Science

The Violinist's Thumb

And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code

Author: Sam Kean

Publisher: Little, Brown

ISBN: 0316202975

Category: Science

Page: 416

View: 3833

From New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean comes incredible stories of science, history, language, and music, as told by our own DNA. In The Disappearing Spoon, bestselling author Sam Kean unlocked the mysteries of the periodic table. In THE VIOLINIST'S THUMB, he explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA. There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking. They can even allow some people, because of the exceptional flexibility of their thumbs and fingers, to become truly singular violinists. Kean's vibrant storytelling once again makes science entertaining, explaining human history and whimsy while showing how DNA will influence our species' future.
Juvenile Nonfiction

The Disappearing Spoon

And Other True Tales of Rivalry, Adventure, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements (Young Readers Edition)

Author: Sam Kean

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 0316388254

Category: Juvenile Nonfiction

Page: 240

View: 8001

A young readers edition of the New York Times bestseller The Disappearing Spoon, chronicling the extraordinary stories behind one of the greatest scientific tools in existence: the periodic table. Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why did tellurium (Te, 52) lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history? The periodic table is a crowning scientific achievement, but it's also a treasure trove of adventure, greed, betrayal, and obsession. The fascinating tales in The Disappearing Spoon follow elements on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them. Adapted for a middle grade audience, the young readers edition of The Disappearing Spoon offers the material in a simple, easy-to-follow format, with approximately 20 line drawings and sidebars throughout. Students, teachers, and burgeoning science buffs will love learning about the history behind the chemistry.
Science

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons

The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery

Author: Sam Kean

Publisher: Little, Brown

ISBN: 031624225X

Category: Science

Page: 416

View: 7783

The author of the bestseller The Disappearing Spoon reveals the secret inner workings of the brain through strange but true stories. Early studies of the human brain used a simple method: wait for misfortune to strike -- strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, horrendous accidents -- and see how victims coped. In many cases their survival was miraculous, if puzzling. Observers were amazed by the transformations that took place when different parts of the brain were destroyed, altering victims' personalities. Parents suddenly couldn't recognize their own children. Pillars of the community became pathological liars. Some people couldn't speak but could still sing. In The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, Sam Kean travels through time with stories of neurological curiosities: phantom limbs, Siamese twin brains, viruses that eat patients' memories, blind people who see through their tongues. He weaves these narratives together with prose that makes the pages fly by, to create a story of discovery that reaches back to the 1500s and the high-profile jousting accident that inspired this book's title.* With the lucid, masterful explanations and razor-sharp wit his fans have come to expect, Kean explores the brain's secret passageways and recounts the forgotten tales of the ordinary people whose struggles, resilience, and deep humanity made neuroscience possible. *"The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons" refers to the case of French king Henri II, who in 1559 was lanced through the skull during a joust, resulting in one of the most significant cases in neuroscience history. For hundreds of years scientists have gained important lessons from traumatic accidents and illnesses, and such misfortunes still represent their greatest resource for discovery.
Science

Caesar's Last Breath

Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us

Author: Sam Kean

Publisher: Little, Brown

ISBN: 0316381632

Category: Science

Page: 384

View: 7399

The Guardian's Best Science Book of 2017 One of Science News's Favorite Science Books of 2017 The fascinating science and history of the air we breathe It's invisible. It's ever-present. Without it, you would die in minutes. And it has an epic story to tell. In Caesar's Last Breath, New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe, which, it turns out, is also the story of earth and our existence on it. With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world. On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds on the Senate floor, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding; in fact, you're probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might well bear traces of Cleopatra's perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe's creation. Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Along the way, we'll swim with radioactive pigs, witness the most important chemical reactions humans have discovered, and join the crowd at the Moulin Rouge for some of the crudest performance art of all time. Lively, witty, and filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar's Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second.
Science

Mutants

On Genetic Variety and the Human Body

Author: Armand Marie Leroi

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 1101562765

Category: Science

Page: 448

View: 7456

Visit Armand Marie Leroi on the web: http://armandleroi.com/index.html Stepping effortlessly from myth to cutting-edge science, Mutants gives a brilliant narrative account of our genetic code and the captivating people whose bodies have revealed it—a French convent girl who found herself changing sex at puberty; children who, echoing Homer’s Cyclops, are born with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads; a village of long-lived Croatian dwarves; one family, whose bodies were entirely covered with hair, was kept at the Burmese royal court for four generations and gave Darwin one of his keenest insights into heredity. This elegant, humane, and engaging book “captures what we know of the development of what makes us human” (Nature).
Science

The Perfect Theory

A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity

Author: Pedro G. Ferreira

Publisher: HMH

ISBN: 0547554907

Category: Science

Page: 288

View: 8706

“One of the best popular accounts of how Einstein and his followers have been trying to explain the universe for decades” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). Physicists have been exploring, debating, and questioning the general theory of relativity ever since Albert Einstein first presented it in 1915. This has driven their work to unveil the universe’s surprising secrets even further, and many believe more wonders remain hidden within the theory’s tangle of equations, waiting to be exposed. In this sweeping narrative of science and culture, an astrophysicist brings general relativity to life through the story of the brilliant physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers who have taken up its challenge. For these scientists, the theory has been both a treasure trove and an enigma. Einstein’s theory, which explains the relationships among gravity, space, and time, is possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement of modern physics—yet studying it has always been a controversial endeavor. Relativists were the target of persecution in Hitler’s Germany, hounded in Stalin’s Russia, and disdained in 1950s America. Even today, PhD students are warned that specializing in general relativity will make them unemployable. Still, general relativity has flourished, delivering key insights into our understanding of the origin of time and the evolution of all the stars and galaxies in the cosmos. Its adherents have revealed what lies at the farthest reaches of the universe, shed light on the smallest scales of existence, and explained how the fabric of reality emerges. Dark matter, dark energy, black holes, and string theory are all progeny of Einstein’s theory. In the midst of a momentous transformation in modern physics, as scientists look farther and more clearly into space than ever before, The Perfect Theory exposes the greater relevance of general relativity, showing us where it started, where it has led—and where it can still take us.
Science

Genome

The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

Author: Matt Ridley

Publisher: Harper Collins

ISBN: 0062253468

Category: Science

Page: 368

View: 1892

The genome's been mapped. But what does it mean? Arguably the most significant scientific discovery of the new century, the mapping of the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes that make up the human genome raises almost as many questions as it answers. Questions that will profoundly impact the way we think about disease, about longevity, and about free will. Questions that will affect the rest of your life. Genome offers extraordinary insight into the ramifications of this incredible breakthrough. By picking one newly discovered gene from each pair of chromosomes and telling its story, Matt Ridley recounts the history of our species and its ancestors from the dawn of life to the brink of future medicine. From Huntington's disease to cancer, from the applications of gene therapy to the horrors of eugenics, Matt Ridley probes the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues arising as a result of the mapping of the genome. It will help you understand what this scientific milestone means for you, for your children, and for humankind.
Science

Napoleon's Buttons

17 Molecules that Changed History

Author: Penny Le Couteur,Jay Burreson

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 9781585423316

Category: Science

Page: 375

View: 3769

Examines the roles that the molecular properties of such items as the birth control pill, caffeine, and the buttons on the uniforms of Napoleon's army have played in the course of history.
Science

Genes, Cells and Brains

The Promethean Promises of the New Biology

Author: Hilary Rose,Steven Rose

Publisher: Verso Books

ISBN: 1844679179

Category: Science

Page: 336

View: 2913

Our fates lie in our genes and not in the stars, said James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. But Watson could not have predicted the scale of the industry now dedicated to this new frontier. Since the launch of the multibillion-dollar Human Genome Project, the biosciences have promised miracle cures and radical new ways of understanding who we are. But where is the new world we were promised? In Genes, Cells, and Brains, feminist sociologist Hilary Rose and neuroscientist Steven Rose take on the bioscience industry and its claims. Examining the rivalries between public and private sequencers,the establishment of biobanks, and the rise of stem cell research, they ask why the promised cornucopia of health benefits has failed to emerge. Has bioethics simply become an enterprise? As bodies become increasingly commodified, perhaps the failure to deliver on these promises lies in genomics itself.
Science

The Genome War

How Craig Venter Tried to Capture the Code of Life and Save the World

Author: James Shreeve

Publisher: Ballantine Books

ISBN: 9780307417060

Category: Science

Page: 416

View: 897

The long-awaited story of the science, the business, the politics, the intrigue behind the scenes of the most ferocious competition in the history of modern science—the race to map the human genome. On May 10, 1998, biologist Craig Venter, director of the Institute for Genomic Research, announced that he was forming a private company that within three years would unravel the complete genetic code of human life—seven years before the projected finish of the U.S. government’s Human Genome Project. Venter hoped that by decoding the genome ahead of schedule, he would speed up the pace of biomedical research and save the lives of thousands of people. He also hoped to become very famous and very rich. Calling his company Celera (from the Latin for “speed”), he assembled a small group of scientists in an empty building in Rockville, Maryland, and set to work. At the same time, the leaders of the government program, under the direction of Francis Collins, head of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, began to mobilize an unexpectedly unified effort to beat Venter to the prize—knowledge that had the potential to revolutionize medicine and society. The stage was set for one of the most thrilling—and important—dramas in the history of science. The Genome War is the definitive account of that drama—the race for the greatest prize biology has had to offer, told by a writer with exclusive access to Venter’s operation from start to finish. It is also the story of how one man’s ambition created a scientific Camelot where, for a moment, it seemed that the competing interests of pure science and commercial profit might be gloriously reconciled—and the national repercussions that resulted when that dream went awry. From the Hardcover edition.
Biography & Autobiography

A Man of Misconceptions

The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change

Author: John Glassie

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 1101597038

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 352

View: 4445

A Scientific American Best Science Book of 2012 An Atlantic Wire Best Book of 2012 A New York Times Book Review “Editor's Choice” The “fascinating” (The New Yorker) story of Athanasius Kircher, the eccentric scholar-inventor who was either a great genius or a crackpot . . . or a bit of both. The interests of Athanasius Kircher, the legendary seventeenth-century priest-scientist, knew no bounds. From optics to music to magnetism to medicine, he offered up inventions and theories for everything, and they made him famous across Europe. His celebrated museum in Rome featured magic lanterns, speaking statues, the tail of a mermaid, and a brick from the Tower of Babel. Holy Roman Emperors were his patrons, popes were his friends, and in his spare time he collaborated with the Baroque master Bernini. But Kircher lived during an era of radical transformation, in which the old approach to knowledge—what he called the “art of knowing”— was giving way to the scientific method and modern thought. A Man of Misconceptions traces the rise, success, and eventual fall of this fascinating character as he attempted to come to terms with a changing world. With humor and insight, John Glassie returns Kircher to his rightful place as one of history’s most unforgettable figures.
Science

World in the Balance: The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement

Author: Robert P. Crease

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 0393082040

Category: Science

Page: 320

View: 9439

The epic story of the invention of a global network of weights, scales, and instruments for measurement. Millions of transactions each day depend on a reliable network of weights and measures. This network has been called a greater invention than the steam engine, comparable only to the development of the printing press. Robert P. Crease traces the evolution of this international system from the use of flutes to measure distance in the dynasties of ancient China and figurines to weigh gold in West Africa to the creation of the French metric and British imperial systems. The former prevailed, with the United States one of three holdout nations. Into this captivating history Crease weaves stories of colorful individuals, including Thomas Jefferson, an advocate of the metric system, and American philosopher Charles S. Peirce, the first to tie the meter to the wavelength of light. Tracing the dynamic struggle for ultimate precision, World in the Balance demonstrates that measurement is both stranger and more integral to our lives than we ever suspected.
Science

Human Genetics: The Basics

Author: Ricki Lewis

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

ISBN: 1315406977

Category: Science

Page: 192

View: 5326

Human genetics has blossomed from an obscure biological science and explanation for rare disorders to a field that is profoundly altering health care for everyone. This thoroughly updated new edition of Human Genetics: The Basics provides a concise background of gene structure and function through the lens of real examples, from families living with inherited diseases to population-wide efforts in which millions of average people are learning about their genetic selves. The book raises compelling issues concerning: • The role of genes in maintaining health and explaining sickness • Genetic testing, gene therapy, and genome editing • The common ancestry of all humanity and how we are affecting our future. Written in an engaging, narrative manner, this concise introduction is an ideal starting point for anyone who wants to know more about genes, DNA, genomes, and the genetic ties that bind us all.
Social Science

Blood: The Stuff of Life

The Stuff of Life

Author: Lawrence Hill

Publisher: House of Anansi

ISBN: 1770893245

Category: Social Science

Page: 272

View: 4441

Selected for The Globe 100 Books in 2013. With the 2013 CBC Massey Lectures, bestselling author Lawrence Hill offers a provocative examination of the scientific and social history of blood, and on the ways that it unites and divides us today. Blood runs red through every person’s arteries and fulfills the same functions in every human being. The study of blood has advanced our understanding of biology and improved medical treatments, but its cultural and social representations have divided us perennially. Blood pulses through religion, literature, and the visual arts. Every time it pools or spills, we learn a little more about what brings human beings together and what pulls us apart. For centuries, perceptions of difference in our blood have separated people on the basis of gender, race, class, and nation. Ideas about blood purity have spawned rules about who gets to belong to a family or cultural group, who enjoys the rights of citizenship and nationality, what privileges one can expect to be granted or denied, whether you inherit poverty or the right to rule over the masses, what constitutes fair play in sport, and what defines a person’s identity. Blood: The Stuff of Life is a bold meditation on blood as an historical and contemporary marker of identity, belonging, gender, race, class, citizenship, athletic superiority, and nationhood.
Science

Periodic Tales

A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc

Author: Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Publisher: Harper Collins

ISBN: 006207881X

Category: Science

Page: 448

View: 8753

In the spirit of A Short History of Nearly Everything comes Periodic Tales. Award-winning science writer Hugh Andersey-Williams offers readers a captivating look at the elements—and the amazing, little-known stories behind their discoveries. Periodic Tales is an energetic and wide-ranging book of innovations and innovators, of superstition and science and the myriad ways the chemical elements are woven into our culture, history, and language. It will delight readers of Genome, Einstein’s Dreams, Longitude, and The Age of Wonder.
Science

The Next Species

The Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man

Author: Michael Tennesen

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1451677510

Category: Science

Page: 336

View: 2635

Delving into the history of the planet and based on reports and interviews with top scientists, a prominent science writer, traveling to rain forests, canyons, craters and caves all over the world to explore the potential winners and losers of the next era of evolution, describes what life on earth could look like after the next mass extinction. Includes timeline.
Science

Deep Ancestry

Inside the Genographic Project

Author: Spencer Wells

Publisher: National Geographic Books

ISBN: 9781426201189

Category: Science

Page: 247

View: 7018

A scientist and explorer describes his ambitious genetic research project to map the ancient roots and mystery of human origins, explaining how an individual's DNA can provide a key piece in the puzzle of human history and his landmark efforts to test genetic profiles of people from around the world to trace the depths of our common origins. Reprint. 15,000 first printing.
Biography & Autobiography

Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole

A Renowned Neurologist Explains the Mystery and Drama of Brain Disease

Author: Allan H. Ropper,Brian David Burrell

Publisher: Macmillan

ISBN: 1250034981

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 272

View: 6444

A top neurologist explains the difficulty of diagnosing brain diseases through such cases as a college quarterback who keeps calling the same play and a salesman who continuously drives around a traffic circle.
Young Adult Nonfiction

Meltdown!

The Nuclear Disaster in Japan and Our Energy Future

Author: Fred Bortz

Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books

ISBN: 1512453005

Category: Young Adult Nonfiction

Page: 64

View: 760

Japan. March 11, 2011. 2:46 P.M. The biggest earthquake in Japan's historyand one of the world's five most powerful since 1900devastated the Tohoku region, 320 kilometers (200 miles) northeast of Tokyo. It triggered a huge tsunami that left crippling damage in its wake. More than 13,000 people drowned, and thousands of buildings and homes were reduced to rubble. As people assessed the damage, they made the most frightening discovery of all: the Fukushima #1 nuclear power plant was seriously damaged and three of its six reactors were heading for meltdowns. Workers tried desperatelybut unsuccessfullyto save them. Explosions and fires released radioactivity into the air. Within days the Japanese government declared a 20-kilometer (12-mile) evacuation zone. The future of the plant, the long-term health of those exposed to radiation, and the effects on the environment remained uncertain. Learn more about this massive catastrophe as Dr. Fred Bortz examines both the human tragedy and the scientific implications of the nuclear meltdown. Compare this disaster to similar nuclear events in the United States and in Ukraine, and move ahead with Dr. Bortz as he explores the global debate about the future of nuclear power and alternative sources of energy.
Science

DNA

The Secret of Life

Author: James D. Watson,Andrew Berry

Publisher: Knopf

ISBN: 0307521486

Category: Science

Page: 464

View: 561

Fifty years ago, James D. Watson, then just twentyfour, helped launch the greatest ongoing scientific quest of our time. Now, with unique authority and sweeping vision, he gives us the first full account of the genetic revolution—from Mendel’s garden to the double helix to the sequencing of the human genome and beyond. Watson’s lively, panoramic narrative begins with the fanciful speculations of the ancients as to why “like begets like” before skipping ahead to 1866, when an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel first deduced the basic laws of inheritance. But genetics as we recognize it today—with its capacity, both thrilling and sobering, to manipulate the very essence of living things—came into being only with the rise of molecular investigations culminating in the breakthrough discovery of the structure of DNA, for which Watson shared a Nobel prize in 1962. In the DNA molecule’s graceful curves was the key to a whole new science. Having shown that the secret of life is chemical, modern genetics has set mankind off on a journey unimaginable just a few decades ago. Watson provides the general reader with clear explanations of molecular processes and emerging technologies. He shows us how DNA continues to alter our understanding of human origins, and of our identities as groups and as individuals. And with the insight of one who has remained close to every advance in research since the double helix, he reveals how genetics has unleashed a wealth of possibilities to alter the human condition—from genetically modified foods to genetically modified babies—and transformed itself from a domain of pure research into one of big business as well. It is a sometimes topsy-turvy world full of great minds and great egos, driven by ambitions to improve the human condition as well as to improve investment portfolios, a world vividly captured in these pages. Facing a future of choices and social and ethical implications of which we dare not remain uninformed, we could have no better guide than James Watson, who leads us with the same bravura storytelling that made The Double Helix one of the most successful books on science ever published. Infused with a scientist’s awe at nature’s marvels and a humanist’s profound sympathies, DNA is destined to become the classic telling of the defining scientific saga of our age.