultimate Guide for Weather Watchers — Just what it says, this is the book to help you figure out what you are seeing. 

Murchie, Guy
Song of the Sky
Those old pilots had stories to tell; that's all I can say. This is out of print, but if you can find a copy to read, you will enjoy it.

Pretor-Pinney, Gavin 
The Cloudspotter's Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds
One day, Gavin Pretor-Pinney decided he'd had enough of blue-sky thinking. He wrote a book and then started a website and a club called the Cloud Appreciation Society. It quickly grew to 20,000 members worldwide, and is the very best site for cloud images of all kinds.

Rankin, William
The Man who Rode the Thunder
    Many things about weather are only studied by sending up balloons, but ... Once upon a time... An incomparable book for any adventuresome young man. A page-turner of a story, and a classic.

Sloane, Eric 
Look at the Sky and Tell the Weather, and Eric Sloane’s Weather Book are back in print from Dover Books. Sloane has such a wise sense of the lore of the past, such graceful sketches of weather forms, and such clear explanations that his work has not been bettered. This early pilot was the original thinker and instinctive teacher behind much of modern weather forecasting. His books are from mid-20th century, so again, don’t expect the kinds of information that satellites give us, but expect more about the things you see out your own window. Sloane is always wonderful.

Williams, Jack 
For the study of weather, Jack Williams has provided a thorough and well-illustrated book called The Weather Book: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the USA's Weather
    We used it for a semester on meteorology (which is the study of weather, not the study of meteors), and learning these things will change the way you look at the skies and will open up the weather maps that are vague diagrams until you learn the meaning of their symbols.
    Jack williams was (or is) a television weather forecaster. It's a different tone from Sloane, but it's informative and systematic. 


APOD — Astronomy Picture of the Day
  You can subscribe online, free. Each day, a beautiful and amazing image comes to your in-box with a brief explanation that suggests avenues for further investigation. It's a beautiful way to keep up to date on astronomy.

Drake, Stillman 
    Drake studied Galileo for nearly 50 years. He knew his mind. Yet, when he was asked to write Galileo: A [very] Short Introduction, he discovered something unexpected: Galileo loved the Church. It changes everything. 
    This is the book that made me fall in love with Galileo. I recommend it above all, as my sister Jane Meyerhofer recommended it to me, although she had not read it, and family sickness prevented her from doing so for many years.

Meyerhofer, Jane 
Copernicus, Galileo, and the Catholic Sponsorship of Science  [Link] covers the essential topic, of the relationship of the Church with astronomy at the moment when it separated from astrology and other non-scientific spiritual interpretations, including scriptural confusions. 
When you’re ready for more, Stillman Drake’s A [very] Short Introduction to Galileo is the book. (The same book goes by two titles, one with “Very” and one without.) 

Rey, H.A. 
    The Stars is an excellent starting point for learning astronomy. Yes, this is the author of Curious George; he has also written a book called The Constellations, which introduces the starry sky to children in elementary school. 
    The Stars introduces the constellations and the motions of the sun, moon, and stars, through the years and through the ages. The concepts of solar and sidereal day, of precession, and of right ascension and declination can be challenging and usually belong to junior high or high school; lots of people never understand these concepts, but Rey's illustrations are the simplest and best, which is why this book has been in print for 70 years. It does not address black holes or the beautiful images from the Hubble Telescope and their interpretation. It is mid-20th century.

Sky and Telescope 
    This is the best amateur astronomy magazine, and has been for many years. Monthly sky charts show what is to be found in the sky each night, and interesting articles on both traditional and ground-breaking concepts challenge several reading levels. Beautiful photographs of celestial objects adorn every issue and are themeslves worth the price of the subscription. As an adjunct to Rey’s book, it provides a modern view.

Not recommended: 
Apologia Astronomy
    The well-known Apologia text concentrates almost exclusively on the planets and gives but a sketchy introduction to the sky we see and to the cosmological topics that are so important to our culture. The author (not Jay Wile here) is a creationist, and it is not possible to study the stars seriously without being confronted by the great age of the universe and the impossibility of maintaining a 6,000 or 10,000-year framework. 
    Perhaps that's why she concentrates on the planets.


Gonzales and Richards
    Privileged Planet makes the case for the unity between designing for life and designing for curiosity and intelligence. It is the next step after intelligent design. 
    Did you know that the earth-moon system is the only place in the solar system where you can observe the corona of the Sun during an eclipse. No other planet or moon gives you a place to stand and see the Sun covered up. This observation was the beginning of our understanding of what is burning in the suns. 
    Many other examples of Earth's privileged position as a place for discovery grace these pages.

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