Here are the 50 best science books of 2020 according to Google. Find your new favorite book from the local library with one click.
Click Read Review to read book reviews on Amazon. Click Google Preview to read chapters from Google Books if available. Click Find in Library to check book availability at your local library. If the default library is not correct, follow Change Library to reset it.
‘This book is truly exceptional. Applying science to the problems of human relationships, the perils of perfectionism and the pitfalls of social etiquette, Millie has written a joyous, funny and hugely insightful text for all of us – whether neurotypical or neurodiverse. This ‘outsiders guide to the human race’ is warm, witty and a joy to read.’ Prof Gina Rippon, Cognitive neuroscientist/autism researcher and author of The Gendered Brain. Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of eight, Camilla Pang struggled to understand the world around her and the way people worked. Desperate for a solution, Camilla asked her mother if there was an instruction manual for humans that she could consult. But, without the blueprint to life she was hoping for, Camilla began to create her own. Now armed with a PhD in biochemistry, Camilla dismantles our obscure social customs and identifies what it really means to be human using her unique expertise and a language she knows best: science. Through a set of scientific principles, this book examines life’s everyday interactions including: – Decisions and the route we take to make them; – Conflict and how we can avoid it; – Relationships and how we establish them; – Etiquette and how we conform to it. Explaining Humans is an original and incisive exploration of human nature and the strangeness of social norms, written from the outside looking in. Camilla’s unique perspective of the world, in turn, tells us so much about ourselves – about who we are and why we do it – and is a fascinating guide on how to lead a more connected, happier life.
In the bestselling tradition of Stuff Matters and The Disappearing Spoon: a clever and engaging look at materials, the innovations they made possible, and how these technologies changed us. In The Alchemy of Us, scientist and science writer Ainissa Ramirez examines eight inventions—clocks, steel rails, copper communication cables, photographic film, light bulbs, hard disks, scientific labware, and silicon chips—and reveals how they shaped the human experience. Ramirez tells the stories of the woman who sold time, the inventor who inspired Edison, and the hotheaded undertaker whose invention pointed the way to the computer. She describes, among other things, how our pursuit of precision in timepieces changed how we sleep; how the railroad helped commercialize Christmas; how the necessary brevity of the telegram influenced Hemingway’s writing style; and how a young chemist exposed the use of Polaroid’s cameras to create passbooks to track black citizens in apartheid South Africa. These fascinating and inspiring stories offer new perspectives on our relationships with technologies. Ramirez shows not only how materials were shaped by inventors but also how those materials shaped culture, chronicling each invention and its consequences—intended and unintended. Filling in the gaps left by other books about technology, Ramirez showcases little-known inventors—particularly people of color and women—who had a significant impact but whose accomplishments have been hidden by mythmaking, bias, and convention. Doing so, she shows us the power of telling inclusive stories about technology. She also shows that innovation is universal—whether it’s splicing beats with two turntables and a microphone or splicing genes with two test tubes and CRISPR.
A New York Times Notable Book of 2020 Longlisted for the National Book Award Winner of the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award and the Minnesota Book Award for General Nonfiction A Finalist for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award A Best Book of the Year: NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The Globe and Mail, The BirdBooker Report, Geographical, Open Letter Review Best Nature Book of the Year: The Times (London) “A terrifically exciting account of [Slaght’s] time in the Russian Far East studying Blakiston’s fish owls, huge, shaggy-feathered, yellow-eyed, and elusive birds that hunt fish by wading in icy water . . . Even on the hottest summer days this book will transport you.” —Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk, in Kirkus I saw my first Blakiston’s fish owl in the Russian province of Primorye, a coastal talon of land hooking south into the belly of Northeast Asia . . . No scientist had seen a Blakiston’s fish owl so far south in a hundred years . . . When he was just a fledgling birdwatcher, Jonathan C. Slaght had a chance encounter with one of the most mysterious birds on Earth. Bigger than any owl he knew, it looked like a small bear with decorative feathers. He snapped a quick photo and shared it with experts. Soon he was on a five-year journey, searching for this enormous, enigmatic creature in the lush, remote forests of eastern Russia. That first sighting set his calling as a scientist. Despite a wingspan of six feet and a height of over two feet, the Blakiston’s fish owl is highly elusive. They are easiest to find in winter, when their tracks mark the snowy banks of the rivers where they feed. They are also endangered. And so, as Slaght and his devoted team set out to locate the owls, they aim to craft a conservation plan that helps ensure the species’ survival. This quest sends them on all-night monitoring missions in freezing tents, mad dashes across thawing rivers, and free-climbs up rotting trees to check nests for precious eggs. They use cutting-edge tracking technology and improvise ingenious traps. And all along, they must keep watch against a run-in with a bear or an Amur tiger. At the heart of Slaght’s story are the fish owls themselves: cunning hunters, devoted parents, singers of eerie duets, and survivors in a harsh and shrinking habitat. Through this rare glimpse into the everyday life of a field scientist and conservationist, Owls of the Eastern Ice testifies to the determination and creativity essential to scientific advancement and serves as a powerful reminder of the beauty, strength, and vulnerability of the natural world.
A Best Book of 2020 NPR A Best Book of 2020 The Economist A Top Ten Best Science Book of 2020 Smithsonian A Best Science & Technology Book of 2020 Library Journal A Must-Read Book to Escape the Chaos of 2020 Newsweek Starred review Booklist Starred review Publishers Weekly An historically unprecedented disconnect between humanity and the heavens has opened. Jo Marchant’s book can begin to heal it. For at least 20,000 years, we have led not just an earthly existence but a cosmic one. Celestial cycles drove every aspect of our daily lives. Our innate relationship with the stars shaped who we are–our art, religious beliefs, social status, scientific advances, and even our biology. But over the last few centuries we have separated ourselves from the universe that surrounds us. It’s a disconnect with a dire cost. Our relationship to the stars and planets has moved from one of awe, wonder and superstition to one where technology is king–the cosmos is now explored through data on our screens, not by the naked eye observing the natural world. Indeed, in most countries modern light pollution obscures much of the night sky from view. Jo Marchant’s spellbinding parade of the ways different cultures celebrated the majesty and mysteries of the night sky is a journey to the most awe inspiring view you can ever see–looking up on a clear dark night. That experience and the thoughts it has engendered have radically shaped human civilization across millennia. The cosmos is the source of our greatest creativity in art, in science, in life. To show us how, Jo Marchant takes us to the Hall of the Bulls in the caves at Lascaux in France, and to the summer solstice at a 5,000-year-old tomb at New Grange in Ireland. We discover Chumash cosmology and visit medieval monks grappling with the nature of time and Tahitian sailors navigating by the stars. We discover how light reveals the chemical composition of the sun, and we are with Einstein as he works out that space and time are one and the same. A four-billion-year-old meteor inspires a search for extraterrestrial life. The cosmically liberating, summary revelation is that star-gazing made us human.
A New York Times Bestseller A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2020 Named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR “A fascinating scientific, cultural, spiritual and evolutionary history of the way humans breathe—and how we’ve all been doing it wrong for a long, long time.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic and Eat Pray Love No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly. There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat twenty-five thousand times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences. Journalist James Nestor travels the world to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. The answers aren’t found in pulmonology labs, as we might expect, but in the muddy digs of ancient burial sites, secret Soviet facilities, New Jersey choir schools, and the smoggy streets of São Paulo. Nestor tracks down men and women exploring the hidden science behind ancient breathing practices like Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya, and Tummo and teams up with pulmonary tinkerers to scientifically test long-held beliefs about how we breathe. Modern research is showing us that making even slight adjustments to the way we inhale and exhale can jump-start athletic performance; rejuvenate internal organs; halt snoring, asthma, and autoimmune disease; and even straighten scoliotic spines. None of this should be possible, and yet it is. Drawing on thousands of years of medical texts and recent cutting-edge studies in pulmonology, psychology, biochemistry, and human physiology, Breath turns the conventional wisdom of what we thought we knew about our most basic biological function on its head. You will never breathe the same again.
Scale — Space and time — Energy and matter — The quantum world — Thermodynamics and the arrow of time — Unification — The future of physics — The usefulness of physics — Thinking like a physicist.
The smash-hit Sunday Times bestseller that will transform your understanding of our planet and life itself. ‘Dazzling, vibrant, vision-changing’ Robert Macfarlane The more we learn about fungi, the less makes sense without them. They can change our minds, heal our bodies and even help us avoid environmental disaster; they are metabolic masters, earth-makers and key players in most of nature’s processes. In Entangled Life, Merlin Sheldrake takes us on a mind-altering journey into their spectacular world, and reveals how these extraordinary organisms transform our understanding of our planet and life itself. ‘Gorgeous!’ Margaret Atwood (on Twitter) ‘Reads like an adventure story… Wondrous’ Sunday Times ‘Urgent, astounding and necessary’ Helen Macdonald ‘A magical writer’ Russell Brand * A Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Times, Evening Standard, Mail on Sunday, BBC Science Focus and Time Book of the Year *
Winner of the 2020 Porchlight Business Book of the Year Award One of The Guardian’s Best Books of 2020. Finalist for the 2020 Royal Science Society Book Prize and the 2020 Porchlight Business Book Awards. Longlisted for the 2020 Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year “Linda Scott shines a light on women’s essential and often invisible contributions to our global economy—while combining insight, analysis, and interdisciplinary data to make a compelling and actionable case for unleashing women’s economic power.” —Melinda Gates, author of The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World A leading thinker’s groundbreaking examination of women’s economic empowerment Linda Scott coined the phrase “Double X Economy” to address the systemic exclusion of women from the world financial order. In The Double X Economy, Scott argues on the strength of hard data and on-the-ground experience that removing those barriers to women’s success is a win for everyone, regardless of gender. Scott opens our eyes to the myriad economic injustices that constrain women throughout the world: fathers buying and selling daughters against their will; husbands burning brides whose dowries have been spent; men appropriating women’s earnings and widows’ land; banks discriminating against women applying for loans; corporations paying women less than men; men treating women as their intellectual inferiors due to primitive notions of female brain development; governments depriving women of affordable childcare; and so much more. As Scott takes us from the streets of Accra, where sex trafficking is widespread, to American business schools, where women are routinely patronized, the pervasiveness of the Double X Economy becomes glaringly obvious. But Scott believes that this rampant problem can be solved. She proposes concrete actions and urges her readers to rise up and join the global movement for women’s economic empowerment that is gaining momentum by the day.
OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER NATIONAL BESTSELLER The heartrending story of a mid-century American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand–even cure–the disease. Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the dream. After World War II, Don’s work with the US Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years there was an established script for a family like the Galvins–aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony–and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen in one family? What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institutes of Mental Health. Their shocking story also offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy and the premise of the schizophrenogenic mother, to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amidst profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. Unknown to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment and even the possibility of the eradication of the disease for future generations. With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family’s unforgettable legacy of suffering, love and hope.
SOAP SAVES LIVES. But did you know that excessive use of soap and skin-care products are harming our health and the environment? Apart from in hand-washing there is no need to use soap on our bodies at all? Doctor and preventative medicine expert James Hamblin gave up showering five years ago and only ever uses soap on his hands. In Clean he introduces a new way to think about cleanliness – one that is cheaper, simpler and better for our skin, our immunity and the world in which we live. — Hygiene prevents the spread of disease and saves countless lives. But in recent decades, rather than safeguarding us from illness, an obsession with ‘cleanliness’ seems to have been having the opposite effect. As we are now starting to realise, our overuse of soap, sanitizers and untested, misleading skin-care products is doing untold damage to our skin’s vital microbial layer, which influences everything from acne, eczema and dry skin to how we smell. Not only might our obsession with soap-based cleanliness be exacerbating or even causing many of the skin conditions we seek to remedy or avoid, it may even be weaking our immune defences and increasing our vulnerability to allergies. Lucid, accessible, and deeply researched, Clean explains how we got here – thanks to the concerted efforts of the multi-billion-dollar cosmetics industry – and introduces us to the emerging science that will be at the forefront of health and wellness conversations in coming years. It shows that the new goal of skin care will be to cultivate a healthy biome and to embrace a natural approach to being clean.
Race is not a biological reality. Racism thrives on our not knowing this. Racist pseudoscience has become so commonplace that it can be hard to spot. But its toxic effects on society are plain to see—feeding nationalism, fueling hatred, endangering lives, and corroding our discourse on everything from sports to intelligence. Even well-intentioned people repeat stereotypes based on “science,” because cutting-edge genetics are hard to grasp—and all too easy to distort. Paradoxically, these misconceptions are multiplying even as scientists make unprecedented discoveries in human genetics—findings that, when accurately understood, are powerful evidence against racism. We’ve never had clearer answers about who we are and where we come from, but this knowledge is sorely needed in our casual conversations about race. How to Argue With a Racist emphatically dismantles outdated notions of race by illuminating what modern genetics actually can and can’t tell us about human difference. We now know that the racial categories still dividing us do not align with observable genetic differences. In fact, our differences are so minute that, most of all, they serve as evidence of our shared humanity.
A Smithsonian Magazine Top Ten Best Science Book of 2020 The MacArthur grant–winning “Erin Brockovich of Sewage” tells the riveting story of the environmental justice movement that is firing up rural America, with a foreword by the renowned author of Just Mercy MacArthur “genius” Catherine Coleman Flowers grew up in Lowndes County, Alabama, a place that’s been called “Bloody Lowndes” because of its violent, racist history. Once the epicenter of the voting rights struggle, today it’s Ground Zero for a new movement that is Flowers’s life’s work. It’s a fight to ensure human dignity through a right most Americans take for granted: basic sanitation. Too many people, especially the rural poor, lack an affordable means of disposing cleanly of the waste from their toilets, and, as a consequence, live amid filth. Flowers calls this America’s dirty secret. In this powerful book she tells the story of systemic class, racial, and geographic prejudice that foster Third World conditions, not just in Alabama, but across America, in Appalachia, Central California, coastal Florida, Alaska, the urban Midwest, and on Native American reservations in the West. Flowers’s book is the inspiring story of the evolution of an activist, from country girl to student civil rights organizer to environmental justice champion at Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative. It shows how sanitation is becoming too big a problem to ignore as climate change brings sewage to more backyards, and not only those of poor minorities.
A Best Book of 2020: The Washington Post * NPR * Chicago Tribune * Smithsonian A “remarkable” (Los Angeles Times), “seductive” (The Wall Street Journal) debut from the new cohost of Radiolab, Why Fish Don’t Exist is a dark and astonishing tale of love, chaos, scientific obsession, and—possibly—even murder. “At one point, Miller dives into the ocean into a school of fish…comes up for air, and realizes she’s in love. That’s how I felt: Her book took me to strange depths I never imagined, and I was smitten.” —The New York Times Book Review David Starr Jordan was a taxonomist, a man possessed with bringing order to the natural world. In time, he would be credited with discovering nearly a fifth of the fish known to humans in his day. But the more of the hidden blueprint of life he uncovered, the harder the universe seemed to try to thwart him. His specimen collections were demolished by lightning, by fire, and eventually by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake—which sent more than a thousand discoveries, housed in fragile glass jars, plummeting to the floor. In an instant, his life’s work was shattered. Many might have given up, given in to despair. But Jordan? He surveyed the wreckage at his feet, found the first fish that he recognized, and confidently began to rebuild his collection. And this time, he introduced one clever innovation that he believed would at last protect his work against the chaos of the world. When NPR reporter Lulu Miller first heard this anecdote in passing, she took Jordan for a fool—a cautionary tale in hubris, or denial. But as her own life slowly unraveled, she began to wonder about him. Perhaps instead he was a model for how to go on when all seemed lost. What she would unearth about his life would transform her understanding of history, morality, and the world beneath her feet. Part biography, part memoir, part scientific adventure, Why Fish Don’t Exist is a wondrous fable about how to persevere in a world where chaos will always prevail.
A powerful examination of what we think we know about the brain and why — despite technological advances — the workings of our most essential organ remain a mystery. For thousands of years, thinkers and scientists have tried to understand what the brain does. Yet, despite the astonishing discoveries of science, we still have only the vaguest idea of how the brain works. In The Idea of the Brain, scientist and historian Matthew Cobb traces how our conception of the brain has evolved over the centuries. Although it might seem to be a story of ever-increasing knowledge of biology, Cobb shows how our ideas about the brain have been shaped by each era’s most significant technologies. Today we might think the brain is like a supercomputer. In the past, it has been compared to a telegraph, a telephone exchange, or some kind of hydraulic system. What will we think the brain is like tomorrow, when new technology arises? The result is an essential read for anyone interested in the complex processes that drive science and the forces that have shaped our marvelous brains.
A piercing and scientifically grounded look at the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and how it will change the way we live—”excellent and timely.” (The New Yorker) Apollo’s Arrow offers a riveting account of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as it swept through American society in 2020, and of how the recovery will unfold in the coming years. Drawing on momentous (yet dimly remembered) historical epidemics, contemporary analyses, and cutting-edge research from a range of scientific disciplines, bestselling author, physician, sociologist, and public health expert Nicholas A. Christakis explores what it means to live in a time of plague—an experience that is paradoxically uncommon to the vast majority of humans who are alive, yet deeply fundamental to our species. Unleashing new divisions in our society as well as opportunities for cooperation, this 21st-century pandemic has upended our lives in ways that will test, but not vanquish, our already frayed collective culture. Featuring new, provocative arguments and vivid examples ranging across medicine, history, sociology, epidemiology, data science, and genetics, Apollo’s Arrow envisions what happens when the great force of a deadly germ meets the enduring reality of our evolved social nature.
A thrilling narrative of scientific triumph, decades of secrecy, and the unimaginable destruction wrought by the creation of the atomic bomb. It began with plutonium, the first element ever manufactured in quantity by humans. Fearing that the Germans would be the first to weaponize the atom, the United States marshaled brilliant minds and seemingly inexhaustible bodies to find a way to create a nuclear chain reaction of inconceivable explosive power. In a matter of months, the Hanford nuclear facility was built to produce and weaponize the enigmatic and deadly new material that would fuel atomic bombs. In the desert of eastern Washington State, far from prying eyes, scientists Glenn Seaborg, Enrico Fermi, and many thousands of others—the physicists, engineers, laborers, and support staff at the facility—manufactured plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, and for the bombs in the current American nuclear arsenal, enabling the construction of weapons with the potential to end human civilization. With his characteristic blend of scientific clarity and storytelling, Steve Olson asks why Hanford has been largely overlooked in histories of the Manhattan Project and the Cold War. Olson, who grew up just twenty miles from Hanford’s B Reactor, recounts how a small Washington town played host to some of the most influential scientists and engineers in American history as they sought to create the substance at the core of the most destructive weapons ever created. The Apocalypse Factory offers a new generation this dramatic story of human achievement and, ultimately, of lethal hubris.
“Two powerful phenomena are simultaneously unfolding on Earth: the rise of the climate movement and the rise of women and girls. The People’s Climate March and the Women’s March. School strikes for climate and the #MeToo movement. Rebellions against extinction and declarations that time’s up. More than concurrent, the two trends are deeply connected. From sinking islands to drought-ridden savannas, the global warming crisis places an outsized burden on women, largely because of gender inequalities. In many parts of the world, women hold traditional roles as the primary caregivers in families and communities, and as the main providers of food and fuel, they are more vulnerable when flooding and drought occur; the U.N. estimates 80% of those who have been displaced by climate change are women. Women are on the front line of the climate-change battle, and are uniquely situated to be agents of change–to find ways to mitigate the causes of global warming and adapt to its impacts on the ground. Today, across the world, from boardrooms and policy positions to local communities, from science to activism, women everywhere are using their voices to take leadership and call for action on climate change. This anthology is a collection and celebration of these diverse voices, asking critical questions and providing invaluable insight and solutions. Curated by two climate leaders, this book leads us away from the brink and toward the possibility of a life-giving future”–
An Observer Book of the Year A Times Science Book of the Year A New Statesman Book of the Year A Financial Times Science Book of the Year ‘It is hard to imagine a more timely book … much of the modern world will make more sense having read it.’ The Times A deadly virus suddenly explodes into the population. A political movement gathers pace, and then quickly vanishes. An idea takes off like wildfire, changing our world forever. We live in a world that’s more interconnected than ever before. Our lives are shaped by outbreaks – of disease, of misinformation, even of violence – that appear, spread and fade away with bewildering speed. To understand them, we need to learn the hidden laws that govern them. From ‘superspreaders’ who might spark a pandemic or bring down a financial system to the social dynamics that make loneliness catch on, The Rules of Contagion offers compelling insights into human behaviour and explains how we can get better at predicting what happens next. Along the way, Adam Kucharski explores how innovations spread through friendship networks, what links computer viruses with folk stories – and why the most useful predictions aren’t necessarily the ones that come true.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Genius of Birds, a radical investigation into the bird way of being, and the recent scientific research that is dramatically shifting our understanding of birds — how they live and how they think. “There is the mammal way and there is the bird way.” But the bird way is much more than a unique pattern of brain wiring, and lately, scientists have taken a new look at bird behaviors they have, for years, dismissed as anomalies or mysteries –– What they are finding is upending the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, how they communicate, forage, court, breed, survive. They are also revealing the remarkable intelligence underlying these activities, abilities we once considered uniquely our own: deception, manipulation, cheating, kidnapping, infanticide, but also ingenious communication between species, cooperation, collaboration, altruism, culture, and play. Some of these extraordinary behaviors are biological conundrums that seem to push the edges of, well, birdness: a mother bird that kills her own infant sons, and another that selflessly tends to the young of other birds as if they were her own; a bird that collaborates in an extraordinary way with one species—ours—but parasitizes another in gruesome fashion; birds that give gifts and birds that steal; birds that dance or drum, that paint their creations or paint themselves; birds that build walls of sound to keep out intruders and birds that summon playmates with a special call—and may hold the secret to our own penchant for playfulness and the evolution of laughter. Drawing on personal observations, the latest science, and her bird-related travel around the world, from the tropical rainforests of eastern Australia and the remote woodlands of northern Japan, to the rolling hills of lower Austria and the islands of Alaska’s Kachemak Bay, Jennifer Ackerman shows there is clearly no single bird way of being. In every respect, in plumage, form, song, flight, lifestyle, niche, and behavior, birds vary. It is what we love about them. As E.O Wilson once said, when you have seen one bird, you have not seen them all.
An Architectural Record Notable Book A fascinating, thought-provoking journey into our built environment Modern humans are an indoor species. We spend 90 percent of our time inside, shuttling between homes and offices, schools and stores, restaurants and gyms. And yet, in many ways, the indoor world remains unexplored territory. For all the time we spend inside buildings, we rarely stop to consider: How do these spaces affect our mental and physical well-being? Our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors? Our productivity, performance, and relationships? In this wide-ranging, character-driven book, science journalist Emily Anthes takes us on an adventure into the buildings in which we spend our days, exploring the profound, and sometimes unexpected, ways that they shape our lives. Drawing on cutting-edge research, she probes the pain-killing power of a well-placed window and examines how the right office layout can expand our social networks. She investigates how room temperature regulates our cognitive performance, how the microbes hiding in our homes influence our immune systems, and how cafeteria design affects what—and how much—we eat. Along the way, Anthes takes readers into an operating room designed to minimize medical errors, a school designed to boost students’ physical fitness, and a prison designed to support inmates’ psychological needs. And she previews the homes of the future, from the high-tech houses that could monitor our health to the 3D-printed structures that might allow us to live on the Moon. The Great Indoors provides a fresh perspective on our most familiar surroundings and a new understanding of the power of architecture and design. It’s an argument for thoughtful interventions into the built environment and a story about how to build a better world—one room at a time.
“From the world-renowned physicist, co-founder of the World Science Festival, and best-selling author of The Elegant Universe comes this utterly captivating exploration of deep time and humanity’s search for purpose. Brian Greene takes readers on a breathtaking journey from the big bang to the end of time and invites us to ponder meaning in the face of this unimaginable expanse. He shows us how, from its original orderly state the universe has been moving inexorably toward chaos, and, still, remarkable structures have continually formed: the planets, stars, and galaxies that provide islands in a sea of disorder; biochemical mechanisms, including mutation and selection, animate life; neurons, information, and thought developed into complex consciousness which in turn gave rise to cultures and their timeless myths and creativity. And he describes, as well, how, in the deep reaches of the future, the nature of the universe will threaten the existence of matter itself. Through a series of nested stories Greene provides us with a clearer sense of how we came to be, a finer picture of where we are now, and a firmer understanding of where we are headed. Taken together, it is a completely new perspective on our place in the universe and on what it means to be human”–
Washington Post • 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction in 2020 Finalist • Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction Kirkus Reviews • Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 Library Journal • Best Science & Technology Books of 2020 Booklist • 10 Top Sci-Tech Books of 2020 New York Times Book Review • Editor’s Choice With A Furious Sky, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin tells the history of America itself through its five-hundred-year battle with the fury of hurricanes. In this “compelling” chronicle (New York Times Book Review), Eric Jay Dolin tells the history of America through its battles with hurricanes.Weaving together tales of tragedy and folly, of heroism and scientific progress, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin shows how hurricanes have time and again determined the course of American history, from the nameless storms that threatened the New World voyages to our own era of global warming and megastorms. Along the way, Dolin introduces a rich cast of unlikely heroes, and forces us to reckon with the reality that future storms will likely be worse, unless we reimagine our relationship with the planet.
“Throughout her career, astrophysicist Janna Levin has focused, alongside her research, on making the science she studies not just accessible, but, perhaps more important, intriguing to the nonscientist. And that is what she has done again here, helping us to understand the black hole: perhaps the most opaque theoretical construct ever imagined by physicists. She explains how their existence came to be proven decades after they were first predicted in Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity. And she explores the ways in which what we know about them has changed our most basic understanding of the galaxy, the universe, the whole expanse of reality that we inhabit.”–Publisher’s description.
In this “deeply personal and lyrical book” (Publishers Weekly) from the New York Times bestselling author of The Horse, Wendy Williams explores the lives of one of the world’s most resilient creatures—the butterfly—shedding light on the role that they play in our ecosystem and in our human lives. “[A] glorious and exuberant celebration of these biological flying machines…Williams takes us on a humorous and beautifully crafted journey” (The Washington Post). From butterfly gardens to zoo exhibits, these “flying flowers” are one of the few insects we’ve encouraged to infiltrate our lives. Yet, what has drawn us to these creatures in the first place? And what are their lives really like? In this “entertaining look at ‘the world’s favorite insect’” (Booklist, starred review), New York Times bestselling author and science journalist Wendy Williams reveals the inner lives of these delicate creatures, who are far more intelligent and tougher than we give them credit for. Monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles each year from Canada to Mexico. Other species have learned how to fool ants into taking care of them. Butterflies’ scales are inspiring researchers to create new life-saving medical technology. Williams takes readers to butterfly habitats across the globe and introduces us to not only various species, but “digs deeply into the lives of both butterflies and [the] scientists” (Science magazine) who have spent decades studying them. Coupled with years of research and knowledge gained from experts in the field, this accessible “butterfly biography” explores the ancient partnership between these special creatures and humans, and why they continue to fascinate us today. “Informative, thought-provoking,” (BookPage, starred review) and extremely profound, The Language of Butterflies is a “fascinating book [that] will be of interest to anyone who has ever admired a butterfly, and anyone who cares about preserving these stunning creatures” (Library Journal).
When it comes to Mars, the focus is often on how to get there: the rockets, the engines, the fuel. But upon arrival, what will it actually be like? In 2013, Kate Greene moved to Mars. That is, along with five fellow crew members, she embarked on NASA’s first HI-SEAS mission, a simulated Martian environment located on the slopes of Mauna Loa in Hawai’i. For four months she lived, worked, and slept in an isolated geodesic dome, conducting a sleep study on her crew mates and gaining incredible insight into human behavior in tight quarters, as well as the nature of boredom, dreams, and isolation that arise amidst the promise of scientific progress and glory. In Once Upon a Time I Lived on Mars, Greene draws on her experience to contemplate humanity’s broader impulse to explore. The result is a twined story of space and life, of the standard, able-bodied astronaut and Greene’s brother’s disability, of the lag time of interplanetary correspondences and the challenges of a long-distance marriage, of freeze-dried egg powder and fresh pineapple, of departure and return. By asking what kind of wisdom humanity might take to Mars and elsewhere in the Universe, Greene has written a remarkable, wide-ranging examination of our time in space right now, as a pre-Mars species, poised on the edge, readying for launch.
From the author of How Emotions Are Made, a myth-busting primer on the brain, in the tradition of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
In The Future We Choose, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac—who led negotiations for the United Nations during the historic Paris Agreement of 2015—have written a cautionary but optimistic book about the world’s changing climate and the fate of humanity. The authors outline two possible scenarios for our planet. In one, they describe what life on Earth will be like by 2050 if we fail to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate targets. In the other, they lay out what it will be like to live in a regenerative world that has net-zero emissions. They argue for confronting the climate crisis head-on, with determination and optimism. The Future We Choose presents our options and tells us what governments, corporations, and each of us can, and must, do to fend off disaster.
A writer and anthropologist searches for wild foods–and reveals what we lose in a world where wildness itself is misunderstood, commodified, and hotly pursued. Two centuries ago, nearly half the North American diet was found in the wild. Today, so-called “wild foods” are becoming expensive commodities, served to the wealthy in top restaurants. In Feasting Wild, geographer and anthropologist Gina Rae La Cerva traces our relationship to wild foods and shows what we sacrifice when we domesticate them–including biodiversity, Indigenous knowledge, and an important connection to nature. Along the way, she samples wild foods herself, sipping elusive bird’s nest soup in Borneo and smuggling Swedish moose meat home in her suitcase. Thoughtful, ambitious, and wide-ranging, Feasting Wild challenges us to take a closer look at the way we eat today.
The first hopeful book about climate change, The Future Earth shows readers how to reverse the short- and long-term effects of climate change over the next three decades. The basics of climate science are easy. We know it is entirely human-caused. Which means its solutions will be similarly human-led. In The Future Earth, leading climate change advocate and weather-related journalist Eric Holthaus (“the Rebel Nerd of Meteorology”—Rolling Stone) offers a radical vision of our future, specifically how to reverse the short- and long-term effects of climate change over the next three decades. Anchored by world-class reporting, interviews with futurists, climatologists, biologists, economists, and climate change activists, it shows what the world could look like if we implemented radical solutions on the scale of the crises we face. What could happen if we reduced carbon emissions by 50 percent in the next decade? What could living in a city look like in 2030? How could the world operate in 2040, if the proposed Green New Deal created a 100 percent net carbon-free economy in the United States? This is the book for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the current state of our environment. Hopeful and prophetic, The Future Earth invites us to imagine how we can reverse the effects of climate change in our own lifetime and encourages us to enter a deeper relationship with the earth as conscientious stewards and to re-affirm our commitment to one another in our shared humanity.
The scope of criminal justice surveillance has expanded rapidly in recent decades. At the same time, the use of big data has spread across a range of fields, including finance, politics, healthcare, and marketing. While law enforcement’s use of big data is hotly contested, very little is known about how the police actually use it in daily operations and with what consequences. In Predict and Surveil, Sarah Brayne offers an unprecedented, inside look at how police use big data and new surveillance technologies, leveraging on-the-ground fieldwork with one of the most technologically advanced law enforcement agencies in the world-the Los Angeles Police Department. Drawing on original interviews and ethnographic observations, Brayne examines the causes and consequences of algorithmic control. She reveals how the police use predictive analytics to deploy resources, identify suspects, and conduct investigations; how the adoption of big data analytics transforms police organizational practices; and how the police themselves respond to these new data-intensive practices. Although big data analytics holds potential to reduce bias and increase efficiency, Brayne argues that it also reproduces and deepens existing patterns of social inequality, threatens privacy, and challenges civil liberties. A groundbreaking examination of the growing role of the private sector in public policing, this book challenges the way we think about the data-heavy supervision law enforcement increasingly imposes upon civilians in the name of objectivity, efficiency, and public safety.
Twelve-year-old Libby Monroe is great at science, being optimistic, and talking to her famous, accomplished friends (okay, maybe that last one is only in her head). She’s not great at playing piano, sitting still, or figuring out how to say the right thing at the right time in real life. Libby was born with Turner Syndrome, and that makes some things hard. But she has lots of people who love her, and that makes her pretty lucky. When her big sister Nonny tells her she’s pregnant, Libby is thrilled—but worried. Nonny and her husband are in a financial black hole, and Libby knows that babies aren’t always born healthy. So she strikes a deal with the universe: She’ll enter a contest with a project about Cecelia Payne, the first person to discover what stars are made of. If she wins the grand prize and gives all that money to Nonny’s family, then the baby will be perfect. Does she have what it takes to care for the sister that has always cared for her? And what will it take for the universe to notice? From debut author Sarah Allen comes this pitch-perfect, heartwarming novel about growing up, finding yourself, and loving people with everything you’re made of.
A striking debut work of experiential reportage illuminating what fear does to us and how it’s key to both staying and feeling alive Frozen in terror during a mountain descent, award-winning journalist Eva Holland reaches her breaking point. Since childhood, she’s been gripped by two debilitating phobias: fear of losing her mother, and fear of heights. The worst has already happened: Eva’s mother died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2015. But now—after an arduous, embarrassing, and tearful finale to her ice-climbing expedition—Eva decides, enough. Fear may define her past, but she won’t let it dictate her future. Thus begins Holland’s quest to renegotiate her inhibiting relationship with fear. In stirring, raw prose, she reveals what it’s like to live in the clutches of paralyzing dread. And with remarkable courage, she tests the limits of what one can do to live less fearfully—from engaging in daring adventure to cutting-edge research: She confronts her acrophobia by jumping out of an airplane, explores the lives of rare individuals who feel little or no fear, and meets with scientists working to eliminate phobias with a single pill. Of course, one doesn’t have to go out of the way to face fear; by horrible coincidence, a series of freak accidents leaves Holland deeply shaken. Determined to stay the course, she seeks out a surprisingly effective treatment involving eye movement—to reckon with lingering trauma and anxiety to rid herself of intrusive memories and panics while driving. Ultimately, Holland’s odyssey sheds light on universal questions: How do we feel fear, and why? Is fear necessary? Is it rooted in the body or the mind? And it brings her ever closer to knowing: Is there a better way to feel afraid? Finding the nerve to face down her fears, Holland not only shows us how to grapple with our own, but invites us to embrace them as a way to live happier and feel more alive.
‘Read this book to learn, but also to honour the man. We shall never see his like again.’ – Sunday Times See the world. Then make it better. ‘I am 94. I’ve had an extraordinary life. It’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary. As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world – but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day – the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity. I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake – and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right. We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited.’ All we need is the will to do so.’
An illuminating guide to the scientific and technological achievements of the Middle Ages through the life of a crusading astronomer-monk. Soaring Gothic cathedrals, violent crusades, the Black Death: these are the dramatic forces that shaped the medieval era. But the so-called Dark Ages also gave us the first universities, eyeglasses, and mechanical clocks. As medieval thinkers sought to understand the world around them, from the passing of the seasons to the stars in the sky, they came to develop a vibrant scientific culture. In The Light Ages, Cambridge science historian Seb Falk takes us on a tour of medieval science through the eyes of one fourteenth-century monk, John of Westwyk. Born in a rural manor, educated in England’s grandest monastery, and then exiled to a clifftop priory, Westwyk was an intrepid crusader, inventor, and astrologer. From multiplying Roman numerals to navigating by the stars, curing disease, and telling time with an ancient astrolabe, we learn emerging science alongside Westwyk and travel with him through the length and breadth of England and beyond its shores. On our way, we encounter a remarkable cast of characters: the clock-building English abbot with leprosy, the French craftsman-turned-spy, and the Persian polymath who founded the world’s most advanced observatory. The Light Ages offers a gripping story of the struggles and successes of an ordinary man in a precarious world and conjures a vivid picture of medieval life as we have never seen it before. An enlightening history that argues that these times weren’t so dark after all, The Light Ages shows how medieval ideas continue to color how we see the world today.
Harrow the Ninth, an Amazon pick for Best SFF of 2020 and the New York Times and USA Today bestselling sequel to Gideon the Ninth, turns a galaxy inside out as one necromancer struggles to survive the wreckage of herself aboard the Emperor’s haunted space station. “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space! Decadent nobles vie to serve the deathless emperor! Skeletons!” —Charles Stross on Gideon the Ninth “Unlike anything I’ve ever read.” —V.E. Schwab on Gideon the Ninth “Deft, tense and atmospheric, compellingly immersive and wildly original.” —The New York Times on Gideon the Ninth She answered the Emperor’s call. She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend. In victory, her world has turned to ash. After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her. Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off? THE LOCKED TOMB SERIES BOOK 1: Gideon the Ninth BOOK 2: Harrow the Ninth BOOK 3: Nona the Ninth BOOK 4: Alecto the Ninth At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
An “intriguing and accessible” (Publishers Weekly) interpretation of the life of Galileo Galilei, one of history’s greatest and most fascinating scientists, that sheds new light on his discoveries and how he was challenged by science deniers. “We really need this story now, because we’re living through the next chapter of science denial” (Bill McKibben). Galileo’s story may be more relevant today than ever before. At present, we face enormous crises—such as minimizing the dangers of climate change—because the science behind these threats is erroneously questioned or ignored. Galileo encountered this problem 400 years ago. His discoveries, based on careful observations and ingenious experiments, contradicted conventional wisdom and the teachings of the church at the time. Consequently, in a blatant assault on freedom of thought, his books were forbidden by church authorities. Astrophysicist and bestselling author Mario Livio draws on his own scientific expertise and uses his “gifts as a great storyteller” (The Washington Post) to provide a “refreshing perspective” (Booklist) into how Galileo reached his bold new conclusions about the cosmos and the laws of nature. A freethinker who followed the evidence wherever it led him, Galileo was one of the most significant figures behind the scientific revolution. He believed that every educated person should know science as well as literature, and insisted on reaching the widest audience possible, publishing his books in Italian rather than Latin. Galileo was put on trial with his life in the balance for refusing to renounce his scientific convictions. He remains a hero and inspiration to scientists and all of those who respect science—which, as Livio reminds us in this “admirably clear and concise” (The Times, London) book, remains threatened everyday.
“A rip-roaring tale, Fossil Men is one of those rare books that can be a prism through which to view the world, exposing the fabric of the Earth and illuminating the Tree of Life.” —New York Times bestselling author Peter Nichols A behind-the-scenes account of the shocking discovery of the skeleton of “Ardi,” a human ancestor far older than Lucy – a find that shook the world of paleoanthropology and radically altered our understanding of human evolution. In 1994, a team led by fossil-hunting legend Tim White—”the Steve Jobs of paleoanthropology”—uncovered the bones of a human ancestor in Ethiopia’s Afar region. Radiometric dating of nearby rocks indicated the skeleton, classified as Ardipithecus ramidus, was 4.4 million years old, more than a million years older than “Lucy,” then the oldest known human ancestor. The findings challenged many assumptions about human evolution—how we started walking upright, how we evolved our nimble hands, and, most significantly, whether we were descended from an ancestor that resembled today’s chimpanzee—and repudiated a half-century of paleoanthropological orthodoxy. Fossil Men is the first full-length exploration of Ardi, the fossil men who found her, and her impact on what we know about the origins of the human species. It is a scientific detective story played out in anatomy and the natural history of the human body. Kermit Pattison brings into focus a cast of eccentric, obsessive scientists, including one of the world’s greatest fossil hunters, Tim White—an exacting and unforgiving fossil hunter whose virtuoso skills in the field were matched only by his propensity for making enemies; Gen Suwa, a Japanese savant who sometimes didn’t bother going home at night to devote more hours to science; Owen Lovejoy, a onetime creationist-turned-paleoanthropologist; Berhane Asfaw, who survived imprisonment and torture to become Ethiopia’s most senior paleoanthropologist and who fought for African scientists to gain equal footing in the study of human origins; and the Leakeys, for decades the most famous family in paleoanthropology. An intriguing tale of scientific discovery, obsession and rivalry that moves from the sun-baked desert of Africa and a nation caught in a brutal civil war, to modern high-tech labs and academic lecture halls, Fossil Men is popular science at its best, and a must read for fans of Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, and Edward O. Wilson.
From star-nosed moles that have super-sensing snouts to electric eels that paralyze their prey, animals possess unique and extraordinary abilities. In Great Adaptations, Kenneth Catania presents an entertaining and engaging look at some of nature’s most remarkable creatures. Telling the story of his biological detective work, Catania sheds light on the mysteries behind the behaviors of tentacled snakes, tiny shrews, zombie-making wasps, and more. He shows not only how studying these animals can provide deep insights into how life evolved, but also how scientific discovery can be filled with adventure and fun. –Inside jacket.
The harrowing story of the most destructive American wildfire in a century. There is no precedent in postwar American history for the destruction of the town of Paradise, California. On November 8, 2018, the community of 27,000 people was swallowed by the ferocious Camp Fire, which razed virtually every home and killed at least 85 people. The catastrophe seared the American imagination, taking the front page of every major national newspaper and top billing on the news networks. It displaced tens of thousands of people, yielding a refugee crisis that continues to unfold. Fire in Paradise is a dramatic and moving narrative of the disaster based on hundreds of in-depth interviews with residents, firefighters and police, and scientific experts. Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano are California-based journalists who have reported on Paradise since the day the fire began. Together they reveal the heroics of the first responders, the miraculous escapes of those who got out of Paradise, and the horrors experienced by those who were trapped. Their accounts are intimate and unforgettable, including the local who left her home on foot as fire approached while her 82-year-old father stayed to battle it; the firefighter who drove into the heart of the inferno in his bulldozer; the police officer who switched on his body camera to record what he thought would be his final moments as the flames closed in; and the mother who, less than 12 hours after giving birth in the local hospital, thought she would die in the chaotic evacuation with her baby in her lap. Gee and Anguiano also explain the science of wildfires, write powerfully about the role of the power company PG&E in the blaze, and describe the poignant efforts to raise Paradise from the ruins. This is the story of a town at the forefront of a devastating global shift—of a remarkable landscape sucked ever drier of moisture and becoming inhospitable even to trees, now dying in their tens of millions and turning to kindling. It is also the story of a lost community, one that epitomized a provincial, affordable kind of Californian existence that is increasingly unattainable. It is, finally, a story of a new kind of fire behavior that firefighters have never witnessed before and barely know how to handle. What happened in Paradise was unprecedented in America. Yet according to climate scientists and fire experts, it will surely happen again.
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2020 “In this superbly articulate cri de coeur, Safina gives us a new way of looking at the natural world that is radically different.”—The Washington Post New York Times bestselling author Carl Safina brings readers close to three non-human cultures—what they do, why they do it, and how life is for them. A New York Times Notable Books of 2020 Some believe that culture is strictly a human phenomenon. But this book reveals cultures of other-than-human beings in some of Earth’s remaining wild places. It shows how if you’re a sperm whale, a scarlet macaw, or a chimpanzee, you too come to understand yourself as an individual within a particular community that does things in specific ways, that has traditions. Alongside genes, culture is a second form of inheritance, passed through generations as pools of learned knowledge. As situations change, social learning—culture—allows behaviors to adjust much faster than genes can adapt. Becoming Wild brings readers into intimate proximity with various nonhuman individuals in their free-living communities. It presents a revelatory account of how animals function beyond our usual view. Safina shows that for non-humans and humans alike, culture comprises the answers to the question, “How do we live here?” It unites individuals within a group identity. But cultural groups often seek to avoid, or even be hostile toward, other factions. By showing that this is true across species, Safina illuminates why human cultural tensions remain maddeningly intractable despite the arbitrariness of many of our differences. Becoming Wild takes readers behind the curtain of life on Earth, to witness from a new vantage point the most world-saving of perceptions: how we are all connected.
“Enthralling . . . breathtaking . . . Metazoa brings an extraordinary and astute look at our own mind’s essential link to the animal world.” —The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice) “A great book . . . [Godfrey-Smith is] brilliant at describing just what he sees, the patterns of behaviour of the animals he observes.” —Nigel Warburton, Five Books The scuba-diving philosopher who wrote Other Minds explores the origins of animal consciousness Dip below the ocean’s surface and you are soon confronted by forms of life that could not seem more foreign to our own: sea sponges, soft corals, and serpulid worms, whose rooted bodies, intricate geometry, and flower-like appendages are more reminiscent of plant life or even architecture than anything recognizably animal. Yet these creatures are our cousins. As fellow members of the animal kingdom—the Metazoa—they can teach us much about the evolutionary origins of not only our bodies, but also our minds. In his acclaimed 2016 book, Other Minds, the philosopher and scuba diver Peter Godfrey-Smith explored the mind of the octopus—the closest thing to an intelligent alien on Earth. In Metazoa, Godfrey-Smith expands his inquiry to animals at large, investigating the evolution of subjective experience with the assistance of far-flung species. As he delves into what it feels like to perceive and interact with the world as other life-forms do, Godfrey-Smith shows that the appearance of the animal body well over half a billion years ago was a profound innovation that set life upon a new path. In accessible, riveting prose, he charts the ways that subsequent evolutionary developments—eyes that track, for example, and bodies that move through and manipulate the environment—shaped the subjective lives of animals. Following the evolutionary paths of a glass sponge, soft coral, banded shrimp, octopus, and fish, then moving onto land and the world of insects, birds, and primates like ourselves, Metazoa gathers their stories together in a way that bridges the gap between mind and matter, addressing one of the most vexing philosophical problems: that of consciousness. Combining vivid animal encounters with philosophical reflections and the latest news from biology, Metazoa reveals that even in our high-tech, AI-driven times, there is no understanding our minds without understanding nerves, muscles, and active bodies. The story that results is as rich and vibrant as life itself.
Winner of the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction * Finalist for the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction * Finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award A “delving, haunted, and poetic debut” (The New York Times Book Review) about the awe-inspiring lives of whales, revealing what they can teach us about ourselves, our planet, and our relationship with other species. When writer Rebecca Giggs encountered a humpback whale stranded on her local beachfront in Australia, she began to wonder how the lives of whales reflect the condition of our oceans. Fathoms: The World in the Whale is “a work of bright and careful genius” (Robert Moor, New York Times bestselling author of On Trails), one that blends natural history, philosophy, and science to explore: How do whales experience ecological change? How has whale culture been both understood and changed by human technology? What can observing whales teach us about the complexity, splendor, and fragility of life on earth? In Fathoms, we learn about whales so rare they have never been named, whale songs that sweep across hemispheres in annual waves of popularity, and whales that have modified the chemical composition of our planet’s atmosphere. We travel to Japan to board the ships that hunt whales and delve into the deepest seas to discover how plastic pollution pervades our earth’s undersea environment. With the immediacy of Rachel Carson and the lush prose of Annie Dillard, Giggs gives us a “masterly” (The New Yorker) exploration of the natural world even as she addresses what it means to write about nature at a time of environmental crisis. With depth and clarity, she outlines the challenges we face as we attempt to understand the perspectives of other living beings, and our own place on an evolving planet. Evocative and inspiring, Fathoms “immediately earns its place in the pantheon of classics of the new golden age of environmental writing” (Literary Hub).
“Sarah Stewart Johnson interweaves her own coming-of-age story as a planetary scientist with a vivid history of the exploration of Mars in this celebration of human curiosity, passion, and perseverance.”—Alan Lightman, author of Einstein’s Dreams NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Times (UK) • Library Journal “Lovely . . . Johnson’s prose swirls with lyrical wonder, as varied and multihued as the apricot deserts, butterscotch skies and blue sunsets of Mars.”—Anthony Doerr, The New York Times Book Review Mars was once similar to Earth, but today there are no rivers, no lakes, no oceans. Coated in red dust, the terrain is bewilderingly empty. And yet multiple spacecraft are circling Mars, sweeping over Terra Sabaea, Syrtis Major, the dunes of Elysium, and Mare Sirenum—on the brink, perhaps, of a staggering find, one that would inspire humankind as much as any discovery in the history of modern science. In this beautifully observed, deeply personal book, Georgetown scientist Sarah Stewart Johnson tells the story of how she and other researchers have scoured Mars for signs of life, transforming the planet from a distant point of light into a world of its own. Johnson’s fascination with Mars began as a child in Kentucky, turning over rocks with her father and looking at planets in the night sky. She now conducts fieldwork in some of Earth’s most hostile environments, such as the Dry Valleys of Antarctica and the salt flats of Western Australia, developing methods for detecting life on other worlds. Here, with poetic precision, she interlaces her own personal journey—as a female scientist and a mother—with tales of other seekers, from Percival Lowell, who was convinced that a utopian society existed on Mars, to Audouin Dollfus, who tried to carry out astronomical observations from a stratospheric balloon. In the process, she shows how the story of Mars is also a story about Earth: This other world has been our mirror, our foil, a telltale reflection of our own anxieties and yearnings. Empathetic and evocative, The Sirens of Mars offers an unlikely natural history of a place where no human has ever set foot, while providing a vivid portrait of our quest to defy our isolation in the cosmos.
“A 1980s cultural assessment of the fantastical future of online behavior continues the story that began in the internationally best-selling futuristic novel, Ready Player One, that inspired a blockbuster Steven Spielberg film”–
One of the world’s leading experts on genetics unravels one of the most important breakthroughs in modern science and medicine. IIf our genes are, to a great extent, our destiny, then what would happen if mankind could engineer and alter the very essence of our DNA coding? Millions might be spared the devastating effects of hereditary disease or the challenges of disability, whether it was the pain of sickle-cell anemia to the ravages of Huntington’s disease. But this power to “play God” also raises major ethical questions and poses threats for potential misuse. For decades, these questions have lived exclusively in the realm of science fiction, but as Kevin Davies powerfully reveals in his new book, this is all about to change. Engrossing and page-turning, Editing Humanity takes readers inside the fascinating world of a new gene editing technology called CRISPR, a high-powered genetic toolkit that enables scientists to not only engineer but to edit the DNA of any organism down to the individual building blocks of the genetic code. Davies introduces readers to arguably the most profound scientific breakthrough of our time. He tracks the scientists on the front lines of its research to the patients whose powerful stories bring the narrative movingly to human scale. Though the birth of the “CRISPR babies” in China made international news, there is much more to the story of CRISPR than headlines seemingly ripped from science fiction. In Editing Humanity, Davies sheds light on the implications that this new technology can have on our everyday lives and in the lives of generations to come.
When was the last time you read a grand statement, accompanied by a large number, and wondered whether it could really be true? Statistics are vital in helping us tell stories – we see them in the papers, on social media, and we hear them used in everyday conversation – and yet we doubt them more than ever.But numbers – in the right hands – have the power to change the world for the better. Contrary to popular belief, good statistics are not a trick, although they are a kind of magic. Good statistics are not smoke and mirrors; in fact, they help us see more clearly. Good statistics are like a telescope for an astronomer, a microscope for a bacteriologist, or an X-ray for a radiologist. If we are willing to let them, good statistics help us see things about the world around us and about ourselves – both large and small – that we would not be able to see in any other way.In How to Make the World Add Up, Tim Harford draws on his experience as both an economist and presenter of the BBC’s radio show ‘More or Less’. He takes us deep into the world of disinformation and obfuscation, bad research and misplaced motivation to find those priceless jewels of data and analysis that make communicating with numbers worthwhile. Harford’s characters range from the art forger who conned the Nazis to the stripper who fell in love with the most powerful congressman in Washington, to famous data detectives such as John Maynard Keynes, Daniel Kahneman and Florence Nightingale. He reveals how we can evaluate the claims that surround us with confidence, curiosity and a healthy level of scepticism.Using ten simple rules for understanding numbers – plus one golden rule – this extraordinarily insightful book shows how if we keep our wits about us, thinking carefully about the way numbers are sourced and presented, we can look around us and see with crystal clarity how the world adds up.
A compelling and disquieting journey through the history and science of epidemics. For centuries mankind has waged war against the infections that, left untreated, would have the power to wipe out communities, or even entire populations. Yet for all our advanced scientific knowledge, only one human disease – smallpox – has ever been eradicated globally. In recent years, outbreaks of Ebola and Zika have provided vivid examples of how difficult it is to contain an infection once it strikes, and the panic that a rapidly spreading epidemic can ignite. But while we chase the diseases we are already aware of, new ones are constantly emerging, like the coronavirus that spread across the world in 2020. At the same time, antimicrobial resistance is harnessing infections that we once knew how to control, enabling them to thrive once more. Meera Senthilingam presents a timely look at humanity’s ongoing battle against infection, examining the successes and failures of the past, along with how we are confronting the challenges of today, and our chances of eradicating disease in the future.
‘A BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN EXPLORATION OF PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION IN SCIENCE.’ BRIAN COX Life is all around us, abundant and diverse, it is extraordinary. But what does it actually mean to be alive? Nobel prize-winner Paul Nurse has spent his career revealing how living cells work. In this book, he takes up the challenge of defining life in a way that every reader can understand. It is a shared journey of discovery; step by step he illuminates five great ideas that underpin biology. He traces the roots of his own curiosity and knowledge to reveal how science works, both now and in the past. Using his personal experiences, in and out of the lab, he shares with us the challenges, the lucky breaks, and the thrilling eureka moments of discovery. To survive the challenges that face the human race today – from climate change, to pandemics, loss of biodiversity and food security – it is vital that we all understand what life is.
From writer Stacy McAnulty and illustrator David Litchfield, Ocean! Waves for All is a light-hearted nonfiction picture book about the formation and history of the ocean, told from the perspective of the ocean itself. Dude. Ocean is incredible. Atlantic, Pacific, Artic, Indian, Southern—it’s all excellent Ocean! Not part of any nation, his waves are for all. And under those waves, man, he holds so many secrets. With characteristic humor and charm, Stacy McAnulty channels the voice of Ocean in this next “autobiography” in the Our Universe series. Rich with kid-friendly facts and beautifully brought to life by David Litchfield, this is an equally charming and irresistible companion to Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years; Sun! One in a Billion; and Moon! Earth’s Best Friend.
Created by Harvard students for students everywhere, SparkNotes give you just what you need to succeed in school: Complete Plot Summary and Analysis Key Facts About the Work Analysis of Major Characters Themes, Motifs, and Symbols Explanation of Important Quotations Author’s Historical Context Suggested Essay Topics 25-Question Review Quiz The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks features explanations of key themes, motifs, and symbols including: humanity; immortality and legacy; scientific racism; racialized poverty; hela cells; red nail polish. It also includes detailed analysis of these important characters: Deborah Lacks; Henrietta Lacks; Rebecca Skloot; George Gey.
Last updated on October 17, 2021