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