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.

Thing Explainer Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

Thing Explainer Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

Author: Randall Munroe Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/01/2016

Remarkably clear, simple, occasionally funny explanations and diagrams about 55 complicated things. With fabulous blueprints, some fold out pages, smart little funnies and fascinating information, this is suitable for children and adults, in fact I can see the whole family together, studying and talking about this book for hours. Randall Munroe has only used the thousand most common words to write ’Thing Explainer', the thousand words sit at the back with his explanation as to why he chose them, just before a wonderfully large fold out diagram of a skyscraper. My personal favourites were the car engine and battery pages. I giggled, I was enthralled, and I learnt things without my brain being left in a confused bewildered knot, perfect! In other words, this jargon-busting, no-nonsense book is really rather clever indeed. ~ Liz Robinson December 2015 Book of the Month.

Books of the Month
Stargazing

Stargazing

Author: Radmila Topalovic and Tom Kerss Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/10/2016

A beautiful Christmas gift for beginner and seasoned stargazers alike. A brilliant introductory guide to exploring the night sky, from the astronomers of the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Offering complete advice from the ground up, Stargazing is the perfect manual for beginners to astronomy - introducing the world of telescopes, planets, stars, dark skies and celestial maps. Discover how to tackle light pollution, how to stargaze with just your eyes, and what equipment is best for beginners. Astronomy experts Radmila Topalovic and Tom Kerss explain the best ways to plan your stargazing experience and the key things to look out for on specific dates throughout the year. With seasonal star charts, constellation charts and facts about our Solar System, Stargazing is packed of useful information and guidance for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Bridging the gap between human curiosity and the need for scientific expertise, Stargazing allows a complete novice to understand our place in the cosmos and enjoy the beautiful and extraordinary wonders of the night sky. The perfect companion to the best-selling Guide to the Night Sky from Collins, Stargazing is a great way to get started in the fascinating world of astronomy.

What's Mine is Yours How Collaborative Consumption is Changing the Way We Live

What's Mine is Yours How Collaborative Consumption is Changing the Way We Live

Author: Rachel Botsman, Roo Rogers Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2011

In the 20th century humanity consumed products faster than ever, but this way of living is no longer sustainable. This new and important book shows how technological advances are driving forms of 'collaborative consumption' which will change forever the ways in which we interact both with businesses and with each other. The average lawn mower is used for four hours a year. The average power drill is used for only twenty minutes in its entire lifespan. The average car is unused for 22 hours a day, and even when it is being used there are normally three empty seats. Surely there must be a way to get the benefit out of things like mowers, drills and even cars, without having to carry the huge up-front costs of ownership? There is indeed. Collaborative consumption is not just a buzzword, it is a new win-win way of life. This insightful and thought-provoking new book by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers is an important and fast-moving survey of the dramatic changes we are seeing in the way we consume products. Many of us are familiar with freecycle, eBay, couchsurfing and Zipcar. But these are just the beginning of a new phenomenon. Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers have interviewed business leaders and opinion formers around the world to draw together the many strands of Collaborative Consumption into a coherent and challenging argument to show that the way we did business and consumerism in the 20th century is not the way we will do it in the 21st century.

eBooks of the Month
Paranormality : Why We See What Isn't There

Paranormality : Why We See What Isn't There

Author: Professor Richard Wiseman Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2011

Professor Wiseman has a genius for presenting science. Without losing authenticity he is immensely readable, often very funny and a genius at debunking and revealing fraud and bad science. His latest book deals with the Paranormal and by investigating why we believe in such wonders as spirits, table-rapping and communication with the dead he manages to debunk the whole caboodle. But our weird beliefs have some value, paranormal research has revealed much about our brain function, why we can see ghosts that are not there or be tricked by magicians and mediums. Perhaps the sub-title should have read Discover the inadequacies of the human brain!Like for Like ReadingQuirkology: The Curious Science of Everyday Lives, Richard WisemanBad Science, Ben Goldacre

59 Seconds How Psychology Can Improve Your Life in Less Than a Minute

59 Seconds How Psychology Can Improve Your Life in Less Than a Minute

Author: Professor Richard Wiseman Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/04/2010

A 2014 World Book Night selection. Most people would like to be more creative, more persuasive and more attractive. For years, gurus and 'life coaches' have urged people to improve their lives by changing the way they think and behave, but scientific research has revealed that many of their techniques, from group brainstorming to visualization, are ineffective. Fortunately, psychologist Richard Wiseman is on hand to provide fast-acting, myth-busting scientific answers to a huge range of everyday problems. From job-hunting to relationships, and from parenting to self-esteem, personal and professional success may be less than a minute away ...Find out why putting a pencil between your teeth instantly makes you feel happier. Discover why even thinking about going to the gym can help you keep in shape. Learn how putting just one thing in your wallet will improve the chance of it being returned if lost.

101 Bets You Will Always Win The Science of the Seemingly Impossible

101 Bets You Will Always Win The Science of the Seemingly Impossible

Author: Professor Richard Wiseman Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/09/2016

What would you do if someone bet you they could balance a coin on the edge of a banknote, walk through a postcard, or make you move your limbs through the power of suggestion? Would you take that bet? From Richard Wiseman, the creator of the 350-million-view YouTube phenomenon, Quirkology, comes a thrilling mix of lateral thinking, magic tricks and scintillating science stunts which is sure to appeal to curious minds everywhere.

eBooks of the Month
The Perfect Theory A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity

The Perfect Theory A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity

Author: Professor Pedro G. Ferreira Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/02/2014

Shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books 2014. Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement in modern physics. Anything that involves gravity, the force that powers everything on the largest, hottest or densest of scales, can be explained by it. From the moment Einstein first proposed the theory in 1915, it was received with enthusiasm yet also with tremendous resistance, and for the following ninety years was the source of a series of feuds, vendettas, ideological battles and international collaborations featuring a colourful cast of characters. A gripping, colourfully told story, A Perfect Theory entangles itself with the flashpoints of modern history. In this first complete popular history of the theory, Pedro G. Ferreira shows how the theory has informed our understanding of exactly what the universe is made of and how much is still undiscovered: from the work of the giant telescopes in the deserts of Chile to the way in which the latest work on black holes is providing a fresh, new perspective on what space and time are truly made of.

eBooks of the Month
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.

Serving the Reich The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler

Serving the Reich The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler

Author: Philip Ball Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/10/2014

Shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books 2014. Serving the Reich tells the story of physics under Hitler. While some scientists tried to create an Aryan physics that excluded any 'Jewish ideas', many others made compromises and concessions as they continued to work under the Nazi regime. Among them were three world-renowned physicists: Max Planck, pioneer of quantum theory, regarded it as his moral duty to carry on under the regime. Peter Debye, a Dutch physicist, rose to run the Reich's most important research institute before leaving for the United States in 1940. Werner Heisenberg, discovered the Uncertainty Principle, and became the leading figure in Germany's race for the atomic bomb. After the war most scientists in Germany maintained they had been apolitical or even resisted the regime: Debye claimed that he had gone to America to escape Nazi interference in his research; Heisenberg and others argued that they had deliberately delayed production of the atomic bomb. Mixing history, science and biography, Serving the Reich is a gripping exploration of moral choices under a totalitarian regime. Here are human dilemmas, failures to take responsibility, three lives caught between the idealistic goals of science and a tyrannical ideology.

eBooks of the Month
And Then You're Dead

And Then You're Dead

Author: Paul Doherty Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/11/2017

The ideal stocking filler for anyone looking for some good, clean, grisly fun this Christmas. Wryly amusing and gruesomely fascinating, this smart science-based stocking filler provides technical answers to many of the questions curious kids like to issue at adults, and many an adult wonders about. Positing “What would happen if…” as its driving pivot, the book explores all manner of unusual ways to meet one’s demise in deadpan detail. Many of the questions tap into commonly-held fears: what would happen if your plane window popped out? If you were buried alive? If you were struck by lightning? Others are ingeniously absurd: what would happen if buzzards raised you? If you ate as many cookies as the cookie monster? If you toured the Pringles factory and fell off the catwalk? If you actually lost your head? Encompassing the disciplines of anatomy, physics, geology and astronomy, the authors’ answers are funnily thorough, and funny full-stop. Joanne Owen

eBooks of the Month
The Planet Remade How Geoengineering Could Change the World

The Planet Remade How Geoengineering Could Change the World

Author: Oliver Morton Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/07/2016

The risks of global warming are real, and potentially vast. The difficulty of doing without fossil fuels is daunting, and possible insurmountable. So there is an urgent need for new thinking on climate. To meet that need, a small but increasingly influential group of scientists is exploring proposals for planned human intervention in the climate system. A stratospheric veil against the sun; the cultivation of photosynthetic plankton; a fleet of unmanned ships seeding clouds: these are the radical technologies of climate geoengineering. It is chilling to think of such power, and such scope for misadventure or malice, in humans hands. And yet we are now at the point where we have no choice but to take them very seriously indeed. The Planet Remade explores the science, history and politics behind these strategies. It looks at who might want to see geoengineering put to use - and why others would be dead set against it. In the last two centuries, changes to the planet - to the clouds and soils, to the winds and the seas, to the great cycles of nitrogen and carbon - have been far more profound than most of us realize. Appreciating the scale of that change compels us to rethink not just our responses to global warming, but our relationship to nature.

Family Politics

Family Politics

Author: Oliver James Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2016

There is a prevailing myth - in both modern society and in modern science - that who we are is largely down to our genetic code. This book uncovers the truth about genetics: that our genes actually play very little part in shaping who we are.