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Take a look at our lists of some fantastic science non-fiction reads, curated by Rutgers science faculty and Chang library staff.
Chang Library Staff Recommendations
I Contain Multitudes by
Publication Date: 2018-01-16
Joining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin--a "microbe's-eye view" of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth. Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light--less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are. The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people. Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us--the microbiome--build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.
Packing for Mars by
Publication Date: 2010-08-02
Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can't walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it's possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA's new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by
Publication Date: 2005-11-01
This new edition of the acclaimed bestseller is lavishly illustrated to convey, in pictures as in words, Bill Bryson’s exciting, informative journey into the world of science. In A Short History of Nearly Everything, beloved author Bill Bryson confronts his greatest challenge yet: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as his territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. The result is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Now, in this handsome new edition, Bill Bryson’s words are supplemented by full-color artwork that explains in visual terms the concepts and wonder of science, at the same time giving face to the major players in the world of scientific study. Eloquently and entertainingly described, as well as richly illustrated, science has never been more involving or entertaining.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by
Publication Date: 2010-02-02
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * "The story of modern medicine and bioethics--and, indeed, race relations--is refracted beautifully, and movingly."--Entertainment Weekly NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE FROM HBO® STARRING OPRAH WINFREY AND ROSE BYRNE * ONE OF THE "MOST INFLUENTIAL" (CNN), "DEFINING" (LITHUB), AND "BEST" (THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER) BOOKS OF THE DECADE * WINNER OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE HEARTLAND PRIZE FOR NONFICTION NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review * Entertainment Weekly * O: The Oprah Magazine * NPR * Financial Times * New York * Independent (U.K.) * Times (U.K.) * Publishers Weekly * Library Journal * Kirkus Reviews * Booklist * Globe and Mail Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine: The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, which are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Henrietta's family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family--past and present--is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of. Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family--especially Henrietta's daughter Deborah. Deborah was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Had they killed her to harvest her cells? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn't her children afford health insurance? Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.
The Universe in a Nutshell by
Publication Date: 2001-11-06
Stephen Hawking's phenomenal, multimillion-copy bestseller, A Brief History of Time, introduced the ideas of this brilliant theoretical physicist to readers all over the world. Now, in a major publishing event, Hawking returns with a lavishly illustrated sequel that unravels the mysteries of the major breakthroughs that have occurred in the years since the release of his acclaimed first book. The Universe in a Nutshell * Quantum mechanics * M-theory * General relativity * 11-dimensional supergravity * 10-dimensional membranes * Superstrings * P-branes * Black holes One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Stephen Hawking is an intellectual icon, known not only for the adventurousness of his ideas but for the clarity and wit with which he expresses them. In this new book Hawking takes us to the cutting edge of theoretical physics, where truth is often stranger than fiction, to explain in laymen's terms the principles that control our universe. Like many in the community of theoretical physicists, Professor Hawking is seeking to uncover the grail of science -- the elusive Theory of Everything that lies at the heart of the cosmos. In his accessible and often playful style, he guides us on his search to uncover the secrets of the universe -- from supergravity to supersymmetry, from quantum theory to M-theory, from holography to duality. He takes us to the wild frontiers of science, where superstring theory and p-branes may hold the final clue to the puzzle. And he lets us behind the scenes of one of his most exciting intellectual adventures as he seeks "to combine Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and Richard Feynman's idea of multiple histories into one complete unified theory that will describe everything that happens in the universe." With characteristic exuberance, Professor Hawking invites us to be fellow travelers on this extraordinary voyage through space-time. Copious four-color illustrations help clarify this journey into a surreal wonderland where particles, sheets, and strings move in eleven dimensions; where black holes evaporate and disappear, taking their secret with them; and where the original cosmic seed from which our own universe sprang was a tiny nut. The Universe in a Nutshell is essential reading for all of us who want to understand the universe in which we live. Like its companion volume, A Brief History of Time, it conveys the excitement felt within the scientific community as the secrets of the cosmos reveal themselves.
Silent Spring by
Publication Date: 2002-10-22
First published by Houghton Mifflin in 1962, Silent Spring alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. "Silent Spring became a runaway bestseller, with international reverberations . . . [It is] well crafted, fearless and succinct . . . Even if she had not inspired a generation of activists, Carson would prevail as one of the greatest nature writers in American letters" (Peter Matthiessen, for Time's 100 Most Influential People of the Century). This edition celebrates Rachel Carson's watershed book with a new introduction by the author and activist Terry Tempest Williams and a new afterword by the acclaimed Rachel Carson biographer Linda Lear, who tells the story of Carson's courageous defense of her truths in the face of ruthless assault from the chemical industry in the year following the publication of Silent Spring and before her untimely death in 1964.
General Energetics by
Publication Date: 1991-02-08
Presented here for the first time is a comprehensive, single-volume treatment of all the important aspects of biospheric civilizational energetics. The author uses measurements of energy and power densities and intensities throughout to provide an integrated framework of analysis. All segments of energetics are examined, including planetary energetics (solar radiation and geomorphic processes) and bioenergetics (photosynthesis) to human energetics (metabolism and thermoregulation) traced from hunting-gathering and agricultural societies through modern day industrial civilization. Concludes with general patterns, trends and socio-economic considerations of energy use today plus their impact on the environment.
African American Women Chemists by
Publication Date: 2011-12-14
Dr. Marie Maynard Daly received her PhD in Chemistry from Columbia University in 1947. Although she was hardly the first of her race and gender to engage in the field, she was the first African American woman to receive a PhD in chemistry in the United States. In this book, Jeannette Brown, anAfrican American woman chemist herself, will present a wide-ranging historical introduction to the relatively new presence of African American women in the field of chemistry. It will detail their struggles to obtain an education and their efforts to succeed in a field in which there were fewAfrican American men, much less African American women.The book contains sketches of the lives of African America women chemists from the earliest pioneers up until the late 1960's when the Civil Rights Acts were passed and greater career opportunities began to emerge. In each sketch, Brown will explore women's motivation to study the field and detailtheir often quite significant accomplishments. Chapters focus on chemists in academia, industry, and government, as well as chemical engineers, whose career path is very different from that of the tradition chemist. The book concludes with a chapter on the future of African American women chemists,which will be of interest to all women interested in science.
Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air by
Publication Date: 2009-01-01
Addressing the sustainable energy crisis in an objective manner, this enlightening book analyzes the relevant numbers and organizes a plan for change on both a personal level and an international scale--for Europe, the United States, and the world. In case study format, this informative reference answers questions surrounding nuclear energy, the potential of sustainable fossil fuels, and the possibilities of sharing renewable power with foreign countries. While underlining the difficulty of minimizing consumption, the tone remains positive as it debunks misinformation and clearly explains the calculations of expenditure per person to encourage people to make individual changes that will benefit the world at large. If you've thrown your hands up in despair thinking no solution is possible, then read this book - it's an honest, realistic, and humorous discussion of all our energy options.
The Sky Is Not the Limit by
Publication Date: 2000-02-15
As the youngest-ever Director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil de Grasse Tyson is America's best-known astrophysicist, constantly called upon by the media to explain news-making scientific phenomena such as the discovery of water on Mars. How did an African American kid growing up in the Bronx, expected by everyone to become a star athlete, not an intellectual, become an extraordinarily successful scientist? This is the fascinating and moving account of Tyson's love affair with the night sky, beginning with the fateful day when he, as a small boy, happened to turn a pair of binoculars up toward the moon and was struck with wonder. Packed with gorgeous descriptions of the night sky,The Sky Is Not the Limitinvokes the grandeur of the cosmos as it tells Tyson's compelling personal story. In addition, it is a perceptive look at life and society as seen through the eyes of an astrophysicist, providing a valuable look into how scientists work in, and think about, the social, political, and physical world. From that eye-opening first glimpse of the moon, through his struggle to fulfill his dream of becoming an astrophysicist, to the triumphant opening of the new Hayden Planetarium, Tyson's story is remarkable.
The Gene by
Publication Date: 2017-05-02
The #1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller The basis for the PBS Ken Burns Documentary The Gene: An Intimate History From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies--a fascinating history of the gene and "a magisterial account of how human minds have laboriously, ingeniously picked apart what makes us tick" (Elle). "Sid Mukherjee has the uncanny ability to bring together science, history, and the future in a way that is understandable and riveting, guiding us through both time and the mystery of life itself." -Ken Burns "Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee dazzled readers with his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Emperor of All Maladies in 2010. That achievement was evidently just a warm-up for his virtuoso performance in The Gene: An Intimate History, in which he braids science, history, and memoir into an epic with all the range and biblical thunder of Paradise Lost" (The New York Times). In this biography Mukherjee brings to life the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices. "Mukherjee expresses abstract intellectual ideas through emotional stories...[and] swaddles his medical rigor with rhapsodic tenderness, surprising vulnerability, and occasional flashes of pure poetry" (The Washington Post). Throughout, the story of Mukherjee's own family--with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness--reminds us of the questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In riveting and dramatic prose, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation--from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome. "A fascinating and often sobering history of how humans came to understand the roles of genes in making us who we are--and what our manipulation of those genes might mean for our future" (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), The Gene is the revelatory and magisterial history of a scientific idea coming to life, the most crucial science of our time, intimately explained by a master. "The Gene is a book we all should read" (USA TODAY).
The Poisoner's Handbook by
Publication Date: 2011-01-25
Equal parts true crime, twentieth-century history, and science thriller, The Poisoner's Handbook is "a vicious, page-turning story that reads more like Raymond Chandler than Madame Curie"--The New York Observer A fascinating Jazz Age tale of chemistry and detection, poison and murder, The Poisoner's Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten era. In early twentieth-century New York, poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Science had no place in the Tammany Hall-controlled coroner's office, and corruption ran rampant. However, with the appointment of chief medical examiner Charles Norris in 1918, the poison game changed forever. Together with toxicologist Alexander Gettler, the duo set the justice system on fire with their trailblazing scientific detective work, triumphing over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice. In 2014, PBS's AMERICAN EXPERIENCE released a film based on The Poisoner's Handbook.
Invisible Women by
Publication Date: 2019-03-12
Data is fundamental to the modern world. From economic development, to healthcare, to education and public policy, we rely on numbers to allocate resources and make crucial decisions. But because so much data fails to take into account gender, because it treats men as the default and women as atypical, bias and discrimination are baked into our systems. And women pay tremendous costs for this bias, in time, money, and often with their lives. Celebrated feminist advocate Caroline Criado Perez investigates shocking root cause of gender inequality and research in Invisible Women+‹, diving into women's lives at home, the workplace, the public square, the doctor's office, and more. Built on hundreds of studies in the US, the UK, and around the world, and written with energy, wit, and sparkling intelligence, this is a groundbreaking, unforgettable exposé that will change the way you look at the world.
Alan Turing by
Publication Date: 2014-11-10
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades--all before his suicide at age forty-one. This acclaimed biography of the founder of computer science, with a new preface by the author that addresses Turing's royal pardon in 2013, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life. Capturing both the inner and outer drama of Turing's life, Andrew Hodges tells how Turing's revolutionary idea of 1936--the concept of a universal machine--laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. The book also tells how this work was directly related to Turing's leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic. At the same time, this is the tragic account of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program--all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime. The inspiration for a major motion picture starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, Alan Turing: The Enigma is a gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution.