Goldilocks and the Water Bears
The Search for Life in the Universe
Venus is too hot, Mars too cold, but Earth’s distance from the Sun makes it ‘just right’ for a thriving biosphere. As we search for other planets perfectly positioned to support living organisms, an astrobiologist explains what scientists can learn from research into the origins and evolution of life, as well as the study of ‘extremophile’ water bears, tiny aquatic creatures able to survive the harshest conditions on Earth.
The Disordered Mind
What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves
Eric R Kandel, recipient of a Nobel Prize for his pioneering research, demonstrates how studies of brain disorders, including autism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, have improved our understanding of the close connections between neurological and psychiatric illnesses. He discusses the ways in which these findings are not only contributing to the development of effective treatments but are also helping to explain the mysterious origins of consciousness and creativity in the intricate interactions of brain cells.
The Secret Life of the Mind
How Our Brain Thinks, Feels and Decides
Mariano Sigman’s bestselling examination of human thought begins by asking how babies communicate and goes on to explore how we relate to our unconscious mind, what happens when we dream and why the brain is constantly changing. This concise, approachable guide to neuroscience questions how we perceive, reason, feel and communicate, with the aim of better comprehending the inner workings of the human brain and understanding ourselves and others more deeply.
The Equations of Life
The Hidden Rules Shaping Evolution
Professor Charles Cockell argues that evolution and natural selection have always been constrained by basic physical laws, from an atomic level to the animal realm. For instance, there are sound scientific reasons why creatures can’t evolve with wheels instead of legs, and why carbon-based cells are ideal for trapping energy, so life on Earth is far more understandable and predictable than we might imagine.
Eye of the Shoal
A Fishwatcher's Guide to Life, the Ocean and Everything
Dipping below the surface of oceans – and seas, rivers, lagoons and lakes – Helen Scales explores the lives of fish and their underwater world, describing how they move, find food, avoid predators, sing to each other, and use light and colour to send messages. The book reveals the spectacular diversity of species, including ‘ichthyo-curiosities’ and, by letting the wonders of fish capture our attention and respect, aims to convince us to better protect them and their aquatic environment.
The Strange Physics of Nothing
What do we mean by ‘empty space’? Was Newton wrong to think of it as a kind of theatre in which physics could unfold? In this book a philosopher of science explains how the very process of adapting intuitive ideas to scientific theories causes radical changes to our conception of reality. He also describes physicists’ efforts to reconcile different meanings of ‘nothing’ in general relativity and quantum theory.
The Reality Frame
Relativity and Our Place in the Universe
By building and populating a virtual universe, Clegg demonstrates that reality is not a system of immovable absolutes; instead, the ever-shifting world of relativity is what provides the frame of reference that allows us to understand both the universe and humanity’s place within it.
The Graphene Revolution
The Weird Science of the Ultrathin
The strongest substance ever discovered, a better conductor than any metal and able to act as a molecular sieve to purify water, graphene is set to revolutionize technology. This guide explores the properties and potential uses of this remarkable new material.
The Beginning and the End of Everything
From the Big Bang to the End of the Universe
In this overview of our current knowledge about the universe a theoretical cosmologist discusses questions that have puzzled thinkers throughout history and the ways in which modern scientists have tried to answer them. He explains how astronomical observations and remarkable deductions have allowed us not only to look back 13.8 billion years to the origins of the universe but also to develop competing theories about its ultimate fate, either in a calamitous ‘Big Crunch’ or a gentler ‘Heat Death’.
How Your Body Defends and Protects You
Without an immune system, we could not survive the battle between our microscopic enemies and ourselves. Drawing on sources from ancient Egyptian medical texts to cutting-edge medical science, the academic Catherine Carver explores the many facets of our natural defence system – including how it knows what to attack and what to defend, how diseases try to evade it, and how researchers are designing new drugs to harness its power.
The Physics of Animal Life
An intriguing and amusing insight into the animal world, this Popular Science title explains how 30 species have evolved to exploit the laws of physics, from how wet dogs shake themselves dry to how peacocks generate inaudible (to the human ear) sounds to attract a mate.
Mathematics for the Million
How to Master the Magic of Numbers
Since it appeared in 1936, this comprehensive course has helped demystify mathematics and clarify the practical applications of everything from simple arithmetic to calculus. Taking an unusual approach to the subject, Hogben sets mathematics in the cultural context of its intended use, whether to meet the needs of ancient pyramid architects or provide the celestial geometry required to navigate by the stars.
Your Superstar Brain
Unlocking the Secrets of the Human Mind
Combining insights from groundbreaking research with anecdotes from her own life, a neuroscientist here provides an accessible introduction to the evolution and functioning of the human brain. She explains how our personalities, memories and emotions are created, considers the foods, music and activities that can supposedly benefit or harm our intellectual abilities, and examines why our big brains still make bad decisions and reward addictive behaviours.