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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.

Arrival of the Fittest Solving Evolution's Greatest Puzzle

Arrival of the Fittest Solving Evolution's Greatest Puzzle

Author: Andreas Wagner Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/07/2015

Darwin's theory of natural selection was a monumental step in our understanding of evolution, explaining how useful adaptations are preserved over generations. However, Darwin's great idea didn't - and couldn't - tell us how those adaptations arise in the first place. On its own, can random mutation really be responsible for all the creative marvels in nature? Renowned evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner presents the missing piece of Darwin's theory. Using cutting-edge experimental technologies, he has found that adaptations are driven by a set of laws which allow nature to discover new molecules and mechanisms in a fraction of the time that random variation would take.

ebook of the month
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.

Being Mortal Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End

Being Mortal Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End

Author: Atul Gawande Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/07/2015

With his trademark mix of perceptiveness and sensitivity, Atul Gawande outlines a story that crosses the globe, as he examines his experiences as a surgeon and those of his patients and family, and learns to accept the limits of what he can do. Never before has aging been such an important topic. The systems that we have put in place to manage our mortality are manifestly failing; but, as Gawande reveals, it doesn't have to be this way. The ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death, but a good life - all the way to the very end. Published in partnership with the Wellcome Collection, a free visitor destination that explores the connections between medicine, life and art.

ebook of the month
Psy-Q Test Your Psychological Intelligence

Psy-Q Test Your Psychological Intelligence

Author: Ben Ambridge Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/07/2015

Psychology is everywhere. Our emotions and desires, the decisions we make on a daily basis - absolutely every aspect of the way we think and feel has been studied by psychologists. Through dozens of interactive puzzles, IQ tests, quizzes, jokes, puns and visual illusions, Ben Ambridge guides us through this wealth of research, showing us how we can better understand ourselves. Debunking tabloid speculation, revisiting old favourites like the Stanford Prison Experiment and unearthing bleeding edge research unknown to the general reader, renowned psychologist Ben Ambridge blows away the received wisdom to reveal to enthusiasts and novices alike the psychology behind our daily lives. With wit and humour aplenty, he explains whether your blue eyes make you more or less trustworthy, how analogies can help cure cancer, whether Rorschach's famous inkblot tests really work, what your love for heavy metal (or Mozart) says about you, how psychology could help solve the obesity crisis and countless other revealing, entertaining and downright astonishing tests of your Psy-Q. Visit Ben's accompanying website, http://benambridge.wordpress.com/, and test yourself - and your friends.

ebook of the month
Statins

Statins

Author: Ben Goldacre Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/05/2016

Statins are the single most commonly prescribed class of drugs in the whole of the developed world. They're taken by over 100 million people, with millions more patients being offered them every year. We know that statins do some good. But we don't know how big the benefits are. We don't know which is the best. We don't how common the side effects are. We don't give clear information to patients, so they are deprived of their right to make informed decisions about the trade-off between benefits, inconvenience, and risk. All this can be fixed, with a few simple changes that weld big data onto the heart and art of medicine.

The Aliens Are Coming! The Exciting and Extraordinary Science Behind Our Search for Life in the Universe

The Aliens Are Coming! The Exciting and Extraordinary Science Behind Our Search for Life in the Universe

Author: Ben Miller Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/02/2016

For millennia, we have looked up at the stars and wondered whether we are alone in the universe. In the last few years, scientists have made huge strides towards answering that question. What soon becomes clear is that the hunt for extra-terrestrials is also an exploration of what we actually mean by life. What do you need to kickstart life? How did the teeming energy of the Big Bang end up as frogs, trees and quantity surveyors? How can evolution provide clues about alien life? What might it look like? (Probably not green and sexy, sadly.) As our probes and manned missions venture out into the solar system, and our telescopes image Earth-like planets with ever-increasing accuracy, our search for alien life has never been more exciting - or better funded. The Aliens are Coming! is a comprehensive, accessible and hugely entertaining guide to that search, and our quest to understand the very nature of life itself.

ebook of the month
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.

ebook of the month
The Homing Instinct The Story and Science of Migration

The Homing Instinct The Story and Science of Migration

Author: Bernd Heinrich Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/06/2015

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.

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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