Science Picks for July

These are but of few of the new science books about our Solar system, the planets, and space! Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverVacation guide to the solar system : science for the savvy space traveler! / Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich ; art by Steve Thomas.
“Packed with real science and fueled by imagination, a beautifully illustrated guide to traveling in our solar system. Imagine taking a hike along the windswept red plains of Mars to dig for signs of life, or touring one of Jupiter’s sixty-four moons where you can photograph its swirling storms. For a shorter trip on a tight budget, the Moon is quite majestic and very quiet if you can make it during the off-season. With four-color illustrations and packed with real-world science, The Vacation Guide to the Solar System is the must-have planning guide for the curious space adventurer.” (Provided by publisher)

Syndetics book coverThe art of astrophotography / Ian Morison, Jodrell Bank, University of Manchester.
“In The Art of Astrophotography, astronomer and Astronomy Now columnist Ian Morison provides the essential foundations of how to produce beautiful astronomical images. Every type of astroimaging is covered, from images of the Moon and planets, to the constellations, star clusters and nebulae within our Milky Way Galaxy and the faint light of distant galaxies. Whether you are just getting into astrophotography or are already deeply involved, Morison’s advice will help you capture and create enticing astronomical images.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn astronomer’s tale : a life under the stars / Gary Fildes.
“Gary Fildes left school at sixteen, got a trade like most of his mates and was soon married with four kids. His life seemed set. But he had a secret. Something he only practised late at night with a few like-minded friends. Then one day, middle age approaching alarmingly, he acted on his lifelong passion. He finally came out. As an astronomer. Today, Gary is the founder and lead astronomer of Kielder Observatory, one of the top ten stargazing sites in the world, which he also helped to build. An Astronomer’s Tale is Gary’s inspirational story: part memoir, part nature writing, part seasonal guide to the night sky. It is a book brimming with passion; and at a time when the world is captivated by space, it will leave you ready to get out there and explore the wonders of the skies for yourself.” (Adapted form Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover4th rock from the Sun : the story of Mars / Nicky Jenner.
“Mars, the red planet, is ingrained in our culture, from David Bowie’s extra-terrestrial spiders to Captain Scarlet to War of the Worlds. It has inspired hundreds of authors, scientists and science-fiction writers – but what is it about this particular planet that makes it so intriguing? Nicky Jenner’s 4th Rock from the Sun reviews Mars in its entirety – its nature, attributes, and impact on 3rd Rock-culture, its environmental science and geology, and its potential as a human colony – everything you need to know about the Red Planet (and quite a few things you don’t).” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAstrophysics for people in a hurry / Neil deGrasse Tyson.
“The essential universe, from our most celebrated and beloved astrophysicist. What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson. While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.” (Provided by publisher)

Syndetics book coverEssential guide to space : the definitive guide to exploring and understanding our solar system and the universe beyond / Paul Sutherland.
Philip’s Essential Guide to Space takes the reader on a beautifully illustrated and informative journey from the earliest beginnings of rockets and artificial satellites, through the first manned space missions, and on to the latest space probes venturing out into the farthest reaches of the Solar System and the observatories in space that are delving deeper into the origins of the Universe. Illustrated throughout with stunning photographs and colourful artworks.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStargazing / Radmila Topalovic and Tom Kerss.
“This is an introductory guide to the night sky, from the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Offering complete advice from the ground up, Stargazing is the perfect manual for beginners to astronomy, introducing the world of telescopes, planets, stars, dark skies and celestial maps. Discover how to tackle light pollution, how to stargaze with just your eyes, and what equipment is best for beginners. Bridging the gap between human curiosity and the need for scientific expertise, Stargazing allows a complete novice to understand our place in the cosmos and enjoy the beautiful and extraordinary wonders of the night sky.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMeteorite / Maria Golia.
“Worshipped in the past, now scrutinized with equal zeal by scientists, meteorites helped sculpt Earths features and have shaped our understanding of the planet’s origins. ‘Meteorite’ tells the long history of our engagement with these sky-born rocks, which are among the rarest things on earth. .. This richly illustrated, wide-ranging account surveys the place of meteoric phenomena in science, myth, art, literature and popular culture. Appealing to anyone interested in interplanetary space, in the uncanny and the marvelous, ‘Meteorite’ explores the ancient, lasting power of the metiorite to inspire and awe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ocean to ocean – New Science Books for May

Here area few little gems about the Oceans (and one not so much about the Oceans) that caught our fancy this month!

Syndetics book coverWild coast : a celebration of the places where land meets sea / Marianne Taylor.
“This book is a celebration of the wildlife and landscapes of Britain’s coastline. Sheer limestone crags resound with the voices of thousands of bickering seabirds; endless acres of estuarine mud are packed with squirming invertebrates that sustain thousands of wading birds. In between are the dazzling chalk outcrops of the south coast with glorious floral communities on the clifftop meadows, shingle beaches where terns and plovers hide their eggs among the stones, and dune systems bound together with marram grass and supporting a unique and fragile ecosystem. Beautifully illustrated with colour photographs and authoritative text, this book is a celebration of the wilder aspects of the UK’s coasts.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVoices in the ocean : a journey into the wild and haunting world of dolphins / Susan Casey.
“While swimming off the coast of Maui, Susan Casey was surrounded by a pod of spinner dolphins. It was a profoundly transporting experience, and it inspired her to embark on a two-year global adventure to explore the nature of these remarkable beings and their complex relationship to humanity. Casey ends her narrative on the island of Crete, where millennia-old frescoes and artwork document the great Minoan civilization, a culture which lived in harmony with dolphins, and whose example shows the way to a more enlightened coexistence with the natural world.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPristine seas : journeys to the ocean’s last wild places / Enric Sala ; foreword by Leonardo DiCaprio.
“National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala takes readers on an unforgettable journey to 10 places where the ocean is virtually untouched by man, offering a fascinating glimpse into our past and an inspiring vision for the future. Showcasing 10 of his designated pristine locations, this book will unveil the greatest discoveries from Sala and his team’s expeditions and research. It is a beautiful reminder of what we have to gain by protecting our seas.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeep life : the hunt for the hidden biology of Earth, Mars, and beyond / Tullis C. Onstott.
“Deep Life takes readers to uncharted regions deep beneath Earth’s crust in search of life in extreme environments and reveals how astonishing new discoveries by geomicrobiologists are helping the quest to find life in the solar system. Geoscientist Tullis Onstott provides an insider’s look at the pioneering fieldwork that is shining vital new light on Earth’s hidden biology–a thriving subterranean biosphere that scientists once thought to be impossible. This unforgettable book takes you to the absolute limits of life–the biotic fringe–where today’s scientists hope to discover the very origins of life itself.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeadly oceans / Nick Robertson-Brown and Caroline Robertson-Brown.
“The world’s oceans are filled with an array of venomous and toxic marine critters, not to mention a whole host of apex carnivores. Join ace divers and wildlife photographers Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown as they tour the world in search of the deadliest sea creatures.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn illustrated coastal year : the seashore uncovered season by season / Celia Lewis
“An amusing and informative anthology of coastal wildlife through the year.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOf orcas and men : what killer whales can teach us / David Neiwert.
“A revelatory history of orcas evaluates them as one of the planet’s most intelligent animals, challenging beliefs about their “killer” natures while citing the threats to their populations.” (Syndetics summary)

Recent Science Picks in October

These are just a few of the gems that we have had come into the library in recent times. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverBlack hole : how an idea abandoned by Newtonians, hated by Einstein, and gambled on by Hawking became loved / Marcia Bartusiak.
“For more than half a century, physicists and astronomers engaged in heated dispute over the possibility of black holes in the universe. The weirdly alien notion of a space-time abyss from which nothing escapes–not even light–seemed to confound all logic. This engrossing book tells the story of the fierce black hole debates and the contributions of Einstein and Hawking and other leading thinkers who completely altered our view of the universe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to bake Π : an edible exploration of the mathematics of mathematics / Eugenia Cheng.
“What is math? How exactly does it work? And what do three siblings trying to share a cake have to do with it? In How to Bake Pi, math professor Eugenia Cheng provides an accessible introduction to the logic and beauty of mathematics, powered, unexpectedly, by insights from the kitchen: we learn, for example, how the béchamel in a lasagna can be a lot like the number 5, and why making a good custard proves that math is easy but life is hard. At the heart of it all is Cheng’s work on category theory, a cutting-edge “mathematics of mathematics,” that is about figuring out how math works. So, what is math? Let’s look for the answer in the kitchen.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fascinating world of graph theory / Arthur Benjamin, Gary Chartrand, Ping Zhang.
The fascinating world of graph theory goes back several centuries and revolves around the study of graphs–mathematical structures showing relations between objects. With applications in biology, computer science, transportation science, and other areas, graph theory encompasses some of the most beautiful formulas in mathematics–and some of its most famous problems. Requiring readers to have a math background only up to high school algebra, this book explores the questions and puzzles that have been studied, and often solved, through graph theory. An eye-opening journey into the world of graphs, this book offers exciting problem-solving possibilities for mathematics and beyond.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat if Einstein was wrong? : asking the big questions about physics / editor, Brian Clegg ; foreword by Jim Al-Khalili.
“This title challenges a team of scholars to experiment with 50 topical science speculations, at a time when the hunt for the Higgs boson particle is threatening to undermine the foundations of our knowledge. Consider what time travel, warp speed, artificial gravity, or the loss of Schrodinger’s cat would mean to us, and en route accumulate the knowledge you need to debate the shape that our science might take in the future.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLiving with the stars : how the human body is connected to the life cycles of the Earth, the planets, and the stars / Karel Schrijver and Iris Schrijver.
Living with the Stars describes the many fascinating connections between the universe and the human body, which range from the makeup of DNA and human cells, growth and aging, to stellar evolution and the beginning of the universe. This popular science book should be of interest to anyone who wonders about the processes going on in our human bodies that connect us to our environment on Earth, to the Solar System, to the stars in our Galaxy, and even to the origin of the universe.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe developing genome : an introduction to behavioral epigenetics / David S. Moore.
“Why do we grow up to look, act, and feel as we do? Through most of the twentieth century, scientists and laypeople answered this question by referring to two factors alone: our experiences and our genes. But recent discoveries about how genes work have revealed a new way to understand the developmental origins of our characteristics. These discoveries have emerged from the new science of behavioral epigenetics–and just as the whole world has now heard of DNA, “epigenetics” will be a household word in the near future. What matters is what our genes do. And because research in behavioral epigenetics has shown that our experiences influence how our genes function, this work has changed how scientists think about nature, nurture, and human development. The Developing Genome is an introduction to this exciting new discipline.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from Huia PublishersGeothermal treasures : Māori living with heat and steam / contributing writers, Vanessa Bidois, Cherie Taylor and Robyn Bargh.
“Natural geothermal phenomena – geysers, hot springs and mud pools – have drawn people to the thermal region of New Zealand for years. Locals and tourists are captivated by the beauty and magic of bubbling mud, steam and hot water gushing from the earth. New Zealand’s world-class geothermal resource is a source of energy, a tourist attraction and a treasure of great historical, cultural, spiritual and economic importance for Maori. In this book, Maori traditional stories, understandings and history stand alongside geothermal science in an exploration of the thermal phenomena of the Volcanic Plateau.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe soul of an octopus : a surprising exploration into the wonder of consciousness / Sy Montgomery.
“In 2011 Sy Montgomery wrote a feature for Orion magazine entitled ‘Deep Intellect’ about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death. It went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think? By turns funny, entertaining, touching and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJourney to the centre of the Earth : the remarkable voyage of scientific discovery into the heart our world / David Whitehouse.
“Our planet appears tranquil from outer space. And yet the arcs of volcanoes, the earthquake zones and the auroral glow rippling above our heads are testimony to something remarkable happening inside … For thousands of years these phenomena were explained in legend and myth. Only in recent times has the brave new science of seismology emerged. One hundred and fifty years after the extraordinary, imaginative feat of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, David Whitehouse embarks on a voyage of scientific discovery into the heart of our world. Whitehouse’s enthralling journey vividly charts all we are able to understand about the mysteries of the deep Earth. His book encompasses the history of our planet and the latest findings about its inner core, allowing us to embark on an adventure that brings us closer to the enigma of our existence.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe walking whales : from land to water in eight million years / J.G.M. “Hans” Thewissen ; with illustrations by Jacqueline Dillard.
“Hans Thewissen, a leading researcher in the field of whale paleontology and anatomy, gives a sweeping first-person account of the discoveries that brought to light the early fossil record of whales. As evidenced in the record, whales evolved from herbivorous forest-dwelling ancestors that resembled tiny deer to carnivorous monsters stalking lakes and rivers and to serpentlike denizens of the coast. In his search for an understanding of how modern whales live their lives, Thewissen also journeys to Japan and Alaska to study whales and wild dolphins. Thewissen argues for approaching whale evolution with the most powerful tools we have and for combining all the fields of science in pursuit of knowledge.” (Syndetics summary)

The Cricket World Cup – 2015

ballFor only the second time in its short life the Cricket World Cup graces the shores of Australia and New Zealand. We’ve seen just over two weeks of competition, but already a lot of history has been made in this tournament. Considered to only be minnows, Ireland stunned all when they slew the giant-like figures of the West Indies. England and Pakistan have continued a poor run of form with both teams only managing a single win each from their three pool matches. And for the first time in over four years the Chappell-Haddle Trophey was up for grabs between New Zealand and Australia. In the nail-biting, down to the last wicket match, New Zealand were guided home by the ever reliable Kane Williamson to claim the trophy. Over the next few weeks the race for who will secure a Quarter Final spot will heat up, so expect the competition to remain fierce. The talent and mental state of this New Zealand side put them in what is arguably the best position they have been in during a Cricket World Cup.

Players to Watch

Tim Southee:
In New Zealand’s rout of England Southee claimed seven wickets along with the best One Day International (ODI) bowling figures for a New Zealander. As the leader of the New Zealand pace attack you can bet he is far from finished in this tournament. Expect plenty more spells of swing and maybe even a few lofty 6’s.

Ross Taylor:
The long-standing backbone of the New Zealand batting line-up has been relatively quiet so far in this World Cup, but when the occasion calls Taylor is always ready to answer. An excellent player of pace and spin alike, he is able to change the speed of a game from sedate to blistering in an instant. Expect a big score when the pressure is on.

Corey Anderson:
Since breaking the then world record for fastest ODI century Anderson has set about his cricket with a work-horse like ethos. A man who is as happy cleaning up the tail as he is chasing down a total, Anderson has proved over the past six months that he has the maturity required to close out a game for New Zealand. Expect the ball to pepper the boundaries and the ladies to swoon.

Records Broken:

First WC Double Century – Chris Gayle
First Double Century by a non-Indian player – Chris Gayle
Fastest 150 – AB de Villiers
Fastest 50 – Brendon McCullum
Most 6s in an Innings –Chris Gayle
Highest Partnership (any wicket) – 372 by Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels
Best figures for a NZ bowler – 7/33 Tim Southee, 3rd best in World Cup (WC record is Glen McGrath 7/10)

Recommended books

Syndetics book coverA complete history of World Cup cricket / Mark Browning and James Grapsas.
“A Complete History of Cricket’s World Cup is a timely addition to the great body of cricket publications. A complete history of every World Cup competition since 1975, this publication will tap into the enormous interest in the ODI game around the world. The book traces the history and development of cricket’s World Cup, from its first tentative steps to the mammoth and wonderful event it has become. Each and every game is covered, but it is a story that goes beyond the mere statistics of matches. The World Cup silenced all the doubters and has established its unchallenged pre-eminence as the premier cricket event over the past 40 years.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverCricket : a modern anthology / Jonathan Agnew.
“Jonathan “Aggers” Agnew, England’s voice of cricket, showcases some of the very best writings on the noble game, from the 1930s to the present day. In this wide-ranging and beautifully-produced anthology, Test Match Special’s Jonathan ‘Aggers’ Agnew, chooses a wide variety of writings on the sport that has consumed his life, from the 1932/33 Ashes (Bodyline) series right up to the present day. In a series of carefully considered, thematically organised reflections, he examines the importance of their contribution to our understanding and appreciation of cricket. With input from several eminent cricketing historians, including the librarian at Lord’s, the book contains a fascinating range of material, from renowned classics to books that have hardly seen the light of day in the United Kingdom (e.g. The Hanse Cronje Story by Garth King); from overseas fiction to modern day autobiographies (Marcus Trescothick, Simon Hughes, Mike Brearley etc.) that have attained classic status. With 75 seminal cricket images, original line drawings and a comprehensive index, this book is a must-have for any self-respecting cricket fan.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverMemorable moments in one day cricket : a compact history / compiled by Peter Murray.
“One Day Cricket has been produced in a unique style resembling a white cricket ball and will provide all cricket enthusiasts with detailed statistics and many memorable moments of one day cricket. The book features the great games, the great players and the great tournaments since the inception of one day cricket in 1962. The book covers cricket innovations such as coloured clothing, World Series Cricket, and the history of the one day cricket World Cups. The perfect Christmas gift for all cricket enthusiasts and a great memento of the game.” (Library catalogue)

From the web:

  1. Kane Williamson hits winning six as New Zealand defeat Australia by one wicket in Cricket World Cup thriller
  2. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 – Home page
  3. ESPN Cricinfo – World Cup 2015
  4. Stuff.co.nz – Cricket World Cup 2015
  5. 3 NEWS – Cricket World Cup 2015

Recent Science Picks

Here are a few of the new science books that I have come across in the last wee while.

Syndetics book coverThe edge of the sky : all you need to know about the all-there-is / Roberto Trotta.
“Explaining complex ideas in accessible language is the goal of every popular science writer, but Trotta, a theoretical cosmologist at Imperial College London, stretches that effort to creative extremes, telling the story of modern cosmology with only the “ten hundred” (aka 1,000) most common English words. At first glance, the deliberately simple language feels childish, more of a distraction than a valuable, creative approach. Airplanes are “flying cars,” planetary rovers like Curiosity are “space-cars,” a large telescope is a Big-Seer, and planets, with their wandering paths across the heavens, are Crazy Stars. But Trotta’s deft word choices quickly draw the reader into a surprisingly vivid alternate reality where student-persons (scientists) strive to pierce the mysteries of the All-There-Is: the universe.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverTuring : pioneer of the information age / B. Jack Copeland.
“Described by his mother as an “unsociable and dreamy child,” Turing found his calling in mathematics, applying his talents to WWII code-breaking intelligence (efforts “kept secret for almost sixty years”), but the breakthroughs that earned him a place in history were those in software-centric and stored-program computing, developments that gave rise to the fields of artificial intelligence and artificial life. Turing’s work was an exploration of the human mind via computers, though he theorized that there is nevertheless a “mysterious something” in the human mind that goes “beyond computability.” It is an increasingly relevant inquiry, as Turing’s inventions have spread from military-industrial applications into the everyday.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe quantum moment : how Planck, Bohr, Einstein, and Heisenberg taught us to love uncertainty / Robert P. Crease, Alfred Scharff Goldhaber.
“Histories of quantum theory are typically dense with complex, abstract ideas, but philosopher Crease and physicist Goldhaber offer a new twist, adding a fascinating look at the ways the mainstream world has embraced (though not always accurately!) the concepts of quantum mechanics. Pop culture took up the quantum cause with far more gusto than most physicists. When first proposed, quantum theory was deemed “ugly, weird, unpredictable,” and “quite distasteful.” Experimentalist Robert Milliken tried to kill the idea, but his lab results kept confirming it. While physicists struggled to fill in the missing bits of their incomplete theories, quirky quantum ideas became parts of a “sphinxian riddle” that captured the mainstream imagination and inspired everyone from cartoonists and sculptors to such writers as Ian Fleming and John Updike.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe science of Interstellar / Kip Thorne.
“Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne’s scientific insights many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar, describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverI think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that : selected writing / Ben Goldacre.
The very best journalism from one of Britain’s most admired and outspoken science writers, author of the bestselling Bad Science and Bad Pharma. In ‘Bad Science’, Ben Goldacre hilariously exposed the tricks that quacks and journalists use to distort science. In ‘Bad Pharma’, he put the $600 billion global pharmaceutical industry under the microscope. Now the pick of the journalism by one of our wittiiest, most indignant and most fearless commentators on the worlds of medicine and science is collected in one volume. (library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverOcean : the definitive visual guide / project editor, Rob Houston.
“From mangrove swamp to ocean floor, mollusc to manatee, the Japanese tsunami to Hurricane Sandy, unravel the mysteries of the sea. Marvel at the oceans’ power and importance to our planet – as the birthplace of life on Earth, a crucial element of our climate, and as a vital but increasingly fragile resource for mankind. You will discover every aspect, from the geology of the sea floor and the interaction between the ocean and atmosphere, to the extraordinary diversity of marine life. Includes an inspiring introduction by editor-in-chief Fabien Cousteau. Ocean captures both the beauty and scientific complexity of the ocean, making it perfect for families and students alike.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverPlanet of the bugs : evolution and the rise of insects / Scott Richard Shaw.
“Shaw, professor of entomology at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, takes an arthropodist stand against “human-centric bias that seeks to place our vertebrate ancestors in some kind of elevated position,” as he frames evolutionary history from the vantage point of insect development. The million distinct catalogued species that Shaw says “rule the planet” only constitute a subset of those that are documented in the fossil record or that have been discovered in the microniches of environments such as the tropical rainforest. Shaw looks at groups of species in terms of the structural features that developed to exploit emerging habitats and examines them in light of their parallel development with plant or animal species for which they might be prey, parasites, or pollinators.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverTen million aliens : a journey though the entire animal kingdom / Simon Barnes.
“Life on Planet Earth is not weirder than we imagine. It’s weirder than we are capable of imagining. We’re all part of the animal kingdom, appearing in what Darwin called “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful”. In this breathtakingly audacious book, Simon Barnes has brought us all together, seeking not what separates us but what unites us. He takes us white-water rafting through the entire animal kingdom in a book that brings in deep layers of arcane knowledge, the works of Darwin and James Joyce, Barnes’s own don’t-try-this-at-home adventures in the wild, David Attenborough and Sherlock Holmes. Ten Million Aliens opens your eyes to the real marvels of the planet we live on.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe amoeba in the room : lives of the microbes / Nicholas P. Money.
“Writing passionately about a subject he clearly loves, Money, professor of botany at Miami Univ. (Ohio), explains the critically important, but largely overlooked, roles microbial organisms play in the world. He points out, for example, the amazing role that marine diatoms play in moderating climate change: “By absorbing 20 billion tons of carbon per year-about one fifth of the global total-they are a greater refrigerant on this warming planet than tropical rainforests.” Money goes on to note that the number of individuals and species of microorganisms is staggering: the average gram of human feces contains 40 billion bacteria, a full 90% of the living matter in the oceans are microscopic, and “we have characterized only one millionth” of the viruses inhabiting the soil.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverH is for hawk / Helen Macdonald.
“In this elegant synthesis of memoir and literary sleuthing, an English academic finds that training a young goshawk helps her through her grief over the death of her father. With her three-year fellowship at the University of Cambridge nearly over, Macdonald, a trained falconer, rediscovers a favorite book of her childhood, T.H. White’s The Goshawk (1951), in which White, author of The Once and Future King, recounts his mostly failed but illuminating attempts at training a goshawk, one of the most magnificent and deadly raptors. Macdonald secures her own goshawk, which she names Mabel, and the fierce wildness of the young bird soothes her sense of being broken by her father’s untimely death. The book moves from White’s frustration at training his bird to Macdonald’s sure, deliberate efforts to get Mabel to fly to her.” (Publisher Weekly)

Science Feature – The Rosetta Space probe

Image: ESA/ATG medialab; Comet image: ESA/Rosetta/Navcam
Image: ESA/ATG medialab; Comet image: ESA/Rosetta/Navcam
At ~5am NZ time, 13/11/2014, the comet lander Philae landed on the nucleus (central part) of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. 7 hours earlier it had separated from its parent craft, the space probe Rosetta.

This is the first time a man-made craft has landed on a comet. Rosetta was launched in 2004, on a mission to rendezvous with a comet, send a lander to it, and escort the comet to observe any changes to the comet on its path around the sun.

On its travels to the comet, Rosetta has flown by Earth three times, Mars once, and an asteroid. It was also forced into a 31 month hibernation, to conserve energy. It awoke in January 2014 and continued its journey to the comet, culminating in the landing of Philae.

Though the landing can be considered successful, in that Philae made it down in one piece, the harpoons meant to hold it onto the comet did not fire upon landing, raising concerns about how stable it is, on the surface.

More information on the Rosetta mission can be found on the European Space Agency website.

Books on comets and asteroids:

Syndetics book coverThe solar system : a visual exploration of the planets, moons, and other heavenly bodies that orbit our sun / written by Marcus Chown.
Bestselling author Marcus Chown leads us on a grand tour through the incredible diversity of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and spacecraft that surround the Sun in our cosmic backyard. Illuminating his insightful and surprising text are a wealth of beautiful images and diagrams, printed in full colour, richly detailed and accurately based on real scientific data. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNear-Earth objects : finding them before they find us / Donald K. Yeomans.
“Humans may fret over earthquakes, nuclear meltdown, and heart attacks, but only collision with a near-Earth object has “the capacity to wipe out an entire civilization with a single blow.” Balancing the wonders of astronomy with the looming potential for an epic, planetwide disaster, Yeomans, a fellow and research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explores the origins of near-Earth objects-asteroids, comets, meteors, and meteoroids-and the threat they can pose to our planet. Though brief, Yeomans’s book is an accessible and far-ranging primer on the science of near-Earth objects.” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Books for the Kids:

Syndetics book coverComets, asteroids, and meteors / Stuart Atkinson.
“What are comets and asteroids like, and could we ever visit one? Taking the form of an imaginary trip, this book explores the science and history of these objects, looking at recent studies and possibilities for the future.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe lonely existence of asteroids and comets / by Mark Weakland ; illustrated by Carlos Aón.
“It can be tricky to keep all those chunks floating around in space comets, asteroids, meteors straight. And though these space rocks don’t have quite the brain-bendingly cool allure of other cosmic wowers like black holes and supernovae, they provide a solid thematic bedrock for a wide-ranging tour of the vastness of the universe in this graphic-format title in the Adventures in Science series.” (Adapted from Booklist)

Further online Rosetta reading:

— The Guardian – Why is the Rosetta landing so exciting: This article gives a good, basic outline of the mission, and why we should be excited!
— Stuff.co.nz – Philae landing: An article on the landing of Philae.
— Stuff.co.nz – Philae landing-Malfunctions made Philae bounce kilometre off comet: Outlines what didn’t quite work with the landing, and gives a history of man’s landings on other worlds.
— Wikipedia – Rosetta: Wikipedia’s article on Rosetta.
— Wikipedia – Philae: Wikipedia’s article on Philae.

Recent Science picks – October

Here are a few of the gems that have come across my desk in the last few weeks:

Syndetics book coverBasic math & pre-algebra workbook for dummies / by Mark Zegarelli.
“Whether you need to brush up on the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division or you’re ready to tackle algebraic expressions and equations, this handy workbook will demystify math so you can get back to having fun in math class. Properly use negative numbers, units, inequalities, exponents, square roots, and absolute value; round numbers and estimate answers; solve problems with fractions, decimals, and percentages; complete algebraic expressions and equations – Basic Math and Pre-Algebra Workbook For Dummies takes the guessing out of math and help you discover your problem solving potential.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe art and history of globes / Sylvia Sumira.
“From medieval globes made when much of the world was unexplored to the huge, decorative examples made for the princely courts of Renaissance Europe, this book celebrates the art and history of the globe, focusing on the 400 years when the printed globe – as navigational tool, scientific instrument and powerful status symbol – occupied an important place in the history of European exploration.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOrganic chemistry I for dummies / by Arthur Winter.
“The easy way to take the confusion out of organic chemistry Organic chemistry has a long-standing reputation as a difficult course. This fun, easy-to-understand guide explains the basic principles of organic chemistry in simple terms, providing insight into the language of organic chemists, the major classes of compounds, and top trouble spots. You’ll also get the nuts and bolts of tackling organic chemistry problems, from knowing where to start to spotting sneaky tricks that professors like to incorporate. Baffled by benzines? Confused by carboxylic acids? Here’s the help you need–in plain English!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow not to be wrong : the hidden maths of everyday life / Jordan Ellenberg.
“The maths we learn in school often seems like a mysterious and impenetrable set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, acclaimed mathematician Jordan Ellenberg shows us just how wrong this view is: in fact, maths touches everything we do, allowing us to see the hidden structures beneath the messy and chaotic surface of our daily lives. It’s a science of not being wrong, worked out through centuries of hard work and argument. Through supremely witty storytelling and wry insight, Ellenberg reveals the mathematician’s method of analyzing life, from the commonplace to the cosmic, showing us which numbers to trust, which ones to ignore, and when to change the equation entirely.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe quantum age : how the physics of the very small has transformed our lives / Brian Clegg.
“Quantum theory may be bizarre and inexplicable, but it’s been shown to account for as much as 30 percent of American GDP, as this brilliant new book by science writer extraordinaire Brian Clegg reveals. Clegg, who studied physics at Cambridge University and specializes in making the strangest aspects of the universe accessible to the general reader, explores the Quantum Age, the revolution led by our understanding of the very, very small. Incredible revelations along the way will thrill popular science fans and general readers alike.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShaping humanity : how science, art, and imagination help us understand our origins / John Gurche.
In this book, internationally renowned paleoartist John Gurche describes the extraordinary process by which he creates forensically accurate and hauntingly realistic representations of our ancient human ancestors. Inspired by a lifelong fascination with all things prehistoric, and gifted with a unique artistic vision, Gurche has studied fossil remains, comparative ape and human anatomy, and forensic reconstruction for over three decades. In Shaping Humanity… he reveals the debates and brainstorming that surround these often controversial depictions, and along the way he enriches our awareness of the various paths of human evolution and humanity’s stunning uniqueness in the history of life on Earth.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sixth extinction : an unnatural history / Elizabeth Kolbert.The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
“Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions of life on earth.Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.Elizabeth Kolbert combines brilliant field reporting, the history of ideas and the work of geologists, botanists and marine biologists to tell the gripping stories of a dozen species – including the Panamanian golden frog and the Sumatran rhino – some already gone, others at the point of vanishing.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMeteorology manual : the practical guide to the weather / Storm Dunlop.
“This extensively illustrated book will follow the familiar Haynes Manual style, with down-to-earth text, supported by colour diagrams and photographs, including, where appropriate, step-by-step sequences of cloud and weather system formations. There is increasing interest in learning about how weather systems are formed, what causes variations in the weather, and how to study and predict the movement of weather systems to enable weather forecasting, all which can be found in this book.” (Syndetics summary)

Recent Science Book Picks – August 2014

Here are a few of the new science books that have crept their way across my desk over the last month. Topics span mathematics, animal behaviours, the fish in the Wellington harbour, and more!

Syndetics book coverThis is improbable too : synchronized cows, speedy brain extractors, and more WTF research / Marc Abrahams.
Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, offers an addictive, wryly funny expose of the oddest, most imaginative, and just plain improbable research from around the globe. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe cartoon introduction to statistics / by Grady Klein and Alan Dabney, Ph. D.
“If one is looking for a nonthreatening introduction to the basic concepts of statistics, then this cartoon guide will serve admirably. Klein (cartoonist) and Dabney (Texas A&M) lead readers carefully through the ideas of graphical appearances, averages and spread, the central limit theorem, and inference with short descriptive captions, while the accompanying cartoons provide lighthearted background illustrations supporting the principles at hand. It is certainly fun seeing data gathering tied to truckloads of random rhinos, confidence intervals related to expressions of hatred between aliens on two neighboring planets, and hypothesis testing tied to the speed comparisons of spotted and striped flying pigs. However, accuracy is never sacrificed. In general, the book first illustrates each statistical concept by a humor-injected example, but ultimately brings the traditional vocabulary into play so that integrity is maintained.” (Adapted from CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverAtlas of the southern night sky [cartographic material] / Steve Massey, Steve Quirk.
If you ever needed a book to help you explore the wonderful night skies from down under, be it Australia, South America, South Africa or New Zealand, this is it! With hundreds of full colour star charts and maps of the Moon and planets of our Solar System, this book will ensure you get the most out of a pair of binoculars or a small telescope from suburban and dark country sky locations. Includes many new and updated images and objects to find in the night sky, several new images by southern amateur astronomers, updated star charts, updated planetary information, extended equipment and image processing information and an all-new Deep-Sky month planner. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOrigins of mathematical words : a comprehensive dictionary of Latin, Greek, and Arabic roots / Anthony Lo Bello.
“This fascinating work by Lo Bello (mathematics, Allegheny College) is an etymological dictionary of popular mathematical terms of Latin, Greek, and Arabic origin. The language of mathematics is an important instructional component in elementary and secondary schools, and in colleges and universities. Scholars have claimed that students may have difficulty reading, understanding, and discussing mathematical ideas if they are not familiar with the words used in mathematics. When students do not know the meaning of mathematical terms such as “perpendicular,” “derivative,” and “asymptote,” they have difficulties grasping the deeper structures of mathematical concepts. Teaching the origins of mathematical words helps bridge the gap between everyday language and mathematical language.” (Adapted from CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverArt and architecture of insects / David M. Phillips.
“Former virologist Phillips collects dynamic, creepy, and starkly beautiful electron micrographs of insects to bring out the gorgeous, detailed structures imperceptible to the naked eye. Phillips’s love of both entomology and photography comes through clearly in what he describes as a retirement project after ending his career as a biomedical researcher at New York City’s Population Council, and though the text rambles from topic to topic without obvious breaks, the material is still clear, informative, and surprisingly entertaining. Though most of the black and white photos are of entire insect bodies, chapters are divided by body part-eyes, antennae, wings, etc.-and focus largely on functional anatomy, detailing how body structures make each insect well-suited for its ecological role and biological needs.” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe secret language of animals : a guide to remarkable behavior / Janine M. Benyus ; illustrations by Juan Carlos Barberis ; foreword by Alexandra Horowitz.
“Humans have always pondered what makes us different from animals. After all, many species exhibit behaviors that resemble our own (or is it the other way around?). This informative volume covers 20 of the world’s most well-known animals, including African elephants, flamingos, giant pandas, Nile crocodiles, and polar bears. Divided by geographical regions (African Jungles, Plains, and Waterways ; Asian Forests ; Warm Oceans ; North America ; and The Poles), the chapters cover some of the basic habits and behaviors of a particular animal, such as elimination, self-grooming, and sleeping. Social behaviors, from friendly to threatening, are discussed, as are sexual and parental interactions. Numerous sidebars showcase vital stats on each animal, quirky facts, and trivia. Each chapter ends with a list of behaviors for readers to look for at the zoo or in the wild.” (Adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverWellington down under / Stephen Journée ; edited by Lorraine Olphert.
Stephen Journee, a skilled diver and photographer, gives a rare insight into the world below and brings to life all the fish varieties and other forms of marine life that have made the Wellington harbour and the surrounding coastal bays their home over the centuries. From the unbelievable colour of the sea sponges, sea squirts, jewel anemones, blue and red moki, triplefins, seahorses and jellyfish, to schools of jack mackerels and spotties, to dolphins and the occasional visit by pods of orcas – all feature between these covers. Stephen also takes the reader on a tour of famous shipwrecks of the 19th and 20th centuries, a look back in time and what remains from past tragedies; wharves and slipways from yester-year. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe melting world : a journey across America’s vanishing glaciers / Christopher White.
“Whenever global warming and rising sea levels are mentioned in the same breath, the presumed source of the extra water is usually the polar ice caps. Yet according to nature writer and frequent National Geographic contributor White, melting mountaintop snow and ice will have just as much of an impact on environmental decline as shrinking coastlines. In the late summer of 2008, White joined a team of government-funded ecologists, led by veteran earth scientist Dan Fagre, to chart the rapid disappearance of alpine ice in Montana’s Glacier National Park. Here White eloquently describes the scores of breathtaking views he enjoyed during his five seasons with Fagre, even as the team grappled with many disturbing findings. White’s account is both an urgent wake-up call to nations across the globe that share responsibility for climate change and a heartbreaking elegy to a vital component of Earth’s ecology that may soon be gone forever.” (Adapted from Booklist)

Recent Science Picks: June

Here a few of the  pulchritudinous new science books that have filtered their way over my desk in the last month.

Syndetics book coverLucky planet : why Earth is exceptional, and what that means for life in the Universe / David Waltham.
“Science tells us that life elsewhere in the Universe is increasingly likely to be discovered. But in fact the Earth may be a very unusual planet – perhaps the only one like it in the entire visible Universe. In this book, David Waltham asks why, and comes up with some surprising and unconventional answers.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverWhat is relativity? : an intuitive introduction to Einstein’s ideas, and why they matter / Jeffrey Bennett.
“*Starred Review* Doubtful in 1919 that even three scientists fully understood Einstein’s theory of relativity, the astrophysicist Arthur Eddington would marvel at this book. For in its relatively few pages, Bennett explains relativity to ordinary readers. Applying two simple principles the uniformity of natural law and the invariance of the speed of light readers conduct thought experiments that fuse time and space into a single concept. Armed with this concept, readers see why time slows down for space-travelers streaking across the cosmos, their spaceship growing more massive but shorter. Similarly, as they plunge into a black hole, doomed but enlightened readers can at least congratulate themselves on comprehending how extreme gravitation creates inescapably lethal tidal forces. Still, a perplexing mystery remains. Why does the singularity at the center of a black hole look irreconcilably different when viewed through quantum physics than it does when viewed through relativity? Undaunted, Bennett views this conundrum as the stimulus for scientific progress that will resolve it. Indeed, in the very fact that one man could formulate a theory as powerful as relativity, Bennett sees reason to hope that the entire human species can ultimately conquer stubborn nonscientific problems social, political, even metaphysical. An impressively accessible distillation of epoch-making science.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverPhysics in minutes / Giles Sparrow ; consultant, David W. Hughes.
“‘Physics in Minutes’ covers everything you need to know about physics, condensed into 200 key topics. Each idea is explained in clear, accessible language, building from the basics, such as mechanics, waves and particles, to more complex topics, including neutrinos, string theory and dark matter. Based on scientific research proving that the brain best absorbs information visually, illustrations accompany the text to aid quick comprehension and easy recollection. This convenient and compact reference book is ideal for anyone interested in how our world works.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverA little course in… astronomy / written by Robert Dinwiddie.
“Ever wanted to learn more about astronomy but don’t know where to begin? This book takes you from beginner to being able to identify stars, planets and other objects in space. It helps you study the Moon, build on your skills to find constellations and observe the solar system to see the Milky Way, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverAre we being watched? : the search for life in the cosmos / Paul Murdin.
“Is there life out there? The short answer is probably not. The shorter and more intriguing answer. maybe. In this beguiling and accessible book, the man responsible for finding the first black hole in our galaxy roams the universe looking for life-from Earth to Mars and beyond. Though he writes that his head is telling him one thing, astronomer Murdin (Secrets of the Universe) admits that his heart is telling him another, and he’s hopeful that life out there exists. One encouraging sign comes from the moon missions-bacteria normally found in the human mouth survived for over two years in Surveyor 3 equipment, which was later collected by astronauts aboard Apollo 12. But in order for life to flourish, Murdin explains, you need water, energy, and atmosphere. He goes on to explore possible combinations of these critical elements on neighboring planets, while also interweaving accounts of relevant discoveries and the scientists that made them, from Aristotle to Darwin to contemporary researchers, as well as the debates that continue to confound them. Murdin’s enthusiasm and fascination with the subject matter is palpable throughout, and he deftly manages to inform without boring knowledgeable readers or dumbing it down for lay folk. Photos, illus., and tables.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverPlants for a changing climate / Trevor Nottle.
“The global warming trend is expected to result in a warmer, drier climate. In this updated edition of Plants for Mediterranean Climate Gardens (2004), an Australian horticulturalist discusses the impact of climate change on gardening practices. Rather than lament what may be lost, Nottle touts expanding opportunities for growing everything from shade-making plants to more exotic drought tolerant ornamental and edible species and cultivars. The book includes color photographs of his favorites and recommended reading.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverScatter, adapt, and remember : how humans will survive a mass extinction / Annalee Newitz.
“”Earth has been many different planets with dramatically different climates and ecosystems,” says Newitz, journalist and founding editor of io9.com. Finding a common ground between climate change arguments Newitz found a thread of hope while researching mass extinctions: that life has survived at least six such events thus far. Without addressing the cause of the current shift, she cites data that indicates we may already be in the midst of another period of mass extinction. Guiding readers through the science of previous mass extinctions, Newitz summarizes the characteristics that enabled species to survive: variable diet and habitat, and ability to learn from the past. “The urge to survive, not just as individuals but as a society and an ecosystem, is built into us as deeply as greed and cynicism are.” She reviews theories of how Homo sapiens survived while Neanderthals did not, discusses how science may one day enable a disaster-proof city, and advocates geoengineering and research for eventual moves to other planets. “We’ll strike out into space…. And eventually we’ll evolve into beings suited to our new habitats among the stars.” Newitz voice is fervent and earnest, and despite her gloomy topic, she leaves readers with hope for a long future.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverLast ape standing : the seven-million-year story of how and why we survived / Chip Walter.
“‘Last Ape Standing’ is evocative science writing at its best – a witty, engaging and accessible story that explores the evolutionary events that molded us into the remarkably unique creatures we are; an investigation of why we do, feel, and think the things we do as a species, and as people – good and bad, ingenious and cunning, heroic and conflicted.” (Library Catalogue)

Climate Change and Ice Sheets

earthcooker1Since the Industrial Revolution, leading scientists believe that man has been responsible for releasing large amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The most well known of these gases is carbon dioxide. This is realeased (along with methane and carbon monoxide) during combustion/burning of fossil fuels.

Due to this ‘release’, greenhouse gas levels are the highest they have been since about 100 000 years ago, or two ice ages ago.

We can tell from trapped air bubbles in ice cores, taken from the ice sheets, in Antarctica and Greenland what the CO2 concentrations were going back roughly a million years (the most famous of these being the Vostok Ice Core). Scientists are able to extract these air bubbles, measure what the gas concentrations are, and work out the age of the bubble from the oxygen ratio in the surrounding ice.  (See the Two-Mile Time Machine book or Vostok Ice Core database paper below)

In the last week, Nasa have released a report saying that most of the Glaciers on the West Antarctic Ice sheet have retreated past the point of no return, and climate change is the culprit. The loss of these glaciers could lead to a collapse of a large portion of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which in turn could lead to a sea level rise of several metres (according to some reports). This could take a decade, it could take 1000 years, but scientists are now adamant that it is happening.

Website Articles

Here are the two articles from Nasa and Scientific American.

Books:

Here are some books on climate change and ice sheets:

Syndetics book coverIce, mice and men : the issues facing our far south / Geoff Simmons and Gareth Morgan with John McCrystal.
“Our far south is packed with history and wildlife, and is renowned for its breathtaking and photogenic beauty. But does our appreciation of the region run more than skin deep? Do Kiwis really understand how important the region is and what issues are facing it? In February 2012, Gareth Morgan trapped ten of New Zealand’s top experts on the region in a boat with 40 ordinary Kiwis for a month. Together with Geoff Simmons, he grilled them about the issues facing the region and this book is the result. What they found was startling. Our Far South – that part of New Zealand that extends from Stewart Island almost without interruption to the South Pole – harbours precious wildlife and is the engine room of the world’s oceans and climate. We are blessed to live in this unique part of the world, but we also have a huge responsibility to look after it. This book looks at the three ways we risk inflicting long-term, even permanent harm, on this precious and fragile region. The race to exploit resources has been underway for three centuries, and may be poised to escalate. Pressure from human activity may be threatening biodiversity and even the survival of species. And looming ever larger is the threat of climate change. Damage done to our far south will have profound implications, both for New Zealand and right across the globe.” (Cover)

Syndetics book coverThe two-mile time machine : ice cores, abrupt climate change, and our future / Richard B. Alley.
“Richard Alley, one of the world’s leading climate researchers, tells the fascinating history of global climate changes as revealed by reading the annual rings of ice from cores drilled in Greenland. In the 1990s he and his colleagues made headlines with the discovery that the last ice age came to an abrupt end over a period of only three years. Here Alley offers the first popular account of the wildly fluctuating climate that characterized most of prehistory–long deep freezes alternating briefly with mild conditions–and explains that we humans have experienced an unusually temperate climate. But, he warns, our comfortable environment could come to an end in a matter of years.” (Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverThe Goldilocks planet : the four billion year story of Earth’s climate / Jan Zalasiewicz & Mark Williams.
“The climate change debate has long been dominated by climatologists, politicians, and economists, but the contributions of geologists to an understanding of this issue have been underreported. In The Goldilocks Planet, geologists Zalasiewicz and Williams (both, Univ. of Leicester, UK) synthesize a vast body of work on paleoenvironmental reconstruction and paleoclimate through geologic time. They identify the greenhouse and icehouse episodes from the Archaean eon to the present and explain how these conditions waxed and waned. The authors concentrate on the warming and cooling episodes from the Pliocene period (prior to the Pleistocene glaciations) to date and use substantial and diverse recent research findings. The Earth is now thought to be headed to that Pliocene warming benchmark. Zalasiewicz and Williams provide simple explanations of the astronomical, geological, chemical, and geographic factors that weave into the natural greenhouse and icehouse episodes. This scholarly book is well written and documented, and the authors make good use of analogies to convey the scale and importance of the processes at work. Along the way, readers also learn about the scientists in many fields who have contributed to the development of these ideas.” (CHOICE)

Databases:

Here is an article from our Databases on the Vostok Ice Core