"A thoughtful examination of the machinery of extinction . . . By turns harrowing and elegiac, thrilling and informative." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Three or four times an hour, eighty or more times a day, a unique species of plant or animal vanishes forever. And yet, every so often one of these lost species resurfaces. "Having adventures most of us can only dream about" (The Times-Picayune), Scott Weidensaul pursues stories of loss and recovery, of endurance against the odds, and of surprising resurrections.
A provocative and thoroughly researched inquiry into what we find beautiful and why, skewering the myth that the pursuit of beauty is a learned behavior.In Survival of the Prettiest, Nancy Etcoff, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and a practicing psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, argues that beauty is neither a cultural construction, an invention of the fashion industry, nor a backlash against feminism--it's in our biology. Beauty, she explains, is an essential and ineradicable part of human nature that is revered and ferociously pursued in nearly every civilization--and for good reason. Those features to which we are most attracted are often signals of fertility and fecundity. When seen in the context of a Darwinian struggle for survival, our sometimes extreme attempts to attain beauty--both to become beautiful ourselves and to acquire an attractive partner--suddenly become much more understandable. Moreover, if we understand how the desire for beauty is innate, then we can begin to work in our own interests, and not just the interests of our genetic tendencies.
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.
The brain (and mental health) is the most important medical issue of our time.
Just two handfuls in size and made of billions of nerve and ganglial cells, the living brain controls our thoughts, movements, behavior and emotions. It is the seat of our consciousness, yet scientists are still discovering how the living brain actually works.
The Brain Book combines the latest image technology with easy-to-understand authoritative text. Written by an international team of medical experts on brain science, it covers all aspects of brain function, from development and disorders, to the nature of consciousness, through to the aging brain and brain diseases. Topics include brain chemistry, memory, the teenage brain, illusions and hallucinations, music and the brain, sleep and wakefulness, anesthetics, degenerative brain disease and much more.
The book is organized into nine sections:
- Structure and Function
- The Senses
- Movement and Actions
- The Social Brain
- Mind, Consciousness, Mood and Psychosis
- Brain Plasticity, Injury and Repair
- Drugs and the Brain
- Aging and Disease
The Brain Book is a complete guide to the amazingly complex and intriguing structure that is the human brain. It is an essential reference for any library.
The Body Electric tells the fascinating story of our bioelectric selves. Robert O. Becker, a pioneer in the filed of regeneration and its relationship to electrical currents in living things, challenges the established mechanistic understanding of the body. He found clues to the healing process in the long-discarded theory that electricity is vital to life. But as exciting as Becker's discoveries are, pointing to the day when human limbs, spinal cords, and organs may be regenerated after they have been damaged, equally fascinating is the story of Becker's struggle to do such original work. The Body Electric explores new pathways in our understanding of evolution, acupuncture, psychic phenomena, and healing.
Memory binds our mental life together. We are who we are in large part because of what we learn and remember. But how does the brain create memories? Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel intertwines the intellectual history of the powerful new science of the mind a combination of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and molecular biology with his own personal quest to understand memory. A deft mixture of memoir and history, modern biology and behavior, In Search of Memory brings readers from Kandel's childhood in Nazi-occupied Vienna to the forefront of one of the great scientific endeavors of the twentieth century: the search for the biological basis of memory."
"Billions & Billions can be interpreted as the Silent Spring for the current generation. . . . Human history includes a number of leaders with great minds who gave us theories about our universe and origins that ran contrary to religious dogma. Galileo determined that the Earth revolved around the Sun, not the other way around. Darwin challenged Creationism with his Evolution of Species. And now, Sagan has given the world its latest challenge: Billions & Billions."--San Antonio Express-News
" Sagan's] inspiration and boundless curiosity live on in the gift of his work."--Seattle Times & Post-Intelligencer
"Couldn't stay awake in your high school science classes? This book can help fill in the holes. Acclaimed scientist Carl Sagan combines his logic and knowledge with wit and humor to make a potentially dry subject enjoyable to read."--The Dallas Morning News
No one in this century can speak with greater authority on the progress of ideas in biology than Ernst Mayr. And no book has ever established the life sciences so firmly in the mainstream of Western intellectual history as The Growth of Biological Thought. Ten years in preparation, this is a work of epic proportions, tracing the development of the major problems of biology from the earliest attempts to find order in the diversity of life to modern research into the mechanisms of gene transmission.
A world-renowned paleontologist takes readers all over the globe to reveal a new science that trumps science fiction: how humans can re-create a dinosaur.
In movies, in novels, in comic strips, and on television, we?ve all seen dinosaurs?or at least somebody's educated guess of what they would look like. But what if it were possible to build, or grow, a real dinosaur, without finding ancient DNA? Jack Horner, the scientist who advised Steven Spielberg on "Jurassic Park," and a pioneer in bringing paleontology into the twenty-first century, teams up with the editor of "The New York Times, /I>'s Science Times section to reveal exactly what's in store.
In the 1980s, Horner began using CAT scans to look inside fossilized dinosaur eggs, and he and his colleagues have been delving deeper ever since. At North Carolina State University, Mary Schweitzer has extracted fossil molecules?proteins that survived 68 million years?from a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil excavated by Horner. These proteins show that T. rex and the modern chicken are kissing cousins. At McGill University, Hans Larsson is manipulating a chicken embryo to awaken the dinosaur within: starting by growing a tail and eventually prompting it to grow the forelimbs of a dinosaur. All of this is happening without changing a single gene.
This incredible research is leading to discoveries and applications so profound they?re scary in the power they confer on humanity. "How to Build a Dinosaur" is a tour of the hot rocky deserts and air-conditioned laboratories at the forefront of this scientific revolution.
Katrina Firlik is a neurosurgeon, one of only two hundred or so women among the alpha males who dominate this high-pressure, high-prestige medical specialty. She is also a superbly gifted writer-witty, insightful, at once deeply humane and refreshingly wry. In Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, Dr. Firlik draws on this rare combination to create a neurosurgeon's Kitchen Confidential-a unique insider's memoir of a fascinating profession.Neurosurgeons are renowned for their big egos and aggressive self-confidence, and Dr. Firlik confirms that timidity is indeed rare in the field. "They're the kids who never lost at musical chairs," she writes. A brain surgeon is not only a highly trained scientist and clinician but also a mechanic who of necessity develops an intimate, hands-on familiarity with the gray matter inside our skulls. It's the balance between cutting-edge medical technology and manual dexterity, between instinct and expertise, that Firlik finds so appealing-and so difficult to master. Firlik recounts how her background as a surgeon's daughter with a strong stomach and a keen interest in the brain led her to this rarefied specialty, and she describes her challenging, atypical trek from medical student to fully qualified surgeon. Among Firlik's more memorable cases: a young roofer who walked into the hospital with a three-inch-long barbed nail driven into his forehead, the result of an accident with his partner's nail gun, and a sweet little seven-year-old boy whose untreated earache had become a raging, potentially fatal infection of the brain lining. From OR theatrics to thorny ethical questions, from the surprisingly primitive tools in a neurosurgeon's kit to glimpses of future techniques like the "brain lift," Firlik cracks open medicine's most prestigious and secretive specialty. Candid, smart, clear-eyed, and unfailingly engaging, Another Day in the Frontal Lobe is a mesmerizing behind-the-scenes glimpse into a world of incredible competition and incalculable rewards.