Honor roll: Science/Technology books

Each of these Science/Technology books has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:The Elegant Universe

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

Brian Greene

String theory, many physicists believe, is the key to the unified field theory that eluded Einstein for more than thirty years. At last, science has found a way to overcome the nearly century-old rift between the laws of the large - general relativity - and the laws of the small - quantum mechanics. String theory deftly unites these two pillars of modern physics into a single, harmonious whole by declaring that all of the wondrous happenings in the universe arise from the vibrations of one single entity: microscopically tiny loops of energy that lie deep within the heart of matter.

In this articulated and clear book, Brian Greene relates the scientific story and the human struggle behind the search for the ultimate theory. Through the artful use of metaphor and analogy, The Elegant Universe makes some of the most sophisticated concepts ever contemplated viscerally accessible and thoroughly entertaining, bringing us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works.

Book:Galileo's Daughter

Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love

Dava Sobel

Inspired by her long fascination with Galileo, and by the remarkable surviving letters of his daughter, which Sobel has translated into English for the first time, Galileo’s Daughter is a book of great originality and power, a biography unlike any ever written on Galileo. Sobel, the author of the bestseller Longitude, brings Galileo to life as never before-boldly compelled to explain the truths he discovered, human in his frailties and faith, devoted to family, especially to his eldest daughter.

The voices of Galileo and his daughter, Suor Maria Celeste, echo down the centuries through letters and writings, which Sobel masterfully weaves into her narrative, building toward the crescendo of history’s most dramatic collision between science and religion. In the process, she illuminates an entire era, when the flamboyant Medici grand dukes became Galileo’s patrons, when the bubonic plague wreaked its terrible devastation and prayer was the most effective medicine, when the Thirty Years’ War…[more]

Book:What the Nose Knows

What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life

Avery Gilbert

Everything about the sense of smell fascinates us, from its power to evoke memories to its ability to change our moods and influence our behavior. Yet because it is the least understood of the senses, myths abound. For example, contrary to popular belief, the human nose is almost as sensitive as the noses of many animals, including dogs; blind people do not have enhanced powers of smell; and perfumers excel at their jobs not because they have superior noses, but because they have perfected the art of thinking about scents.

  • How many smells are there? And how many molecules would it take to create every smell in nature, from roses to stinky feet?
  • Who was the bigger scent freak: the perfume-obsessed Richard Wagner or Emily Dickinson, with her creepy passion for flowers? …[more]
Book:The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon

The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins

Bea Uusma Schyffert

Do you know the story of Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 astronaut who went all the way to the moon but never walked on its surface? Instead, he orbited the moon 14 times, surrounded by 701 power switches and 20 pounds of checklists. Reminiscent of a scrapbook, this extraordinary book chronicles what Michael Collins did, saw, and thought about in space. Through fascinating facts, quotes, checklists, original drawings, and photos taken both in space and on Earth, it also tells how the astronauts prepared for their historic journey, what they brought with them, and what they left behind.

Book:The Blank Slate

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Steven Pinker

Our conceptions of human nature affect everything aspect of our lives, from child-rearing to politics to morality to the arts. Yet many fear that scientific discoveries about innate patterns of thinking and feeling may be used to justify inequality, to subvert social change, and to dissolve personal responsibility.

In The Blank Slate, Steven Pinker explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. He shows how many intellectuals have denied the existence of human nature and instead have embraced three dogmas: The Blank Slate (the mind has no innate traits), The Noble Savage (people are born good and corrupted by society), and The Ghost in the Machine (each of us has a soul that makes choices free from biology). Each dogma carries a moral burden, so their defenders have engaged in desperate tactics to discredit the scientists who are now challenging them. …[more]

Book:The Last American Man

The Last American Man

Elizabeth Gilbert

In The Last American Man, acclaimed journalist and fiction writer Elizabeth Gilbert offers a fresh cultural examination of contemporary American male identity and the uniquely American desire to return to the wilderness.

Gilbert explores what pushed men to settle the frontier West in the nineteenth century and delves into the history of American utopian communities. But her primary focus is on the fascinating true story of Eustace Conway, who left his comfortable suburban home at the age of seventeen to move into the Appalachian Mountains, where for the last twenty years he has lived off the land.

Conway’s romantic character challenges all our assumptions about what it means to be a man today; he is a symbol of much that we feel our men should be, but rarely are. From his example, Gilbert delivers an intriguing exploration into the meaning…[more]

Book:Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do

Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do

Rebecca Gilpin, Leonie Pratt

Here are over fifty fantastically fun projects that use easy-to-find everyday materials. Make things that fly, fling, spin, swim, whoosh, zoom and ooze, and discover the surprising science behind them.

Book:The Black Hole War

The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics

Leonard Susskind

What happens when something is sucked into a black hole? Does it disappear? Three decades ago, a young physicist named Stephen Hawking claimed it did-and in doing so put at risk everything we know about physics and the fundamental laws of the universe. Most scientists didn’t recognize the import of Hawking’s claims, but Leonard Susskind and Gerard t’Hooft realized the threat, and responded with a counterattack that changed the course of physics. The Black Hole War is the thrilling story of their united effort to reconcile Hawking’s revolutionary theories of black holes with their own sense of reality-effort that would eventually result in Hawking admitting he was wrong, paying up, and Susskind and t’Hooft realizing that our world is a hologram projected from the outer boundaries of space.

A brilliant book about modern physics, quantum mechanics, the fate of stars and the deep mysteries of black holes, Leonard Susskind’s account of the Black Hole War is mind-bending and exhilarating reading.

Book:The Fragile Edge

The Fragile Edge

Julia Whitty

A master diver and filmmaker on the mystery, fragility—and heart-stopping adventure—of underwater life in the South Pacific

Julia Whitty paints a mesmerizing, scientifically rich portrait of teeming coral reefs in the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Society Islands, and off the tiny nation of Tuvalu. The Fragile Edge takes us literally beneath the surface of the usual travel narrative—to the underwater equivalent of an African big-game safari, where hammerhead sharks rule a cascading chain of extraordinary underwater from eagle rays to reef sharks, while the sounds of courting humpback whales reverberate throughout the deep.

Equally inspiring for armchair or expert divers, The Fragile Edge illuminates Eastern-influenced diving techniques that transform our understanding of diving from sport to breath-inspired art. Whitty reports on the latest ways in which science…[more]

Book:Six Degrees

Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet

Mark Lynas

Possibly the most graphic treatment of global warming that has yet been published, Six Degrees is what readers of Al Gore’s best-selling An Inconvenient Truth or Ross Gelbspan’s Boiling Point will turn to next. Written by the acclaimed author of High Tide, this highly relevant and compelling book uses accessible journalistic prose to distill what environmental scientists portend about the consequences of human pollution for the next hundred years.

In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report projecting average global surface temperatures to rise between 1.4 degrees and 5.8 degrees Celsius (roughly 2 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of this century. Based on this forecast, author Mark Lynas outlines what to expect from a warming world, degree by degree. At 1 degree Celsius, most coral reefs and many mountain glaciers will be lost. A 3-degree rise would spell the collapse of the Amazon rainforest, disappearance…[more]

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