"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by rivers."
~ from Norman MacLean's A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
New and Recently Released!
The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission by Jim BellIn 1977, NASA scientists took advantage of a rare planetary alignment to launch two unmanned space probes. It was a tremendous technical challenge, as well as a risky (and expensive) endeavor. Fortunately, all that effort paid off, and for the past 40 years, both Voyager spacecraft have surpassed the goals of their original mission (exploring Jupiter) by photographing all of the outer planets and, in the case of Voyager 1, entering interstellar space and leaving the solar system altogether. Planetary Society president Jim Bell, one of many scientists who contributed to making Voyager a reality, provides an inside look at the mission as well as the men and women who made it possible.
The Man Who Touched his Own Heart: True Tales of Science, Surgery, and Mystery by Rob R. DunnThe first documented open-heart surgery was performed in 1893 by African-American physician Daniel Hale Williams, who operated on a man who'd been stabbed in the chest during a bar brawl. Prior to that event, the heart was a medical mystery even to so-called experts. From the writings of ancient Greek physician Galen (whose theories on blood circulation came from treating wounded gladiators) to Leonardo da Vinci's insights into the function of heart valves to today's cutting-edge research and treatments for once-fatal cardiac conditions, this engrossing book gets to the heart of its complex subject.
Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience by Michael S. GazzanigaAmerican cognitive neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga, best known for his contributions to "split-brain" research, recounts his 50-year career in science. In this biographical account, he intersperses personal anecdotes with descriptions of career milestones. From his graduate studies at Cal Tech, where he focused on brain function in individuals with epilepsy, as well as his later work concerning functional lateralization in the brain and hemispheric specialization, Gazzaniga documents the emergence of neuroscience through the eyes of a working scientist.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah HarariUntil about 10,000 years ago, Earth was home to at least six species of human; now it boasts just one. So what happened? Drawing on current research from multiple disciplines (including evolutionary biology and anthropology), Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari traces the natural history of humans from marginal mammals to the planet's dominant species, while weighing in on still-unresolved debates concerning interbreeding versus genocide. Focusing on three distinct periods, The Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), the Agricultural Revolution (12,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500 years ago), Harari details the evolutionary leaps our species made in order to master our environment and ensure our survival.
The Internet is Not the Answer by Andrew KeenThe Internet is unquestionably shaping our society, but not necessarily for the better, argues Silicon Valley entrepreneur-turned-journalist Andrew Keen in this impassioned, thought-provoking book. He asserts that despite promises of greater freedom and transparency for ordinary citizens, digital technologies are instead contributing to "deepening inequality of wealth and opportunity" by consolidating resources and influence in the hands of a select few. Readers who enjoyed Astra Taylor's The People's Platform or Jaron Lanier's You Are Not a Gadget will want to read The Internet is Not the Answer.
Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind by Brian FaganAccording to anthropologist Brian Fagan, water is "an integral part of our lives that we never think about," which (he adds) is a huge mistake on our part, as it's perhaps the most influential force to ever shape human civilization. In this narrative history, Fagan covers important milestones in the relationship between humans and water, one that spans millennia -- from approximately 10,000 BCE to the present. Whether discussing aquifers or aqueducts, hydroelectric power or hydroponics systems, Elixir brings together the historical, cultural, religious, scientific, and philosophical dimensions of water.
The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise by Michael GrunwaldFrom sea of grass to dismal swamp to World Heritage Site, Washington Post reporter Michael Grunwald traces the history of the Everglades, demonstrating its profound ecological importance while describing its uncertain future. Originally encompassing an area of more than 4,000 square miles, stretching from modern-day Orlando to the Florida Keys, the Everglades have dramatically dwindled in size due to concerted efforts by the United States government and American corporations to drain the wetlands and convert the space to farmland, residential suburbs, and industrial hubs. Only recently have conservationists, politicians, business leaders, and ordinary citizens banded together to save this precious natural resource. Can the Everglades be saved, if not restored? Time will tell.
Eureka Man: The Life and Legacy of Archimedes by Alan HirshfeldBest known for (allegedly) shouting "Eureka!" before running naked through the streets, Archimedes of Syracuse is much more than an ancient, absent-minded professor too preoccupied with scientific discovery to finish his bath. Born around 287 BCE in a prosperous Greek city-state off the coast of Italy, Archimedes was a brilliant engineer whose inventions helped defend his home against invasions, as well as a gifted mathematician whose work included calculating the numerical value of pi and anticipating calculus by some 2,000 years. And as this well-researched, engaging biography shows, Archimedes still has much to teach us about the world, both ancient and modern.
Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products by Stephen LeahyWhether anyone realizes it or not, sustaining the average American lifestyle demands 2,000 gallons of water each day. How? Well, for starters, the amount of H2O needed to make a cheeseburger would easily fill a tanker truck. (And lest vegetarians start to feel smug, a single apple is the result of 33 gallons of water.) Distribute the three percent of Earth's total potable water among a global population of more than seven billion individuals and it's easy to see that the numbers just don't add up. Fortunately for readers who don't like math, the book's visual aids, including a wealth of charts and infographics, reveal the hidden costs of everyday items, from food and clothing to cars and computers. For more environmental auditing, check out Mike Berners-Lee's How Bad is a Banana? The Carbon Footprint of Everything.
Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves by James NestorCompetitive free diving is a sport in which participants plunge, unburdened by scuba gear, to depths of up to 300 feet in the span of a single breath. Using this unusual leisure pursuit as a jumping off point for an examination of the enduring relationship between humans and the ocean, author James Nestor recounts the history of marine exploration. Diving enthusastically into his subject, Nestor devotes chapters (organized by depth) to pearl divers, submarines, oceanographers, whale songs, bioluminescence and hydrothermal vents, among other fascinating topics.
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