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.
Films – what do they know about science, what have they got right and what they have got wrong? (all that clunky computer equipment in Alien for a start). Can we teleport, grow a dinosaur or shapeshift, Doctor Michael Brooks explains it all to us and to colleague Rick Edwards. Taken from their Twitter pages they discuss science shown in films that have often delved into the science. This is the quintessential Christmas gift for lovers of science and movies based on the hit podcast, Science(ish), stylishly designed and illustrated throughout. Like for Like Reading The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence Krauss The Haynes Zombie Survival Manual by Sean T Page
Horsemeat in burgers was hard to swallow, but there are far more sinister culinary crimes afoot...Chicken eggs that haven't come from chickens, melamine in infant's milk in China, nut shells in spices - these are just some examples of the food fraud that has occurred in recent years. As our urban lifestyle takes us further and further away from our food sources, there are increasing opportunities for dishonesty, duplicity and profit-making short-cuts. Food adulteration, motivated by money, is an issue that has spanned the globe throughout human history. Whether it's a matter of making a good quality oil stretch a bit further by adding a little extra 'something' or labelling a food falsely to appeal to current consumer trends - it's all food fraud, and it costs the food industry billions of dollars each year. The price to consumers may be even higher, with some paying for these crimes with their health and, in some cases, their lives.
On most measures that matter, we've never had it so good. Physically, life for humankind has improved immeasurably over the last fifty years. Yet there is a crisis of progress slowly spreading across the world. Perhaps this is due to a failure of vision; in the 1960s we dreamed of flying cars and moon hotels; today what we've ended up with are status updates and cat videos. To a large degree, the history of the next fifty years will be about the relationship between people and technologies created by a tiny handful of designers and developers. These inventions will undoubtedly change our lives, but the question is, to what end? What do we want these technologies to achieve on our behalf? What are they capable of, and - as they transform the media, the economy, healthcare, education, work, and the home - what kind of lives do we want to lead?
Many scientific and philosophical ideas are so powerful that they can be applied to our lives to help us think smarter and more effectively about our behaviour and the world around us. Surprisingly, many of these ideas remain unknown to most of us. Drawing on his own ground breaking research, Richard Nisbett presents these ideas in clear and accessible detail to offer a tool kit for better thinking and wiser decisions. Mindware shows how to reframe common problems - whether professional, business, or personal - in such a way that these powerful scientific and statistical concepts can be applied to them. A devastating and persuasive refutation of all those who believe intellectual ability is fixed at birth. Few Americans have done as much to deepen our understanding of what it means to be human. (Malcolm Gladwell).
Knowing Your Mind explains what the human mind is, how human intelligence differs from computer intelligence, and where our minds appear to be taking us, drawing upon the latest developments in neuroscience and artificial intelligence. This scientific, academic work also manages to be approachable. The writing style makes it understandable for those who may not have a scientific background (like myself). I like that this book uses a wide range of analogies throughout. I found it helped me to understand the concepts being discussed. The ideas in the book develop gradually, from an understanding of human development and the human brain to the development of AI and the discussion of Super Intelligences and other intelligent life forms (e.g. aliens). Anybody who enjoyed Sapiens (by Yuval Harari), or Life 3.0 (by Max Tegmark), will almost certainly enjoy this book. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Winner of the 2009 Royal Society Prize for Science Books. Richard Holmes describes his book as a relay race, set on the cusp of the 1800’s with discovery following after discovery, our own planet, the sky above us and the universe beyond. And interweaved throughout is the literary reaction to this exciting new world with perhaps Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein being the most well-known. Of all the books shortlisted for the Royal Society’s Science prize this year Richard Holmes’ history stands out a mile; for the exciting story he has to tell, the skill with which he writes and explains the science involved and not least the way he so beautifully conveys the ferment of the times. Comparison: Joseph Banks by Patrick O’Brian, The Comet Sweeper: Caroline Herschel’s Astronomical Ambition by Claire Brock, Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future by Jenny Uglow
This story is a quest for an animal so rare that a sighting has never been recorded. The Somali golden mole was first described in 1964. It is mentioned in a number of textbooks, but the sole evidence for its existence is a tiny fragment of jawbone found in an owl pellet. Intrigued by this elusive creature, and what it can tell us about extinction and survival, Richard Girling embarks on a hunt to find the animal and its discoverer - an Italian professor who he thinks might still be alive...Richard's journey comes at a time when one species - our own - is having to reconsider its relationship with every other. It is also a quest for knowledge. He delves into the history of exploration and the tall tales of the great hunters, explores the science of collecting and naming specimens, traces the development of the conservation movement and addresses the central issues of extinction and biodiversity. The Hunt for the Golden Mole is an engaging story which illustrates the importance of every living creature, no matter how small, strange or rare. It is a thoughtful, shocking, inspiring and important book.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 8 January 2009. As close to a virtual tour as you can get without moving pictures. Richard Fortey is the tour-guide, taking us down the dark, echoing passages of the Natural History Museum, behind the public doors, introducing us to colleagues past and present. It’s an unusual history, full of great stories; the author is an engaging and great twinkly presence throughout and leaves us in no doubt as to the importance of the Natural History Museum, past, present and future. Comparison: Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution by Richard Fortey
By no means the first book by Richard Dawkins delving into the subject of religion, but his first tackling this subject exclusively. This is probably one the best presented arguments for the non-existence of a supernatural god that has ever been put to paper. Dawkins presents his case with clear scientic explanation combined with equal measures of wit, making this book not only rewarding, but also highly entertaining. Whether you are a believer, a non believer or one of the great undecided this book will certainly give you something to talk about. A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher... ‘Richard Dawkins explains the wonders and complexities of science with unmatched clarity and enthusiasm. He is an awesome thinker and his writing is vivid, imaginative, witty and exhilarating. Quite simply he is the best science writer of our time’. Sally Gaminara, Publishing Director at Transworld
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 1 December 2011. What are things made of? What is the sun? Why is there night and day, winter and summer? Why do bad things happen? Are we alone? Have you heard the tale of how the sun hatched out of an emu's egg? Has anyone ever told you that earthquakes are caused by a sneezing giant? This title answers all these questions.
Richard Dawkins - author of The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, and The God Delusion - is one of science's greatest communicators. This anthology of more than forty pieces is a kaleidoscopic argument for the power and the glory of science. Breathtaking, brilliant and passionate, these essays, journalism, lectures and letters make an unanswerable case for the wonder of scientific discovery and its power to stir the imagination; for the practical necessity of scientific endeavour to society; and for the importance of the scientific way of thinking - particularly in today's 'post-truth' world. Alongside the explications, the celebrations and the controversies are wonderfully funny ventures into satire and parody, and moving personal reflections in memory and honour of others.
'The woods are the great beauty of this country...A fine forest-like beech wood far more beautiful than anything else which we have seen in its vicinity' is how John Stuart Mill described a small patch of beech-and bluebell woodland, buried deeply in the Chiltern Hills and now owned by Richard Fortey. Drawing upon a lifetime of scientific expertise and abiding love of nature, Fortey uses his small wood to tell a wider story of the ever-changing British landscape, human influence on the countryside over many centuries and the vital interactions between flora, fauna and fungi. The trees provide a majestic stage for woodland animals and plants to reveal their own stories. Fortey presents his wood as an interwoven collection of different habitats rich in species. His attention ranges from the beech and cherry trees that dominate the wood to the flints underfoot; the red kites and woodpeckers that soar overhead; the lichens, mosses and liverworts decorating the branches as well as the myriad species of spiders, moths, beetles and crane-flies. The 300 species of fungi identified in the wood capture his attention as much as familiar deer, shrews and dormice. Fortey is a naturalist who believes that all organisms are as interesting as human beings - and certainly more important than the observer. So this book is a close examination of nature and human history. He proves that poetic writing is compatible with scientific precision.