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Popular Science

Get up to speed with the most popular developments in science, with everything from the tiniest atom to the farthest flung findings of the universe, and every scientific discovery in between. Our selection of books in this category will keep you up to date.

The Lagoon How Aristotle Invented Science

The Lagoon How Aristotle Invented Science

Author: Armand Marie Leroi Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/08/2014

In the Eastern Aegean lies an island of forested hills and olive groves, with streams, marshes and a lagoon that nearly cuts the land in two. It was here, over two thousand years ago, that Aristotle came to work. Aristotle was the greatest philosopher of all time. Author of the Poetics, Politics and Metaphysics, his work looms over the history of Western thought. But he was also a biologist - the first. Aristotle explored the mysteries of the natural world. With the help of fishermen, hunters and farmers, he catalogued the animals in his world, dissected them, observed their behaviours and recorded how they lived, fed, and bred. In his great zoological treatise, Historia animalium, he described the mating habits of herons, the sexual incontinence of girls, the stomachs of snails, the sensitivity of sponges, the flippers of seals, the sounds of cicadas, the destructiveness of starfish, the dumbness of the deaf, the flatulence of elephants and the structure of the human heart. And then, in another dozen books, he explained it all. In The Lagoon, acclaimed biologist Armand Marie Leroi recovers Aristotle's science. He goes to Lesbos to see the creatures that Aristotle saw, where he saw them, and explores the Philosopher's deep ideas and inspired guesses - as well as the things that he got wildly wrong.

The Homing Instinct The Story and Science of Migration

The Homing Instinct The Story and Science of Migration

Author: Bernd Heinrich Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/08/2014

The story and science of how animals find their way home. Home is the place we long for most, when we feel we have travelled too far, for too long. Since boyhood, acclaimed scientist and author Bernd Heinrich has returned every year to a beloved patch of woods in his native western Maine. But while it's the pull of nostalgia that informs our desire to go back, what is it that drives the homing instinct in animals? Heinrich explores the fascinating science behind the mysteries of animal migration: how geese imprint true visual landscape memory over impossible distances; how the subtlest of scent trails are used by many creatures, from fish to insects to amphibians, to pinpoint their home; and how the tiniest of songbirds are equipped for solar and magnetic orienteering over vast distances. Most movingly, Heinrich chronicles the spring return of a pair of sandhill cranes to their pond in the Alaska tundra. With his marvellously evocative prose, Heinrich portrays the psychological state of the newly arrived birds, articulating just what their yearly return truly means, to the birds and to those fortunate enough to witness this transcendently beautiful ritual. 'The Homing Instinct' is an enchanting study of this phenomenon of the natural world, reminding us that to discount our own feelings toward home is to ignore biology itself.

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Life at the Speed of Light From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life

Life at the Speed of Light From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life

Author: J. Craig Venter Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/08/2014

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.

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Woman An Intimate Geography

Woman An Intimate Geography

Author: Natalie Angier Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/08/2014

WOMAN explores the essence of what it means to be female. In mapping the inner woman - from organs to orgasms - Natalie Angier presents an extraordinary new vision of the female body as an evolutionary masterpiece. 'Anyone living in or near a female body should read this book' - Gloria Steinem 'Women have long been regarded as slaves to biology and evolution, prisoners in a hormonal swamp. But now, some of the sacred tenets of evolutionary psychology...have come under fresh challenge. As the century turns, it could be Goodbye women's lib; hello female liberation!...WOMAN is a delicious cocktail of estrogen and amphetamine designed to pump up the ovaries as well as the cerebral cortex' - Barbara Ehrenreich, TIME MAGAZINE 'Drawing on science, literature and history, Angier provides valuable insight into the power of hormones, breast milk and the all-important clitoris. A must for every woman's bookshelf' - WOMAN'S JOURNAL

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Riveted The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe

Riveted The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe

Author: Jim Davies Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/08/2014

Why do some things pass under the radar of our attention, but other things capture our interest? Why do some religions catch on and others fade away? What makes a story, a movie, or a book riveting? Why do some people keep watching the news even though it makes them anxious?The past 20 years have seen a remarkable flourishing of scientific research into exactly these kinds of questions. Professor Jim Davies' fascinating and highly accessible book, Riveted, reveals the evolutionary underpinnings of why we find things compelling, from art to religion and from sports to superstition. Compelling things fit our minds like keys in the ignition, turning us on and keeping us running, and yet we are often unaware of what makes these keys fit. What we like and don't like is almost always determined by subconscious forces, and when we try to consciously predict our own preferences we're often wrong. In one study of speed dating, people were asked what kinds of partners they found attractive. When the results came back, the participants' answers before the exercise had no correlation with who they actually found attractive in person! We are beginning to understand just how much the brain makes our decisions for us: we are rewarded with a rush of pleasure when we detect patterns, as the brain thinks we've discovered something significant; the mind urges us to linger on the news channel or rubberneck an accident in case it might pick up important survival information; it even pushes us to pick up People magazine in order to find out about changes in the social structure. Drawing on work from philosophy, anthropology, religious studies, psychology, economics, computer science, and biology, Davies offers a comprehensive explanation to show that in spite of the differences between the many things that we find compelling, they have similar effects on our minds and brains.

The Science Book

The Science Book

Author: Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/08/2014

All the big ideas in science, simply explained Part of the popular Big Ideas series, The Science Book explores the history of science, how scientists have sought to explain our incredible universe and how amazing scientific discoveries have been made. Discover how Galileo worked out his scientific theories of motion and inertia, why Copernicus' ideas were contentious and what the discovery of DNA meant. All the big scientific ideas and discoveries are brought to life with quirky graphics, pithy quotes and step-by-step 'mind maps', plus every area of science is covered, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, maths and physics. You'll be brought up-to-date on scientific ideas from black holes to genetic engineering with eye-catching artworks showing how the ideas of key scientists have impacted our understanding of the world. Whether you are a science student or just have an interest in scientific ideas, The Science Book is a perfect way to explore this fascinating subject.

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50 Maths Ideas You Really Need to Know

50 Maths Ideas You Really Need to Know

Author: Tony Crilly Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/07/2014

Who invented zero? Why 60 seconds in a minute? How big is infinity? Where do parallel lines meet? And can a butterfly's wings really cause a storm on the far side of the world? In 50 Maths Ideas You Really Need to Know, Professor Tony Crilly explains in 50 clear and concise essays the mathematical concepts - ancient and modern, theoretical and practical, everyday and esoteric - that allow us to understand and shape the world around us. Packed with diagrams, examples and anecdotes, this book is the perfect overview of this often daunting but always essential subject. For once, mathematics couldn't be simpler. Contents include: Origins of mathematics, from Egyptian fractions to Roman numerals; Pi and primes, Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio; What calculus, statistics and algebra can actually do; The very real uses of imaginary numbers; The Big Ideas of relativity, Chaos theory, Fractals, Genetics and hyperspace; The reasoning behind Sudoku and code cracking, Lotteries and gambling, Money management and compound interest; Solving of Fermat's last theorem and the million-dollar question of the Riemann hypothesis.

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50 Physics Ideas You Really Need to Know

50 Physics Ideas You Really Need to Know

Author: Joanne Baker Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/07/2014

We encounter physics before we've even left the house in the morning; an alarm clock tracks time, a mirror reflects light waves and our mobile phones rely on satellites held in their orbit by gravity. Where would we be without the Bernoulli equation to explain how planes fly, electromagnetic waves enabling us to communicate around the world or the discovery of X-rays? In 50 Physics Ideas You Really Need to Know Joanne Baker will uncover the physics all around us, from basic concepts like gravity, light and energy through to the complexities of quantum theory, chaos and dark energy. Featuring short biographies of iconic physicists, explanatory diagrams and timelines showing discoveries within their historical context, this book is the perfect guide to the fundamental concepts of physics, making even the most challenging theories easy to understand. Contents include: Newton's law of gravitation, Brownian motion, Chaos theory, Fleming's right hand rule, Planck's law, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Schrodinger's cat, Superconductivity, Rutherford's atom, Nuclear fission and fusion, The God particle, String theory, Special and general relativity, The big bang and the Anthropic principle.

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Is There Life on Mars? The 20 Big Universe Questions

Is There Life on Mars? The 20 Big Universe Questions

Author: Stuart Clark Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/07/2014

Is There Life On Mars? will help you start to answer 20 of the most perplexing and fascinating questions about the universe, such as: Why do the planets stay in orbit? Was Einstein right? What is Dark Matter? Are we made from Stardust? Is there cosmological evidence for God? Distilling the wisdom and research of scientists operating at the cutting edge of their field, Stuart Clark's book is a stimulating and challenging guide to the wonders of the universe.

Invisible The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

Invisible The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

Author: Philip Ball Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/07/2014

If you could be invisible, what would you do? The chances are that it would have something to do with power, wealth or sex. Perhaps all three, given the opportunity. But there's no need to feel guilty. Because these impulses, and plenty more, have always been at the heart of our fascination with invisibility. Precisely because it points to realms beyond our senses, the notion of invisibility has long performed as a receptacle for fears and dreams, as something that hints at worlds where other rules apply; and as a mighty power and a terrible curse, a sexual promise, a spiritual condition. This is a history of invisibility in our culture. It takes in Plato, the occult in the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, Shakespearian ghosts, ether and cathode rays and nineteenth-century science, spiritualism, electromagnetism, H.G. Wells, the microscopic world, camouflage, prestidigitation and twenty-first century nanoscience. Here is everything you've ever wanted to know about the invisible - from the medieval to the cutting-edge, fairy tales to telecommunications, from beliefs about the supernatural to the discovery of dark energy.

Adventures in the Anthropocene A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made

Adventures in the Anthropocene A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made

Author: Gaia Vince Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/07/2014

We live in epoch-making times. Literally. The changes we humans have made in recent decades have altered our world beyond anything it has experienced in its 4.5 billion-year history - we have become a force on a par with earth-shattering asteroids and planet-cloaking volcanoes. As a result, our planet is said to be crossing a geological boundary - from the Holocene into the Anthropocene, or Age of Man. Gaia Vince decided to quit her job at science journal Nature, and travel the world at the start of this new age to explore what all these changes really mean - especially for the people living on the frontline of the planet we've made. She found ordinary people solving severe crises in ingenious, effective ways. Take the retired railway worker who's building artificial glaciers in the Himalayas, for example, or the Peruvian painting mountains white to retain snowfall. Meet the villagers in India using satellite technology to glean water; and the women farmers in Africa combining the latest genetic discoveries with ancient irrigation techniques; witness the electrified reefs in the Maldives and the man who's making islands out of rubbish in the Caribbean. Alongside these extraordinary - and inspiring - stories, Gaia looks at how humanity's changes are reshaping our living planet, transforming our relationshiop with the natural world, and explores how we might engineer Earth for our future.

The Norm Chronicles Stories and numbers about danger

The Norm Chronicles Stories and numbers about danger

Author: Michael Blastland, David Spiegelhalter Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/06/2014

Meet Norm. He's 31, 5'9 , just over 13 stone, and works a 39 hour week. He likes a drink, doesn't do enough exercise and occasionally treats himself to a bar of chocolate (milk). He's a pretty average kind of guy. In fact, he is the average guy in this clever and unusual take on statistical risk, chance, and how these two factors affect our everyday choices. Watch as Norm (who, like all average specimens, feels himself to be uniquely special), and his friends careful Prudence and reckless Kelvin, turns to statistics to help him in life's endless series of choices - should I fly or take the train? Have a baby? Another drink? Or another sausage? Do a charity skydive or get a lift on a motorbike? Because chance and risk aren't just about numbers - it's about what we believe, who we trust and how we feel about the world around us.

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Science has never been more popular. You don’t have to understand it to love it. We live in a golden age where we know more about the world and its origins than ever before. Here, some of the biggest questions ever asked find answers, as well as some of the smallest. This is a section bursting from its nucleus with protons of knowledge especially compiled for the lay enthusiast and the curious. Accessible science is no longer the domain of the scientist. We can all have a go at broadening our minds … and what’s more, we can do it from the relative comfort of our favourite chair. Relative comfort, because the chair is merely a mass of vibrating particles on a planet, hurtling through space and time, bending both as it goes in a Universe that may itself just be one of an infinite number of possible universes in an undefinable dimension of matter.

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