Steam: New Science Books

Science spelled with scrabble letters
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2018 is the year of STEAM here at Pasadena Public Library; and across the City of Pasadena. We’re celebrating all things science, technology, engineering, art, and math related with lots of fun programs, new virtual reality and video game equipment, and a brand new makerspace with 3D printers, a laser cutter, and sewing machine, among other things. Take a look at our STEAM page on our website at www.pasadenapubliclibrary.net/steam to learn more about our new STEAM projects at the library. You can also dive into some of these great new science books that we’ve just gotten in. Check out one of the books listed below to learn about dinosaurs, ancient DNA, the creation of consciousness, and other great stories of science today and get excited for all things STEAM.

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs book coverThe Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Stephen Brusatte

The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before.

Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers—themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period—into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.”

Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research—which he calls “a new golden age of discovery”—and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China.

An electrifying scientific history that unearths the dinosaurs’ epic saga, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will be a definitive and treasured account for decades to come.

Atom Land book coverAtom Land: A Guided Tour through the Strange (and Impossibly Small) World of Particle Physics by Jon Butterworth

Welcome to Atom Land, the impossibly small world of quantum physics. With award–winning physicist Jon Butterworth as your guide, you’ll set sail from Port Electron in search of strange new terrain. Each discovery will expand the horizons of your trusty map—from the Hadron Island to the Isle of Quarks and beyond. Just beware of Dark Energy and other sea monsters!

A masterful work of metaphor, Atom Land also gives form to the forces that shape the universe: Electromagnetism is a highway system; the strong force, a railway; the weak force, an airline. But, like Butterworth, you may find that curiosity is the strongest force of all—one that pulls you across the subatomic seas, toward the unknown realm of Antimatter, and to the very outer reaches of the cosmos.

The Consciousness Instinct book coverThe Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind by Michael S. Gazzaniga

How do neurons turn into minds? How does physical “stuff”—atoms, molecules, chemicals, and cells—create the vivid and various worlds inside our heads? The problem of consciousness has gnawed at us for millennia. In the last century there have been massive breakthroughs that have rewritten the science of the brain, and yet the puzzles faced by the ancient Greeks are still present. In The Consciousness Instinct, the neuroscience pioneer Michael S. Gazzaniga puts the latest research in conversation with the history of human thinking about the mind, giving a big-picture view of what science has revealed about consciousness.

The idea of the brain as a machine, first proposed centuries ago, has led to assumptions about the relationship between mind and brain that dog scientists and philosophers to this day. Gazzaniga asserts that this model has it backward—brains make machines, but they cannot be reduced to one. New research suggests the brain is actually a confederation of independent modules working together. Understanding how consciousness could emanate from such an organization will help define the future of brain science and artificial intelligence, and close the gap between brain and mind.

Captivating and accessible, with insights drawn from a lifetime at the forefront of the field, The Consciousness Instinct sets the course for the neuroscience of tomorrow.

The Big Ones book coverThe Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do about Them) by Dr. Lucy Jones

Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, volcanoes–they stem from the same forces that give our planet life. Earthquakes give us natural springs; volcanoes produce fertile soil. It is only when these forces exceed our ability to withstand them that they become disasters. Together they have shaped our cities and their architecture; elevated leaders and toppled governments; influenced the way we think, feel, fight, unite, and pray. The history of natural disasters is a history of ourselves.

In The Big Ones, leading seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones offers a bracing look at some of the world’s greatest natural disasters, whose reverberations we continue to feel today. At Pompeii, Jones explores how a volcanic eruption in the first century AD challenged prevailing views of religion. She examines the California floods of 1862 and the limits of human memory. And she probes more recent events–such as the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and the American hurricanes of 2017–to illustrate the potential for globalization to humanize and heal.

With population in hazardous regions growing and temperatures around the world rising, the impacts of natural disasters are greater than ever before. The Big Ones is more than just a work of history or science; it is a call to action. Natural hazards are inevitable; human catastrophes are not. With this energizing and exhaustively researched book, Dr. Jones offers a look at our past, readying us to face down the Big Ones in our future.

Who We Are and How We Got Here book coverWho We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich

A groundbreaking book about how technological advances in genomics and the extraction of ancient DNA have profoundly changed our understanding of human prehistory while resolving many long-standing controversies. Massive technological innovations now allow scientists to extract and analyze ancient DNA as never before, and it has become clear–in part from David Reich’s own contributions to the field–that genomics is as important a means of understanding the human past as archeology, linguistics, and the written word.

Now, in Who We Are and How We Got Here, Reich describes with unprecedented clarity just how the human genome provides not only all the information that a fertilized human egg needs to develop but also contains within it the history of our species. He delineates how the Genomic Revolution and ancient DNA are transforming our understanding of our own lineage as modern humans; how genomics deconstructs the idea that there are no biologically meaningful differences among human populations (though without adherence to pernicious racist hierarchies); and how DNA studies reveal the deep history of human inequality–among different populations, between the sexes, and among individuals within a population

The Food Explorer book coverThe Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats by Daniel Stone

In the nineteenth century, American meals were about subsistence, not enjoyment. But as a new century approached, appetites broadened, and David Fairchild, a young botanist with an insatiable lust to explore and experience the world, set out in search of foods that would enrich the American farmer and enchant the American eater.

Kale from Croatia, mangoes from India, and hops from Bavaria. Peaches from China, avocados from Chile, and pomegranates from Malta. Fairchild’s finds weren’t just limited to food: From Egypt he sent back a variety of cotton that revolutionized an industry, and via Japan he introduced the cherry blossom tree, forever brightening America’s capital. Along the way, he was arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. But his culinary ambition came during a formative era, and through him, America transformed into the most diverse food system ever created.

Bringing Columbia HomeBringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew by Michael D. Leinbach and Jonathan H. Ward

Mike Leinbach was the launch director of the space shuttle program when Columbia disintegrated on reentry before a nation’s eyes on February 1, 2003. And it would be Mike Leinbach who would be a key leader in the search and recovery effort as NASA, FEMA, the FBI, the US Forest Service, and dozens more federal, state, and local agencies combed an area of rural east Texas the size of Rhode Island for every piece of the shuttle and her crew they could find. Assisted by hundreds of volunteers, it would become the largest ground search operation in US history. For the first time, here is the definitive inside story of the Columbia disaster and recovery and the inspiring message it ultimately holds. In the aftermath of tragedy, people and communities came together to help bring home the remains of the crew and nearly 40 percent of shuttle, an effort that was instrumental in piecing together what happened so the shuttle program could return to flight and complete the International Space Station. Bringing Columbia Home shares the deeply personal stories that emerged as NASA employees looked for lost colleagues and searchers overcame immense physical, logistical, and emotional challenges and worked together to accomplish the impossible.

The Inner Life of Animals book coverThe Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief, and Compassion: Surprising Observations of a Hidden World by Peter Wohlleben

Through vivid stories of devoted pigs, two-timing magpies, and scheming roosters, The Inner Life of Animals weaves the latest scientific research into how animals interact with the world with Peter Wohlleben’s personal experiences in forests and fields.

Horses feel shame, deer grieve, and goats discipline their kids. Ravens call their friends by name, rats regret bad choices, and butterflies choose the very best places for their children to grow up.

In this, his latest book, Peter Wohlleben follows the hugely successful The Hidden Life of Trees with insightful stories into the emotions, feelings, and intelligence of animals around us. Animals are different from us in ways that amaze us—and they are also much closer to us than we ever would have thought.

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