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Nature and Science June 2014
"Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard."
~ Walt Whitman (1819-1892), American poet, "Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun"
New and Recently Released!
Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues - by Martin J. Blaser
Publisher: Henry Holt
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 04/08/2014
Share Missing Microbes%3a How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues ISBN-13: 9780805098105
ISBN-10: 0805098100
Citing an assortment of "modern plagues," including diabetes, asthma, celiac disease, and eczema, Dr. Martin Blaser, the director of New York University's Human Microbiome Program, argues that our over-reliance on antibiotics may cure our ailments in the short-term while compromising the overall health of our immune systems. The average American child receives at least one course of antibiotics every year, which Blaser claims severely damages the "invisible zoo within," devastating the diverse populations of bacteria that live in our bodies and keep us healthy. For more accessible books about beneficial microorganisms, check out Rob Dunn's The Wild Life of Our Bodies, Jessica Sachs' Good Germs, Bad Germs, or Carl Zimmer's Microcosm.
The Secret Life of Sleep - by Kat Duff
Publisher: Pocket Books
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 03/18/2014
Share The Secret Life of Sleep ISBN-13: 9781582704685
ISBN-10: 1582704686
"Sleep is hard to study because it exists, by definition, outside our conscious awareness," admits mental health counselor Kat Duff, who nevertheless embarks on a quest to better understand how and why we sleep. Until the middle of the 20th century, many people believed that the brain simply switched off at night; it wasn't until researcher Eugene Aserinsky attached electrodes to his eight-year-old's head and recorded heightened brain activity that the scientific community began to revise its assumptions about the nature of sleep. Even now, there's much we still don't know. What causes dreams and what purpose do they serve? And why do we need sleep at all? (Don't try this at home: sleep-deprivation leads to psychosis and death.) Whether you enjoy an afternoon nap or assert that you'll sleep when you're dead, you won't want to miss this engaging, accessible survey of the science of slumber.
Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field: How Two Men Revolutionized Physics - by Nancy Forbes and Basil Mahon
Publisher: Random House
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 03/11/2014
Share Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field%3a How Two Men Revolutionized Physics ISBN-13: 9781616149420
ISBN-10: 1616149426
In 1813, blacksmith's son Michael Faraday abandoned a career as a bookbinder to study the little-understood phenomenon of electricity. Although his tireless efforts led to the development of the first electric motor and generator, as well as the idea of the electromagnetic field (in which electricity and magnetism travel as waves), few took him seriously until James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish mathematician and physicist, formulated a set of equations to describe Faraday's theories. In this thought-provoking dual biography, science writers Nancy Forbes and Basil Mahon explore the lives of two influential men of science as well as their enduring legacy.
Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by Their Trace Fossils - by Anthony J. Martin
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 03/06/2014
Share Dinosaurs Without Bones%3a Dinosaur Lives Revealed by Their Trace Fossils ISBN-13: 9781605984995
ISBN-10: 160598499X
You need bones to study dinosaurs. Or do you? In this accessible, engaging book, paleontologist Anthony Martin introduces ichnology, the study of "trace fossils." Encompassing anything that's neither tooth nor bone, trace fossils may include tracks and trails, burrows and nests, tooth and claw marks, skin, and coprolites (fecal fossils). While they may not form an impressive museum display, trace fossils are essential to understanding the biology and behavior of prehistoric lifeforms. A fascinating guide to a lesser-known sub-specialty of an evolving scientific field, Dinosaurs Without Bones may persuade armchair paleontologists to pursue other recent books about dinosaurs, such as Brian Switek's My Beloved Brontosaurus.
The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era - by Craig Nelson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 03/25/2014
Share The Age of Radiance%3a The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era ISBN-13: 9781451660432
ISBN-10: 145166043X
The atomic age, at least in the popular imagination, began in August 1945 with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, author Craig Nelson takes a broader view of the "age of radiance," beginning in 1895 with German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery of x-rays and ending with the 2011 disaster at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant. Along the way, he explains concepts such as fission and fusion while describing the individuals -- both scientists and civilians -- whose contributions shaped politics and society in the wake of a stunning new technology that promised both limitless energy and total annihilation.
A Window on Eternity: A Biologist's Walk Through Gorongosa National Park - by Edward O. Wilson; photographs by Piotr Naskrecki
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 04/22/2014
Share A Window on Eternity%3a A Biologist ISBN-13: 9781476747415
ISBN-10: 1476747415
Joining forces with nature photographer Piotr Naskrecki, biologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Edward O. Wilson takes readers on a lavishly illustrated tour of Mozambique's 1,500 square mile Gorongosa National Park, documenting the region's natural history as well as the devastation wrought by a 16-year civil war that destroyed much of the park's biodiversity -- including 90 percent of its megafauna. Wilson also describes Gorongosa's gradual rebirth, a collaborative effort between scientists and philanthropists whose goal to restore the area to its former glory proceeds at a slow but steady pace. For a moving, yet ultimately hopeful story of conservation against the backdrop of one of the world's most beautiful and valuable ecological treasures, don't miss A Window on Eternity.
Juicy Reads
In the Devil's Garden: A Sinful History of Forbidden Food - by Stewart Lee Allen
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 03/01/2003
Share In the Devil ISBN-13: 9780345440167
ISBN-10: 0345440161
Structuring his narrative around the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins, author Stewart Lee Allen presents an engaging account of forbidden foods and their effects on human civilization. The list of verboten delicacies is long and includes apples, basil, tomatoes, potatoes, and chocolate (to name just a few). Combining history, trivia, travelogue, and even a set of seven thematic multi-course menus full of sinfully delicious recipes, this entertaining compendium may appeal to fans of Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire or Isabel Allende's Aphrodite.
Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit - by Barry Estabrook
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 06/07/2011
Share Tomatoland%3a How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit ISBN-13: 9781449401092
ISBN-10: 1449401090
Tomatoes are both a multi-billion dollar industry and a carefully crafted agricultural commodity. Expanding on his 2010 James Beard Award-winning article in Gourmet Magazine, investigative journalist Barry Estabrook traces the life cycle of the mass-produced tomato, from its birth in Florida (which produces one third of the nation's annual crop) through its distribution to supermarkets across the United States. In between, commercially grown tomatoes (bred not for flavor but to facilitate shipping) are given a potent cocktail of pesticides and herbicides (to combat the 60 combined insect species and diseases that attack the plants); harvested (by low-paid migrant workers) while still green; and then artificially ripened by exposure to ethylene gas to create the illusion of a perfect piece of fruit. Still hungry? Feed your need for knowledge with Michael Carolan's The Real Cost of Cheap Food or Wenonah Hauter's Foodopoly, both of which provide a behind-the-scenes look at where our food comes from.
The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession - by Adam Leith Gollner
Publisher: Scribner
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 06/11/2013
Share The Fruit Hunters%3a A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession ISBN-13: 9781476704999
ISBN-10: 1476704996
Did you know that some half-million plant species worldwide produce fruit -- and that the waxed apples found in supermarkets are among the least appetizing of these? In this fact-filled guide to all things fruit, food journalist Adam Leith Gollner takes us through the history of a food that has started wars and inspired religious devotion. Equally fascinating are Gollner's present-day encounters with people who have devoted their lives to (and sometimes risked their lives for) fruit: botanists, inventors, and exotic fruit-smugglers, aka "fruitleggers." Whether you're a fruit fanatic or just wondering what all the fuss is about, you'll enjoy the fruits of Gollner's labors.
Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World - by Dan Koeppel
Publisher: Plume
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 12/30/2008
Share Banana%3a The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World ISBN-13: 9780452290082
ISBN-10: 0452290082
The story of bananas is...well, bananas. Originating in Southeast Asia, this seedless, sexless fruit somehow evolved from an inedible wild plant to one of the world's most popular -- and most genetically vulnerable -- foods. In this riveting biological and cultural history of the banana, journalist Dan Koeppel traces the banana's journey from its birthplace to Africa, where it became a staple crop, to the Caribbean and Central America, where it became the foundation of an industry powerful enough to make (and break) entire nations. If you'd like to read more about the rise of the banana industry, check out Peter Chapman's Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Changed the World, or Rich Cohen's The Fish that Ate the Whale, a biography of United Fruits' founder Samuel Zemurray.
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