Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan (Audio Book and E-Book)

October 3, 2008

From Publishers Weekly
In a tour of our solar system, galaxy and beyond, Cornell astronomer Sagan meshes a history of astronomical discovery, a cogent brief for space exploration and an overview of life-from its origins in the oceans to humanity’s first emergence to a projected future where humans “terraform” and settle other planets and asteroids, Earth having long been swallowed by the sun. Maintaining that such relocation is inevitable, the author further argues that planetary science is of practical utility, fostering an interdisciplinary approach to looming environmental catastrophes such as “nuclear winter” (lethal cooling of Earth after a nuclear war, a widely accepted prediction first calculated by Sagan in 1982). His exploration of our place in the universe is illustrated with photographs, relief maps and paintings, including high-resolution images made by Voyager 1 and 2, as well as photos taken by the Galileo spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope and satellites orbiting Earth, which show our planet as a pale blue dot. A worthy sequel to Sagan’s Cosmos.

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The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan (E-Book)

October 2, 2008

From Publishers Weekly
Eminent Cornell astronomer and bestselling author Sagan debunks the paranormal and the unexplained in a study that will reassure hardcore skeptics but may leave others unsatisfied. To him, purported UFO encounters and alien abductions are products of gullibility, hallucination, misidentification, hoax and therapists’ pressure; some alleged encounters, he suggests, may screen memories of sexual abuse. He labels as hoaxes the crop circles, complex pictograms that appear in southern England’s wheat and barley fields, and he dismisses as a natural formation the Sphinx-like humanoid face incised on a mesa on Mars, first photographed by a Viking orbiter spacecraft in 1976 and considered by some scientists to be the engineered artifact of an alien civilization. In a passionate plea for scientific literacy, Sagan deftly debunks the myth of Atlantis, Filipino psychic surgeons and mediums such as J.Z. Knight, who claims to be in touch with a 35,000-year-old entity called Ramtha. He also brands as superstition ghosts, angels, fairies, demons, astrology, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster and religious apparitions.

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The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond (E-Book)

October 1, 2008

Winner of the 1992 Science Book Prize, this book jumps off from the well-established fact that we share most of our DNA with the two species of chimp. American zoologist Diamond looks at how our evolutionary heritage has affected the way we behave, from sex to society, from the origins of language to the destruction of the environment. Will the 2 per cent difference between our genes and those of the chimps be enough to save us from destorying the world?

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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (Audio Book)

October 1, 2008

From Publishers Weekly
In the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond chronicled the rise of human civilizations since the Ice Age. This time, he turns over the log and probes the rotted side–the demise of once-productive societies such as the Maya, Easter Islanders and Greenland Norse. He also sounds the alarm on environmental practices undermining modern societies, including China, Russia, Australia and the United States. Narrator Murney has his work cut out for him, even though this audiobook is abridged. The narrative, which spans the globe and the ages, is dense, overwhelmingly so at times. Diamond parses myriad ecological, geographical and biological impacts, from weather patterns to deforestation to sperm count. But Murney rises to the occasion. His engagement never flags, and he strikes all the proper notes of concern and warning. The delivery feels effortless, his tone a blend of newsreel narrator and professor-at-the-lectern. Diamond teaches geography at UCLA, and his prose style, unsurprisingly, contains shades of the lecture hall. In fact, given such abundant and oft-alarming information, listeners may feel the urge to take notes for the final exam. Though grounding materials such as photographs and maps would have made this audiobook easier to follow, their absence is a minor fault in an overall fine production.

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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (E-Book)

October 1, 2008

Amazon.com Review
Explaining what William McNeill called The Rise of the West has become the central problem in the study of global history. In Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond presents the biologist’s answer: geography, demography, and ecological happenstance. Diamond evenhandedly reviews human history on every continent since the Ice Age at a rate that emphasizes only the broadest movements of peoples and ideas. Yet his survey is binocular: one eye has the rather distant vision of the evolutionary biologist, while the other eye–and his heart–belongs to the people of New Guinea, where he has done field work for more than 30 years.

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A Dictionary of Science by John Daintith (E-Book)

October 1, 2008

This best-selling dictionary contains over 9,000 entries on all aspects of science and provides comprehensive coverage of biology (including human biology), chemistry, physics, the earth sciences, and astronomy. Appendices cover the periodic table, geological time scale, and animal and plant classification. New features include virtual thumb tags for easy reference, expanded areas including astronomy and earth science and more features on key topics such as the Solar System and Genetically Modified Organisms. Also featured are short biographies of leading scientists and chronologies of specific subjects, including plastics, electronics and cell biology. Both concise and wide-ranging, this dictionary is an ideal handy reference work and great introduction for students and non-scientists alike.

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The Cambridge Dictionary of Scientists by David, Ian, John and Margaret Miller (E-Book)

October 1, 2008

From Library Journal
Covering 1300 scientists (including more than 70 pioneering female scientists) from 38 countries, this work builds on the authors’ Concise Dictionary of Scientists (Chambers/Cambridge Univ., 1989), now out of print. Older articles have been revised, updated, and expanded for the new edition. Accompanied by numerous illusrations, the biographical entries are well written and seem complete, focusing on scientists in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, meteorology, and technology. Another special feature is found in the 32 panels, which give concise histories of selected subjects ranging from “The Exploration of Space” to “Science and the First World War (1914-1918)” to “Human Inherited Disease and the Human Genome Project.” The volume also includes a chronology of science, an index to Nobel prize winners, and a nicely detailed subject index. Recommended for both academic and public library science reference collections.?Hilary Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab., Livermore, Cal.

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Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium by Carl Sagan (E-Book)

October 1, 2008

From Library Journal
It is doubtful that there is anyone unfamiliar with noted astronomer and science writer Sagan’s ability to convey the wonder, excitement, and joy of science. This book is a wonderful, if eclectic, collection of essays, some reprinted from magazines of national prominence, covering a wide range of topics: the invention of chess, life on Mars, global warming, abortion, international affairs, the nature of government, and the meaning of morality. Writing with clarity and an understanding of human nature, Sagan offers hope for humanity’s future as he illuminates our ability to understand ourselves and to change the world for the better. The last chapter is an account of his struggle with myelodysplasia, the illness that finally took his life in December 1996. An epilog written by his wife is a personal account of the man rather than the scientist admired by so many. This last book is a fitting capstone to a distinguished career. Enthusiastically recommended.

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