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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 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.

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.

The Hidden Pleasures of Life

The Hidden Pleasures of Life

Author: Theodore Zeldin Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/05/2015

What is the point of working so hard? What can replace the shortage of soulmates? What else can one do in a hotel? Through these questions, and many others, Zeldin demonstrates that both the greatest problem and the greatest opportunity of the twenty-first century lie in our relationships with others. With endless examples from his unparalleled research and his experiences with the giants of modern business and politics, this book reveals how our society is full of untapped potential for human interactions. Zeldin illuminates how our lives can be enriched by the realisation that it is only by truly relating to others that we get a taste, even just a nibble, of what it is possible to experience as a human being.

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The Happiness Track How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success

The Happiness Track How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success

Author: Emma Seppala Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/01/2016

Everyone wants to be happy and successful and yet the pursuit of both has never been more elusive. We are urged to craft careers that matter, to achieve more and waste no time on the small stuff, to be actively engaged in our communities and, while we are at it, to relish every second. Rather than thriving, all this pressure leads to declining wellbeing, relationships and, paradoxically, productivity. In The Happiness Track Emma Seppala explains that behind our inability to achieve sustainable fulfillment are counterproductive theories of success. Success doesn't have to come at our personal expense. Drawing on the latest research into resilience, willpower, growth mindset, stress, creativity, compassion, mindfulness, gratitude training and optimism, Seppala shows how nurturing ourselves is the most productive thing we can do to thrive professionally and personally.

The Great Mystery Science, God and the Human Quest for Meaning

The Great Mystery Science, God and the Human Quest for Meaning

Author: Alister McGrath, DPhil, DD Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/05/2017

There is currently huge interest in the question of human nature and identity, and what the human future might look like. Who are we? Why are we here? What is our future? Are we alone? And what can religion bring, alongside biology and anthropology, to these important and exciting questions? The Great Mystery focuses on this fascinating field of study. A follow-up to his critically acclaimed Inventing the Universe, in The Great Mystery Alister McGrath once again brings together science with religion to yield an enriched vision of reality, along with rigorous and thoroughly up-to-date scholarship and intellectual accessibility.

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The Glass Universe The Hidden History of the Women Who Took the Measure of the Stars

The Glass Universe The Hidden History of the Women Who Took the Measure of the Stars

Author: Dava Sobel Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/01/2017

#1 New York Times bestselling author Dava Sobel returns with a captivating, little-known true story of women in science In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or human computers, to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the women turned to studying images of the stars captured on glass photographic plates, making extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim. They helped discern what the stars were made of, divided them into meaningful categories for further research, and even found a way to measure distances across space by starlight .

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The Glass Cage Where Automation is Taking Us

The Glass Cage Where Automation is Taking Us

Author: Nicholas Carr Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/01/2015

In The Glass Cage, leading commentator on technology and culture Nicholas Carr shows how automation - in the form of decision-making algorithms - now permeates every aspect of our lives and the radical effects this is having on our ability to learn and make decisions. In May 2009 an Airbus A330 passenger jet equipped with the latest 'glass cockpit' controls plummeted 30,000 feet into the Atlantic. The reason for the crash: the autopilot had routinely switched itself off. In fact, automation is everywhere - from the thermostat in our homes and the GPS in our phones to the algorithms of High Frequency Trading and self-driving cars. We now use it to diagnose patients, educate children, evaluate criminal evidence and fight wars. But psychological studies show that we perform best when fully involved in a task, while the principle of automation - that humans are inefficient - is self-fulfilling. The glass cockpit is becoming a glass cage. In this utterly engrossing expose, bestselling writer Nicholas Carr reveals how automation is affecting our ability to solve problems, forge memories and acquire skills. Rather than rejecting technology, Carr argues that we must urgently rethink its role in our lives, using it to enhance rather than diminish the extraordinary abilities that make us human.

The Gene An Intimate History

The Gene An Intimate History

Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/06/2016

Spanning the globe and several centuries, The Gene is the story of the quest to decipher the master-code that makes and defines humans, that governs our form and function. The story of the gene begins in an obscure Augustinian abbey in Moravia in 1856 where a monk stumbles on the idea of a 'unit of heredity'. It intersects with Darwin's theory of evolution, and collides with the horrors of Nazi eugenics in the 1940s. The gene transforms post-war biology. It reorganizes our understanding of sexuality, temperament, choice and free will. This is a story driven by human ingenuity and obsessive minds - from Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel to Francis Crick, James Watson and Rosalind Franklin, and the thousands of scientists still working to understand the code of codes. This is an epic, moving history of a scientific idea coming to life, by the author of The Emperor of All Maladies. But woven through The Gene, like a red line, is also an intimate history - the story of Mukherjee's own family and its recurring pattern of mental illness, reminding us that genetics is vitally relevant to everyday lives. These concerns reverberate even more urgently today as we learn to read and write the human genome - unleashing the potential to change the fates and identities of our children.

ebook of the month
The Four Dimensional Human Ways of Being in the Digital World

The Four Dimensional Human Ways of Being in the Digital World

Author: Laurence Scott Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/06/2015

It is the winner of the Jerwood Prize. A constellation of everyday digital phenomena is rewiring our inner lives. We are increasingly coaxed from the three-dimensional containment of our pre-digital selves into a wonderful and eerie fourth dimension, a world of ceaseless communication, instant information and global connection. Our portals to this new world have been wedged open, and the silhouette of a figure is slowly taking shape. But what does it feel like to be four-dimensional? How do digital technologies influence the rhythms of our thoughts, the style and tilt of our consciousness? What new sensitivities and sensibilities are emerging with our exposure to the delights, sorrows and anxieties of a networked world? And how do we live in public, with these recoded private lives? Tackling ideas of time, space, friendship, commerce, pursuit and escape, and moving from Hamlet to the ghosts of social media, from Seinfeld to the fall of Gaddafi, from Facebook politics to Oedipus, The Four-Dimensional Human is a highly original and pioneering portrait of life in a digital landscape.

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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