Friday, January 25, 2008

Best New Science Books of 2007-Part 2

Titles on this list were selected in
Third Culture Holiday Reading 2007 list
(annotations from the Fauquier Library Catalog and/or publisher descriptions)

Endless Universe: Beyond the Big BangThe Big Bang theory--the leading explanation for the origin of the universe--posits that space and time sprang into being about 14 billion years ago in a hot, expanding fireball of nearly infinite density. Over the last three decades, the theory has repeatedly had to be revised to address such issues as how galaxies and stars first formed and why the expansion of the universe is speeding up--let alone what caused the Big Bang in the first place. This book presents a bold new cosmology: Steinhardt and Turok recount remarkable developments in astronomy, particle physics, and superstring theory that together form the basis of their groundbreaking "Cyclic Universe" theory. According to this picture, the Big Bang was not the beginning of time, but the bridge to a past filled with endlessly repeating cycles, each accompanied by the creation of new matter and the formation of new galaxies, stars, and planets.

Why Beauty is Truth: a history of symmetry Mathematics, physics and the universe.

The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable Examines the role of the unexpected, discussing why improbable events are not anticipated or understood properly, and how humans rationalize the black swan phenomenon to make it appear less random.

Good calories, bad calories Argues that refined carbohydrates are the ultimate cause of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer; that overeating and sedentary behavior are side effects of increased insulin; and that removing these carbohydrates from one's diet is the only way to lose weight.

Death by black hole: and other cosmic quandaries A collection of favorite essays on the cosmos, written by a well-known American Museum of Natural History astrophysicist and author of Origins, includes the title essay, "Holy Wars," "The Search for Life in the Universe," and "Hollywood Nights."

Avoid boring people: lessons from a life in science by James Watson A scientific memoir by the co-discoverer of DNA describes a life devoted to the pursuit of knowledge, offering valuable lessons about how to get the most out of college, select a career, manage others, and keep one's work relevant.

The World without us
You've watched it on TV, now read what would happen to Earth if the human presence was removed, from the objects that would vanish without human intervention to those that would become long-lasting remnants of humankind.

Evolution for Everyone: how Darwin's theory can change the way we think about our lives
What is the biological reason for gossip?
For laughter? For the creation of art?
Why do dogs have curly tails?
What can microbes tell us about morality?

These and many other questions are tackled by renowned evolutionist David Sloan Wilson in this witty and groundbreaking new book. With stories that entertain as much as they inform, Wilson outlines the basic principles of evolution and shows how, properly understood, they can illuminate the length and breadth of creation, from the origin of life to the nature of religion. Now everyone can move beyond the sterile debates about creationism and intelligent design to share Darwin’s panoramic view of animal and human life, seamlessly connected to each other.

Evolution, as Wilson explains, is not just about dinosaurs and human origins, but about why all species behave as they do—from beetles that devour their own young, to bees that function as a collective brain, to dogs that are smarter in some respects than our closest ape relatives. And basic evolutionary principles are also the foundation for humanity’s capacity for symbolic thought, culture, and morality.

In example after example, Wilson sheds new light on Darwin’s grand theory and how it can be applied to daily life. By turns thoughtful, provocative, and daringly funny, Evolution for Everyone addresses some of the deepest philosophical and social issues of this or any age. In helping us come to a deeper understanding of human beings and our place in the world, it might also help us to improve that world.

Proust and the squid: the story and science of the reading brain A developmental psychologist evaluates the ways in which reading and writing have transformed the human brain, in an anecdotal study that reveals the significant changes in evolutionary brain physiology throughout history.

The Lucifer effect: understanding how good people turn evil What makes good people do bad things? How can moral people be seduced to act immorally? Where is the line separating good from evil, and who is in danger of crossing it?

Renowned social psychologist Philip Zimbardo has the answers, and in The Lucifer Effect he explains how–and the myriad reasons why–we are all susceptible to the lure of “the dark side.” Drawing on examples from history as well as his own trailblazing research, Zimbardo details how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make monsters out of decent men and women.

Zimbardo is perhaps best known as the creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Here, for the first time and in detail, he tells the full story of this landmark study, in which a group of college-student volunteers was randomly divided into “guards” and “inmates” and then placed in a mock prison environment. Within a week the study was abandoned, as ordinary college students were transformed into either brutal, sadistic guards or emotionally broken prisoners.

By illuminating the psychological causes behind such disturbing metamorphoses, Zimbardo enables us to better understand a variety of harrowing phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to organized genocide to how once upstanding American soldiers came to abuse and torture Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib. He replaces the long-held notion of the “bad apple” with that of the “bad barrel”–the idea that the social setting and the system contaminate the individual, rather than the other way around.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Best New Science Books from 2007-Part 1

The Canon: a whirligig tour of the beautiful basics of science Award-winning science journalist Angier takes us on a "guided twirligig through the scientific canon." She draws on conversations with hundreds of the world's top scientists, and her own work as a reporter for the New York Times, to create an entertaining guide to scientific literacy--a joyride through the major scientific disciplines: physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and astronomy. It's for anyone who wants to understand the great issues of our time--from stem cells and bird flu to evolution and global warming. It's also one of those rare books that reignites our childhood delight in figuring out how things work: we learn what's actually happening when our ice cream melts or our coffee gets cold, what our liver cells do when we eat a caramel, how the horse shows evolution at work, and that we really are all made of stardust.
("we are star dust...we are golden " Joni Mitchell)

Super Crunchers: How thinking by numbers is the new way to be smart Touting the benefits of detailed statistical analysis, an economist explains how sorting through mass quantities of easily stored information can offer greater insight into human behavior for businesses, governments, and consumers.
(we were half a million strong)

Musicophilia: tales of music and the brain Drawing on the individual experiences of patients, musicians, composers, and ordinary people, the author explores the complex human response to music, and how music can affect those suffering from a variety of ailments.
(just join in a rock and roll band)

The Genetic Strand: Exploring a family history through DNA Chronicles the author's personal experience with DNA testing and research into his own family, in an anecdotal study that traces his genealogical investigation into his paternal ancestry.
(we are a billion year old carbon)

Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the ridden rivalries that ignited the space age Describes how the fierce political battles of the Cold War spawned the space race, discussing the implications of the 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik in terms of the battle between the two superpowers to put a man on the moon.

A ball, a dog and a monkey: 1957: the space race begins An account of the first year of the space race describes the dramatic rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and how it was marked by such contributing factors as UFO sightings, intelligence gathering, and fierce nationalism.
(and I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes riding shotgun in the sky)

The Language of God: a scientist present evidence for belief A head of the Human Genome Project and former atheist presents a scientific argument for the existence of God, revealing how science can support faith by citing the areas of nature that can and cannot be fully explained by Darwinian evolution.
(I came upon a child of God, walking down the road)

Cosmic Jackpot: why our universe is just right for life Looks at cutting-edge scientific discoveries to explore why the fundamental features of the physical universe seem tailor-made to produce life, offering a study of the radical multiverse theory and its implications in terms of reality, time, life, and the cosmos.
(and we've got to get back to the garden)

I am a strange loop
Argues that the key to understanding ourselves and consciousness is the "strange loop," a special kind of abstract feedback loop that inhabits the brain. By the author of Godel, Escher, Bach.
(I feel like I'm a cog in something turning round and round)

Einstein: his life and universe A narrative portrait based on the complete body of Einstein's papers offers insight into his contributions to science, in an account that describes the influence of his discoveries on his personal views about morality, politics, and tolerance.

The Stuff of Thought: language as a window into human nature Presents a study of the relationship between language and human nature, explaining how everything from swearing and innuendo to prepositions and baby names reveals facts about key human concepts, emotions, and relationships.
(but life is for learning)

Rethinking thin: the new science of weight loss-and the myths and realities of dieting Analyzes the psychological and cultural factors that cause many people to be obsessed with attaining unrealistically slender physical proportions.
(we just got caught up in some devil's bargain)

Proust was a neuroscientist Details the contributions of an unlikely group of artists--including artist Paul C├ęzanne, chef Auguste Escoffier, writer Gertrude Stein, and novelist Marcel Proust--to an understanding of the inner workings of the human brain.
(everywhere you look there was a song and a hope and a celebration)

Ghost: a novel by Alan Lightman Three months after being unexpectedly fired from his banking job, David takes a temporary position at a local mortuary, where he experiences an inexplicable encounter with the unknown that transforms his relationships with everyone around him. The author is a physicist and novelist, who teaches at MIT, and frequently combines scientific explorations with his novels.

Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the struggle for the soul of science An analysis of the uncertainty principle, first introduced by German physicist Werner Heisenberg in 1927 and discusses the birth, evolution, and impact of this important idea.
(get back to the land and set my soul free)

Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics and the battle over global warming Uses scientific evidence from the 2006 hurricane season to study the link between global warming and the ferocity of hurricanes and explores the influence of the media and politicians on commonly held ideas about climate change.

Terra: our 100 million year old ecosystem-and the threats that now put it at risk An analytical synthesis of evolutionary biology, paleontology, and environmental science shows how all three branches of science can help us understand how human behavior endangers the entire global ecosystem and how we can prevent a mass extinction event.
(Can I walk beside you? I've come here to lose the smog)

Titles on this list were selected from
Third Culture Holiday Reading 2007 list.
(annotations from the Fauquier Library Catalog)
my apologies to Joni Mitchell

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Magazine Titles added to Collection

ATV Illustrated
For the all terrain vehicle enthusiast

Cooking with Paula Deen
Popular Food Network star whose magazine accentuates the positive in entertaining with southern flair and hospitality.

Inventor's Digest
"The Magazine for Idea People", focuses on practical information to make your inventions become a reality

National Geographic Little Kids
This newly developed magazine is for children ages 3-6.
Small format size for small hands; lots of photos with stories and games.

Numismatic News
published weekly, it calls itself "the complete information source for coin collectors" and focuses on current news and events in the coin collecting world.
The library also subscribes to:
a monthly publication for coin collectors.

Shonen Jump
This monthly publication provides serialization of many popular manga titles before they are in graphic novel format. Issues are available for checkout as part of the Young Adult collection.

Please note: in order to improve accessibility to past issues of popular magazines, the Warrenton branch back copy magazines are now shelved on a stack at the end of the reference collection, near the adult non-fiction.
All those periodicals are available to be checked out.

for a complete list of adult magazine titles available at the library.

for a complete list of children's titles