Annal: 2007 Royal Society Prize for General Science Book

Results of the Royal Society Prizes in the year 2007.

Book:Stumbling on Happiness

Stumbling on Happiness

Daniel Gilbert

In this brilliant, witty, and accessible book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions. Vividly bringing to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, Gilbert reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there. With penetrating insight and sparkling prose, Gilbert explains why we seem to know so little about the hearts and minds of the people we are about to become.

Book:Homo Britannicus

Homo Britannicus: The Incredible Story of Human Life in Britain

Chris Stringer

Homo Britannicus tells the epic history of life in Britain, from man’s very first footsteps to the present day. Drawing on all the latest evidence and techniques of investigation, Chris Stringer describes times when Britain was so tropical that man lived alongside hippos and sabre tooth tiger, times so cold we shared this land with reindeer and mammoth, and times colder still when we were forced to flee altogether.

This is the first time we have known the full extent of this history. The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project, led by Chris, has made discoveries that have stunned the world, pushing back the earliest date of arrival to 700,000 years ago. Our ancestors have been fighting a dramatic battle for survival here ever since.

Book:In Search of Memory

In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind

Eric R. Kandel

Charting the intellectual history of the emerging biology of mind, Eric R. Kandel illuminates how behavioral psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and molecular biology have converged into a powerful new science of mind. This science now provides nuanced insights into normal mental functioning and disease, and simultaneously opens pathways to more effective healing.

Driven by vibrant curiosity, Kandel’s personal quest to understand memory is threaded throughout this absorbing history. Beginning with his childhood in Nazi-occupied Vienna, In Search of Memory chronicles Kandel’s outstanding career from his initial fascination with history and psychoanalysis to his groundbreaking work on the biological process of memory, which earned him the Nobel Prize.

A deft mixture of memoir and history, modern biology and behavior, In Search of Memory traces how a brilliant scientist’s intellectual journey intersected with one of the great scientific endeavors of the twentieth century: the search for the biological basis of memory.

Book:Lonesome George

Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of the World's Most Famous Tortoise

Henry Nicholls

Lonesome George is a five-foot long, 900 pound tortoise aged somewhere between 60 and 200 years. The last of his kind, he was discovered in 1971 on the remote island of Pinta in the Galapagos Islands, from which tortoises had supposedly been extinct for years. Since then, he has lived in the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) on Santa Cruz on the off chance that there is a Pinta female somewhere, or that science will come up with a way of reproducing him, and resurrecting his species and the Pinta population. Today, Lonesome George has come to embody the challenges of conservation. His story captures the mystery, complexity, and fragility of the worlds most biologically diverse place—the Galapagos Islands—a place where sexual dysfunction, Charles Darwin, kidnapping, cloning, DNA fingerprinting, and ecotourism have left a complex web of influences. In the end, Georges story echoes the experience of conservationists world wide.

Book:One in Three

One in Three: A Son's Journey into the History and Science of Cancer

Adam Wishart

When his father contracted cancer, writer and documentary director Adam Wishart wanted to find a book that answered his most basic questions: What was the disease, how did it take hold and what did it mean? What is it about cancer’s biology that makes it hard to eradicate? How close are we to a cure? There was no such book, so Wishart wrote it. Here is his personal, journalistic take on the history of cancer and the encouraging story of science’s progress in changing the outlook on cancer from a disease that we die from to one that we live with. Where the mere use of the “c” word used to be enough to terrify people, now that attitude is about to change, as genetics and effective treatments become better understood. One in three of us will contract cancer in our life times; uniquely comprehensive and, amazingly enough, optimistic, this book will help us to understand the disease without fear.

Book:The Rough Guide to Climate Change

The Rough Guide to Climate Change: The Symptoms, the Science, the Solutions

Robert Henson

A complete, unbiased guide to one of the most pressing problems facing humanity. From the current situation and background science to the government skeptics and possible solutions, this book covers the whole subject. The guide also includes lifestyle advice and tips for consumers who want to make a difference in tomorrow’s climate, and comes complete with a glossary of websites for further information.

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