Saturday, 25 November 2017

List #4: SCIENCE

A selection of books for those curious about the physical world and its workings. 

Come in or click through to browse our full selection. 

The Runaway Species: How human creativity remakes the world by Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman         $37
The latest neurological research shows how our brains are softwired (or live-wired!) rather than hardwired. This endless malleability enables us to reconceptualise our world and to construct experience. Where do new ideas come from? Eagleman, whose book The Brain is the best introduction to the philosophical and psychological implications of neurological research, teams up with composer Anthony Brandt to explore our need for novelty and our capacities to produce it like no other animal. 

Animals Among Us: The new science of anthrozoology by John Bradshaw         $50
Why do humans keep and cherish some animals i their homes and yet regard others as a source of food or sport? Our relationship with animals tells us much about our own nature as a species and as individuals. A thoughtful and enjoyable book. 


The Seabird's Cry: The lives and loves of puffins, gannets and other ocean voyagers by Adam Nicolson        $40
At the heart of the book are the Shiant Isles, a cluster of Hebridean islands in the Minch but Nicolson has pursued the birds much further-across the Atlantic, up the west coast of Ireland, to St Kilda, Orkney, Shetland, the Faeroes, Iceland and Norway; to the eastern seaboard of Maine and to Newfoundland, to the Falklands, South Georgia, the Canaries and the Azores - reaching out across the widths of the world ocean which is the seabirds' home. 
"I was entranced - my mind thrilling to the veers and lifts of thought, to the beautiful deftness of the prose. This marvellous book inhabits with graceful ease both the mythic and the scientific, and remains alert to the vulnerability of these birds as well as to their wonder. It is a work that takes wing in the mind." - Robert Macfarlane

Mysteries of the Quantum Universe by Thibault Damour and Mathieu Burniat        $48
Quantum physics gets its graphic-novel explication as Bob and his dog Rick have crepes with Max Planck, chat with Einstein about atoms and hang out, uncertainly, with Heisenberg in Heligoland. 
"Billed as 'Tintin meets Brian Cox', the book was created by theoretical physicist Thibault Damour and illustrator Mathieu Burniat so it's as scientifically accurate as it is beautiful." - BBC Focus 

Behave: The biology of humans at our best and worst by Robert Sapolsky           $40
What drives human behaviours such as racism, xenophobia, tolerance, competition, morality, war, and even peace?
>> Are we hard-wired to be cruel to each other? 

The Inner Life of Animals: Surprising observations of a hidden worldby Peter Wohlleben       $38
The aspects of ourselves that we hold as being the most human are in fact the ones that we share most widely with other animals. 
From the author of The Hidden Life of Trees
The Matter of the Heart: A history of the heart in eleven operations by Thomas Morris            $40
“Thomas Morris does for the history of cardiac surgery what The Right Stuff and Hidden Figures did for the space race. The book is – appropriately – pulse-thumpingly gripping and will be enjoyed by anyone who, in any sense of the phrase, has a heart.” – Mark Lawson
“Tremendous. An exhilarating sweep through ancient history and contemporary practice in surgery of the heart. It’s rich in extraordinary detail and stories that will amaze you. A wonderful book.” – Melvyn Bragg

The Wood for the Trees: A long view of nature from a small wood by Richard Fortey      $25
This biography of an English 'beech-and-bluebell' wood through the seasons and through history both natural and human, is a portrayal of the relationships of humans to nature and a demonstration that poetic writing can be scientifically precise. 
"'His remarkable scientific knowledge, intense curiosity and love of nature mean entries erupt with the same richness and variety as the woods they describe. Fortey's enthusiasm for his new wonderland is infectious and illuminating, deep and interesting." - Guardian 

Modern Death: How medicine changed the end of life by Haider Warraich          $43
Advances in medical science has meant not only that we live longer but that we spend more of that time dying. How has this changed our view of the world and our place in it? 

The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks        $38
The latest advances in neuroscience have bearing on the dilemmas of both philosophy and psychology. Before he died, Sacks drew together some of his incisive essays on consciousness and on the relationship between the brain and the mind, experience and memory, to be presented as this important addition to his oeuvre. 

Moonshots: 50 years of NASA space exploration seen through Hasselbladt cameras by Piers Bizony       $130
The most extraordinary images of the Apollo and later missions, presented in this lavish large-format slip-cased volume. Who would have thought that such images could inspire such awe and wonder? 

A Crack in Creation: The new power to control evolution by Jennifer Doudna and Sam Sternberg          $40
Doudna's discovery of the genome editing capacities of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) has provided scientists with potentially the most powerful interventional tool yet in the field of genetics. 

The Voices Within: The history and science of how we talk to ourselvesby Charles Fernyhough        $28
As soon as we evolved language our minds assailed us with voices that could not be heard by anyone else. What do these voices tell us about the workings of our minds, the structures and function of language, and about our conception of ourselves and our place in our world?
>> Not I

Universe: Exploring the astronomical world by Paul Murdin       $90
A sumptuous collection of 300 images giving an overview of humanity's conceptions of the cosmos, from the earliest times to the latest discoveries and imaging techniques. 
>> See some sample pages here

The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor        $33
Hares are small animals with many predators but they have no burrow or tunnel to shelter them from danger. They survive by a combination of two skills honed to unimaginable extremes: hiding in plain sight, and running fast. This handsome book deals in detail with hares, both as they are, both biochemically and behaviourally, and as they are imagined in art, mythology and legend. 

Improbable Destinies: How predictable is evolution? by Jonathan Losos         $55
The natural world is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. Convergence suggests that evolution is predictable, and if we could replay the tape of life, we would get the same outcome. But there are also many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change - a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze - caused evolution to take a completely different course. So are we humans, and all the plants and animals in the world today, inevitabilities or evolutionary freaks? 

Sound: Stories of hearing lost and found by Bella Bathurst        $40
A thoughtful consideration of the place of sound and hearing in our lives and culture and identities, springing from the author's progressive deafness and the recovery of her capacities.
The essential planning guide for the curious space adventurer, covering all of the essentials for your next voyage, how to get there, and what to do when you arrive, and a vast amount of information about the planets. 
A remarkable, passionate, brutally human account of the shifts in societal attitudes and in science that enabled humanity to turn the tide against the AIDS epidemic. 
A hundred and seventy years ago many people would have chosen to die rather than undergo the ordeal of surgery. Today, even major operations are routine. Anaesthesia has made them possible. But how much do we really know about what happens when we go under? Can we hear what's going on around us? Is pain still pain if we are not awake to feel it, or don't remember it afterwards? How does the unconscious mind deal with the body's experience of being cut open and ransacked? 

War-torn, unstable and virtually bankrupt, revolutionary Russia tried to light its way to the future with the fitful glow of science. It succeeded through terror, folly and crime - but also through courage, imagination and even genius. Stalin believed that science should serve the state and with many disciplines having virtually unlimited funds, by the time of his death in 1953, the Soviet Union boasted the largest and best-funded scientific establishment in history - at once the glory and the laughing stock of the intellectual world. 
From robot swarms to nuclear fusion powered-toasters - what technologies are coming? What technologies are needed? What are the impediments to useful progress? Fun. 

A Map of the Invisible: Journeys into particle physics by John Butterworth      $40
Over the last sixty years, scientists around the world have worked together to explore the fundamental constituents of matter, and the forces that govern their behaviour. The result, so far, is the 'Standard Model' of elementary particles: a theoretical map of the basic building blocks of the universe. With the discovery of the Higgs particle in 2012, the map as we know it was completed, but also extended into strange and wonderful new realms.

Numbers are infinitely extensive but also infinitely divisible. Can one sort of infinity be said to be larger than another? 

Reading the Rocks: How Victorian geologists discovered the secrets of life by Brenda Maddox      $36
Was it a coincidence that geology has a pivotal science in an age of social and political repositioning? Maddox introduces us to the diverse range of geologists who kept focussed during the geology vs. Genesis showdown. 

Tōtara: A natural and cultural history by Philip Simpson            $75
Among the biggest and oldest trees in the New Zealand forest, the heart of Maori carving and culture, trailing no. 8 wire as fence posts on settler farms, clambered up in the Pureora protests of the 1980s: the story of New Zealand can be told through totara.

Humankind: Solidarity with non-human people by Timothy Morton        $22
What is a person and what is not? If we rethink our notions of identity can we both include and overcome the notion of species and arrive at a more helpful model of our place on (or in) the planet? 
"I have been reading Timothy Morton's books for a while and I like them a lot." - Bjork

Void: The strange physics of nothing by James Owen Weatherall        $42
The physics of matter receive a lot of attention, but what about the physics of nothing and of absence? Both relativity and quantum theory tell us that nothingness can't be infinitely extensive. Nothing, Weatherall shows, turns out to be very similar to something, similarly structured and describable with the same laws. 

Paleoart: Visions of the prehistoric past by Zoe Lascaze        $160
How have artists envisaged  human and prehuman life in prehistoric times? Perhaps you have been moved or amused by the often poignant depictions of dinosaurs, mastodons or hominids in the books of your childhood. This vast volume collects the best of such art, in all its poignancy and ludicrosity, from 1830 to 1990. Beneath the dustwrapper, the book is bound in real dinosaur skin (or something very like it). 
>> A tour through the book (then resist it if you can).

Human Anatomy: Stereoscopic images of medical specimens by Jim Naughten        $100
Fascinating, unsettling, wonderful. The specimens are all drawn from the Vrolik Museum in Amsterdam. Includes stereoscope. 
From religion to philosophy, humanity has traditionally sought out absolutes to explain the world around us, but as science has developed, relativity has swept away many of these certainties, leaving only a handful of unchangeable essentials such as absolute zero, nothingness, and light, leading to better science and a new understanding of our place in the physical world. 
Bird Words: New Zealand writers on birds by Elisabeth Easther      $35
An anthology of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, all concerned with the birds, both native and endemic, of New Zealand. 
Bee Quest by Dave Goulson        $45
A hunt for the world's most elusive bees leads Dave Goulson from the Salisbury plains to the Sussex hedgerows, from Poland to Patagonia. 
 “A cracking critique of the ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ hypothesis, Cordelia Fine takes to pieces much of the science on which ‘fundamental’ gender differences are predicated. Graced with precisely focused humour, the author makes a good case that men and women are far more alike than many  would claim. Feminist? Possibly. Humanist? Certainly. A compellingly good read.” - Richard Fortey

Anatomy: A cutaway look inside the human body by Helene Druvert and Jean-Claude Druvert       $45
Here's the human body as you've never seen it before. Clever laser cut-outs, flaps and overlays explore every detail of the organs, systems and senses. 

In Search of Stardust: Amazing micrometeorites and their terrestrial imposters by Jon Larson      $33
The solar system is a dusty place. Every day approximately 100 metric tons of cosmic dust collides with Earth, mainly in the form of micrometeorites. Most of these mineral particles (iron, nickel, etc.) are smaller than grains of sand, and they are falling down on us all the time and all over the globe. This book shows you how to find and identify (and collect!) micrometeorites, and how to distinguish them from other microstuff. 
>> Stardust found

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