This season in science brings back familiar voices, those writers who have excited our interest in a wide range of subjects, even those we never knew we cared about, like longitude.
With the same simple charm that made Longitude a bestseller, Dava Sobel now tells the story of a Renaissance-era cosmological revolution. A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos describes how a Polish church canon discovered that the Sun, not the Earth, was the center of the solar system—and why he was on his deathbed before he published his findings.
Celebrated (and, by some, scorned) biologist Richard Dawkins is also back, in a less pugnacious mode, though still insisting on the primacy of facts over beliefs. The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True, illustrated in full color by Dave McKean, ranges through all the realms of nature to show the beauty of science's understanding of everything from atoms to rainbows.
Intellectually the polar opposite to Dawkins is Templeton Prize–winner John Polkinghorne. Both a theoretical physicist and a theologian, he surveys his life's work in Science and Religion in Quest of Truth to see what the essential insights of both science and religion are for the large questions like cosmology and evolution.
Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt also return with a new book to satisfy our current obsession with the workings of the brain, this time to calm and reassure confused and mystified parents, in Welcome to Your Child's Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College. Another addition to the growing spate of brain-centered books comes from one of the leaders in neuroscience: Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain by Michael S. Gazzaniga. The question of free will versus biological determinism continues to daunt scientists, psychologists, and philosophers, and the "father of cognitive neuroscience" offers a provocative study of the issues. Moving along in brain science, PW recently called Cathy N. Davidson's Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn an "exceptional and critically important book." Drawing on her experience as former vice provost at Duke and on the latest brain science, Davidson proposes that new technologies will help us overcome our brain's ability to focus on only one small part of reality at a time and lead to creative new ways of learning and working.
Humans are not the only life form with a brain that remains mysterious. In Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World, Marlene Zuk examines the improbably complex lives of bugs.
Emerging viruses, like ebola, and biological warfare are two of the great terrors of the 21st century. The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age by Nathan Wolfe not only looks at the origins of new viruses but also offers advice on how we can overcome future pandemics.
Most of us first encountered Frances Moore Lappé years ago with her Diet for a Small Planet. She is an environmental activist whose latest book, EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want, draws on a wide range of scientific evidence to address how we can cure ourselves of our addiction to fossil fuels.
We couldn't close out 2011 without a final farewell to the space shuttle program, with all its drama, successes, and tragedies. The Space Shuttle: Celebrating Thirty Years of NASA's First Space Plane by Piers Bizony is an illustrated retrospective that will include the very last mission, by the Atlantis, scheduled for July 8.
PW's Top 10 Science
A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos
Dava Sobel. Walker, Sept.
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True
Richard Dawkins, illus. by Dave McKean. Free Press, Oct.
Science and Religion in Quest of Truth
John Polkinghorne. Yale Univ., Sept.
Welcome to Your Child's Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College
Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt. Bloomsbury, Sept.
Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain
Michael S. Gazzaniga. Ecco, Nov.
Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn
Cathy N. Davidson. Viking, Aug.
Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World
Marlene Zuk. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Aug.
The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age.
Nathan Wolfe. Times, Oct.
EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want
Frances Moore Lappé. Nation, Sept.
The Space Shuttle: Celebrating Thirty Years of NASA's First Space Plane
Piers Bizony. Quayside Publishing Group/Zenith, Aug..
Baker & Taylor/Thunder Bay Press
Color Yourself Smart: Human Anatomy by Wendy Leonard, illus. by Philip Ferguson-Jones (Aug., hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-60710-217-5). Text and illustrations show the names and functions of all the parts of the human body and some of its greatest secrets. Why do we get goose bumps? How much air can we breathe in just one minute?
Powering the Future: How We Will (Eventually) Solve the Energy Crisis and Fuel the Civilization of Tomorrow by Robert B. Laughlin (Sept., hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-465-02219-9). Nobel laureate Laughlin transports us two centuries into the future to see how the end of burning carbon will affect the earth; he boldly predicts wind, water, and fire will provide new energy sources.
The Infinity Puzzle by Frank Close (Nov., hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-465-02144-4). Speculation is rife that by 2012 the elusive Higgs boson will be found at the Large Hadron Collider. The Higgs boson would help explain why everything has mass, but what we're really testing, says Close, is our capacity to make the universe reasonable.
Welcome to Your Child's Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang (Sept., hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-59691-649-4). From the authors of the award-winning Welcome to Your Brain, this essential new book answers the question: what's going on in my child's head?
(dist. by Sterling)
Men Who Mapped the World: The Cartography Treasures by Beau Riffenburgh and Philip Parker (Oct., hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-1-84732-916-5). An illustrated and informative guide to the dreams and discoveries that maps have represented, from the crude maps of ancient Babylon to the satellite-fueled precision of Google maps.
(dist. by Sterling)
The Telescope: A Short History by Richard Dunn (Aug., hardcover, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-84486-147-7). The first telescopes were made in Holland in 1608. A year later, Galileo built his own, and modern astronomy was born. Here is the whole story, from the early instruments through the latest developments.
Cold Front: Conflict Ahead in Arctic Waters by David Fairhall (Nov., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-58243-760-6). Land of ice and the six-month day, irresistible goal for explorers and adventurers, the Arctic is a source of romance and mystery, and now also an unavoidable indicator of the impact of climate change. As the ice cap shrinks, the geography of the entire Arctic region changes.
The Quantum Universe: (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does) by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw (Jan., hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-306-81964-3). The authors of the international bestseller Why Does E=mc2? present a simple theory that leads to concrete and quite astonishing predictions for the natural world.
Violent Earth by DK Publishing (Oct., hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0-7566-8685-7) is a comprehensive visual guide to the fundamental forces and awe-inspiring events that shape our planet; in association with the Smithsonian Institution.
Mad Like Tesla: Underdog Inventors and the Relentless Pursuit of Clean Energy by Tyler Hamilton (Sept., paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-77041-008-4) presents climate change solutions so crazy they just might work.
Deep-Sky Wonders: A Tour of the Universe with Sky & Telescope's Sue French by Sue French (Oct., $39.95, ISBN 978-1-55407-793-9). A new collection of 100 columns from Sky & Telescope's popular columnist, with full color photographs and sketches of each "tour."
Auroras: Fire in the Sky by Dan Bortolotti, photos by Yuichi Takasaka (Sept., $29.95, ISBN 978-1-55407-681-9). An aurora is one of nature's great spectacles and this guide explains where to find them.
Globe Pequot Press
Lights of Mankind: The Earth at Night as Seen from Space by L. Douglas Keeney (Dec., $32.50, ISBN 978-0-7627-7755-6). The story of how we've populated this planet is told through panoramic photos of Earth at night, using the latest light-sensitive cameras and the new Cupola on the International Space Station.
Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain by Michael S. Gazzaniga (Nov., hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-190610-7). The "father of cognitive neuroscience" makes a powerful and provocative argument against today's common wisdom that our lives are wholly determined by physical processes we cannot control.
The Best American Science Writing 2011, edited by Rebecca Skloot and Floyd Skloot; series editor, Jesse Cohen (Sept., paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-0-06-209124-6). The next edition of Ecco's popular annual series dedicated to collecting the most crucial and thought-provoking science writing of the year.
American Anthrax: Fear, Crime, and the Investigation of the Nation's Deadliest Bioterror Attack by Jeanne Guillemin (Sept., hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8050-9104-5). Guillemin, one of the world's leading experts on anthrax and bioterrorism, offers the definitive account of the anthrax investigation.
The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age by Nathan Wolfe (Oct., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8050-9194-6). Stanford biologist Wolfe reveals the surprising origins of the world's most deadly viruses and how we can overcome catastrophic pandemics.
Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World by Marlene Zuk (Aug., hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-15-101373-9) questions our long-held assumptions about insects, showing that the rules of life are not nearly as rigid as we might think.
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011, edited by Mary Roach; series editor, Tim Folger (Oct., paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-547-35063-9). Popular columnist and science writer Roach selects the year's best science and nature writing.
Independent Publishers Group/Chicago Review Press
Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking by Simon Quellen Field (Nov., paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56976-706-1) demonstrates that a chef is just a scientist in disguise.
Johns Hopkins Univ. Press
Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine by E. Paul Zehr (Oct., $24.95, ISBN 978-1-4214-0226-0) draws on scientific principles to see whether it is possible to build an iron suit similar to that of the superhero.
The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time by David Sloan Wilson (Aug., hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-316-03767-9). Evolutionary biologist Wilson believes Darwin's theory won't fully prove itself until it improves the quality of human life—and what better place to begin than his hometown of Binghamton, N.Y.?
Feynman by Jim Ottaviani, illus. by Leland Myrick (Aug., hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-59643-259-8). Meet Richard Feynman—physicist... Nobel winner... bestselling author... safe-cracker—in a comics-format biography.
Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter by Terrence W. Deacon (Nov., hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-04991-6). A radical new explanation of how life and consciousness have emerged from physics and chemistry.
World in the Balance: The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement by Robert P. Crease (Oct., hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-393-07298-3). The epic story of the invention of a global network of weights, scales, and instruments for measurement.
No Starch Press
The Manga Guide to Biochemistry by Masaharu Takemura, illus. by Kikuyaro and Office Sawa (Sept., paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-59327-276-0). The latest offering in the popular Manga Guide series introduces readers to biochemistry.
Oxford Univ. Press
How to Think Like a Neandertal by Thomas Wynn and Frederick L. Coolidge (Nov., $24.95, ISBN 978-0-19-974282-0) is an illuminating introduction to cognitive archeology, a new field the authors have helped to develop.
Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain's Chance Discovery Launched an Obsessive Quest to Save the Oceans by Capt. Charles Moore with Cassandra Phillips (Oct., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-58333-424-9). A prominent seafaring environmentalist shares his discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, leading to a fundamental rethinking of the plastic age.
The Geek Dad's Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists: The Coolest Experiments and Projects for Science Fairs and Family Fun by Ken Denmead (Nov., paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-59240-688-3). A follow-up to Geek Dad, which hit #4 on the New York Times Advice, How-To bestseller list.
EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want by Frances Moore Lappé (Sept., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-56858-683-0). The noted environmentalist confronts the accepted wisdom of environmentalism and argues that the biggest challenge to human survival isn't our fossil fuel dependency; it's our flawed thinking about the environment.
Drive and Curiosity: What Fuels the Passion for Science by Istvan Hargittai (Oct., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-61614-468-5). What impels some scientists to achieve breakthrough discoveries? The author has uncovered a singular personality characteristic, motivational factor, or circumstance that led 15 eminent scientists to make outstanding contributions.
Einstein on the Road by Josef Eisinger (Sept., hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-61614-460-9). At the height of his fame, Einstein traveled the world and kept diaries about everything from music and politics to psychoanalysis. These records, never before published in their entirety, offer a personal portrait of Einstein.
Saving Science: Rescuing Reality from America's Culture Wars by Shawn Lawrence Otto (Oct., hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-60529-217-5). The next great challenges that America and the world face revolve around science and technology; here is what we can do to prepare for the coming social and policy challenges.
The Dreams That Stuff Is Made Of: The Most Astounding Papers of Quantum Physics—and How They Shook the Scientific World by Stephen Hawking (Oct., hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-7624-3434-3) introduces readers to quantum physics through the most important papers on the subject.
Simon & Schuster/
The End of the Beginning: Cosmology, Time and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang by Adam Frank (Sept., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4391-6959-9). The Big Bang is dead, and astrophysicist Frank explains how our experience of time will change as a result.
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins, illus. by Dave McKean (Oct., hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-4391-9281-8). From the birth of humanity to the death of stars, celebrated biologist Dawkins examines the full range of natural phenomena, amplified by McKean's full-color illustrations.
A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss (Jan., hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-4516-2445-8). A provocative account of the astounding new answers to the most basic philosophical questions: where did the universe come from and how will it end?
The Physics Book: From the Big Bang to Quantum Resurrection, 250 Milestones in the History of Physics by Clifford A. Pickover (Nov., hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-4027-7861-2). With 250 short entries, this book helps readers understand major scientific concepts without getting bogged down in complex details.
Bats Sing, Mice Giggle: The Surprising Sciences of Animals' Inner Lives by Karen Shanor and Jagmeet Kanwal (Sept., $12.95, ISBN 978-84831-223-4). The culmination of years of scientific research reveals the inner lives of animals: how they build, create, and communicate, expressing grief, joy, anger, and fear.
Introducing Genetics by Steve Jones, illus. by Borin Van Loon (Dec., $9.95, ISBN 978-1-84831-295-1). A journey through this new science to the discovery of DNA and the human gene map, and information on making the moral decisions these discoveries pose.
Univ. of California Press
Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains by Keith Heyer Meldahl (Nov., hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-0-520-25935-5). A 1,000-mile-long trip through more than 100 million years of deep time interweaves its human and geologic history and shows how geologic forces have shaped human experience in the past and present.
Ordinary Geniuses: Max Delbruck, George Gamow, and the Origins of Genomics and Big Bang Cosmology by Gino Segre (Aug., hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-670-02276-2). A biography of two maverick scientists whose intellectual wanderlust jump-started modern genomics and cosmology.
Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything by Margaret Wertheim (Oct., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8027-1513-5) explores the bizarre world of outsider physicists like Jim Carter, who tests his theories in his backyard, and believes science should be accessible to all.
A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos by Dava Sobel (Sept., hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0-8027-1793-1). The bestselling author of Longitude and Galileo's Daughter tells how Copernicus revolutionized our view of the universe, and why he refused to publish his radical theory.
Yale Univ. Press
Science and Religion in Quest of Truth by John Polkinghorne (Sept., $26, ISBN 978-0-300-17478-6). Polkinghorne, an internationally known scientist and theologian, undertakes a survey of all the major issues at the intersection of science and religion, concentrating on what he considers the essential insights for each.
The Space Shuttle: Celebrating Thirty Years of NASA's First Space Plane by Piers Bizony (Aug., hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0-7603-3941-1). As the space shuttle program ends, this illustrated retrospective covers all 134 shuttle missions, including the historic final flight.