Nature and Science
Einstein's Shadow: A Black Hole, a Band of Astronomers, and the Quest to See... by Seth FletcherThe plan: to create a virtual telescope (the Event Horizon Telescope) the size of Earth by linking observatories throughout the world.
The goal: to observe supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*, which is thought to sit at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
Further reading: Chris Impey's Einstein's Monsters, which offers an accessible introduction to the science of black holes.
Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms by Hannah FryWhat it's about: Mathematician Hannah Fry explains what algorithms are, how they work, and why they matter.
For fans of: Virginia Eubanks' Automating Inequality, John Cheney-Lippold's We Are Data.
Book buzz: Hello World was shortlisted for the 2018 Royal Society Investment Science Book Prize.
Nine Pints: A Journey through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood by Rose GeorgeWhat it is: a deep dive into the subject of human blood that encompasses history, science, politics, culture, and commerce.
About the author: From The Big Necessity (about human waste) to Ninety Percent of Everything (about the freight shipping industry), journalist Rose George specializes in the unseen aspects of everyday life.
Reviewers say: Nine Pints is an "absorbing, vital book by one of the best non-fiction writers working today" (The Guardian).
Plight of the Living Dead: What the Animal Kingdom's Real-Life Zombies Reveal... by Matt SimonGuess what? Zombies are real. But in this case, they're not the enemy -- they're the victims of parasites that have hijacked their brains.
Starring: a variety of microbes, fungi, worms, wasps, and other organisms who invade the bodies of their unsuspecting hosts.
Is it for you? While squeamish readers might want to pass on this book, fans of body horror may get a kick out of its detailed descriptions of zombification.
The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London by Christopher SkaifeIntroducing: Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife, of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London.
What does he do? Straife is the Tower of London's Ravenmaster, responsible for the care of the Tower's seven resident ravens, who all have names and distinctive personalities.
Did you know? One of the Tower's seven ravens, Merlina, has become a celebrity, thanks to her intelligence and love of pranks (including a convincing ability to play dead).
Chilled: How Refrigeration Changed the World, and Might Do So Again by Tom JacksonWhat it's about: Science writer Tom Jackson traces the multi-millennial history of artificial refrigeration from the ice pits of the ancient Persian Empire to today's "cold chain," the food industry's "temperature-controlled transport corridor" that links farms, fishing boats, supermarkets, and consumers.
Did you know? Refrigeration is responsible for more than midnight snacks! It has also made possible such scientific breakthroughs as in vitro fertilization, superconductors, and penicillin.
Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame by Michael KodasContains: Everything you ever wanted to know about megafires.
Such as: What are they? How do they start? Why are they so destructive? Can they be stopped? (Should they be stopped?)
Did you know? Research by the U.S. Forest Service suggests that by 2050, megafires could consume 20 million acres per year -- an area larger than the state of Maine.
Heat: Adventures in the World's Fiery Places by Bill StreeverWhat it's about: Biologist Bill Streever, author of the bestselling Cold, embarks on a wide-ranging discussion of heat in all its forms.
Why you might like it: Whether hiking through Death Valley, California, or cooking popcorn on lava in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Streever leaves no stone unturned in his quest to understand heat.
Want a taste? "After an hour, our gallon of water has become a half gallon. The breeze has died. I begin to wish that we had told someone where we were going."
Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent by Gabrielle WalkerWhat it is: a literary tour of Antarctica by scientist and writer Gabrielle Walker, who explores the continent's geology, biology, climate, and recent history.
Did you know? First sighted in 1819, the continent known to the ancients as Terra Australis officially belongs to nobody, due to an international treaty that reserves it for "peace and science."
For fans of: James McClintock's Lost Antarctica; Werner Hertzog's documentary Encounters at the End of the World.
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