Award-winning, celebrated New York Times columnist and science writer Carl Zimmer presents a history of our understanding of heredity in this sweeping, resonating overview of a force that shaped human society--a force set to shape our future even more radically.
She Has Her Mother's Laugh presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. The birth of genetics in the early 1900s seemed to do precisely that. Gradually, people translated their old notions about heredity into a language of genes. As the technology for studying genes became cheaper, millions of people ordered genetic tests to link themselves to missing parents, to distant ancestors, to ethnic identities. . . .
But, Zimmer writes, "Each of us carries an amalgam of fragments of DNA, stitched together from some of our many ancestors. Each piece has its own ancestry, traveling a different path back through human history. A particular fragment may sometimes be cause for worry, but most of our DNA influences who we are--our appearance, our height, our penchants--in inconceivably subtle ways." Heredity isn't just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors--using a word that once referred to kingdoms and estates--but we inherit other things that matter as much or more to our lives, from microbes to technologies we use to make life more comfortable. We need a new definition of what heredity is and, through Carl Zimmer's lucid exposition and storytelling, this resounding tour de force delivers it.
Weaving historical and current scientific research, his own experience with his two daughters, and the kind of original reporting expected of one of the world's best science journalists, Zimmer ultimately unpacks urgent bioethical quandaries arising from new biomedical technologies, but also long-standing presumptions about who we really are and what we can pass on to future generations.
By Prinstein, Mitch
A leading psychologist examines how our popularity affects our success, our relationships, and our happiness - and why we don't always want to be the most popular
No matter how old you are, there's a good chance that the word "popular" immediately transports you back to your teenage years. Most of us can easily recall the adolescent social cliques, the high school pecking order, and which of our peers stood out as the most or the least popular teens we knew. Even as adults we all still remember exactly where we stood in the high school social hierarchy, and the powerful emotions associated with our status persist decades later. This may be for good reason.
Popular examines why popularity plays such a key role in our development and, ultimately, how it still influences our happiness and success today. In many ways - some even beyond our conscious awareness - those old dynamics of our youth continue to play out in every business meeting, every social gathering, in our personal relationships, and even how we raise our children. Our popularity even affects our DNA, our health, and our mortality in fascinating ways we never previously realized. More than childhood intelligence, family background, or prior psychological issues, research indicates that it's how popular we were in our early years that predicts how successful and how happy we grow up to be.
But it's not always the conventionally popular people who fare the best, for the simple reason that there is more than one type of popularity - and many of us still long for the wrong one. As children, we strive to be likable, which can offer real benefits not only on the playground but throughout our lives. In adolescence, though, a new form of popularity emerges, and we suddenly begin to care about status, power, influence, and notoriety - research indicates that this type of popularity hurts us more than we realize.
Realistically, we can't ignore our natural human social impulses to be included and well-regarded by others, but we can learn how to manage those impulses in beneficial and gratifying ways. Popular relies on the latest research in psychology and neuroscience to help us make the wisest choices for ourselves and for our children, so we may all pursue more meaningful, satisfying, and rewarding relationships.
By Losos, Jonathan B
A major new work overturning our assumptions about how evolution works
Earth's natural history is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. But evolutionary biologists also point out many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change - a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze - caused evolution to take a completely different course. What role does each force really play in the constantly changing natural world? Are the plants and animals that exist today, and we humans ourselves, inevitabilities or evolutionary freaks? And what does that say about life on other planets?
Jonathan Losos reveals what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology can tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science. He takes us around the globe to meet the researchers who are solving the deepest mysteries of life on Earth through their work in experimental evolutionary science. Losos himself is one of the leaders in this exciting new field, and he illustrates how experiments with guppies, fruit flies, bacteria, foxes, and field mice, along with his own work with anole lizards on Caribbean islands, are rewinding the tape of life to reveal just how rapid and predictable evolution can be.
Improbable Destinies will change the way we think and talk about evolution. Losos's insights into natural selection and evolutionary change have far-reaching applications for protecting ecosystems, securing our food supply, and fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria. This compelling narrative offers a new understanding of ourselves and our role in the natural world and the cosmos.
By Rosen, William
The epic history of how antibiotics were born, saving millions of lives and creating a vast new industry known as Big Pharma.
As late as the 1930s, virtually no drug intended for sickness did any good; doctors could set bones, deliver babies, and offer palliative care. That all changed in less than a generation with the discovery and development of a new category of medicine known as antibiotics. By 1955, the age-old evolutionary relationship between humans and microbes had been transformed, trivializing once-deadly infections. William Rosen captures this revolution with all its false starts, lucky surprises, and eccentric characters. He explains why, given the complex nature of bacteria - and their ability to rapidly evolve into new forms - the only way to locate and test potential antibiotic strains is by large-scale, systematic, trial-and-error experimentation. Organizing that research needs large, well-funded organizations and businesses, and so our entire scientific-industrial complex, built around the pharmaceutical company, was born. Timely, engrossing, and eye-opening, Miracle Cure is a must-read science narrative - a drama of enormous range, combining science, technology, politics, and economics to illuminate the reasons behind one of the most dramatic changes in humanity's relationship with nature since the invention of agriculture ten thousand years ago.
How Science Works
By Staff, Dorling Kindersley Publishing
Explore answers to questions on 70 topics in the areas of matter, physics, energy, chemistry, life science, earth science, technology, and the universe. How Science Works uses clear, easy-to-understand graphics to answer common questions and explain difficult concepts--not only the core science topics that eluded us at school, but also the cutting-edge science reported in the news. Have you ever wondered how airplanes stay in the air, how holograms are made, or how ants lift things many times their size? You'll find answers to these enigmas as well as learn about more complex developments, including the discovery of the Higgs boson, gravitational waves, and the mysteries of dark matter. Topic spreads include Q&A features, short-story sections, and simple graphics to answer all your questions about scientific principles, from familiar conundrums to mysteries that evade even the brightest minds.
DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley)
The Gene Machine
By Rochman, Bonnie
A sharp-eyed exploration of the promise and peril of having children in an age of genetic tests and interventions
Is screening for disease in an embryo a humane form of family planning or a slippery slope toward eugenics? Should doctors tell you that your infant daughter is genetically predisposed to breast cancer? If tests revealed that your toddler has a genetic mutation whose significance isn't clear, would you want to know?
In The Gene Machine, the award-winning journalist Bonnie Rochman deftly explores these hot-button questions, guiding us through the new frontier of gene technology and how it is transforming medicine, bioethics, health care, and the factors that shape a family. Rochman tells the stories of scientists working to unlock the secrets of the human genome; genetic counselors and spiritual advisers guiding mothers and fathers through life-changing choices; and, of course, parents (including Rochman herself) grappling with revelations that are sometimes joyous, sometimes heartbreaking, but always profound. She navigates the dizzying and constantly expanding array of prenatal and postnatal tests, from carrier screening to genome sequencing, while considering how access to more tests is altering perceptions of disability and changing the conversation about what sort of life is worth living and who draws the line. Along the way, she highlights the most urgent ethical quandary: Is this technology a triumph of modern medicine or a Pandora's box of possibilities?
Propelled by human narratives and meticulously reported, The Gene Machine is both a scientific road map and a meditation on our power to shape the future. It is a book that gets to the very core of what it means to be human.
Scientific American / Farrar
The Science of Harry Potter
By Brake, Mark
Harry Potter has brought the idea of magic and sorcery into mainstream fruition more than any other book series in history. Often perceived as a supernatural force, magic captivates and delights its audience because of its seeming ability to defy physics and logic. But did you ever wonder if science has any explanation for these fantastic feats? The Science of Harry Potter examines the scientific principles behind some of your favorite characters, spells, items, and scenes from the Harry Potter universe, providing in-depth analysis and scientific facts to support its theories. The scientific questions examined within this book include: Will we ever see an invisibility cloak? How hazardous is a flying broomstick? How has medicine made powerful potions from peculiar plants? Can scientists ever demonstrate Wingardium Leviosa? Is it possible to stupefy someone? And many more! Witches and wizards alike will be fascinated by the merging of this improbable realm and real science.
Mask of the Sun
By Dvorak, John
They have been thought of as harbingers of evil as well as a sign of the divine. Eclipses -- one of the rarest and most stunning celestial events we can witness here on Earth -- have shaped the course of human history and thought since humans first turned their eyes to the sky.
What do Virginia Woolf, the rotation of hurricanes, Babylonian kings and Einstein's General Theory Relativity all have in common? Eclipses. Always spectacular and, today, precisely predicable, eclipses have allowed us to know when the first Olympic games were played and, long before the first space probe, that the Moon was covered by dust.
Eclipses have stunned, frightened, emboldened and mesmerized people for thousands of years. They were recorded on ancient turtle shells discovered in the Wastes of Yin in China, on clay tablets from Mesopotamia and on the Mayan "Dresden Codex." They are mentioned in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and at least eight times in the Bible. Columbus used them to trick people, while Renaissance painter Taddeo Gaddi was blinded by one. Sorcery was banished within the Catholic Church after astrologers used an eclipse to predict a pope's death.
In Mask of the Sun, acclaimed writer John Dvorak the importance of the number 177 and why the ancient Romans thought it was bad to have sexual intercourse during an eclipse (whereas other cultures thought it would be good luck) . Even today, pregnant women in Mexico wear safety pins on their underwear during an eclipse. Eclipses are an amazing phenomena -- unique to Earth -- that have provided the key to much of what we now know and understand about the sun, our moon, gravity, and the workings of the universe.
Both entertaining and authoritative, Mask of the Sun reveals the humanism behind the science of both lunar and solar eclipses. With insightful detail and vividly accessible prose, Dvorak provides explanations as to how and why eclipses occur -- as well as insight into the forthcoming eclipse of 2017 that will be visible across North America.
8 pages of photographs
The Pleasure Shock
By Frank, Lone
The electrifying, forgotten history of Robert Heath's brain pacemaker, investigating the origins and ethics of one of today's most promising medical breakthroughs: deep brain stimulation
The technology invented by psychiatrist Robert G. Heath at Tulane University in the 1950s and '60s has been described as one of "the most controversial yet largely undocumented experiments in US history"--controversial to us because Heath's research subjects included incarcerated convicts and gay men who wished to be "cured" of their sexual preference; controversial in its day because his work was allegedly part of MKUltra, the CIA's notorious "mind control" project. As a result, Heath's cutting-edge research and legacy were put under lock and key, buried in Tulane's archives. The ethical issues raised by his work have also been buried: This very same experimental treatment is becoming mainstream practice in modern psychiatry for everything from schizophrenia, anorexia, and compulsive behavior to depression, aggression, anxiety, and even drug and alcohol addiction.
In the first book to tell the full story, the award-winning science writer Lone Frank has uncovered lost documents and accounts of Heath's pioneering efforts. She has tracked down surviving colleagues and patients. And she has delved into the current embrace of deep brain stimulation by scientists and patients alike. What has changed? Why do we today unquestioningly embrace this technology as a cure? How do we decide what is a disease of the brain to be cured and what should be allowed to remain unprobed and unprodded? The Pleasure Shock weaves together biography, neuroscience, psychology, the history of science, and medical ethics to explore our views of the mind and the self. How do we decide whether changes to the brain are acceptable therapy or are simply bias and bigotry?
By Millard, Doug
Right now, above our heads - nearly imperceptible to us but hugely important to how we live - are thousands of man-made objects that we have sent into space. Ubiquitous but mysterious, satellites are the technological infrastructure of our globally connected world, helping us do everything from orient ourselves on a map to watch our favorite television shows. Yet we rarely ever think about them. In this book, Doug Millard pays overdue tribute to the stoic existence of the satellite, tracing its simultaneous pathways through the cold silence of space and the noisy turbulence of the past century. How satellites ever came to be is, in itself, a remarkable story. Telling an astonishing history of engineering experimentation and ingenuity, Millard shows how the Cold War space race made the earliest satellites - ones like Sputnik, Telstar, and Early Bird - household names.
The Astronomy Book
By Kindersley, Inc Dorling
An essential guide to milestone developments in astronomy, telling the story of our ideas about space, time, and the physics of the cosmos - from ancient times to the present day.
From planets and stars to black holes and the Big Bang, take a journey through the wonders of the universe. Featuring topics from the Copernican Revolution to the mind-boggling theories of recent science, The Astronomy Book uses flowcharts, graphics, and illustrations to help clarify hard-to-grasp concepts and explain almost 100 big astronomical ideas. Covering the biographies of key astronomers through the ages such as Ptolemy, Galileo, Newton, Hubble, and Hawking, The Astronomy Book details their theories and discoveries in a user-friendly format to make the information accessible and easy to follow.
Series Overview: Big Ideas Simply Explained series uses creative design and innovative graphics along with straightforward and engaging writing to make complex subjects easier to understand. With over 7 million copies worldwide sold to date, these award-winning books provide just the information needed for students, families, or anyone interested in concise, thought-provoking refreshers on a single subject.
By Dunbar, R I M
"This book covers the psychological aspects of human evolution with a table of contents ranging from prehistoric times to modern days. Dunbar focuses on an aspect of evolution that has typically been overshadowed by the archaeological record: the biological, neurological, and genetic changes that occurred with each "transition" in the evolutionary narrative"--
Oxford University Press
The Patterning Instinct
By Lent, Jeremy R
This fresh perspective on crucial questions of history identifies the root metaphors that cultures have used to construct meaning in their world. It offers a glimpse into the minds of a vast range of different peoples: early hunter-gatherers and farmers, ancient Egyptians, traditional Chinese sages, the founders of Christianity, trail-blazers of the Scientific Revolution, and those who constructed our modern consumer society. Taking the reader on an archaeological exploration of the mind, the author, an entrepreneur and sustainability leader, uses recent findings in cognitive science and systems theory to reveal the hidden layers of values that form today's cultural norms. Uprooting the tired clichés of the science-religion debate, he shows how medieval Christian rationalism acted as an incubator for scientific thought, which in turn shaped our modern vision of the conquest of nature.
By Cox, Brian
In Universal, bestselling physicists Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw (Why Does E=mc2?) take us on an inspirational journey of scientific exploration. They show that, by asking questions about the world around us, anyone can think like a physicist and grasp the breath-taking grandeur of the cosmos.Universal guides you to make your own measurements between the Earth and neighboring planets by using the parallax method; follow in the footsteps of cosmologist Edwin Hubble to discover that the universe is expanding; and work out the Earth's radius by applying Pythagoras's theorem to simple observations you can make on a beach.With full explanations, diagrams, and astonishing photographs, Cox and Forshaw reveal how we can all understand some of the most fundamental questions about our Earth, Sun, solar system, and the galaxies beyond.
The Stress Gene
By Keating, Daniel P
Why are we the way we are? Why do some of us find it impossible to calm a hair-trigger temper or to shake chronic anxiety? The debate has always been divided between nature and nurture, but as psychology professor Daniel Keating demonstrates in Born Anxious, new science points to a third factor that allows us to inherit both the nature and the nurture of previous generations - with significant consequences.
Born Anxious introduces a new word into our lexicon: "methylated." It's short for "epigenetic methylation," and it offers insight into behaviors we have all observed but never understood - from the boss who goes ballistic at the slightest error to the sibling who is sure that everything you say is a hidden insult; from the infant who can't be calmed to the husband who can't fall asleep at night. In each case, because of an exposure to environmental adversity in utero or during the first year of life, a key stress system has been welded into the "on" position by the methylation process. The effect: lifelong, unrelenting stress and its side effects - from an inability to learn to an early death.
An extreme stress response enabled our ancestors to survive in harsh climes, but in today's Western world, harsh environments tend to be low-income, high-crime areas. In an age of rising social inequality, the fate of ever-larger segments of the population may be debilitating stress - unless we take action to break the cycle.