By Rowan Hooper
This is a book about what it feels like to be exceptional - and what it takes to get there. Why can some people achieve greatness when others can't, no matter how hard they try? What are the secrets of long life and happiness? Just how much potential does our species have?In this inspirational book, New Scientist Managing Editor Rowan Hooper takes us on a tour of the peaks of human achievement. We sit down with some of the world's finest minds, from a Nobel-prize winning scientist to a double Booker-prize winning author; we meet people whose power of focus has been the difference between a world record and death; we learn from international opera stars; we go back in time with memory champions, and we explore the transcendent experience of ultrarunners. We meet people who have rebounded from near-death, those who have demonstrated exceptional bravery, and those who have found happiness in the most unexpected ways.Drawing on interviews with a wide range of superhumans as well as those who study them, Hooper assesses the science of peak potential, reviewing the role of genetics alongside the famed 10,000 hours of practice.For anyone who ever felt that they might be able to do something extraordinary in life, for those who simply want to succeed, and for anyone interested in incredible human stories, Superhuman is a must-read.
The Shaping of Us
By Lily Bernheimer
"You are going to be transported by what Bernheimer has to say. You'll make different decisions and figure out how your brain is working and what should be prioritized in your life" Jo Good, BBC LondonWhat makes everyday spaces work, how do they shape us, and what do they say about us?The spaces we live in - whether public areas, housing, offices, hospitals, or cities - mediate community, creativity, and our very identity, making us who we are. Using insights from environmental psychology, design, and architecture, The Shaping of Us reveals the often imperceptible ways in which our surroundings influence our behaviour.Wide-ranging and global examples cover the differences between personalities and nationalities, explore grass-roots and mainstream efforts to build environments promoting well-being, and look ahead to what will become of us if we don't listen closely to what we know is good for us.You will learn whether you are a natural 'prospector' or 'refuger' in the office environment, what roundabouts and stoplights say about British and American culture, whether you are guilty of NIMBYism or being drawn to 'ruin porn', and how the half-house may be a common sight in the near future.The environments we inhabit define our identities - from the earliest moments of our evolution to the worlds we build around ourselves.
By Susan Blackmore
Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand their own mind and to find a spiritual path that is compatible with science As an impressionable young student, Susan Blackmore had an intense, dramatic and life-changing experience, seeming to leave her body and travel the world. With no rational explanation for her out-of-body experience (OBE) she turned to astral projection and the paranormal, but soon despaired of finding answers. Decades later, a Swiss neurosurgeon accidentally discovered the spot in the brain that can induce OBEs and everything changed; this crucial spot is part of the brain's self-system and when disturbed so is our experience of self. Blackmore leaped back into OBE research and at last began to unravel what had happened to her. Seeing Myself describes her long quest for answers through spirituality, religion, drugs, meditation, philosophy and neuroscience. Anyone can have an OBE, indeed 15 per cent of us have. Even more have experienced sleep paralysis, lucid dreaming and the creepy sense of an invisible presence. At last, with the advent of brain stimulation, fMRI scanning and virtual reality, all these phenomena are beginning to make sense. Long relegated to the very fringes of research, the new science of out-of-body experiences is now contributing to our understanding of consciousness and our very selves.
Superstition and Science
By Derek Wilson
'A dazzling chronicle, a bracing challenge to modernity's smug assumptions' - Bryce Christensen, Booklist'O what a world of profit and delightOf power, of honour and omnipotenceIs promised to the studious artisan.'Christopher Marlowe, Dr FaustusBetween the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, Europe changed out of all recognition and particularly transformative were the ardent quest for knowledge and the astounding discoveries and inventions which resulted from it. The movement of blood round the body; the movement of the earth round the sun; the velocity of falling objects (and, indeed, why objects fall) - these and numerous other mysteries had been solved by scholars in earnest pursuit of scientia. Several keys were on offer to thinkers seeking to unlock the portal of the unknown:Folk religion had roots deep in the pagan past. Its devotees sought the aid of spirits. They had stores of ancient wisdom, particularly relating to herbal remedies. Theirs was the world of wise women, witches, necromancers, potions and incantations.Catholicism had its own magic and its own wisdom. Dogma was enshrined in the collective wisdom of the doctors of the church and the rigid scholastic system of teaching. Magic resided in the ranks of departed saints and the priestly miracle of the mass.Alchemy was at root a desire to understand and to exploit the material world. Practitioners studied the properties of natural substances. A whole system of knowledge was built on the theory of the four humours.Astrology was based on the belief that human affairs were controlled by the movement of heavenly bodies. Belief in the casting of horoscopes was almost universal.Natural Philosophy really began with Francis Bacon and his empirical method. It was the beginning of science 'proper' because it was based on observation and not on predetermined theory.Classical Studies. University teaching was based on the quadrivium - which consisted largely of rote learning the philosophy and science current in the classical world (Plato, Aristotle, Galen, Ptolemy, etc.). Renaissance scholars reappraised these sources of knowledge.Islamic and Jewish Traditions. The twelfth-century polymath, Averroes, has been called 'the father of secular thought' because of his landmark treatises on astronomy, physics and medicine. Jewish scholars and mystics introduced the esoteric disciplines of the Kabbalah.New Discoveries. Exploration connected Europeans with other peoples and cultures hitherto unknown, changed concepts about the nature of the planet, and led to the development of navigational skills.These 'sciences' were not entirely self-contained. For example physicians and theologians both believed in the casting of horoscopes. Despite popular myth (which developed 200 years later), there was no perceived hostility between faith and reason. Virtually all scientists and philosophers before the Enlightenment worked, or tried to work, within the traditional religious framework. Paracelsus, Descartes, Newton, Boyle and their compeers proceeded on the a príori notion that the universe was governed by rational laws, laid down by a rational God.. This certainly did not mean that there were no conflicts between the upholders of different types of knowledge. Dr Dee's neighbours destroyed his laboratory because they believed he was in league with the devil. Galileo famously had his run-in with the Curia.By the mid-seventeenth century 'science mania' had set in; the quest for knowledge had become a pursuit of cultured gentlemen. In 1663 The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge received its charter. Three years later the French Academy of Sciences was founded. Most other European capitals were not slow to follow suit. In 1725 we encounter the first use of the word 'science' meaning 'a branch of study concerned either with a connected body of demonstrated truths or with observed facts systematically classified'. Yet, it was only nine years since the last witch had been executed in Britain - a reminder that, although the relationship of people to their environment was changing profoundly, deep-rooted fears and attitudes remained strong.
A Slice of Pi
By Liz Strachan
A new look at maths without the Boring Bits . . .How many trillions are there in a googol? Which fractions are vulgar? What famous mathematician refused to eat beans? And which one never travelled without his pet spider in an ivory box?Mathematical theorems and equations are inextricably entangled with the great, and often eccentric thinkers who made breakthrough discoveries. Teacher and numbers expert Liz Strachan takes readers beyond the classroom, combining anecdotes, proofs and party tricks to reveal the foundations of algebra, geometry and trigonometry in a clear and entertaining style.From the Difference Engine to magic squares and from the Fibonacci rabbits to Fermat's Last Theorem, this fascinating tour of the weird world of numbers, imaginary, real or infinite, will appeal to anyone with an enquiring mind.
The Social Brain
By Richard Crisp
Is conflict caused by an inherently hostile human nature? Are efforts to promote peaceful co-existence fated to fail? Is the story of human history destined to play out a clash of civilizations?These are the questions framing contemporary debate over diversity, immigration and multiculturalism. The Social Brain provides an entirely new psychological perspective on this debate. It argues that diversity is critical to our very survival as a species; that contact with different cultures was, and is, the essential element that fuels our creativity, innovation and growth. It asserts that diversity was the key to our intellectual evolution and will be integral to helping us tackle the most pressing social, political and economic concerns of our time.The Social Brain ties the origins of the modern mind to the evolution of human society, and provides an entirely new insight into how we can harness the ingenuity and invention that reside within us all.
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.
Science Left Behind
By Alex Berezow, Hank Campbell
To listen to most pundits and political writers, evolution, stem cells, and climate change are the only scientific issues worth mentioning,and the only people who are anti-science are conservatives. Yet those on the left have numerous fallacies of their own. Aversion to clean energy programs, basic biological research, and even life-saving vaccines come naturally to many progressives. These are positions supported by little more than junk-science and paranoid thinking.Now for the first time, science writers Dr. Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell have drawn open the curtain on the left's fear of science. As Science Left Behind reveals, vague inclinations about the wholesomeness of all things natural, the unhealthiness of the unnatural, and many other seductive fallacies have led to an epidemic of misinformation. The results: public health crises, damaging and misguided policies, and worst of all, a new culture war over basic scientific facts,in which the left is just as culpable as the right.
The Secret Language Of Color
By Arielle Eckstut, Joann Eckstut
In this beautiful and thorough investigation, The Secret Language of Color celebrates and illuminates the countless ways in which color colors our world.Why is the sky blue, the grass green, a rose red? Most of us have no idea how to answer these questions, nor are we aware that color pervades nearly all aspects of life, from the subatomic realm and the natural world to human culture and psychology.Organized into chapters that begin with a fascinating explanation of the physics and chemistry of color, The Secret Language of Color travels from outer space to Earth, from plants to animals to humans. In these chapters we learn about how and why we see color, the nature of rainbows, animals with color vision far superior and far inferior to our own, how our language influences the colors we see, and much more. Between these chapters, authors Joann Eckstut and Ariele Eckstut turn their attention to the individual hues of the visible spectrum?red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet?presenting each in fascinating, in-depth detail.Including hundreds of stunning photographs and dozens of informative, often entertaining graphics, every page is a breathtaking demonstration of color and its role in the world around us. Whether? you see red, are a shrinking violet, or talk a blue streak, this is the perfect book for anyone interested in the history, science, culture, and beatuty of color in the natural and man-made world.
The Science of Monsters
By Matt Kaplan
Modern audiences do not find dragons frightening. Fascinating as mythical creatures, yes, but terrifying, no. Yet, present them with a story about a virus that can kill a healthy adult in hours and they will have nightmares for weeks. The difference between the two is believability. Monsters are at their most frightening when they carry characteristics that tie them to the real world in some way.Preposterous as they might seem today, dragons were no different in ancient times. Humans long ago stumbled upon skeletons that had sharp teeth and talon-like claws. These fossils were real and some were frighteningly large. Those who looked at them could only guess at how dangerous the animals that they belonged to must have been. From such interactions, dragons were born. Yet, in spite of ample physical evidence that dragons existed, none were ever seen in the flesh. Dragon bones were ultimately proven to be the bones of huge predatory dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex, but before the mystery was solved, they were the makings of frightening beasts that managed to evade human sight by lurking deep within the shadows of the wild.The Science of Monsters will explore monsters that have haunted humanity throughout the ages, from Medusa to sea serpents, giants, and vampires. In each chapter Kaplan uses scientific principles, current research, and his thorough knowledge of the natural world to explain why specific monsters came to be and what it was about them that was so terrifying to the people who brought them to life.
The Self Illusion
By Bruce Hood
Most of us believe that we possess a self - an internal individual who resides inside our bodies, making decisions, authoring actions and possessing free will. The feeling that a single, unified, enduring self inhabits the body - the 'me' inside me - is compelling and inescapable. This is how we interact as a social animal and judge each other's actions and deeds. But that sovereignty of the self is increasingly under threat from science as our understanding of the brain advances. Rather than a single entity, the self is really a constellation of mechanisms and experiences that create the illusion of the internal you.We only emerge as a product of those around us as part of the different storylines we inhabit from the cot to the grave. It is an ever changing character, created by the brain to provide a coherent interface between the multitude of internal processes and the external world demands that require different selves.
Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life
By Douglas T. Kenrick
&ldquoKenrick writes like a dream.&rdquo- Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Biology and Neurology, Stanford University author of A Primate's Memoir and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers What do sex and murder have to do with the meaning of life? Everything. In Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life , social psychologist Douglas Kenrick exposes the selfish animalistic underside of human nature, and shows how it is intimately connected to our greatest and most selfless achievements. Masterfully integrating cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, and complexity theory, this intriguing book paints a comprehensive picture of the principles that govern our lives. As Kenrick divulges, beneath our civilized veneer, human beings are a lot like howling hyenas and barking baboons, with heads full of homicidal tendencies and sexual fantasies. But, in his view, many ingrained, apparently irrational behaviours- such as inclinations to one-night stands, racial prejudices, and conspicuous consumption- ultimately manifest what he calls"Deep Rationality.&rdquo Although our heads are full of simple selfish biases that evolved to help our ancestors survive, modern human beings are anything but simple and selfish cavemen. Kenrick argues that simple and selfish mental mechanisms we inherited from our ancestors ultimately give rise to the multifaceted social lives that we humans lead today, and to the most positive features of humanity, including generosity, artistic creativity, love, and familial bonds. And out of those simple mechanisms emerge all the complexities of society, including international conflicts and global economic markets. By exploring the nuance of social psychology and the surprising results of his own research, Kenrick offers a detailed picture of what makes us caring, creative, and complex- that is, fully human. Illuminated with stories from Kenrick's own colourful experiences - from his criminally inclined shantytown Irish relatives, his own multiple high school expulsions, broken marriages, and homicidal fantasies, to his eventual success as an evolutionary psychologist and loving father of two boys separated by 26 years - this book is an exploration of our mental biases and failures, and our mind's great successes. Idiosyncratic, controversial, and fascinating, Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life uncovers the pitfalls and promise of our biological inheritance.
The Sun's Heartbeat
By Bob Berman
Did you know that scientists are beginning to think that the sun is safer than sunscreen? That whenever we see the sun on the horizon, it's actually a phantom image because the sun has already set? That career pilots have a one percent higher incidence of cancer because of their time in the sky? Or that the sun's unusual dormancy is causing our climate to be cooler than it otherwise would be? Peppered with memorable anecdotes about spectral curiosities, THE SUN'S HEARTBEAT is a robust narrative that explores the sun's birth, its life as a self-sustaining ultra-H-Bomb fusion explosion, and its spectacular future death. Astronomer Bob Berman's expert observations tell a dramatic story about the familiar star that crosses our sky daily.
Six Easy Pieces
By Matthew Sands, Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton
It was Richard Feynman's outrageous and scintillating method of teaching that earned him legendary status among students and professors of physics. From 1961 to 1963, Feynman delivered a series of lectures at the California Institute of Technology that revolutionized the teaching of physics around the world. Six Easy Pieces , taken from these famous Lectures on Physics, represent the most accessible material from the series. In these classic lessons, Feynman introduces the general reader to the following topics: atoms, basic physics, energy, gravitation, quantum mechanics, and the relationship of physics to other topics. With his dazzling and inimitable wit, Feynman presents each discussion with a minimum of jargon. Filled with wonderful examples and clever illustrations, Six Easy Pieces is the ideal introduction to the fundamentals of physics by one of the most admired and accessible physicists of modern times.
Six Not-So-Easy Pieces
By Matthew Sands, Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton
It was Feynman's outrageous and scintillating method of teaching that earned him legendary status among students and professors of physics. From 1961 to 1963, Feynman delivered a series of lectures at the California Institute of Technology that revolutionized the teaching of physics. In Six Not-So-Easy Pieces , taken from these famous lectures, Feynman delves into one of the most revolutionary discoveries in twentieth-century physics: Einstein's theory of relativity. The idea that the flow of time is not constant, that the mass of an object depends on its velocity, and that the speed of light is a constant no matter what the motion of the observer, at first seemed shocking to scientists and laymen alike. But as Feynman shows, these tricky ideas are not merely dry principles of physics, but things of beauty and elegance.No one,not even Einstein himself,explained these difficult, anti-intuitive concepts more clearly, or with more verve and gusto, than Richard Feynman. Filled with wonderful examples and clever illustrations, Six Not-So-Easy Pieces is the ideal introduction to fundamentals of physics by one of the most admired and accessible physicists of all times. There is no better explanation for the scientifically literate layman.", The Washington Post Book World
A Stubbornly Persistent Illusion
By Stephen Hawking
With commentary by the greatest physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking, this anthology has garnered impressive reviews. PW has called it a gem of a collection" while New Scientist magazine notes the thrill of reading Einstein's own words." From the writings that revealed the famous Theory of Relativity, to other papers that shook the scientific world of the 20th century, A Stubbornly Persistent Illusion belongs in every science fan's library.
By Bruce Hood
Why is it that Tony Blair always wore the same pair of shoes when answering Prime Minister's Questions? That John McEnroe notoriously refused to step on the white lines of a tennis court between points? And that President-elect Barack Obama played a game of basketball the morning of his victory in the Iowa primary, and continued the tradition the day of every following primary? Superstitious habits are common. Do you ever cross your fingers, knock on wood, avoid walking under ladders, or step around black cats? Sentimental value often supersedes material worth. If someone offered to replace your childhood teddy bear or wedding ring with a brand new, exact replica, would you do it? How about £20 for trying on a jumper owned by Fred West? Where do such feelings come from and why do most of us have them? Humans are born with brains designed to make sense of the world and that need for an explanation can lead to beliefs that go beyond reason. To be true they would have to be supernatural. With scientific education we learn that such beliefs are irrational but at an intuitive level they can be resistant to reason or lie dormant in otherwise sensible adults.It now seems unlikely that any effort to get rid of supernatural beliefs or superstitious behaviours will be completely successful. This is not all bad news - such beliefs are a useful glue that binds us together as a society. Combining brilliant insight with witty example Hood weaves a page-turning account of our 'supersense' that navigates a path through brain science, child development, popular culture, mental illness and the paranormal. After reading SuperSense, you will realize why you are not as reasonable as you might like to think - and why that might be no bad thing.
The Secret Pulse of Time
By Stefan Klein
Popular science at its very best, The Secret Pulse of Time awakens us to and empowers us with the idea that time is far more at our disposal than we have previously realized. award-winning journalist Stefan Klein, whose previous book, The Science of Happiness , is a longtime international bestseller,here provides what are essentially operating instructions" for time. Through a combination of original investigation and reportage, personal revelation, and a commanding presentation of scientific research (among disciplines including brain physiology, social psychology, philosophy, and Einsteinian physics), The Secret Pulse of Time teaches readers not only to better master time but also to understand why they so often fail to do so.
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.
Seize the Daylight
By David Prerau
Benjamin Franklin conceived of it. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle endorsed it. Winston Churchill campaigned for it. Kaiser Wilhelm first employed it. Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt went to war with it, and more recently the United States fought an energy crisis with it. For several months every year, for better or worse, daylight savings time affects vast numbers of people throughout the world. And from Ben Franklin's era to today, its story has been an intriguing and sometimes bizarre amalgam of colourful personalities and serious technical issues, purported costs and perceived benefits, conflicts between interest groups and government policy makers. Daylight savings time impacts diverse and unexpected areas, including agricultural practices, street crime, the reporting of sports scores, traffic accidents, the inheritance rights of twins, and voter turnout.