One hundred and fifty years after the publication of On the Origin of Species, award-winning environmental reporter Alanna Mitchell set out to retrace the idea of evolution and grapple with the fact that a massive extinction of the planet's species was well under way. So began a three-year odyssey in which Mitchell picked up where Darwin left off, examining not just the origin but also the ultimate fate of our world.Combining scientific curiosity with travel and adventure, Dancing at the Dead Sea takes the reader on an intimate tour through the world's environmental hotspots. Readers join Mitchell as she tracks the spectacular biodiversity of regions as extraordinary as the island of Madagascar, the rain forests of Suriname, the parched oases of Jordan, the Arctic desert of Banks Island, the volcanic crests of Iceland, and, ultimately, the Galapagos archipelago, where Darwin conducted his famous research. Along the way, Mitchell introduces us to the numerous scientists and conservationists who are working to protect these endangered places. She also chronicles the courageous efforts of everyday men and women in these regions as they try to convince governments to turn the world's hotspots into environmentally protected areas. Ultimately, Mitchell's travels around the world compel her to ponder our shelf life as a species in the grand evolutionary scheme of the planet. She wonders what Darwin would make of the profound ecological destruction she witnesses. Is the human race suicidal? What can help our species avert extinction? Posing tough and cutting questions such as these, Dancing at the Dead Sea is a must-read for aficionados of good science writing and travel literature alike.
If the conscious mind--the part you consider to be you--is just the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest doing?In this sparkling and provocative book, renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate its surprising mysteries. Why can your foot move halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead? Is there a true Mel Gibson? How is your brain like a conflicted democracy engaged in civil war? What do Odysseus and the subprime mortgage meltdown have in common? Why are people whose names begin with J more like to marry other people whose names begin with J? And why is it so difficult to keep a secret? Taking in brain damage, plane spotting, dating, drugs, beauty, infidelity, synesthesia, criminal law, artificial intelligence, and visual illusions, Incognito is a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.
Focusing on the human relationship with plants, the author uses botany to explore four basic human desires--sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control--through portraits of four plants that embody them: the apple, tulip, marijuana, and potato.
"Learn the natural ways of the Chippewa Indians with this great book from Dover." -- Texas Kitchen and Garden and More
The uses of plants -- for food, for medicine, for arts, crafts, and dyeing -- among the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota and Wisconsin show the great extent to which they understood and utilized natural resources. In this book those traditions are captured, providing a wealth of new material for those interested in natural food, natural cures, and native crafts.
In separate sections describing the major areas of use, Miss Densmore, an ethnologist with the Smithsonian Institution, details the uses of nearly 200 plants with emphasis on wild plants and lesser-known uses. For those interested in natural foods she gives extensive coverage to the gathering and preparation of maple sugar and wild rice, as well as preparations for beverages from leaves and twigs of common plants, seasonings including mint and bearberry, the methods of preparing wild rice and corn, cultivated and wild vegetables, and wild fruits and berries. On Indian medicines she tells the basic methods of gathering plants and the basic surgical and medical methods. Then she gives a complete list of the plants with their botanical names, uses, parts used, preparation and administration, and other notes and references. Also covered are plants used as charms, plants used in natural dyes, and plants in the useful and decorative arts including uses for household items, toys, mats, twine, baskets, bows, and tools, with special emphasis on the uses of birch bark and cedar. This section will be especially useful for supplying new and unusual craft ideas. In addition, 36 plates show the many stages of plant gathering and preparation and many of the artistic uses. While a number of the plants discussed are native only to the Great Lakes region, many are found throughout a wide range.
Those studying the Indians of the Great Lakes region, or those trying to get back to nature through understanding and using natural materials, will find much about the use of plants in all areas of community life. Because of Miss Densmore's deep knowledge and clear presentation, her study remains a rich and useful source for learning about or using native foods, native cures, and native crafts.
Diane Ackerman's lusciously written grand tour of the realm of the senses includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York, along with dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth."Delightful . . . gives the reader the richest possible feeling of the worlds the senses take in." --The New York Times
"In Missing Microbes, Martin Blaser sounds an] alarm. He patiently and thoroughly builds a compelling case that the threat of antibiotic overuse goes far beyond resistant infections."--Nature
Renowned microbiologist Dr. Martin J. Blaser invites us into the wilds of the human microbiome, where for hundreds of thousands of years bacterial and human cells have existed in a peaceful symbiosis that is responsible for the equilibrium and health of our bodies. Now this invisible Eden is under assault from our overreliance on medical advances including antibiotics and caesarian sections, threatening the extinction of our irreplaceable microbes and leading to severe health consequences.
Taking us into the lab to recount his groundbreaking studies, Blaser not only provides elegant support for his theory, he guides us to what we can do to avoid even more catastrophic health problems in the future.
"Missing Microbes is science writing at its very best--crisply argued and beautifully written, with stunning insights about the human microbiome and workable solutions to an urgent global crisis."--David M. Oshinsky, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Polio: An American Story
FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GREAT NATURE WRITERS SUCH AS E.O. WILSON AND CHARMING MEMOIRS LIKE GERALD DURRELL'S MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS, THIS FASCINATING BOOK WILL ALTER THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT BUMBLEBEES.
Dave Goulson became obsessed with wildlife as a small boy growing up in rural Shropshire, starting with an increasingly exotic menagerie of pets. When his interest turned to the anatomical, there were even some ill-fated experiments with taxidermy. But bees are where Goulson's true passion lies--the humble bumblebee in particular.
Once commonly found in the marshes of Kent, the English short-haired bumblebee went extinct in the United Kingdom, but by a twist of fate still exists in the wilds of New Zealand, the descendants of a few pairs shipped over in the nineteenth century. Dave Goulson's passionate quest to reintroduce it to its native land is one of the highlights of a book that includes original research into the habits of these mysterious creatures, history's relationship with the bumblebee, and advice on how to protect the bumblebee for future generations.
One of the United Kingdom's most respected conservationists and the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Goulson combines lighthearted tales of a child's growing passion for nature with a deep insight into the crucial importance of the bumblebee. He details the minutiae of life in the nest, sharing fascinating research into the effects intensive farming has had on our bee population and the potential dangers if we are to continue down this path.
In the 1980s and 1990s, in places where no one thought it possible, scientists found organisms they called extremophiles: lovers of extremes. There were bacteria in volcanic hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, single-celled algae in Antarctic ice floes, and fungi in the cooling pools of nuclear reactors.
But might there be life stranger than the most extreme extremophile? Might there be, somewhere, another kind of life entirely? In fact, scientists have hypothesized life that uses ammonia instead of water, life based not in carbon but in silicon, life driven by nuclear chemistry, and life whose very atoms are unlike those in life we know. In recent years some scientists have begun to look for the tamer versions of such life on rock surfaces in the American Southwest, in a "shadow biosphere" that might impinge on the known biosphere, and even deep within human tissue. They have also hypothesized more radical versions that might survive in Martian permafrost, in the cold ethylene lakes on Saturn's moon Titan, and in the hydrogen-rich atmospheres of giant planets in other solar systems. And they have imagined it in places off those worlds: the exotic ices in comets, the vast spaces between the stars, and--strangest of all--parallel universes.
Distilling complex science in clear and lively prose, David Toomey illuminates the research of the biological avant-garde and describes the workings of weird organisms in riveting detail. His chapters feature an unforgettable cast of brilliant scientists and cover everything from problems with our definitions of life to the possibility of intelligent weird life. With wit and understanding that will delight scientists and lay readers alike, Toomey reveals how our current knowledge of life forms may account for only a tiny fraction of what's really out there.