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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.

Zoom! How Everything Moves, from Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees

Zoom! How Everything Moves, from Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees

Author: Bob Berman Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/10/2014

Sitting still in a quiet room, you might just be able to convince yourself that nothing is moving. But air currents swirl about you. Blood rushes through your veins. The atoms in your chair jiggle furiously. And the planet you are on is whizzing through space 35 times faster than the speed of sound. In Zoom, Bob Berman takes a thrilling tour around the wondrous and myriad motions that shape every aspect of the universe. Spanning astronomy, geology, biology, meteorology and history, he explains how clouds stay aloft, how the earth's rotation curves a ball's flight, how a mosquito's familiar whine is tuned to a perfect A sharp, how the day gets longer every century, and much more.

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Chance The Science and Secrets of Luck, Randomness and Probability

Chance The Science and Secrets of Luck, Randomness and Probability

Author: Jeremy Webb, Michael Brooks Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/10/2014

For you to be here today reading this requires a mind-boggling series of lucky breaks, starting with the Big Bang and ending in your own conception. So it's not surprising that we persist in thinking that we're in with a chance, whether we're playing the lottery or working out the likelihood of extra-terrestrial life.

The Marshmallow Test Understanding Self-control and How to Master it

The Marshmallow Test Understanding Self-control and How to Master it

Author: Walter Mischel Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/09/2014

A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behaviour later in life? Walter Mischel's now iconic 'marshmallow test,' one of the most famous experiments in the history of psychology, proved that the ability to delay gratification is critical to living a successful and fulfilling life: self-control not only predicts higher marks in school, better social and cognitive functioning, and a greater sense of self-worth; it also helps us manage stress, pursue goals more effectively, and cope with painful emotions. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught? In his groundbreaking new book, Dr. Mischel draws on decades of compelling research and life examples to explore the nature of willpower, identifying the cognitive skills and mental mechanisms that enable it and showing how these can be applied to challenges in everyday life - from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way we think about who we are and what we can be. And since, as Mischel argues, a life with too much self-control can be as unfulfilling as one with too little, this book will also teach you when it's time to ring the bell and enjoy that marshmallow.

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

Author: Simon Singh Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/09/2014

You may have watched hundreds of episodes of The Simpsons (and its sister show Futurama) without ever realising that they contain enough maths to form an entire university course. In The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, Simon Singh explains how the brilliant writers, some of the mathematicians, have smuggled in mathematical jokes throughout the cartoon's twenty-five year history, exploring everything from to Mersenne primes, from Euler's equation to the unsolved riddle of P vs. NP, from perfect numbers to narcissistic numbers, and much more. With wit, clarity and a true fan's zeal, Singh analyses such memorable episodes as 'Bart the Genius' and 'Homer ' to offer an entirely new insight into the most successful show in television history.

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Why Can't a Woman Be More Like a Man

Why Can't a Woman Be More Like a Man

Author: Lewis Wolpert Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/09/2014

Why are there two sexes? How different are they and why? Why can't a woman be more like a man? Or should the question be: why can't a man be more like a woman? Controversy rages around sex and gender, but just what are the differences and how are they determined? Lewis Wolpert, distinguished scientist, broadcaster and author, has tackled depression, religion and old age from a developmental biologist's perspective. Now he enters the gender debate, starting with his argument that men are fundamentally modified females - if the genes present at fertilisation did not do their job properly, we would all be women - and journeying through MRI techniques, the nature of sexual attraction, 'neurosexism' and whether men are really better at maths. With fresh and persuasive research and with his customary intelligence and curiosity, Lewis Wolpert sets out to make his mark on this controversial topic - and makes some surprising discoveries along the way.

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The Human Age

The Human Age

Author: Diane Ackerman Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/09/2014

  In The Human Age award-winning nature writer Diane Ackerman confronts the fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the planet. Humans have 'subdued 75 per cent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness'. We now collect the DNA of vanishing species in a 'frozen ark', equip orang-utans with iPads, create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. Ackerman takes us on an exciting journey to understand this bewildering new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating - perhaps saving - the future. The Human Age is a surprising, optimistic engagement with the dramatic transformations that have shaped, and continue to alter, our world, our relationship with nature and our prospects for the future. Diane Ackerman is one of our most lyrical, insightful and compelling writers on the natural world and The Human Age is a landmark book.

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In Search of Lost Frogs

In Search of Lost Frogs

Author: Robin Moore Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/09/2014

On August 9, 2010, 33 teams from 21 countries were dispatched to search for the Lost Frogs identified by Conservation International. On their list were a host of species including, in the top ten most wanted, the Rio Pescado Stubfoot Toad, found only in Ecuador - which was to prove a triumphant rediscovery. Several months, a number of key rediscoveries - such as the Elegant Tropical Frog, last seen in 1937 and the Chalazodes Bubble-nest Frog - last seen in 1874 and two new species later, the Search for Lost Frogs had generated more than 650 news articles in 20 countries and over a billion potential viewers. Author Robin Moore was responsible for spearheading the Search for Lost Frogs and coordinating the teams. He also co-led two expeditions to Colombia and Haiti. In Colombia in search of the Mesopotamia Beaked Toad, the steamy jungles of the Choco yielded not the desired species but a brand new one - the Mr. Burns Toad, so-called because of an uncanny resemblance to the Simpsons' character; the species was selected as one of Time magazine's top ten new species of 2010. In Haiti the team found six frogs last seen 20 years before, including the Ventriloqual Frog, named for its ability to throw its voice. This fascinating new book tells the story of the expedition - its highs and lows, discoveries and failures and the campaign's ongoing work. Despite the campaign, one third of the world's amphibians remain threatened with extinction. Most of the species searched for were not found. But those that were provide a glimmer of hope. Understanding why these species have survived when many others have not should help us understand what makes these species different. In Search of Lost Frogs is a story of perseverance, disappointment, rediscovery, resilience, but ultimately of hope, written with passion and illustrated with the author's superb photographs.

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What a Wonderful World Life, the Universe and Everything in a Nutshell

What a Wonderful World Life, the Universe and Everything in a Nutshell

Author: Marcus Chown Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/09/2014

Why do we breathe? What is money? How does the brain work? Why did life invent sex? Does time really exist? How does capitalism work - or not, as the case may be? Where do mountains come from? How do computers work? How did humans get to dominate the Earth? Why is there something rather than nothing? In What a Wonderful World, Marcus Chown, bestselling author of Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You and the Solar System app, uses his vast scientific knowledge and deep understanding of extremely complex processes to answer simple questions about the workings of our everyday lives. Lucid, witty and hugely entertaining, it explains the basics of our essential existence, stopping along the way to show us why the Atlantic is widening by a thumbs' length each year, how money permits trade to time travel why the crucial advantage humans had over Neanderthals was sewing and why we are all living in a giant hologram.

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The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being Evolution and the Making of Us

The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being Evolution and the Making of Us

Author: Dr. Alice Roberts Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/09/2014

The presenter of BBC's The Incredible Human Journey gives us a new and highly accessible look at our own bodies, allowing us to understand how we develop as an embryo, from a single egg into a complex body, and how our embryos contain echoes of our evolutionary past. Bringing together the latest scientific discoveries, Professor Alice Roberts illustrates that evolution has made something which is far from perfect. Our bodies are a quirky mix of new and old, with strokes of genius alongside glitches and imperfections which are all inherited from distant ancestors. Our development and evolutionary past explains why, as embryos, we have what look like gills, and as adults we suffer from back pain. This is a tale of discovery, not only exploring why and how we have developed as we have, but also looking at the history of our anatomical understanding. It combines the remarkable skills and qualifications Alice Roberts has as a doctor, anatomist, osteoarchaeologist and writer. Above all, she has a rare ability to make science accessible, relevant and interesting to mainstream audiences and readers.

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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