A few more books that have sidled their way across my desk.
The ultimate book of Saturday science : the very best backyard science experiments you can do yourself / Neil A. Downie.
“The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science is Neil Downie’s biggest and most astounding compendium yet of science experiments you can do in your own kitchen or backyard using common household items. It may be the only book that encourages hands-on science learning through the use of high-velocity, air-driven carrots.Downie, the undisputed maestro of Saturday science, here reveals important principles in physics, engineering, and chemistry through such marvels as the Helevator–a contraption that’s half helicopter, half elevator–and the Rocket Railroad, which pumps propellant up from its own track. The Riddle of the Sands demonstrates why some granular materials form steep cones when poured while others collapse in an avalanche. The Sunbeam Exploder creates a combustible delivery system out of sunlight, while the Red Hot Memory experiment shows you how to store data as heat. Want to learn to tell time using a knife and some butter? There’s a whole section devoted to exotic clocks and oscillators that teaches you how.The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science features more than seventy fun and astonishing experiments that range in difficulty from simple to more challenging. All of them are original, and all are guaranteed to work. Downie provides instructions for each one and explains the underlying science, and also presents experimental variations that readers will want to try”–Provided by publisher.
The day the world discovered the sun : an extraordinary story of scientific adventure and the race to track the transit of Venus / Mark Anderson.
“In 1769, in one of the earliest examples of “team science,” expeditions were organized to collect observational data of the transit of Venus-which occurs when the planet’s orbit crosses between the Sun and Earth-from several points on the globe. Spurred by the data from Venus’s 1761 transit, the natural philosophers of the day knew that the 1769 transit measurements were key to calculating with greater accuracy the distance between Earth and the Sun as well as to better determining longitude for ship navigation. Anderson (”Shakespeare” by Another Name) tells the stories of three research voyages: James Cook’s to Tahiti on the British Endeavour, French astronomer Jean-Baptiste Chappe d’Auteroche’s on La Concepcion to the Gulf of California, and the Hungarian Jesuit scientist Maximilian Hell’s to the Arctic Circle on the Urania. Their experiences are woven into an adventure tale informed by diary entries of the time. Astronomers today are preparing for a June 6, 2012, transit, which like the 18th-century transit is the second within a decade; the last was in 2004 and the next will be in 2117. VERDICT Recommended for casual students of history and astronomy.-Sara Rutter, Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)
Gravity’s engines : how bubble-blowing black holes rule galaxies, stars, and life in the cosmos / Caleb Scharf.
“We’ve long understood black holes to be the points at which the universe as we know it comes to an end. Often billions of times more massive than the Sun, they lurk in the inner sanctum of almost every galaxy of stars in the universe. They’re mysterious chasms so destructive and unforgiving that not even light can escape their deadly wrath. Recent research, however, has led to a cascade of new discoveries that have revealed an entirely different side to black holes. As the astrophysicist Caleb Scharf reveals in Gravity’s Engines, these chasms in space-time don’t just vacuum up everything that comes near them; they also spit out huge beams and clouds of matter. Black holes blow bubbles. With clarity and keen intellect, Scharf masterfully explains how these bubbles profoundly rearrange the cosmos around them. Engaging with our deepest questions about the universe, he takes us on an intimate journey through the endlessly colorful place we call our galaxy and reminds us that the Milky Way sits in a special place in the cosmic zoo–a “sweet spot” of properties. Is it coincidental that we find ourselves here at this place and time? Could there be a deeper connection between the nature of black holes and their role in the universe and the phenomenon of life? We are, after all, made of the stuff of stars”–Provided by publisher.
For the love of physics : from the end of the rainbow to the edge of time– a journey through the wonders of physics / Walter Lewin with Warren Goldstein.
“This largely autobiographical account reveals the author to be one who fell in love first with physics and then with teaching physics to students.” (Syndetics summary)
It’s not rocket science / Ben Miller.
Black holes. Global warming. The Hadron Collider. Ever had that sinking feeling that you really should know about these things, but somehow never quite grasped them? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Before Ben Miller was a comedian, he used to be a physicist, working towards a PhD in Novel Quantum Effects in Quasi-Zero-Dimensional Electron Systems. But then he woke up twenty years later and realised he didn’t know any of this stuff either. And so he set out on a mission. He worked out the ten most vital things in science – the things you really need to know. He talked to experts, he visited research labs, he went to see the Hadron Collider in action… And then he wrote this book.
The complete world of human evolution / Chris Stringer, Peter Andrews.
“Although the title of this book suggests that it is about human evolution, it is really a bit of a misnomer. In fact, Stringer and Andrews (both, Natural History Museum, London, UK) present a nice introductory discussion that encompasses the much broader picture of primate evolution in general–surveying some 30 million years of primate evolution and 5 million years of human evolution in the process. In this regard, the authors emphasize the progressive changes that have occurred in the anatomical, behavioral, and cultural development of modern humans, as well as in the evolutionary relatedness of humans and our nearest living relatives, the great apes. This new edition (1st ed., CH, Sep’05, 43-0409) presents the most up-to-date views on humanity’s ancestral lineage. In addition, the book briefly considers the many long-standing controversies that remain sources of contentious debate among today’s paleoanthropologists. The well-written book is largely accessible to general interest readers. The authors discuss select topics in short, two-to-four-page chapters; hence, only the most basic information is provided. The volume is nicely illustrated with a good selection of black-and-white and full-color photographs and drawings. Overall, a useful supplementary resource for undergraduate students taking introductory courses in anthropology and/or evolution. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers. D. A. Brass independent scholarCopyright American Library Association, used with permission.” (CHOICE)