By Wallace J. Nichols
Why are we drawn to the ocean each summer? Why does being near water set our minds and bodies at ease? In Blue Mind, Wallace J. Nichols revolutionizes how we think about these questions, revealing the remarkable truth about the benefits of being in, on, under, or simply near water. Grounded in cutting-edge studies in neurobiology, cognitive psychology, economics, and medicine, and made real by stories of innovative scientists, doctors, athletes, artists, environmentalists, businesspeople and lovers of nature - stories that fascinate the mind and touch the heart - Blue Mind will awaken readers to the vital importance of water to the health and happiness of us all.
Einstein's Greatest Mistake
By David Bodanis
Widely considered the greatest genius of all time, Albert Einstein revolutionised our understanding of the cosmos with his general theory of relativity and helped to lead us into the atomic age. Yet in the final decades of his life he was also ignored by most working scientists, his ideas opposed by even his closest friends. This stunning downfall can be traced to Einstein's earliest successes and to personal qualities that were at first his best assets. Einstein's imagination and self-confidence served him well as he sought to reveal the universe's structure, but when it came to newer revelations in the field of quantum mechanics, these same traits undermined his quest for the ultimate truth. David Bodanis traces the arc of Einstein's intellectual development across his professional and personal life, showing how Einstein's confidence in his own powers of intuition proved to be both his greatest strength and his ultimate undoing. He was a fallible genius. An intimate and enlightening biography of the celebrated physicist, Einstein's Greatest Mistake reveals how much we owe Einstein today - and how much more he might have achieved if not for his all-too-human flaws.
No Need for Geniuses
By Steve Jones
Paris at the time of the French Revolution was the world capital of science. Its scholars laid the foundations of today's physics, chemistry and biology. They were true revolutionaries: agents of an upheaval both of understanding and of politics. Many had an astonishing breadth of talents. The Minister of Finance just before the upheaval did research on crystals and the spread of animal disease. After it, Paris's first mayor was an astronomer, the general who fought off invaders was a mathematician while Marat, a major figure in the Terror, saw himself as a leading physicist. Paris in the century around 1789 saw the first lightning conductor, the first flight, the first estimate of the speed of light and the invention of the tin can and the stethoscope. The metre replaced the yard and the theory of evolution came into being. The city was saturated in science and many of its monuments still are. The Eiffel Tower, built to celebrate the Revolution's centennial, saw the world's first wind-tunnel and first radio message, and first observation of cosmic rays.Perhaps the greatest Revolutionary scientist of all, Antoine Lavoisier, founded modern chemistry and physiology, transformed French farming, and much improved gunpowder manufacture. His political activities brought him a fortune, but in the end led to his execution. The judge who sentenced him - and many other researchers - claimed that 'the Revolution has no need for geniuses'. In this enthralling and timely book Steve Jones shows how wrong this was and takes a sideways look at Paris, its history, and its science, to give a dazzling new insight into the City of Light.
Does Santa Exist?
By Eric Kaplan
Metaphysics isn't ordinarily much of a laughing matter. But in the hands of acclaimed comedy writer and scholar Eric Kaplan, a search for the truth about old St. Nick becomes a deeply insightful, laugh-out-loud discussion of the way some things exist but may not really be there. Just like Santa and his reindeer. Even after we outgrow the jolly fellow, the essential paradox persists: There are some things we dearly believe in that are not universally acknowledged as real. In Does Santa Exist? Kaplan shows how philosophy giants Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein strove to smooth over this uncomfortable meeting of the real and unreal - and failed. From there he turns to mysticism's attempts to resolve such paradoxes, surveying Buddhism, Taoism, early Christianity, Theosophy and even the philosophers at UC Berkeley under whom he studied. Finally, this brilliant comic writer alights on - surprise! - comedy as the ultimate resolution of the fundamental paradoxes of life, using examples from The Big Bang Theory, Monty Python's cheese shop and many other pop-culture sources. Kaplan delves deeper into what all this means, from how our physical brains work to his own personal confrontations with life's biggest questions: If we're all going to die, what's the point of anything? What is a perfect moment? What can you say about God? Or Santa?
The Perfect Theory
By Pedro G. Ferreira
Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement in modern physics. Anything that involves gravity, the force that powers everything on the largest, hottest or densest of scales, can be explained by it. From the moment Einstein first proposed the theory in 1915, it was received with enthusiasm yet also with tremendous resistance, and for the following ninety years was the source of a series of feuds, vendettas, ideological battles and persecutions featuring a colourful cast of characters. A gripping, vividly told story, A Perfect Theory entangles itself with the flashpoints of modern history and is the first complete popular history of the theory, showing how it has informed our understanding of exactly what the universe is made of and how much is still undiscovered: from the work of the giant telescopes in the deserts of Chile to our newest ideas about black holes and the Large Hadron Collider deep under French and Swiss soil.
The Naked Scientist: Everyday Life Under the Microscope
By Chris Smith
Why use expensive beauty products when you can moisturise with jellyfish? Have you ever suspected pollution was to blame for your children's plummeting IQ? Ready to take a sea change . . . on Mars? And how about chopping an onion that doesn't make you cry? This is the perfect present for enquiring minds. Compelling, quirky and packed fully of curious facts, The Naked Scientist: Life Under the Microscope is a treasure trove of cutting-edge research, far-flung factoids and the ability to see into our scientific future, answering those fascinating questions you never thought to ask.
Life at the Speed of Light
By J. Craig Venter
In 2010, scientists led by J. Craig Venter became the first to successfully create 'synthetic life' -- putting humankind at the threshold of the most important and exciting phase of biological research, one that will enable us to actually write the genetic code for designing new species to help us adapt and evolve for long-term survival. The science of synthetic genomics will have a profound impact on human existence, including chemical and energy generation, health, clean water and food production, environmental control, and possibly even our evolution.In Life at the Speed of Light, Venter presents a fascinating and authoritative study of this emerging field from the inside -- detailing its origins, current challenges and controversies, and projected effects on our lives. This scientific frontier provides an opportunity to ponder anew the age-old question 'What is life?' and examine what we really mean by 'playing God'. Life at the Speed of Light is a landmark work, written by a visionary at the dawn of a new era of biological engineering.
The Serpent's Promise
By Steve Jones
The Bible was the first scientific textbook of all; and it got some things right (and plenty more wrong). Steve Jones' new book rewrites it in the light of modern science. Are we all descended from a single couple, a real-life Adam and Eve? Was the Bible's great flood really a memory of the end of the Ice Age? Will we ever get back to Methuselah given that British life expectancy is still rising by six hours a day, every day? Many people deny the power of faith, many more the power of science. In this ground-breaking work, geneticist Steve Jones explores their shared mysteries - from the origins of life and humankind to sex, age, death and the end of the universe. He steps aside from the noisy debate between believers and unbelievers to show how the same questions preoccupy us today as in biblical times - and that science offers many of the answers.Erudite and accessible, The Serpent's Promise is a witty and thoughtful account of the ability and the limits of science to tell us what we are.
The Naked Scientist
By Chris Smith
Is it possible to tell how happy a dog is by watching the way it wags its tail? Why is the Eiffel Tower 15 centimetres taller in mid-summer than it is in mid-winter? Does sound travel faster in water or air? Can one really read other people like a book? Why do so many people hate eating their greens? Firmly in the tradition of DOES ANYTHING EAT WASPS? new scientific kid on the block Chris Smith - aka THE NAKED SCIENTIST - explores present-day predicaments and tomorrow's technologies, from the most surprising facts to the most innovative new inventions, from staggering stats to serious developments that will transform the world around us.In this fascinating book, top scientist Chris Smith uses his wit and charm to lift the lid on the curious, crazy and compelling - and answer those questions you never thought to ask.
By Steve Jones
The Origin of Species may be the most famous book in science but its stature tends to obscure much of Charles Darwin's other works. His visit to the Galapagos lasted just five weeks and on his return he never left Britain again. Darwin spent forty years working on the plants, animals and people of his native land and wrote over six million words on topics as different as dogs, insect-eating plants, orchids, earthworms, apes and human emotion. Together they laid the foundations of modern biology. In this beautifully written, witty and illuminating book, Steve Jones explores the domestic Darwin, tracing the great naturalist's journey across Britain: a voyage not of the body, but of the mind.
By Steve Jones
While writing this book, Steve Jones had beside him the coral brooch that his sea captain grandfather brought back across the Indian Ocean as a gift for his wife. This simple object is a starting point for a dazzling narrative that touches on a number of the most important issues facing us today. Following in the footsteps of Darwin and Captain Cook, Jones reveals what coral has to tell us about the human genome project, cloning, and the possibility of a cure for cancer and genetic diseases; what insights it can offer us into the future of trade in oil and other forms of carbon; how it is linked to the fluctuations in weather patterns that have lead to destruction along the coasts of the Americas and the Far East. Finally, Jones considers what coral - exploited and destroyed in many ways and under siege from climate change - tells us about the likely future of the planet and humankind: it is a warning that both may be close to the point of no return. CORAL: A PESSIMIST IN PARADISE is an inspired, eclectic book that links science with history, literature, politics and myth. It belongs to a vivid tradition of thinking and writing about humankind and its place in nature.
By Marc Hauser
Scholars have long argued that moral judgements arise from rational deliberations about what society determines is right and wrong. This has generated the idea that our moral psychology is founded on cultural experience. In the revolutionary MORAL MINDS, Marc Hauser challenges these concepts, showing that this view is illusory and arguing instead that humans have evolved a 'moral instinct', a universal feature of the human mind rather than one informed by gender, education or religion.Combining his own cutting-edge research with cognitive psychology, linguistics, evolutionary biology and economics, Hauser examines his groundbreaking theory in terms of bioethics, religion and law, as well as our everyday lives.
The Single Helix
By Steve Jones
THE SINGLE HELIX is a miscellany of a hundred easy pieces about science. It brings to life a vast diversity of subjects, united under the banner of scientific truth - the universal solvent that brings clarity to almost all the mysteries of the world we live in.Scientists are trained to know ever more about even less but here Steve Jones sets out deliberately to explore subjects in which he is emphatically not an expert (although his favourite snail, the single Helix of his title, does poke in a tentacle here and there). His insatiable curiosity and enthusiasm as he sheds light on unexpected corners of knowledge combine to produce science writing at its very best. From chaos in the heavens to the fight against creationism, from optical illusions in tartan to the mathematics of elections and what rules the sex lives of cats THE SINGLE HELIX is a scientist's look at sciences other than his own - and as a result its author has been forced to make the complicated simple enough for even a biologist to understand.