Ben Miller - It's Not Rocket Science - Little, Brown Book Group

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    • ISBN:9780748128501
    • Publication date:12 Jul 2012
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    • ISBN:9781405516945
    • Publication date:12 Jul 2012

It's Not Rocket Science

By Ben Miller

  • Paperback
  • £9.99

* An engaging, accessible and fascinating look at science's 'best bits' by popular comedian and particle physicist Ben Miller

The Top Ten Bestseller

Black holes. DNA. The Large Hadron Collider. Ever had that sneaking feeling that you are missing out on some truly spectacular science?

You do? Well, fear not, for help is at hand.

Ben Miller was working on his Physics PhD at Cambridge when he accidentally became a comedian. But first love runs deep, and he has returned to his roots to share with you all his favourite bits of science. This is the stuff you really need to know, not only because it matters but because it will quite simply amaze and delight you.

'Let me show you another, perhaps less familiar side of Science; her beauty, her seductiveness and her passion. And let's do it quickly, while Maths isn't looking'
Ben Miller

'This book makes climate change actually seem interesting. Not just important - it's obviously important - but interesting. As a result I bought lots of other books about climate change, something I now regret'
David Mitchell


Ben Miller is, like you, a mutant ape living through an Ice Age on a ball of molten iron, orbiting a supermassive black hole. He is also an actor, comedian and approximately one half of Armstrong & Miller. He's presented a BBC Horizon documentary on temperature and a Radio 4 series about the history of particle physics, and has written a science column for The Times. He is slowly coming to terms with the idea that he may never be an astronaut.

Biographical Notes

Ben Miller studied physics at Cambridge and was working on his PhD when he left to pursue a career in comedy. He is now half of Britain's most popular TV comedy duo, Armstrong & Miller, and a successful actor, but has always maintained a passionate interest in science.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780751545005
  • Publication date: 02 Jan 2014
  • Page count: 304
  • Imprint: Sphere
Ben Miller has made a successful career out of concealing his intellect, but in this book he fails to obscure his scientific credentials beautifully. It's a fun and insightful ride through the whole of science - it's almost as if he'd finished his PhD! — Professor Brian Cox
This book makes climate change actually seem interesting. Not just important - it's obviously important - but interesting. As a result I bought lots of other books about climate change, something I now regret — David Mitchell
Robinson

The War for Kindness

Jamil Zaki
Authors:
Jamil Zaki

Empathy has been on people's mind a lot lately. Philosophers, evolutionary scientists and indeed former President Obama agree that an increase in empathy could advance us beyond the hatred, violence and polarization in which the world seems caught. Others disagree, arguing it is easiest to empathize with people who look, talk or think like us. As a result, empathy can inspire nepotism, racism and worse. Having studied the neuroscience and psychology of empathy for over a decade, Jamil Zaki thinks both sides of this debate have a point. Empathy is sometimes an engine for moral progress, and other times for moral failure. But Zaki also thinks that both sides are wrong about how empathy works. Both scientists and non-scientists commonly argue that empathy is something that happens to you, sort of like an emotional knee-jerk reflex. Second, they believe it happens more to some people than others. This lines people up along a spectrum, with deep empaths on one end and psychopaths on the other. What's more, wherever we are on that spectrum, we're stuck there. In The War for Kindness, Zaki lays out a very different view of how empathy works, one that breaks these two assumptions. Empathy is not a reflex; it's a choice. We choose empathy (or apathy) constantly: when we read a tragic novel, or cross the street to avoid a homeless person, or ask a distraught friend what's the matter. This view has crucial consequences: if empathy is less a trait (like height), and more a skill (like being good at word games), then we can improve at it. By choosing it more often, we can flex our capabilities and grow more empathic over time. We can also "tune" empathy, ramping it up in situations where it will help and turning it down when it might backfire. Zaki takes us from the world of doctors who train medical students to empathise better to social workers who help each other survive empathising too much. From police trainers who help cadets avoid becoming violent cops to political advocates who ask white Americans to literally walk a (dusty) mile in Mexican immigrants' shoes. This book will give you a deepened understanding of how empathy works, how to control it and how to become the type of empathiser you want to be.

Little, Brown

Here Comes the Sun

Steve Jones
Authors:
Steve Jones

In Here Comes the Sun, Steve Jones explores the dependency of all life and systems on Earth - ecological, biological and physical - on our nearest star. It is a book about connections between those systems, and also about the connections between the various disciplines that study them - from astronomy to cancer prevention, from microbiology to the study of sleep. The book will also be a form of scientific autobiography as Steve charts his own work and interests over fifty years against developments in a wide range of fields, showing how what was once seen as a narrow specialism has become a subject of vast scientific, social and political significance: it is his most personal book to date.

Robinson

Ten Women Who Changed Science, and the World

Catherine Whitlock, Rhodri Evans
Authors:
Catherine Whitlock, Rhodri Evans

With a foreword by Athene Donald, Professor of Experimental Physics, University of Cambridge and Master of Churchill College.Ten Women Who Changed Science tells the moving stories of the physicists, biologists, chemists, astronomers and doctors who helped to shape our world with their extraordinary breakthroughs and inventions, and outlines their remarkable achievements.These scientists overcame significant obstacles, often simply because they were women their science and their lives were driven by personal tragedies and shaped by seismic world events. What drove these remarkable women to cure previously incurable diseases, disprove existing theories or discover new sources of energy? Some were rewarded with the Nobel Prize for their pioneering achievements - Madame Curie, twice - others were not and, even if they had, many are not household names.Despite living during periods when the contribution of women was disregarded, if not ignored, these resilient women persevered with their research, whether creating life-saving drugs or expanding our knowledge of the cosmos. By daring to ask 'How?' and 'Why?' and persevering against the odds, each of these women, in a variety of ways, has made the world a better place.AstronomyHenrietta Leavitt (United States of America) (1868-1921) - discovered the period-luminosity relation(ship) for Cepheid variable stars, which enabled us to measure the size of our Galaxy and the Universe.PhysicsLise Meitner (Austria) (1878-1968) - fled Nazi Germany in 1938, taking with her the experimental results which showed that she and Otto Hahn had split the nucleus and discovered nuclear fission. Chien-Shiung Wu (United States of America) (1912-1997) - Chinese-American who disproved one of the most accepted 'laws of nature', that not all processes can be mirrored. She showed that the 'law of parity', the idea that a left-spinning and right-spinning sub-atomic particle would behave identically, was wrong.ChemistryMarie Curie (France) (1867-1934) - the only person in history to have won Nobel prizes in two different fields of science. Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (United Kingdom) (1910-1994) - British chemist who won the Nobel prize for Chemistry in 1964. Among the most prominent of a generation of great protein crystallographers. The field was revolutionized under her. She pioneered the X-ray study of large molecules of biochemical importance: the structures of cholesterol, penicillin, vitamin B12 and insulin, leading to DNA structure analysis by Franklin etc.MedicineVirginia Apgar (United States of America) (1909-1974) - of Apgar Score fame.Gertrude Elion (United States of America) (1918-1999) - won the Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine in 1988 for developing some important principles for drug development.BiologyRita Levi-Montalicini (Italy) (1909-2012) - the so-called 'Lady of the Cells'. She won the Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine in 1986 for her co-discovery in 1954 of NGF (nerve growth factor).Elsie Widdowson (United Kingdom) (1906-2000) - a pioneer of the science of nutrition who was instrumental in devising the WW2 diet, in part through self-experimentation.Rachel Carson (United States of America) (1907-1964) - marine biologist and author of Silent Spring who is credited with having advanced the environmental movement.

Robinson

Sugar

James Walvin
Authors:
James Walvin

An 'entertaining, informative and utterly depressing global history of an important commodity . . . By alerting readers to the ways that modernity's very origins are entangled with a seemingly benign and delicious substance, Sugar raises fundamental questions about our world.'Sven Beckert, the Laird Bell professor of American history at Harvard University and the author of Empire of Cotton: A Global History, in the New York Times'A brilliant and thought-provoking history of sugar and its ironies'Bee Wilson, Wall Street Journal'Shocking and revelatory . . . no other product has so changed the world, and no other book reveals the scale of its impact.' David Olusoga'This study could not be more timely.' Laura Sandy, Lecturer in the History of Slavery, University of LiverpoolHow did a simple commodity, once the prized monopoly of kings and princes, become an essential ingredient in the lives of millions, before mutating yet again into the cause of a global health epidemic?Prior to 1600, sugar was a costly luxury, the preserve of the rich. But with the rise of the European sugar colonies in the Americas in the seventeenth century, sugar became cheap, ubiquitous and hugely popular - an everyday necessity.As recently as the 1970s, very few people suggested that sugar posed a global health problem;yet today, sugar is regularly denounced as a dangerous addiction, on a par with tobacco, and the cause of a global obesity epidemic. While sugar cosumption remains higher than ever - in some countries as high as 50kg per head per year - some advertisements proudly proclaim that their product contains no sugar. Sugar, while still clearly much loved, has taken on a pariah status.Sugar grown by enslaved workers - people who had been uprooted and shipped vast distances to undertake the gruelling, intensive labour on plantations - brought about revolutionary changes in the landscape of the sugar colonies while transforming the tastes of the Western world.Only now is the extensive ecological harm caused by sugar plantations being fully recognised, but it is the brutal human cost, from the first slave gangs in sixteenth-century Brazil, through to indentured Indian labourers in Fiji, the Japanese in Hawaii or the 'South Sea Islanders' shipped to Australia in the late nineteenth century, that has struck us most forcibly in the recent past. We can only fully understand our contemporary dietary concerns with regard to sugar by coming to terms with the relationship between society and sweetness over a long historical span dating back two centuries to a time when sugar was vital to the burgeoning European domestic and colonial economies. This is exactly what Walvin helps us to do.

Piatkus

Red Teaming

Bryce G. Hoffman
Authors:
Bryce G. Hoffman

THE GAME-CHANGING APPROACH TO STRATEGY AND PLANNING THAT WILL KEEP YOUR BUSINESS AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION'American Icon was one of the most significant business books ever written and Red Teaming is further proof that Bryce Hoffman is one of the great business writers and thinkers of our time. This is a book that every business and team needs to read NOW! - Jon Gordon, bestselling author of The Energy Bus and You Win in the Locker Room First 'Another home run for Bryce Hoffman. Red teaming methods can correct overconfidence and impulsive decision making - just what we need today' - Gary Klein, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, MacroCognition LLC, and author of Sources of Power 'Red Teaming provides the specific tools and a reliable process to continuously improve your management system and business plan to adapt and thrive in our rapidly changing world' - Alan Mulally, Retired President and CEO of The Ford Motor Company and Boeing Commercial Airplanes Developed by the military and intelligence agencies, red teaming is a revolutionary way to stress-test strategies, flush out unseen threats and missed opportunities and execute more successfully in an increasingly uncertain world. Red teaming can help any company plan better, anticipate emerging threats and avoid potentially disastrous mistakes - from mistimed product launches to ill-conceived acquisitions. Drawing on the latest research in cognitive psychology, red teaming is specifically designed to overcome the mental blind spots and biases companies and individuals fall victim to when making big decisions or trying to solve complex problems. Red teaming makes critical and contrarian thinking part of the planning process, forcing companies to take a hard look their assumptions, examine the ways in which plans could fail, and carefully consider alternative explanations and perspectives. It enables organizations to make smarter choices and turn disruptive events into opportunities.Many of these same approaches have been organically incorporated into the decision-making processes of today's most sucecssful companies, from Amazon and Google to Ford and Toyota. As the first civilian to graduate from the US Army's elite red team leaders course, Bryce Hoffman is uniquely placed to reveal a clear set of tools and techniques that will enable every company, department, team and organization to adopt this game-changing method into their business too. By embracing red teaming, managers, leaders and aspiring leaders in companies of every size and in every industry will be able to plan better, compete more effectively, innovate more proactively, and make their businesses one of the disruptors in the marketplace, rather than one of the disrupted. Don't get left behind.

Sphere

Return Of The Timewaster Letters

Robin Cooper
Authors:
Robin Cooper

'Even funnier than the funniest book I've read' - Matt Lucas In his 2004 bestseller The Timewaster Letters, Robin Cooper plagued everyone from the Campaign for Courtesy to the British Halibut Association with his bizarre and surreal written requests. In Return of the Timewaster Letters, he delivers another wonderful collection of his polite, persistent and peculiar correspondence. Whether he is raising money for his nationwide hair-drying tour, booking a hotel room for his robot calf, or just trying to get rid of half a ton of unwanted herring, Robin's imagination, as ever, knows no bounds . . .

Little, Brown

Sensemaking

Christian Madsbjerg
Authors:
Christian Madsbjerg
Sphere

The Aliens Are Coming!

Ben Miller
Authors:
Ben Miller
Abacus

The End of Alchemy

Mervyn King
Authors:
Mervyn King
Robinson

Can't Just Stop

Sharon Begley
Authors:
Sharon Begley
Sphere

The Mice Who Sing For Sex

Lliana Bird, Jack Lewis
Authors:
Lliana Bird, Jack Lewis

Lliana Bird and Dr Jack Lewis tackle the strange and surreal phenomena from the depths of the oceans to the limits of the far flung universe; the dark corners of your laundry basket to the forgotten compartments of your fridge. Packed with unusual facts and stories of the absurd each of the fascinating insights is told with the Geek Chic team's inimitable humour and wit.An hilarious exploration all things bizarre from the world of science, The Mice Who Sing for Sex takes on weighty issues including heavy metal loving sharks, life-threatening skinny jeans, our impending jellyfish apocalypse and of course, the singing mice of the title.

Constable

The Deal

Jon Smith
Authors:
Jon Smith

'Excellent . . . an in-depth excavation of the murky and mysterious world of football business. Smith's candid and often shocking book reveals the true workings of football business that take into account things few of us even could even imagine . . . The Deal answers some of those questions and leaves you wanting more. It is an educational tool that most fans could do with researching' Joe Short, ExpressFootball analysis has grown at the same exponential rate as the sport's popularity and yet one of its most intrinsic elements remains tantalisingly opaque: the role of 'agent'. The Deal is a unique and fascinating perspective into the business of sports management through the eyes of 'Mr Football', 'super-agent', Jon Smith. 800,000 watch their professional football team play each week and TV pulls in audiences of around 600 million. Despite these phenomenal figures, the complex money-making scene behind sport is one of its biggest mysteries. The Deal will be an unprecedented insight into this world, showing what goes on as players and big money change hands. The Deal is also the story of one of the shrewdest and most successful businessmen of our time. Documented through Jon's personal rollercoaster of high-flying success to near bankruptcy, the book's over-arching narrative will offer an inspiring personal journey as well as insider knowledge of brokering deals at a high level and under extreme pressure. The Deal will appeal strongly to buyers of business books as well as a significant number of sports fans interested to know what goes on in the back room of their favourite sport.

Robinson

The Appointment

Graham Easton
Authors:
Graham Easton

Despite the modern trend towards empowering patients and giving them more choice, the nuts and bolts of medical practice largely remain a mystery - a closed box. In fact, the more health information is available on the internet, the more patients can feel swamped and confused. The Appointment offers an intimate and honest account of how a typical GP tries to make sense of a patient's health problems and manage them within the constraints of their health system and the short ten minute appointment. We have always been fascinated by our own health but in recent years, especially for older people, seeing the GP has become a regular activity. In the past decade the average number of times a patient visits his or her GP has almost doubled. Despite this increasing demand, getting to see a GP is not always easy so those intimate ten minutes with the doctor are extremely precious, and there's more than ever to cram in. Taking the reader through a typical morning surgery, The Appointment shines a light onto what is really going on in those central ten minutes and lets the reader, for the first time, get inside the mind of the person sitting in front of them - the professional they rely on to look after their health. Experienced GP Dr Graham Easton shows how GPs really think, lays bare their professional strengths and weaknesses, and exposes what really influences their decisions about their patients' health.

Little, Brown

No Need for Geniuses

Steve Jones
Authors:
Steve Jones
Robinson

An End To Murder

Colin Wilson, Damon Wilson
Authors:
Colin Wilson, Damon Wilson
Little, Brown

Dynasty

Tom Holland
Authors:
Tom Holland

Rome was first ruled by kings, then became a republic. But in the end, after conquering the world, the Republic collapsed. Rome was drowned in blood. So terrible were the civil wars that the Roman people finally came to welcome the rule of an autocrat who could give them peace. 'Augustus', their new master called himself: 'The Divinely Favoured One'.The lurid glamour of the dynasty founded by Augustus has never faded. No other family can compare for sheer unsettling fascination with its gallery of leading characters. Tiberius, the great general who ended up a bitter recluse, notorious for his perversions; Caligula, the master of cruelty and humiliation who rode his chariot across the sea; Agrippina, the mother of Nero, manoeuvering to bring to power the son who would end up having her murdered; Nero himself, racing in the Olympics, marrying a eunuch, and building a pleasure palace over the fire-gutted centre of his capital.Now, in the sequel to Rubicon, Tom Holland gives a dazzling portrait of Rome's first imperial dynasty. Dynasty traces the full astonishing story of its rule of the world: both the brilliance of its allure, and the blood-steeped shadows cast by its crimes. Ranging from the great capital rebuilt in marble by Augustus to the dank and barbarian-haunted forests of Germany, it is populated by a spectacular cast: murderers and metrosexuals, adulterers and druids, scheming grandmothers and reluctant gladiators. Dynasty is the portrait of a family that transformed and stupefied Rome.

Constable

They Laughed at Galileo

Albert Jack
Authors:
Albert Jack
Constable

Anything to Declare?

Jon Frost
Authors:
Jon Frost
Robinson

A Brief History of Mathematical Thought

Luke Heaton
Authors:
Luke Heaton

Mathematics is a product of human culture which has developed along with our attempts to comprehend the world around us. In A Brief History of Mathematical Thought, Luke Heaton explores how the language of mathematics has evolved over time, enabling new technologies and shaping the way people think. From stone-age rituals to algebra, calculus, and the concept of computation, Heaton shows the enormous influence of mathematics on science, philosophy and the broader human story.The book traces the fascinating history of mathematical practice, focusing on the impact of key conceptual innovations. Its structure of thirteen chapters split between four sections is dictated by a combination of historical and thematic considerations. In the first section, Heaton illuminates the fundamental concept of number. He begins with a speculative and rhetorical account of prehistoric rituals, before describing the practice of mathematics in Ancient Egypt, Babylon and Greece. He then examines the relationship between counting and the continuum of measurement, and explains how the rise of algebra has dramatically transformed our world. In the second section, he explores the origins of calculus and the conceptual shift that accompanied the birth of non-Euclidean geometries. In the third section, he examines the concept of the infinite and the fundamentals of formal logic. Finally, in section four, he considers the limits of formal proof, and the critical role of mathematics in our ongoing attempts to comprehend the world around us. The story of mathematics is fascinating in its own right, but Heaton does more than simply outline a history of mathematical ideas. More importantly, he shows clearly how the history and philosophy of maths provides an invaluable perspective on human nature.

Constable

My Manager and Other Animals

Richard Robinson
Authors:
Richard Robinson

Deep down, we're just like animals. Some of us are selfish like apes. Some are chaotic like ants. . . And somehow the two clash and coalesce in 'antagonistic harmony'. A fascinating look at the evolutionary psychology, instincts and tactics of the workplace.My Manager & Other Animals examines the evolutionary psychology of work, focusing on the office, workshop, corporation or government department, and the complex and fascinating evolutionary tactics that have developed to deal with working life.37 years ago Richard Dawkins wrote The Selfish Gene and it didn't take long for the business community to latch on to the 'selfish' part and adopt it as an industry standard. After all, it fitted in with the notion that, since we are all descended from apes, we should be like them: selfish, aggressive and competitive. More recently, astounding discoveries in human and animal behaviour (particularly ants) have shown that, in all animals, cooperation and altruism is more common than we think and more useful than we could imagine. It seems we contain an inner ape and an inner ant. How confusing; they seem like opposites, because co-operation means helping others, competition means swatting them. What are we, ape or ant? This book shows that ant and ape are both important. Co-operation without leadership is random, leadership without co-operation is slavery. The result of these two colliding is the mad mad mad world of work and life, lovingly described in the book.