11 Fun Science Reads You Can Access from Home
While we're practicing physical distancing, it's a great time to take a look at our digital collections for ways to stay engaged with learning about the things that interest us. If you don't have a library card, you can also get a temporary digital card to borrow these books from Overdrive. Below is a list of recommended science books on a variety of topics. From botany and physics to data science, these books are stimulating and inspiring reads. All of them are available in ebook and eaudiobook formats as well as print.
Every great drink starts with a plant. Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley. Gin was born from a conifer shrub when a Dutch physician added oil of juniper to a clear spirit, believing that juniper berries would cure kidney disorders. "The Drunken Botanist" uncovers the enlightening botanical history and the fascinating science and chemistry of over 150 plants, flowers, trees and fruits (and even one fungus).
Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics, is known for his previous books The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos. In these books he explores the progression of physics, from classical beginnings to string theory. In Until the End of Time, Greene turns his attention to an exploration of time from the beginning of the universe. Originally hot and orderly, the universe is now cooler, filled with galaxies and unlikely islands such as Earth that have been able to nurse life.
"A renowned scientist and popularizer of science, Pinker (psychology, Harvard) makes a moral, political, and philosophic case for the values and practices of the Enlightenment. He sees enemies on both the Right and the Left; they include traditional religion, populist tribalism, and Nietzschean postmodernism." – Choice Review
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed by Men by Caroline Criado Perez
"Data is fundamental to the modern world. From economic development to health care 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 this shocking root cause of gender inequality in Invisible Women." – From the dust jacket
"Max Tegmark leads us on an astonishing journey through past, present, and future, and through the physics, astronomy and mathematics that are the foundation of his work, most particularly his hypothesis that our physical reality is a mathematical structure and his theory of the ultimate multiverse." – From the dust jacket
Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have by Tatiana Schlossberg
"As we become a more digital society, the gains that have been made for the environment by moving toward a paperless world with more and more efficient devices will soon be or already have been offset by the number of devices in our lives that are always using energy. But many don't think about the impact on the environment of the "Internet of things." Tatiana Schlossberg reveals the complicated, confounding and even infuriating ways that we all participate in a greenhouse gas-intensive economy and society, and how some of the biggest and most consequential areas of unintended emissions and environmental impacts are unknowingly part of our daily activities." – From the dust jacket
"In pursuit of the wild, solitary, predatory octopus, popular naturalist Sy Montgomery has practiced true immersion journalism. From New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, she has befriended octopuses with strikingly different personalities—gentle Athena, assertive Octavia, curious Kali, and joyful Karma. With her "joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures" (Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick), Montgomery chronicles the growing appreciation of this mollusk as she tells a unique love story." – Goodreads
Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe by Steven Strongatz
"This is the captivating story of mathematics' greatest ever idea: calculus. Without it, there would be no computers, no microwave ovens, no GPS, and no space travel. But before it gave modern man almost infinite powers, calculus was behind centuries of controversy, competition, and even death. Taking us on a thrilling journey through three millennia, professor Steven Strogatz charts the development of this seminal achievement from the days of Aristotle to today's million-dollar reward that awaits whoever cracks Reimann's hypothesis." – From the dust jacket
The Accidental Universe: The Worlkd You Thought You Knew by Alan Lightman
"In this slight volume, Lightman looks toward the universe and captures aspects of it in a series of beautifully written essays, each offering a glimpse at the whole from a different perspective: here time, there symmetry, not least God. It is a meditation by a remarkable humanist-physicist, a book worth reading by anyone entranced by big ideas grounded in the physical world." – Peter L. Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University
"Based on seven years of research and photography by Theodore Gray and Nick Mann, The Elements presents the most complete and visually arresting representation available to the naked eye of every atom in the universe. Organized sequentially by atomic number, every element is represented by a big beautiful photograph that most closely represents it in its purest form." – From the dust jacket
Feynman by Jim Ottaviani
"This substantial graphic novel biography presents the larger-than-life exploits of Nobel-winning quantum physicist, adventurer, musician, world-class raconteur, and one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century: Richard Feynman. Written by nonfiction comics mainstay Jim Ottaviani and brilliantly illustrated by First Second author Leland Myrick,Feynmantells the story of the great man's life from his childhood in Long Island to his work on the Manhattan Project and the Challenger disaster." – From the dust jacket
Available in Print Only
I'd highly recommend these two gems as well, although they're only available in print. You can place a hold on either title, and it will be processed once our branches re-open. The first is a book of beautiful brain illustrations by a world-renowned pioneer in neuroscience. The second is an ambitious tome on the relationship between mathematics, computers, music and visual art as an exploration of human identity and meaning.
At the crossroads of art and science, Beautiful Brain presents Nobel Laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal's contributions to neuroscience through his groundbreaking artistic brain imagery.
Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
Douglas Hofstadter's book is concerned directly with the nature of "maps" or links between formal systems. According to Hofstadter, the formal system that underlies all mental activity transcends the system that supports it. Life grew out of the formal chemical substrate of the cell. Consciousness emerged out of a formal system of firing neurons. As parallel, Hofstadter suggests that computers will attain human intelligence. Gödel, Escher, Bach is a wonderful exploration of fascinating ideas at the heart of cognitive science: meaning, reduction, recursion and much more.