Recently in Science Category

New Science Books

| No Comments

Categories:

Enough slacking. It's time to get back to school. Put down those tawdry magazines and beach reads, elevate your mind and read a new science book or two.


Click for availability and more information Brilliant Blunders : from Darwin to Einstein--colossal mistakes by great scientists that changed our understanding of life and the universe., by Mario Livio
 
Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein were all brilliant scientists. Each made groundbreaking contributions to his field--but each also stumbled badly. Darwin's theory of natural selection shouldn't have worked, according to the prevailing beliefs of his time. Not until Gregor Mendel's work was known would there be a mechanism to explain natural selection. How could Darwin be both wrong and right? Lord Kelvin, Britain's leading scientific intellect at the time, gravely miscalculated the age of the earth. Linus Pauling, the world's premier chemist (who would win the Nobel Prize in chemistry) constructed an erroneous model for DNA in his haste to beat the competition to publication. Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle dismissed the idea of a "Big Bang" origin to the universe (ironically, the caustic name he gave to this event endured long after his erroneous objections were disproven). And Albert Einstein, whose name is synonymous with genius, speculated incorrectly about the forces that hold the universe in equilibrium--and that speculation opened the door to brilliant conceptual leaps. These five scientists expanded our knowledge of life on earth, the evolution of the earth itself, and the evolution of the universe, despite and because of their errors. As Mario Livio luminously explains, the scientific process advances through error. Mistakes are essential to progress. Read Carl Zimmer's review in the New York Times to learn more about the book.


Click for availability and more information Bug Music: how insects gave us rhythm and noise, by David Rothenberg
 
In the spring of 2013 the cicadas in the Northeastern United States will yet again emerge from their seventeen-year cycle--the longest gestation period of any animal. Those who experience this great sonic invasion compare their sense of wonder to the arrival of a comet or a solar eclipse. This unending rhythmic cycle is just one unique example of how the pulse and noise of insects has taught humans the meaning of rhythm, from the whirr of a cricket's wings to this unfathomable and exact seventeen-year beat. In listening to cicadas, as well as other humming, clicking, and thrumming insects, Bug Music is the first book to consider the radical notion that we humans got our idea of rhythm, synchronization, and dance from the world of insect sounds that surrounded our species over the millions of years over which we evolved. Completing the trilogy he began with Why Birds Sing and Thousand Mile Song, David Rothenberg explores a unique part of our relationship with nature and sound--the music of insects that has provided a soundtrack for humanity throughout the history of our species. Bug Music continues Rothenberg's in-depth research and spirited writing on the relationship between human and animal music, and it follows him as he explores insect influences in classical and modern music, plays his saxophone with crickets and other insects, and confers with researchers and scientists nationwide. 


Click for availability and more information Full-Rip 9.0: the next big earthquake in the Pacific Northwest, by Sandi Doughton
 
Potential bad news for those folks in the Pacfific Northwest, Scientists have identified Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver as the urban centers of what will be the biggest earthquake, also called a mega-quake, in the continental United States. A quake will happen--in fact it's actually overdue. The Cascadia subduction zone is 750 miles long, running along the Pacific coast from Northern California up to southern British Columbia. In this fascinating book, The Seattle Times science reporter Sandi Doughton introduces readers to the scientists who are dedicated to understanding the way the earth moves and describes what patterns can be identified and how prepared (or not) people are. With a 100% chance of a mega-quake hitting the Pacific Northwest, this fascinating book reports on the scientists who are trying to understand when, where, and just how big the big one will be.

Click for availability and more information Heart of Darkness: unraveling the mysteries of the invisible universe, by Jeremiah P. Ostriker & Simon Mitton
 
Heart of Darkness describes the incredible saga of humankind's quest to unravel the deepest secrets of the universe. Over the past thirty years, scientists have learned that two little-understood components--dark matter and dark energy--comprise most of the known cosmos, explain the growth of all cosmic structure, and hold the key to the universe's fate. The story of how evidence for the so-called "Lambda-Cold Dark Matter" model of cosmology has been gathered by generations of scientists throughout the world is told here by one of the pioneers of the field, Jeremiah Ostriker, and his coauthor Simon Mitton. The story is far from complete, however, as scientists confront the mysteries of the ultimate causes of cosmic structure formation and the real nature and origin of dark matter and dark energy.

Click for availability and more information Heat: adventures in the world's fiery places , by Bill Streever
 
Bill Streever sets off to find out what heat really means. Let him be your guide and you'll firewalk across hot coals and sweat it out in Death Valley, experience intense fever and fire, learn about the invention of matches and the chemistry of cooking, drink crude oil, and explore thermonuclear weapons and the hottest moment of all time-the big bang. Melting glaciers, warming oceans, forest fires, droughts-it's clear that today's world is getting hotter. But while we know the agony of a sunburn or the comfort of our winter heaters, do we really understand heat? Read this alongside Streever's earlier book Cold: adventures in the world's frozen places to get get the full story. 


Click for availability and more information Imperial Dreams: tracking the imperial woodpecker through the wild Sierra Madre , by Tim Gallagher
 
Explorer and naturalist Tim Gallagher is obsessed with rare birds. A decade ago, Gallagher was one of the re-discoverers of the legendary ivory-billed woodpecker, which most scientists believed had been extinct for more than half a century--an event that caused an international stir. Now, in Imperial Dreams, Gallagher once again hits the trail, journeying deep into Mexico's savagely beautiful Sierra Madre Occidental, home to rich wildlife, as well as to Mexican drug cartels, in a perilous quest to locate the most elusive bird in the world--the imperial woodpecker, a giant among its clan.


Click for availability and more information Life's Ratchet: how molecular machines extract order from chaos , by Peter M. Hoffmann
 
Below the calm, ordered exterior of a living organism lies microscopic chaos, or what Peter Hoffmann calls the "molecular storm", specialized molecules immersed in a whirlwind of colliding water molecules. Our cells are filled with molecular machines, which, like tiny ratchets, transform random motion into ordered activity, and create the "purpose" that is the hallmark of life. Tiny electrical motors turn electrical voltage into motion, nanoscale factories custom-build other molecular machines, and mechanical machines twist, untwist, separate and package strands of DNA. The cell is like a city, an unfathomable, complex collection of molecular workers working together to create something greater than themselves. Life, Hoffman argues, emerges from the random motions of atoms filtered through these sophisticated structures of our evolved machinery. 


Click for availability and more information Red Rover: inside the story of robotic space exploration, from Genesis to the Curiosity rover, by Roger Wiens
 
In its eerie likeness to Earth, Mars has long captured our imaginations, both as a destination for humankind and as a possible home to extraterrestrial life. It is our 21st century New World; its explorers robots, shipped 350 million miles from Earth to uncover the distant planet's secrets. Its most recent scout is Curiosity, a one-ton, Jeep-sized nuclear-powered space laboratory, which is now roving the Martian surface to determine whether the red planet has ever been physically capable of supporting life. In Red Rover, geochemist Roger Wiens, the principal investigator for the ChemCam laser instrument on the rover and veteran of numerous robotic NASA missions, tells the unlikely story of his involvement in sending sophisticated hardware into space, culminating in the Curiosity rover's amazing journey to Mars. 


Click for availability and more information The Right Chemistry: 108 enlightening, nutritious, health-conscious and occasionally bizarre inquiries into the science of everyday life, by Joe Schwarcz
 
A big part of Dr. Joe Schwarcz's job as director of McGill University's Office of Science and Society is persuading people that the pursuit of science knowledge is a potential source of wonder, enlightenment and well-being for everyone. And as a chemist, he's particularly keen to rescue chemistry from the bad rep it's developed over recent decades. There is more to chemistry than toxins, pollution, and "Don't drink that soda--it's full of chemicals." The evangelic zeal Schwarcz brings to his day job is also the driving force behind his work as an author. Once again, here he is to tell that everything is full of chemicals, and that chemistry means health, nutrition, beauty products, cleaning products, DNA, and the means by which Lady Gaga's meat dress was held together. In the style established with the bestselling Brain Fuel, each section here is themed and contains a mixture of short, pithy items and slightly longer mini-essays. You will learn whether to put broccoli on a pizza before or after baking, whether beauty pills are worth taking, and whether the baby shampoo you're using is poisonous. You will discover but not use, please, the recipe for a Molotov cocktail. You will be enabled to enthrall fellow dinner guests with the derivation of the name Persil, and the definition of a kangarian (it's someone who only eats kangaroo meat). 


Click for availability and more information The Way of Science: finding truth and meaning in a scientific worldview, by Dennis R. Trumble
 
Most people appreciate science on an obvious level. Modern medicine, electric lighting, rapid transportation, and long-distance communication are among the many benefits of science that have made life today healthier and more comfortable than people in earlier eras could have imagined. This book is about a deeper benefit of science, one that, while less obvious, may prove to be far more important in the long run: namely, the ability to look beyond our preconceptions and see the world and ourselves in a truer light. The author makes a compelling case that now more than ever the public at large needs to appreciate the critical-thinking tools that science has to offer and be educated in basic science literacy. Trumble emphasizes that the methods and facts of science are accessible to everyone, and that, contrary to popular belief, understanding science does not require extraordinary intelligence. He also notes that scientific rationality and critical thinking are not only good for our physical well-being but also are fully in sync with our highest moral codes. He illustrates the many ways in which the scientific worldview offers a profound sense of wonder, connectedness, and optimism about the human condition, an inspiring perspective that satisfies age-old spiritual aspirations. At a time of daunting environmental challenges and rampant misinformation, this provides a welcome corrective and reason to hope for the future.

New Science Books

| No Comments

Categories:

Entertain and enlightening yourself with some new science books. Below is a sampling of some titles just received by the Greenwich Library that run from the heady and intellectual to the touching and terrifying.


Click for availability and more information Fever season : the story of a terrifying epidemic and the people who saved a city, by Jeanette Keith
 
An account of the 1878 yellow fever epidemic documents how it killed more than 18,000 people in the American South, tracing its particularly catastrophic impact in Memphis, Tennessee, as recorded in diaries and official records while noting the heroic efforts of people who remained behind to help.



Click for availability and more information Future perfect : the case for progress in a networked age, by Steven Johnson
 
Future Perfect makes the case that a new model of political change is on the rise, transforming everything from local governments to classrooms, from protest movements to health care. Johnson paints a compelling portrait of this new political worldview -- influenced by the success and interconnectedness of the Internet, but not dependent on high-tech solutions -- that breaks with the conventional categories of liberal or conservative thinking.



Click for availability and more information Higgs: the invention and discovery of the God Particle, by Jim Boggott
 
The hunt for the Higgs particle has involved the biggest, most expensive experiment ever. There was much at stake our basic model for the building blocks of the Universe, the Standard Model, would have been in tatters if there was no Higgs particle. Here, Jim Baggott explains the science behind the discovery, and its implications.



Click for availability and more information Ignorance: how it drives science, by Stuart Firestein
 
Contrary to the popular view of science as a mountainous accumulation of facts and data, Firestein takes the novel perspective that Ignorance is the main product and driving force of science, and that this is the best way to understand the process of scientific discovery.



Click for availability and more information Lost Antarctica: adventures in a disappearing land , by James B. McClintock
 
The bitter cold and three months a year without sunlight make Antarctica virtually uninhabitable for humans. Yet a world of extraordinary wildlife persists in these harsh conditions, including leopard seals, giant squid, 50-foot algae, sea spiders, coral, multicolored sea stars, and giant predatory worms. Now, as temperatures rise, this fragile ecosystem is under attack. One of the world's foremost experts on Antarctica gives a highly original and distinctive look at a world that is disappearing.



Click for availability and more information On a Farther Shore: the life and legacy of Rachel Carson, by William Souder
 
Published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring, an in-depth portrait of the biologist and reformer examines how she helped to raise awareness of the natural world, the importance of conservation and the dangers of synthetic pesticides. Published in 1962, Silent Spring shocked the public and forced the government to take action-despite a withering attack on Carson from the chemicals industry. The book awakened the world to the heedless contamination of the environment and eventually led to the establishment of the EPA and to the banning of DDT and a host of related pesticides. By drawing frightening parallels between dangerous chemicals and the then-pervasive fallout from nuclear testing, Carson opened a fault line between the gentle ideal of conservation and the more urgent new concept of environmentalism.



Click for availability and more information The Scientists: a family romance., by Marco Roth
 
With the precociousness expected of the only child of a doctor and a classical musician--from the time he could get his toddler tongue to a pronounce a word like "De-oxy ribonucleic acid," or recite a French poem--Marco Roth was able to share his parents' New York, a world centered around house concerts, a private library of literary classics, and dinner discussions of the latest advances in medicine. That world ended when his father started to suffer the worst effects of the AIDS virus that had infected him in the early 1980s. What this family could not talk about for years came to dominate the lives of its surviving members, often in unexpected ways. The Scientists is a story of how we first learn from our parents and how we then learn to see them as separate individuals; it's a story of how precociousness can slow us down when it comes to knowing about our desires and other people's. A memoir of parents and children that grapples with a troubled intellectual and emotional inheritance, in a style that is both elegiac and defiant.



Click for availability and more information Spark of life: electricity in the human body, by Frances Ashcroft
 
What happens during a heart attack? Can someone really die of fright? What is death, anyway? How does electroshock treatment affect the brain? What is consciousness? The answers to these questions lie in the electrical signals constantly traveling through our bodies, driving our thoughts, our movements, and even the beating of our hearts. The history of how scientists discovered the role of electricity in the human body is a colorful one, filled with extraordinary personalities, fierce debates, and brilliant experiments. Moreover, present-day research on electricity and ion channels has created one of the most exciting fields in science, shedding light on conditions ranging from diabetes and allergies to cystic fibrosis, migraines, and male infertility.



Click for availability and more information Spillover: animal infections and the next human pandemic, by David Quammen
 
Examines the emergence and causes of new diseases all over the world, describing a process called "spillover" where illness originates in wild animals before being passed to humans and discusses the potential for the next huge pandemic. You may nott want to read this before you go to bed.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Science category.

Mystery is the previous category.

Science Fiction is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.