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 Edward O. Wilson
In this groundbreaking new book, one of the world's greatest living scientists argues for the fundamental unity of all knowledge and the need to search for what he calls consilience, the composition of the principles governing every branch of learning. Edward O Wilson, the pioneer of sociobiology and biodiversity, once again breaks out of the conventions of current thinking. He shows how our explosive rise in intellectual mastery of the truths of our universe has its roots in the ancient Greek concept of an intrinsic orderliness that governs our cosmos. It is a vision that found its apogee in the Age of Enlightenment, then gradually was lost in the increasing fragmentation and specialisation of knowledge in the last two centuries. Professor Wilson shows why the goals of the original Enlightenment are surging back to life, why they are reappearing on the very frontiers of science and human scholarship, and how they are beginning to sketch themselves as the blueprint of our world.
The Cambridge Quintet
By John L. Casti
By 1949, the idea of duplicating human thought processes in a computer was starting to surface, as the outgrowth of code-breaking work done by Alan Turing and others in Britain during the Second World War. This ingenious work of speculative scientific fiction reconstructs what might have been said during the animated conversation flowing around Snow's rooms that fateful in Cambridge.The quintet's debate anticipates all of the basic questions which have surrounded artificial intelligence in the fifty years since. Can a machine think or merely process information? Is the brain simply a symbol-processing machine, as Turing suggests, and if so, what is the nature of meaning? Can there be, as Wittgenstein proposes, no thought without language, and no language without the social interaction of human beings?
By Carl Sagan
* Spacecraft missions to nearby planets* The Library of ancient Alexandria* The human brain* Egyptian hieroglyphics* The origin of life* The death of the sun* The evolution of galaxies* The origins of matter, suns and worldsThe story of fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution transforming matter and life into consciousness, of how science and civilisation grew up together, and of the forces and individuals who helped shape modern science. A story told with Carl Sagan's remarkable ability to make scientific ideas both comprehensible and exciting.