Most of us have a lot of free time these days, so why not spend a little bit of time feeding your bored, anxious brain with some really great science themed reads.
List by ScienceFocus. Book descriptions by Amazon.
Is the Great Wall of China visible from the Moon? Are we descended from Neanderthals? Guess again—because what you think is true about science might not be right!
There are some scientific “truths” we take for granted—but what if they’re wrong? For example, can anything travel faster than the speed of light? Strange as it seems, in certain circumstances, a winded tortoise might! Are there actually seven colors in a rainbow? Try again. Matt Brown merrily gives us the real story, explaining why our hair and nails don't keep growing after we die and why chemicals in our diet might not be the toxic threats we imagine. Along with an A–Z of pseudoscience, he brings us to the edge of physics, expounds on curious chemistry, and discusses space scandals, scientific misquotes, and body matters. Everything You Know About Science Is Wrong shatters a range of illusions we have accepted unquestioningly since childhood and demystifies this most puzzling of subjects.
How To Predict Everything: The Formula Transforming What We Know About Life And The Universe by William Poundstone
How do you predict something that has never happened before?
There's a useful calculation being employed by Wall Street, Silicon Valley and maths professors all over the world, and it predicts that the human species will become extinct in 760 years. Unfortunately, there is disagreement over how to apply the formula, and some argue that we might only have twenty years left.
Originally devised by British clergyman Thomas Bayes, the theorem languished in obscurity for two hundred years before being resurrected as the lynchpin of the digital economy. With brief detours into archaeology, philology, and overdue library books, William Poundstone explains how we can use it to predict pretty much anything. What is the chance that there are multiple universes? How long will Hamilton run? Will the US stock market continue to perform as well this century as it has for the last hundred years? And are we really all doomed?
Howard Hinton and his family are living in Japan, escaping from a scandal. Hinton's obsession is his work, his voyages into mathematical pure space, into the fourth dimension, but also his wife and sons, each of whom are entangled in the strange and unknown landscapes of Hinton's science fictions.
In a bravura and startling meeting of real and philosophical elements, Mark Blacklock has created a ravishing period piece of late-Victorian social, scientific and domestic life. Hinton is about extraordinary discoveries, and terrible choices. It is about people who discover and map other realms, and what the implications might be for those of us left behind.
Have you ever been told to smile more, been teased about your accent, or had your name pronounced incorrectly? If so, you've probably already faced bias in your everyday life. We like to believe that we are all fair-minded and egalitarian but we all carry biases that we might not even be aware of.
For the first time, behavioural scientist, activist and writer Dr Pragya Agarwal unravels the way our implicit or 'unintentional' biases affect the way we communicate and perceive the world, and how they affect our decision-making, even in life and death situations. She takes a unique inter-disciplinary approach combining case studies, personal experience, interviews and real-world stories underpinned by scientific theories and research. Throughout, Pragya answers questions such as: do our roots for prejudice lie in our evolutionary past? How has bias affected technology? If we don't know about it, are we really responsible for it?
At a time when partisan political ideologies are taking centre stage, and we struggle to make sense of who we are and who we want to be, it is crucial that we understand why we act the way we do. This book will enable you to reflect and consider the forces that shape us all, opening your eyes to your own biases in a scientific and non-judgmental way.
A wry and compelling take on the who, how, and why of near-future colonies in space. From bone-whittling microgravity to eye-popping profits, the risks and rewards of space settlement have never been so close at hand.
More than fifty years after the Apollo 11 moon landing, why is there so little human presence in space? Will we ever reach Mars? What will it take to become a multiplanet species, colonizing the solar system and traveling to other stars?
Spacefarers meets these questions head on. While many books have speculated on the possibility of living beyond the Earth, few have delved into the practical challenges or plausible motives for leaving the safe confines of our home planet. Christopher Wanjek argues that there is little doubt we will be returning to the Moon and exploring Mars in the coming decades, given the potential scientific and commercial bonanza. Private industry is already taking a leading role and earning profits from human space activity. This can be, Wanjek suggests, a sustainable venture and a natural extension of earthbound science, business, and leisure. He envisions hotels in low-earth orbit and mining, tourism, and science on the Moon. He also proposes the slow, steady development of science bases on Mars, to be followed by settlements if Martian gravity will permit reproduction and healthy child development.
An appetite for wonder will take us far, but if we really want to settle new worlds, we’ll need the earnest plans of engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs. Wanjek introduces us to those planners, who are striving right now to make life in space a reality.
Some people insist that culture is strictly a human feat. What are they afraid of? This book looks into three cultures of other-than-human beings in some of Earth’s remaining wild places. It shows how if you’re a sperm whale, a scarlet macaw, or a chimpanzee, you too experience your life with the understanding that you are an individual in a particular community. You too are who you are not by genes alone; your culture is a second form of inheritance. You receive it from thousands of individuals, from pools of knowledge passing through generations like an eternal torch. You too may raise young, know beauty, or struggle to negotiate a peace. And your culture, too, changes and evolves. The light of knowledge needs adjusting as situations change, so a capacity for learning, especially social learning, allows behaviors to adjust, to change much faster than genes alone could adapt.
Becoming Wild offers a glimpse into cultures among non-human animals through looks at the lives of individuals in different present-day animal societies. By showing how others teach and learn, Safina offers a fresh understanding of what is constantly going on beyond humanity. With reporting from deep in nature, alongside individual creatures in their free-living communities, this book offers a very privileged glimpse behind the curtain of life on Earth, and helps inform the answer to that most urgent of questions: Who are we here with?
Isaac Newton's influence on our world is immense. He formulated the theory of gravity, devised a radical new theory of light and created a calculus that would revolutionize mathematics. His theory of matter in motion sparked the Industrial Revolution. But there was far more to Newton even than these great discoveries.
Opening with an informative foreword by the bestselling author of The Body Bill Bryson, the book is then divided into two parts: a biographical essay that provides a concise overview of Newton's life, upbringing, education and achievements; and a Q&A dialogue based on rigorous research and incorporating Newton's actual spoken or written words whenever possible. Biographer Michael White brings Newton to life through detailed research and giving Newton a free voice to tell you about his unorthodox upbringing, his eminent political career, his bitter feuds with rivals and his secret explorations of the occult.
We're alive in a time of worst-case scenarios: The weather has gone uncanny. Old postwar alliances are crumbling. A pandemic draws our global community to a halt. Everywhere you look there's an omen, a joke whose punchline is the end of the world. How is a person supposed to live in the shadow of such a grim future? What does it mean to have children—nothing if not an act of hope—in such unsettled times? What might it be like to live through the worst? And what on Earth is anybody doingabout it?
Dublin-based writer Mark O'Connell is consumed by these questions—and, as the father of two young children himself, he finds them increasingly urgent. In Notes from an Apocalypse, he crosses the globe in pursuit of answers. He tours survival bunkers in South Dakota. He ventures to New Zealand, a favored retreat of billionaires banking on civilization's collapse. He engages with would-be Mars colonists, preppers, right-wing conspiracists. And he bears witness to those places, like Chernobyl, that the future has already visited—real-life portraits of the end of the world as we know it. In doing so, he comes to a resolution, while offering readers a unique window into our contemporary imagination.
Both investigative and deeply personal, Notes from an Apocalypse is an affecting, humorous, and surprisingly hopeful meditation on our present moment. With insight, humanity, and wit, O'Connell leaves you to wonder: What if the end of the world isn't the end of the world?
Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World by Laurence C Smith
Rivers, more than any road, technology, or political leader, have shaped the course of human civilization. They have opened frontiers, founded cities, settled borders, and fed billions. They promote life, forge peace, grant power, and can capriciously destroy everything in their path. Even today, rivers remain a powerful global force -- one that is more critical than ever to our future.
In Rivers of Power, geographer Laurence C. Smith explores the timeless yet underappreciated relationship between rivers and civilization as we know it. Rivers are of course important in many practical ways (water supply, transportation, sanitation, etc). But the full breadth of their influence on the way we live is less obvious. Rivers define and transcend international borders, forcing cooperation between nations. Huge volumes of river water are used to produce energy, raw commodities, and food. Wars, politics, and demography are transformed by their devastating floods. The territorial claims of nations, their cultural and economic ties to each other, and the migrations and histories of their peoples trace back to rivers, river valleys, and the topographic divides they carve upon the world. And as climate change, technology, and cities transform our relationship with nature, new opportunities are arising to protect the waters that sustain us.
Beautifully told and expansive in scope, Rivers of Power reveals how and why rivers have so profoundly influenced our civilization and examines the importance this vast, arterial power holds for the future of humanity.