Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River by David OwenEvery gallon of water in the Colorado River legally belongs to someone, explains New Yorker staff writer David Owen. This has consequences: though the river is supposed to flow to the Gulf of California, so much is diverted along the way that it simply runs dry near the U.S.-Mexico border. Following the Colorado from source to terminus, Owen explores the river's ecology as well as the complex network of systems that exploit its resources. With its in-depth examination of the links between natural and human-made ecosystems, this book may interest readers who enjoyed Dan Egan's The Death and Life of the Great Lakes.
Miracle Cure: The Creation of Antibiotics and the Birth of Modern Medicine by William RosenHow would you cure an infection? Bloodletting? Blistering plasters? Mercury? All of these (and more) were standard practice before antibiotics came on the scene. Beginning with the germ theory of Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, this eye-opening book traces the scientific breakthroughs that contributed to the development of penicillin -- a game-changer that revolutionized medicine (while generating huge profits for pharmaceutical companies.) Miracle Cure also gives us a glimpse into the future: antibiotic-resistant bacteria and few, if any, treatment options.
Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. SapolskyAs both a neurobiologist and a primatologist, author Robert Sapolsky can confidently state that human behavior is...complicated. To understand why we do what we do, he asserts, one must take an interdisciplinary approach. In Behave, Sapolsky explores the best and worst of human behavior by taking a single (re)action and examining what's going on in the brain and body in the seconds, minutes, hours, days, and even years before it occurs. It's an unusual but fascinating approach that will make you reconsider your own behavior.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson"America's most approachable astrophysicist" (Kirkus Reviews) offers readers a concise and conversational introduction to cosmology. In 12 engaging chapters, Neil deGrasse Tyson explains, in straightforward and mostly jargon-free prose, the composition of the universe and the laws that govern it. Covering topics ranging from the Big Bang to general relativity to dark matter, he also describes what we don't yet know about the universe. While some science background is always useful when confronting astrophysics, it's not essential to enjoy this book.
Darwin's First Theory: Exploring Darwin's Quest to Find a Theory of the Earth by Rob WessonAlthough today Charles Darwin's name is synonymous with evolution, his first love -- and career -- was geology. In fact, his official role aboard the HMS Beagle was as a geologist. In this richly detailed blend of biography, science writing, and travelogue, geologist Rob Wesson traces Darwin’s footsteps through South America and the British isles, revealing how his fieldwork led to his theory of "uplift," which laid the groundwork for plate tectonics.
Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body by Hugh Aldersey-WilliamsIs the human body a territory to be mapped? A machine to be maintained? A canvas to be decorated? No matter what metaphor one prefers, it's clear that the body is more than the sum of its parts and that anatomy is just one lens through which we view ourselves. As he did in Periodic Tales, science writer Hugh Aldersey-Williams draws as much from art and history as he does from science and medicine in this engaging head-to-toe examination of the human body.
The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners that Shape Who We... by Rob DunnIn this accessible look at evolutionary ecology, biologist Rob Dunn argues that human evolution is intimately connected to that of other species and the environment. Positing that the presence of venomous snakes may have led to enhanced color vision in primates, and that ticks and lice might have played a role in rendering humans nearly hairless, Dunn examines how our species' interactions with the natural world influenced our genetic code. However, there's a downside: as human survival becomes easier, human susceptibility to disease increases.
The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease by Daniel E. LiebermanYou'd think that after six million years of evolution, humans would be less vulnerable to disease. However, as biologist Daniel Lieberman explains, we didn't evolve for optimal health, but rather to produce viable offspring in challenging environments. What's more, cultural evolution creates mismatches between the bodies we inherited from our ancestors and the environments we create and transform for ourselves and our descendants. This thought-provoking book uses our evolutionary history to examine the challenges we currently face in staying alive.
We Have the Technology: How Biohackers, Foodies, Physicians, and Scientists Are... by Kara PlatoniAnnoyed by the limitations of the human body? You're not alone. As science writer Kara Platoni demonstrates, there's a growing community of "citizen scientists" whose members are pushing the boundaries of human perception -- often by experimenting on themselves. Understanding what these "biohackers" are doing requires knowledge of both sensory science and metasensory perception (how we experience time, pain, or memories) and Platoni provides readers with an overview of the science while introducing them to the eccentric individuals bent on upgrading our basic hardware.
Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond by Robert R. ProvineIn this follow-up to Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, neuroscientist Robert Provine explains the evolutionary reasons behind the everyday behaviors we take for granted -- such as yawning, sneezing, crying, hiccups, and more. Accessible and full of intriguing examples, this engaging book is perfect for readers who have always wondered why we can't tickle ourselves or why yawning is often contagious.
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