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Free Science, Engineering and Medical Books Online

By mindpixel in Science
Sun May 04, 2003 at 01:58:15 PM EST
Tags: Books (all tags)
Books

I am not lying. The National Academies Press which was created by the National Academies to publish the reports issued by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, all operating under a charter granted by the Congress of the United States, has more than 2,500 free, searchable, high quality books online. Some random examples:

The Genomic Revolution: Unveiling the Unity of Life
Strange Matters: Undiscovered Ideas at the Frontiers of Space and Time
Who Goes There?: Authentication Through the Lens of Privacy
Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence, Detection, and Response


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o The National Academies Press
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o Institute of Medicine
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o The Genomic Revolution: Unveiling the Unity of Life
o Strange Matters: Undiscovered Ideas at the Frontiers of Space and Time
o Who Goes There?: Authentication Through the Lens of Privacy
o Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence, Detection, and Response
o Also by mindpixel


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Free Science, Engineering and Medical Books Online | 39 comments (25 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
NCBI Bookshelf (5.00 / 1) (#2)
by grouse on Sun May 04, 2003 at 02:00:28 AM EST

The NCBI Bookshelf also has 20 high-quality references, including commercial biology textbooks, online for free, although not browsable directly. You can browse by searching for terms found in the table of content.

Also, PubMed Central offers several peer-reviewed journals for free.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs

Should have been Topical (none / 0) (#4)
by grouse on Sun May 04, 2003 at 02:01:31 AM EST

Argh. I'll repost if this makes it through the queue.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

Other good sources (4.00 / 1) (#9)
by Polverone on Sun May 04, 2003 at 03:30:57 AM EST

Bibliothèque nationale de France can be tough to navigate without at least rudimentary French comprehension, but it has an excellent collection of books, both technical and otherwise. Not all are in French.

My own website (shameless plug) at http://bcis.pacificu.edu/~polverone/ has a small but growing collection of books on chemistry. You'll find a massive 19th century chemical encyclopedia, the classic The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives, a reference on plant alkaloids, a two volume set about essential oils, a couple of books on toxic materials, and (coming soon) Fundamental Processes of Dye Chemistry and Arthur Vogel's Practical Organic Chemistry (basically the same as found on rhodium.ws but cleaned up, with OCR applied and a better PDF compressor used).

If I ever get a sheet-fed scanner and start cruising secondhand book stores my little library is going to grow very fast indeed.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.

it's a pity (5.00 / 1) (#11)
by martingale on Sun May 04, 2003 at 03:48:23 AM EST

that the BNF electronic books are incompletely digitized. The Mathematics books are unfortunately unusable, sigh. PS de Laplace will have to wait a little longer before he graces my electronic bookshelf.

[ Parent ]
Very cool (none / 0) (#12)
by mindpixel on Sun May 04, 2003 at 03:51:15 AM EST

Thanks!

[ Parent ]
Scanners and free texts (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by jonathan_ingram on Sun May 04, 2003 at 07:34:42 PM EST

I hope that when you do get a scanner, you'll contribute the scans of any out-of-copyright texts to be proofread through Project Gutenberg's Distributed Proofreading project (site currently down for a machine upgrade). I've been raiding my University Library for months now, and have just started on another mostly ignored area -- Victorian and Edwardian periodicals (such as The Strand Magazine).
-- Jon
[ Parent ]
Gutenberg doesn't help me (5.00 / 1) (#30)
by Polverone on Sun May 04, 2003 at 09:52:57 PM EST

Project Gutenberg only does plain ASCII text. That's terrible for technical books with a lot of specialized notation, subscripts and superscripts, and important tables and diagrams. I'm not even trying to get perfect OCR output. I'm including 300 DPI scans in each PDF with OCR text embedded beneath it. You get to see the book exactly as it appeared on paper while still being able to search for terms thanks to the OCR-recognized content.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]
Not true (5.00 / 2) (#34)
by jonathan_ingram on Mon May 05, 2003 at 04:58:33 AM EST

PG will take any open format, although they prefer to have an additional ASCII version for those people who cannot read anything else. HTML, XML (with the TEI-lite schema), PDF, LaTeX, etc., have all been used in the past.

For example, we've just started a project on the Distributed Proofreading system to digitize all the maths texts from Cornell's Historical Math Monographs site into LaTeX. Proofreading a specialised text takes longer than a 'normal' text, but it does move through the site slowly :).

If you don't want to have the hassle of managing the upload to the site yourself, I can give you addresses where you can post a CD that you've burnt the page images on to. 300DPI black-and-white is fine -- that's what most people use. It's a win for you, and a win for me. You get perfect text to go underneath the page images, and we get more books into PG.

If you really can't be bothered, than I understand -- but if you can't be bothered, that means that someone else will have to be bothered in the future in order to preserve that text for the world.
-- Jon
[ Parent ]

does the AMS know? (none / 0) (#36)
by martingale on Mon May 05, 2003 at 06:35:42 AM EST

Sounds great. Since you're going to convert into LaTeX, do you have any contact with the AMS people in relation to your project? Those old books sometimes have funny symbols and typesetting, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone there could help develop a suitable style and font set, or they can point you to someone.

[ Parent ]
Interesting (5.00 / 2) (#14)
by TheophileEscargot on Sun May 04, 2003 at 04:09:21 AM EST

It's not entirely specialist academic books either: they've got A Life in Science, John Gribbin and Michael White's biography of Stephen Hawking.

Navigation is slow over a modem though: all the pages are .GIF images rather than text. Wonder if that's an anti-copying thing, or if it was just easier to scan the pages than have them transcribed or OCRed.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death

Not entirely?? (none / 0) (#15)
by tetsuwan on Sun May 04, 2003 at 05:35:15 AM EST

For example Strange Matters: Undiscovered Ideas at the Frontiers of Space and Time is not an academic book. It's some sort of metatopological pop-science of no use to a researcher. Are there really books of academic relevance in that library?

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Janeway, Travers et al. (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by Subtillus on Sun May 04, 2003 at 12:38:14 PM EST

Immunobiology.

This book is in the NCBI link given halfway up this page. It's quite simply the best immunology book there is right now.

[ Parent ]

no text (none / 0) (#32)
by festive penis on Sun May 04, 2003 at 11:31:09 PM EST



[ Parent ]
A good source for free online books (5.00 / 1) (#16)
by Delirium on Sun May 04, 2003 at 07:16:00 AM EST

The Internet Public Library. It has lots and lots of stuff categorized in a Dewey-Decimal-like system (extended to have categories better suited to today's material). If you find something that's not there, you can submit it as well.

Or this one... (5.00 / 3) (#35)
by jonathan_ingram on Mon May 05, 2003 at 05:53:02 AM EST

The daddy of all the free online book index pages is this one provided by the University of Pennsylvania -- 19,000 listed and counting. They organise according to the Library of Congress catalogue.
-- Jon
[ Parent ]
ddc... (none / 0) (#38)
by blisspix on Tue May 20, 2003 at 05:05:29 AM EST

extended to have categories better suited to today's material

DDC might seem outdated but it is in fact, updated every few years. More frequently now that its owned by Forest Press, and not OCLC. Of course, most of the people that work on it are total stick in the muds, but that's one of the consequences of pre-coordinate indexing. ho hum. That's errata you probably didn't want to know.

[ Parent ]

computer stuff (none / 0) (#39)
by Delirium on Tue May 20, 2003 at 11:46:16 AM EST

The particular part that's most changed by the IPL is the computer indexing, where the DDC is rather out of date. The DDC sticks nearly all computer books in 005.x and 006.x, which is far too small of a range for such a broad field (and a smaller range than other fields of similar size), making it virtually useless for computer-related stuff (unless your library has few enough computer-related books that you can just find the "computer section" and browse through them all).

[ Parent ]
High quality? Look again (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by arvindn on Sun May 04, 2003 at 09:35:06 AM EST

The books are scanned pdfs. While the content may be high quality, they aren't easy to read :-( At least not on screen. May be they'll be a little better if I print them out, but there's no way I'm printing out whole books. They've explained their stance in the about page (see section "Useful, Cheap, Coded--Choose Two"). If they make the full OCR'd text available in public domain (currently only a few pages of each chapter are available), then this would make a kick-ass addition to project gutenberg. I would volunteer to do some proofing myself.

So you think your vocabulary's good?
quality... (none / 0) (#31)
by mindpixel on Sun May 04, 2003 at 10:00:18 PM EST

I meant research/science quality. The PDF's are quite readable though.

[ Parent ]
The images are too damn small (5.00 / 4) (#24)
by arvindn on Sun May 04, 2003 at 10:43:42 AM EST

So small they are unreadable.

So here's what I've been doing:

bash$ wget `for i in \`seq 1 $NUMPAGES\`; do echo -n http://books.nap.edu/books/$BOOKNUM/gifmid/$i.gif " "; done`

(Substitute the number of pages and the ISBN of the book to download the whole book. Note the backquotes in the command. And it's supposed to be a single line, sorry if it got wrapped.)

Now rename the files so that the numerical order matches the alphabetical order

bash$ for i in ?.gif; do mv $i 00$i.gif; done
bash$ for i in ??.gif; do mv $i 0$i.gif; done

Now start your favorite image viewer (gqview maps PgDn to next image, so I don't have to open each file individually.) and read the book at whatever magnification you feel comfortable with.

So you think your vocabulary's good?

Download the PDF Pages (5.00 / 2) (#25)
by SiMac on Sun May 04, 2003 at 11:36:15 AM EST

PDF pages are available in addition to the images...they might be slightly higher quality.

[ Parent ]
E-books for E-revolution E-hype (2.50 / 2) (#27)
by Horst Franken on Sun May 04, 2003 at 12:40:49 PM EST

Acrobat files for studious use are utter rubbish. Books are superior, more versatile, and most importantly, don't require a battery or power supply to read. The days of total PDA conversion will never happen. What's that you say? You can print out an acrobat file with your home printer? Reams of copy paper are really cheap? Oh yeah, that printer ink and toner does cost a bundle though. Let's not forget to factor in electricity usage. "But you can't grep dead trees!" Anything less than a prodigy and planning to learn Fluid Mechanics or Random Processes in Signals in front of the PC's monitor? Not bloody likely. Just buy a book you cheap bastards.

E-machines for E-processing E-hype (4.60 / 5) (#28)
by arvindn on Sun May 04, 2003 at 01:52:59 PM EST

"Electronic computers for serious use are utter rubbish. Typewriters are superior, more versatile, and most importantly, don't require a battery or power supply to type. The days of mass cheap computing access will never happen. What's that you say? You can create documents on your home computer? Megabytes of RAM are really cheap? Oh yeah, that hard disk and backup tape does cost a bundle though. Let's not forget to factor in electricity usage. "But you can't edit paper documents!" Anything less than a genius and planning to write Principia Mathematica or A Brief History of Time in front of the PC's monitor? Not bloody likely. Just buy a typewriter you cheap bastards."

-- Anonymous, 1983.

You can stick with paper if you like, but I'm perfectly happy with e-books, thank you. And once the Great LCD Price Crash starts, there will be even less reason to use paper books.

So you think your vocabulary's good?
[ Parent ]

what I'm hoping to see (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by martingale on Mon May 05, 2003 at 12:57:06 AM EST

In a few years, is someting like a palm device, but only for storing gigabytes worth of documents. The device doesn't need a screen, just an infrared port so you can place it next to a screen and keyboard combination, and display your documents.

Actually, we can practically do this sort of thing now. Put Linux on a PDA, and broadcast an X session for any nearby X terminals. Then we could have high resolution LCD slates which function as dumb X terminals, for reading in bed.

All we need to wait for is a thousand fold increase in PDA storage space. I have *lots* of postscript papers and books.

[ Parent ]

the date is way off (none / 0) (#37)
by doubleyou on Mon May 05, 2003 at 04:34:51 PM EST

That would be more plausible if "A Brief History of Time" wasn't published way after 1983. And RAM and disk weren't terribly cheap in 1983 either. Give me a 600 dpi flatscreen, and I totally agree with your sentiment.

[ Parent ]
Free Science, Engineering and Medical Books Online | 39 comments (25 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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