Best Books 2011: Sci-Tech

ljx111201webBBsciTech Best Books 2011: Sci Tech

Selected by Gregg Sapp, dean of library & media services, Evergreen State Coll., Tumwater, WA

Eagleman, David. Incognito: The Hidden Lives of the Brain. Pantheon. ISBN 9781847679383. $26.95.
Neurological research and psychological experimentation suggest that there is much more to cognition than consciousness. Eagleman cites numerous examples of how brain states of which we are totally unaware affect our choices.

Greene, Brian. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos. Knopf. ISBN 9780307265630. $29.95.
If we suppose that the universe is infinite, then we can also reason that it contains an infinite number of multiverses. Greene reveals this and other mind-blowing concepts in prose so lucid they seem almost like common sense.

Hanson, Thor. Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle. Basic: Perseus. ISBN 9780465020133. $25.99.
From flying dinosaurs to mythological beasts to Las Vegas showgirls, plumage fascinates. This synthesis of field ornithology and cultural history evokes joy in the discovery of nature’s feathered biodiversity. (LJ 6/15/11)

Jayawardhana, Ray. Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System. Princeton Univ. ISBN 9780691142548. $24.95.
Not long ago, we wondered if there were planets revolving around other stars. Now we know that they are common, but we are still coming to grips with what that means about the universe and our place in it. (LJ 4/1/11)

Linden, Eugene. The Ragged Edge of the World: Encounters at the Frontier Where Modernity, Wildlands, and Indigenous People Meet. Viking. ISBN 9780670022519. $26.95.
Few places on our planet remain where native people still live in their unspoiled habitats. Linden has witnessed the stresses confronting these cultures in locations stretching from the Amazon to Borneo to the Earth’s poles. (LJ 3/1/11)

Peterson, Dale. The Moral Lives of Animals. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. ISBN 9871596914247. $26.
This is not a book that consciously tugs at readers’ heartstrings. Peterson avoids anthropomorphism by arguing that animals express moral behaviors such as compassion and sacrifice not because they make reasoned choices, but because they possess empathetic emotions. (LJ 3/15/11)

Taubes, Gary. Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It. Knopf. ISBN 9780307272706. $24.95.
Based on his studies of the literature of human metabolism, science journalist Taubes debunks the common but simplistic assumption that we gain weight because our caloric intake exceeds output. To him, that condition is an effect, not a cause of being overweight. (LJ 1/11)

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Basic: Perseus. ISBN 9780465010219. $28.95.
Once a techno-enthusiast, MIT professor Turkle now writes from the perspective that technology is eroding relationships, social roles, and individual identities. We humans are approaching our robotic moment, and which way we will go remains to be determined. (LJ 2/15/11)

Wolfe, Nathan. The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age. Times Bks: Holt. ISBN 9780805091946. $26.
The director of Global Viral Forecasting, Wolfe traveled broadly, charting the presence and possible impacts of new viruses. This survey explains both the processes of viral emergence as well as the complex public health concerns they raise. (LJ 8/11)

Yergin, Daniel. The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World. Penguin. ISBN 9781594202834. $37.95.
There are no simple solutions to the world’s energy problems. In this much-needed sequel to his Pulitzer Prizeā€š winning The Prize, Yergin expounds on the subject with depth, insight, and perspective. (LJ 8/11)

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