About the book: Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller, but even when he stays safely at home he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. Bill Bryson's challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry and particle physics, and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. The ultimate eye-opening journey through time and space, A Short History of Nearly Everything is the biggest-selling popular science book of the 21st century, and reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.
by Natalie Angier
About the book: In this exuberant book, the best-selling author Natalie Angier distills the scientific canon to the absolute essentials, delivering an entertaining and inspiring one-stop science education. Angier interviewed a host of scientists, posing the simple question “What do you wish everyone knew about your field?” The Canon provides their answers, taking readers on a joyride through the fascinating fundamentals of the incredible world around us and revealing how they are relevant to us every day. Angier proves a rabble-rousing, wisecracking, deeply committed tour guide in her irresistible exploration of the scientific process and the basic concepts of physics, chemistry, evolutionary biology, cellular and molecular biology, geology, and astronomy. Even science-phobes will find her passion infectious as she strives "to make the invisible visible, the distant neighborly, the ineffable affable."
by Patricia Fara
About the book: In Science, Patricia Fara rewrites science's past to provide new ways of understanding and questioning our modern technological society. Sweeping through the centuries from ancient Babylon right up to the latest hi-tech experiments in genetics and particle physics, Fara's book also ranges internationally, challenging notions of European superiority by emphasizing the importance of scientific projects based around the world, including revealing discussions of China and the Islamic Empire alongside the more familiar stories about Copernicus's sun-centered astronomy, Newton's gravity, and Darwin's theory of evolution. We see for instance how Muslim leaders encouraged science by building massive libraries, hospitals, and astronomical observatories and we rediscover the significance of medieval Europe--long overlooked--where, surprisingly, religious institutions ensured science's survival, as the learning preserved in monasteries was subsequently developed in new and unique institutions: universities. Instead of focussing on esoteric experiments and abstract theories, she explains how science belongs to the practical world of war, politics, and business. And rather than glorifying scientists as idealized heroes, she tells true stories about real people--men (and some women) who needed to earn their living, who made mistakes, and who trampled down their rivals.
by Jennifer Ouellette
About the book: Jennifer Ouellette never took maths in the sixth form, mostly because she - like most people - assumed that she wouldn't need it in real life. But then the English-graduate-turned-award-winning-science-writer had a change of heart and decided to revisit those equations and formulas that had haunted her for years. The Calculus Diaries is the fun and fascinating account of her year spent confronting her number-phobia head on. With real wit and verve, Ouellette shows how she learned to apply calculus to everything from petrol mileages to dieting, from rollercoaster rides to shooting cards in Las Vegas - proving that anyone can learn the fundamentals of maths' universal language, and make the world a whole lot more comprehensible.
by Brian Switek
About the book: One of Amazon's Best Science Books of 2013A Hudson Booksellers Staff Pick for the Best Books of 2013One of Publishers Weekly's Top Ten Spring Science BooksSelected by Apple's iBookstore as one of the best books of AprilA Bookshop Santa Cruz Staff PickDinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures instill in us. Investigating the latest discoveries in paleontology, he breathes new life into old bones. Switek reunites us with these mysterious creatures as he visits desolate excavation sites and hallowed museum vaults, exploring everything from the sex life of Apatosaurus and T. rex's feather-laden body to just why dinosaurs vanished. (And of course, on his journey, he celebrates the book's titular hero, "Brontosaurus"―who suffered a second extinction when we learned he never existed at all―as a symbol of scientific progress.) With infectious enthusiasm, Switek questions what we've long held to be true about these beasts, weaving in stories from his obsession with dinosaurs, which started when he was just knee-high to a Stegosaurus. Endearing, surprising, and essential to our understanding of our own evolution and our place on Earth, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a book that dinosaur fans and anyone interested in scientific progress will cherish for years to come.
by Amanda Gefter
About the book: NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWSIn a memoir of family bonding and cutting-edge physics for readers of Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality and Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist?, Amanda Gefter tells the story of how she conned her way into a career as a science journalist—and wound up hanging out, talking shop, and butting heads with the world’s most brilliant minds. At a Chinese restaurant outside of Philadelphia, a father asks his fifteen-year-old daughter a deceptively simple question: “How would you define nothing?” With that, the girl who once tried to fail geometry as a conscientious objector starts reading up on general relativity and quantum mechanics, as she and her dad embark on a life-altering quest for the answers to the universe’s greatest mysteries. Before Amanda Gefter became an accomplished science writer, she was a twenty-one-year-old magazine assistant willing to sneak her and her father, Warren, into a conference devoted to their physics hero, John Wheeler. Posing as journalists, Amanda and Warren met Wheeler, who offered them cryptic clues to the nature of reality: The universe is a self-excited circuit, he said. And, The boundary of a boundary is zero. Baffled, Amanda and Warren vowed to decode the phrases—and with them, the enigmas of existence. When we solve all that, they agreed, we’ll write a book. Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn is that book, a memoir of the impassioned hunt that takes Amanda and her father from New York to London to Los Alamos. Along the way, they bump up against quirky science and even quirkier personalities, including Leonard Susskind, the former Bronx plumber who invented string theory; Ed Witten, the soft-spoken genius who coined the enigmatic M-theory; even Stephen Hawking. What they discover is extraordinary: the beginnings of a monumental paradigm shift in cosmology, from a single universe we all share to a splintered reality in which each observer has her own. Reality, the Gefters learn, is radically observer-dependent, far beyond anything of which Einstein or the founders of quantum mechanics ever dreamed—with shattering consequences for our understanding of the universe’s origin. And somehow it all ties back to that conversation, to that Chinese restaurant, and to the true meaning of nothing. Throughout their journey, Amanda struggles to make sense of her own life—as her journalism career transforms from illusion to reality, as she searches for her voice as a writer, as she steps from a universe shared with her father to at last carve out one of her own. It’s a paradigm shift you might call growing up. By turns hilarious, moving, irreverent, and profound, Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn weaves together story and science in remarkable ways. By the end, you will never look at the universe the same way again.Praise for Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn “Nothing quite prepared me for this book. Wow. Reading it, I alternated between depression—how could the rest of us science writers ever match this?—and exhilaration.”—Scientific American “To Do: Read Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn. Reality doesn’t have to bite.”—New York “A zany superposition of genres . . . It’s at once a coming-of-age chronicle and a father-daughter road trip to the far reaches of this universe and 10,500 others.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
by David Lindley
About the book: Werner Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” challenged centuries of scientific understanding, placed him in direct opposition to Albert Einstein, and put Niels Bohr in the middle of one of the most heated debates in scientific history. Heisenberg’s theorem stated that there were physical limits to what we could know about sub-atomic particles; this “uncertainty” would have shocking implications. In a riveting account, David Lindley captures this critical episode and explains one of the most important scientific discoveries in history, which has since transcended the boundaries of science and influenced everything from literary theory to television.
by Louisa Gilder
About the book: In The Age of Entanglement, Louisa Gilder brings to life one of the pivotal debates in twentieth century physics. In 1935, Albert Einstein famously showed that, according to the quantum theory, separated particles could act as if intimately connected–a phenomenon which he derisively described as “spooky action at a distance.” In that same year, Erwin Schrödinger christened this correlation “entanglement.” Yet its existence was mostly ignored until 1964, when the Irish physicist John Bell demonstrated just how strange this entanglement really was. Drawing on the papers, letters, and memoirs of the twentieth century’s greatest physicists, Gilder both humanizes and dramatizes the story by employing the scientists’ own words in imagined face-to-face dialogues. The result is a richly illuminating exploration of one of the most exciting concepts of quantum physics.
by Richard Panek
About the book: “Fascinating . . . One of the most important stories in the history of science.”— Washington PostIn recent years, a handful of scientists has been racing to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, and every star and planet. The rest is completely unknown.Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this cosmos-shattering conclusion. In vivid detail, he narrates the quest to find the “dark” matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy that make up 96 percent of the universe. This is perhaps the greatest mystery in all of science, and solving it will bring fame, funding, and certainly a Nobel Prize. Based on hundreds of interviews and in-depth, on-site reporting, the book offers an intimate portrait of the bitter rivalries and fruitful collaborations, the eureka moments and blind alleys, that have redefined science and reinvented the universe.“A lively new account of twentieth-century (plus a little twenty-first-century) cosmology . . . The book is as much about how the science got done as about the science itself.”—Salon
by George Gamow
About the book: Since his first appearance over sixty years ago, Mr Tompkins has become known and loved by many thousands of readers as the bank clerk whose fantastic dreams and adventures lead him into a world inside the atom. George Gamow's classic provides a delightful explanation of the central concepts in modern physics, from atomic structure to relativity, and quantum theory to fusion and fission. Roger Penrose's foreword introduces Mr Tompkins to a new generation of readers, and reviews his adventures in light of recent developments in physics.