Blueprint for a Battlestar
Serious Scientific Explanations Behind Sci-Fi's Greatest Inventions
Modern digital technology has seen gadgets predicted by early science fiction – such as videophones – become reality, and a host of ideas proposed in more recent productions, such as the Star Trek series, offer intriguing possibilities for the future. From the Terminator to the Death Star, this book investigates some of the most celebrated concepts of recent science fiction and explores the potential technology behind them, revealing that some are closer to reality than we might think.
Journey to the Centre of the Earth
The Remarkable Voyage of Scientific Discovery into the Heart of Our World
Inspired by the 150th anniversary of Jules Verne’s adventure novel, astronomer David Whitehouse turns his attention from the stars to what lies beneath our own planet’s surface. He describes how the science of seismology developed, explains its most significant discoveries and takes the reader to laboratories where scientists work to reproduce the conditions of intense pressure found deep inside the Earth, and to the site in Russia where years of drilling created a hole that descends more than 12,000 metres.
Goethe on Science
An Anthology of Goethe's Scientific Writings
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) is best known as Germany’s foremost poet and playwright, but he was also an accomplished all-round scientist, studying anatomy, geology, botany, zoology and colour theory. The extracts from his scientific writings reproduced in this book illustrate his belief that we should study our world as people at home in it rather than remotely, and are essential reading for anyone who feels we have lost our spiritual connection to nature.
The Secret Life of Space
Stonehenge was built to observe sunset on Midwinter’s Day, not sunrise on Midsummer’s Day; and Galileo did not invent the telescope. These are just two of the surprising facts discussed in this unconventional history of astronomy. Focusing on the stories of breakthroughs that overturned accepted wisdom, two leading science communicators celebrate the important work of maverick scientists, enthusiastic amateurs and those unsung heroes and heroines who helped to promote the ideas and discoveries of others.
Build Your Own Time Machine
The Real Science of Time Travel
Although HG Wells’s Victorian time machine would not have worked, there is no law of physics that prevents travel through the fourth dimension. Brian Clegg combines his enthusiasm for science fiction with his insights as a writer on real science to explore ways in which time travel could theoretically be achieved. He also traces the development of our modern understanding of time, from Einstein’s first daydreams about the speed of light to neutrino experiments and the latest theories about wormholes.
The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe
Histories of Western science often begin their narrative with Galileo’s battle to gain acceptance for Copernicus’ heliocentric model. But physicist John Freely sets out ‘to right this historical injustice’ by showing how a succession of European scholars as far back as the Dark Ages paved the way for the exciting discoveries of later centuries. Discussing the influential work of such figures as the Venerable Bede and Albertus Magnus, he identifies those ‘giants’ on whose shoulders Newton said he was standing.
The Edge of Physics
Dispatches from the Frontiers of Cosmology
Why is the universe’s expansion speeding up? What is ‘dark matter’? Are there other universes besides our own? This book follows the author’s travels in search of experiments taking place in the planet’s most inhospitable locations to answer such cosmological questions. It explains not only the theory, aims and practicalities of each cutting-edge project but also the challenges facing researchers, whether they are working deep inside an abandoned iron mine or at the top of Hawaii’s highest mountain.
Great Victorian Discoveries
Astounding Revelations and Misguided Assumptions
The 19th century saw great breakthroughs in every field of enquiry. Discoveries were eagerly described in the popular press of the day but limited understanding sometimes led to wild and colourful theories. This book, drawn from editions of Cassell's Family Magazine, explores the innovations and advances reported between 1875 and 1895 in subjects ranging from microscopic organisms and the fossil record to the meaning of the apparent canals on Mars.
How Bubble-Blowing Black Holes Rule Galaxies, Stars, and Life in the Cosmos
Black holes – destructive, time-warping chasms in space-time – have fascinated scientists and the general public for decades. But research has recently revealed that they are also the most efficient energy generators in the cosmos, ejecting huge beams and clouds of matter. Gravity’s Engines introduces the theoretical background to the study of these phenomena, describes the development of techniques to observe them and explains how the latest discoveries can help us understand our galaxy. Felt-tip mark on upper edge.
The Story of The Remarkable Woman Who Mapped The Ocean Floor
In 1952, Marie Tharp started a revolution that changed our ideas about how the continents were created – yet few people today have heard of her. This beautifully written, meticulously researched biography sets the record straight, telling how this unconventional woman marched into the new geophysical lab at Columbia University and demanded a job, and how she and her partner Bruce Heezen spent the next 20 years painstakingly interpreting sonar data to create the first comprehensive map of the ocean floor.
My Beloved Brontosaurus
On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs
Brian Switek, a National Geographic columnist and lifelong dinosaur enthusiast, has woven memories from his own fossil-quest with explanations of the latest palaeontological research into such intriguing topics as dinosaurs’ sex lives, their ability to hear and the prevalence of feathers on their bodies. He also considers why we still yearn for the titular Brontosaurus despite its second ‘extinction’ when it became the Apatosaurus through taxonomic reclassification.
The Search for Life That Is Very, Very Different from Our Own
During the 1980s scientists began discovering life in places where no one thought it would be possible – rock-eating fungi, bacteria living in boiling water at volcanic hydrothermal vents, or in hot sulphur springs. How far the limits of life extend became the subject of research; here, Toomey explains the complex science of this biological avant-garde in lively, layman’s language and covers topics ranging from the sulphur-loving ‘extremophiles’ to the possibility of intelligent weird life.
The Science of Shakespeare
A New Look at the Playwright's Universe
A highly regarded science writer, Dan Falk is also a fan of Shakespeare, and in this book he examines the science of the Elizabethan era and how its discoveries are reflected in Shakespeare's work. Beginning with astronomical knowledge and ranging across Renaissance Europe, Falk examines the other physical sciences emerging – and the astrology, alchemy and magic still bound up with them – and shows how new discoveries influenced the playwright and changed the worldview of his contemporaries.
Great Inventors and Their Creations
The technology of the mysterious Antikythera mechanism, attributed by many to Archimedes, is an astonishing tribute to the genius of its creator, working two thousand years ago. With extensive illustrations, this book explores 28 brilliant inventors and their world-changing innovations, from antiquity to the present day, and contains 10 removable facsimile documents including the design drawing for Babbage's Analytical Engine and the original patent document for Karl Benz's motor car. Published in association with the Science Museum, London.
Pigeon Guided Missiles
And 49 Other Ideas That Never Took Off
The pioneering behaviourist BF Skinner was able to demonstrate in the 1940s that conditioning pigeons, housed in the nose of a missile, to peck repeatedly at an image of a target, could be an effective weapons guidance system. As with all the apparently hare-brained schemes in this book, including Thomas Edison's concrete furniture, Wilhelm Reich's cloud-busting machine and British Rail's flying saucer, the system was never adopted.
Strange Ideas from the Scrapheap of History
Can apples get high on drugs? Are the laws of physics sexist? Was Jesus a giant electron? This book, by a regular contributor to Fortean Times, is an entertaining survey of bizarre experiments and ludicrous theories now abandoned in the dead-ends of scientific history. But, by showing why pseudoscientific fads such as alchemy took hold, it also warns that ‘science sometimes functions as a kind of myth’ when a laudable desire to challenge received thinking meets a faulty belief system.
The Divided Life of Bruno Pontecorvo, Physicist or Spy
In September 1950 Bruno Pontecorvo, one of Britain’s most brilliant nuclear physicists, disappeared with his family; when he resurfaced five years later he was on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Professor Close, who has worked with some of the defector’s former colleagues, assesses the importance of Pontecorvo’s research and pieces together the evidence for and against claims that he had been a Soviet spy while he was employed on the Anglo-Canadian arm of the Manhattan Project.
As the climate continues to change, we need more than ever to understand how weather affects the world around us. This practical, user-friendly guide explains basic phenomena such as wind, clouds and precipitation, along with extreme events such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Packed with full-colour photographs and easy-to-follow diagrams, it also explains forecasting techniques – and their limitations – and examines global warming and our influence on the weather. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The End of Discovery
The last few centuries have seen a huge expansion in our understanding of the world around us, but are we approaching the limits of what it is possible to discover? In this summary of the challenges facing modern science, Russell Stannard argues that there are questions, such as the nature of time, the size of the universe or what constitutes consciousness, which we may never be able to fully explain.
Edison and the Rise of Innovation
Drawing on documents and photographs in the vast collections of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, this book offers a richly illustrated study of the life and achievements of Thomas Edison (1847–1931), describing the ground-breaking innovations and inventions – particularly the phonograph and commercial electric light and power systems – that changed the world, but also focusing on his laboratories, his approach to business and how he revolutionized the way we develop new technologies. Foreword by Bill Gates.
About Time: From Sun Dials to Quantum Clocks
How the Cosmos Shapes our Lives - and We Shape the Cosmos
Our understanding and experience of time have developed with new mythological or scientific cosmologies and increasingly accurate methods of measurement. About Time traces the human concept of time from the earliest evidence for our recording of lunar cycles in the palaeolithic age, through the Ptolemaic and Copernican models of the universe, to cutting-edge physics and the implications of quantum clocks, string theory and multiverses.
What does it mean to say that we share 99 per cent of our genes with chimpanzees, or that languages can 'evolve'? What is a genome? How have ideas about human evolution changed the way we view the world and our fellow creatures? This book offers a straightforward explanation of the basic principles of evolutionary theory, its role in the history of science and the controversies it has caused from Darwin to the present day.
What a Wonderful World
One Man's Attempt to Explain the Big Stuff
Why do we have sex? What is money? Does time exist? In this lucid, witty and hugely entertaining book, the bestselling author of We Need to Talk about Kelvin and Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You applies his deep understanding of complex systems to the mysteries of life, the universe and everything - from evolution to electricity, from the human brain to the cosmos. In an age of information overload, it offers a painless crash course in 21st-century existence.
Life on the Edge
The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology
Why have humans never successfully created new life entirely from non-living material? How do birds detect Earth’s magnetic field, and how can dogs distinguish so many different smells? In this book a physicist and a biologist introduce the emerging field of quantum biology, which promises to help scientists understand the most puzzling biological phenomena by considering how the behaviour of matter at the quantum scale could affect processes important to life – and could even provide the key to its origins. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The Neutrino Hunters
The Chase for the Ghost Particle and the Secrets of the Universe
First detected in 1956, the neutrino holds the key to unravelling many cosmic mysteries - the structure of the universe, the pyrotechnics of exploding stars and the nature of matter itself. In this book a leading astrophysicist tells the stories of the early theorists and modern experimenters who have worked to understand neutrinos and explains why, despite decades of revolutionary research, they remain the most elusive particles of the subatomic world.
Featuring over 100 specially produced star maps and recent space photography, this 'field guide to the night sky' charts the 88 constellations of the celestial sphere, the movement of the planets, and the changing aspect of the skies from month to month in both northern and southern hemispheres. The digitally produced maps are particularly clear, with stars precisely sized according to their brightness and symbols representing deep-sky objects such as nebulae and galaxies.
The Universe in Your Hand
A Journey Through Space, Time and Beyond
From the Big Bang to the end of our world billions of years later, one of Stephen Hawking's former graduate students takes the reader on a journey through the cosmos as it is currently understood by scientists. With humour and imaginative storytelling he brings to life the beauty of the universe and explains such mysteries as quantum mechanics and black holes without equations or graphs, in the belief that 'we can all understand this stuff'.
A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome
Only 2 per cent of our DNA contains the codes to produce proteins, so for many years scientists assumed that the rest of the genome was simply 'junk'. However, modern research is finally identifying the many vital functions performed by these 'dark' regions. In this book Carey introduces the most significant insights, with clear explanations for the general reader, and looks forward to the opportunities they provide for revolutionary developments in the treatment of a range of medical conditions.
Schoolboy Science Remembered
Did you know that an ancient Greek inventor devised a steam- powered machine? And do you know how to escape from quicksand? Or how to make glue from milk? Keith Souter has been inspired by his days in the school science lab and his enthusiasm for home experimentation to produce this 'pot-pourri of experiments, historical snippets and a few odd facts, all interspersed with the odd conjuring trick'.
Six Networks that Changed Our World
The first transatlantic telegraph cable failed after a few weeks in 1858 but a successful link was established by 1866, transforming the speed of contact and commerce between Britain and America. With well-chosen illustrations and contributions from commentators including David Attenborough, this Science Museum book explores the innovations in information processing and communications that have revolutionized the world, including broadcasting, the telephone, satellites, cellular phones and the internet, thanks to such pioneers as Babbage, Bell, Berners-Lee, Marconi, Morse and Turing.
The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being
Evolution and the Making of Us
Lauded by Richard Dawkins, this book from the anatomist, anthropologist and presenter Alice Roberts takes a tour of the human body to track the evolutionary story told by different parts of our anatomy. From the tiny probability that a particular sperm will fertilize a particular egg to the unique flexibility of our thumbs - vital for making and using stone tools - she explains how millions of years of evolution have left their mark on the way human embryos develop.
Forces of Nature
In the book of the acclaimed BBC series, Professor Brian Cox and his Executive Producer Andrew Cohen show how our curiosity about the everyday world has furnished us with the techniques and knowledge to understand the cosmos and uncover 'the deepest answers to the simplest questions'. Focusing on four concepts – symmetry, motion, elements and colour – the authors examine countless natural marvels, from snowflakes and honeycombs to volcanoes, which illustrate the underlying frameworks behind apparently complex and disconnected phenomena.
The Upright Thinkers
The Human Journey From Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos
Leonard Mlodinow, bestselling author (with Stephen Hawking) of The Grand Design, traces the human 'odyssey of discovery', from starting to walk upright to space travel. Emphasizing the unity of knowledge and the creative impulse, he deals first with the evolution of the human brain and the urge to understand; then describes the development of the hard sciences up to the early 20th century; and finally surveys the exponential progress of science and technology since the discovery of quantum physics.
TIME New Frontiers of Space
Looking from Earth's neighbours in the solar system and out to the farthest reaches of the universe, this volume from TIME Books brings together expert commentary and images from the Hubble Space Telescope and spacecraft including Cassini and the Mercury Messenger probe to give a full account of the latest explorations of space. Among the topics covered are powerful new telescopes, the Curiosity rover on Mars, the future for manned spaceflight, dark matter and new mysteries of the cosmos.
Cataloging the World
Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age
Working in an era when 'the closest thing anyone had ever seen to a database was a drawer full of index cards', the visionary Belgian information theorist Paul Otlet (1868–1944) aimed to create a global information network, the 'Mundaneum'. He had amassed some 15 million entries in a 'Universal Bibliography' and over 70,000 boxes of documentary material by 1940, when it was destroyed by the Nazis. Alex Wright introduces this extraordinary figure, his achievements and the legacy that survived.
Who are we, and why are we here? In the beautifully illustrated book of their BBC Two series Professor Cox and his Executive Producer Andrew Cohen tackle some of the biggest questions that humans have asked about the past, present and future of our species. They follow the intellectual journeys that led to discoveries about gravity, relativity and the Big Bang, then track down the earliest evidence for life on Earth and reflect on our quest to learn whether we are truly alone in the cosmos.
Cradle of Chemistry
The Early Years of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh was the world's most sought-after centre for the study of chemistry in the late 18th century, with lectures by key figures such as William Cullen and Joseph Black attracting large audiences. This study of Edinburgh chemists' academic heyday comprises twelve essays on topics including the influence of the Dutch physician and chemist Herman Boerhaave, surviving chemical apparatus in the national Museums of Scotland, and the teaching of Thomas Charles Hope.
Why Can't a Woman be More Like a Man?
The Evolution of Sex and Gender
How significant are the differences between men and women, and to what extent are our abilities and behaviour determined by genetic or cultural factors? In this book an eminent developmental biologist provides answers to such controversial questions. Covering common claims about the two sexes' maths and language skills and their health, emotions and brains, it sorts the myths from the science and introduces the findings of modern research into the development of embryos and young children.
Soap, Science and Flat-Screen TVs
A History of Liquid Crystals
The science of liquid crystals began more than a century ago because of a biologist's obsession with carrots; it now fuels a multi- billion-dollar industry and 'there is no end in sight' for the applications of this fourth state of matter. The authors tell the fascinating story of the discoveries behind our new technologies, explaining the basic science, the human interactions and the social and political environments of the scientists who brought them about.