Eavesdropping Underwater: an Interview with Giacomo Giorli!

Why do scientists eavesdrop on whales and dolphins? What can recordings of whale and dolphin sounds tell us? How do you even record the sound that these creatures make? And what’s it like to go to Antarctica?

Join us on Saturday, May 25 at Te Papa for a FREE talk by NIWA scientists Dr Giacomo Giorli and Olivia Price to hear the answers!

As part of the build-up to Eavesdropping Underwater, we interviewed Dr Giacomo Giorli about his role as a marine mammal acoustician. Dr Giorli’s work has taken him around the world, from studying dolphins in the Ligurian Sea to investigating predator-prey relationships in the waters of Hawaii. He has continued this work at NIWA, including involvement in a pioneering underwater sound project that recently gained national headlines.

What first drew you to oceanography?

Curiosity. I grew up close to the sea, and I was just curious about it.

What makes you most excited in your current job at NIWA?

The possibility to study many species in the Southern Ocean that we know almost nothing about, and the incredible amount of technology that we have at NIWA to conduct research.

You recently discovered clicks from unknown beaked whales in the Cook Strait. What would you like to do next to follow up this research?

That work was the result of a study conducted by all the researchers that authored the paper, and not just my “discovery”. It was a collaborative work. One important thing to note is that we did not discover unknown or new species of beaked whales (as many people always think). We recorded echolocation signals from beaked whales in Cook Strait that were not previously described in literature. We know the signals are from beaked whales, but we do not know what species of beaked whales are producing them. I guess a natural follow up to this research would be to identify the species that are using these sounds.

You’ve also studied the foraging behaviours of sperm whales and other toothed whales in Hawaii. What was it like completing this research, and what were the results?

That research is far from completed. In reality what I was studying in Hawaii was just the tip of the iceberg of deep sea predator-prey studies involving deep diving toothed whales. The toothed whale species studied in that research are species that dive very deep to search for food. They can dive deeper than 1 km. Because of this, it is essentially impossible to observe their behaviour directly. One can go in the African savanna and observe predator behaviour directly. Think about cheetahs hunting. We all are familiar with videos of cheetahs chasing impalas. What I want to point out is that when you have to deal with working in the deep ocean in general, making observations is incredibly challenging. We face the problem of observing how deep sea prey drives the distribution and behaviour of their predators.

In Hawaii, I tested new acoustic technology that would allow researchers to understand how prey availability and type could influence the behaviour of the deep diving predators (toothed whales). Data indicated that sperm whales, for example, foraged more where they had chances of finding larger prey, rather than where they had chances to find more prey. It seems counter-intuitive that they would rather go in a place where there is less potential prey. It suggests that these predators are somehow picky in choosing their prey.

As well as whales, your work also involves recording sounds from creatures as tiny as marine algae. What are the similarities and differences in working at these different scales?

The research I did on algae with my colleagues in the U.S. was a laboratory experiment. We did not go to sea. Algae do not have a sound generator like vocal cords. The sound is produced by oxygen bubbles that are expelled from the algal tissue during photosynthesis. However, the signal processing techniques we used to analyse the acoustic data are pretty much the same used for cetacean bio-acoustics research.

If money wasn’t a problem, what would be your ideal research project?

I guess the ideal research project in Marine Sciences is the one that ends well without failures of instrumentations and other things that can go wrong at sea.

For more insights into Dr Giorli’s work, join us at Eavesdropping Underwater: the Sounds of Whales and Dolphins on Saturday, May 25 at Te Papa!

Ten Women Who Changed Science and other intriguing works

This month we bring amazing books in popular science. From Ten Women Who Changed Science to quantum physics, the importance of the Sun in our lives and even a book about how ancient foods feed our microbiome. Come with us in this amazing read!


Ten women who changed science, and the world / Whitlock, Catherine
Ten Women Who Changed Science tells the moving stories of the physicists, biologists, chemists, astronomers and doctors who helped to shape our world with their extraordinary breakthroughs and inventions, and outlines their remarkable achievements. (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Beyond weird : why everything you thought you knew about quantum physics is… different / Ball, Philip
“An exhilarating tour of the contemporary quantum landscape, Beyond Weird is a book about what quantum physics really means-and what it doesn’t.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Chasing the sun : how the science of sunlight shapes our bodies and minds / Geddes, Linda
“Our ancestors constructed vast monuments like Stonehenge and Pyramids of Egypt and Central America to keep track of the sun and celebrate the annual cycle of death and rebirth. The returning sun heralds new beginnings. This book asks us to rethink the significance of the sun in our lives and to exploit our relationship to improve our health, sleep and productivity.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The cosmic mystery tour : a high-speed journey through space & time / Mee, Nicholas
“How did the universe begin? What are gravitational waves all about? Will we find life on other planets? The Cosmic Mystery Tour is a brilliant, entertaining introduction to the discoveries of physics and astronomy. Stories, explanations, and illustrations open up the exciting frontiers of science to any beginner.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The cradle of humanity : how the changing landscape of Africa made us so smart / Maslin, Mark A.
“What drove the evolution of humans, with our uniquely big brains? The Cradle of Humanity presents fascinating and controversial new research which suggests that the geological and climatic history of East Africa’s Rift Valley are at the heart of the answer. Astronomy, geology, climate, and landscape all had a part to play in making East Africa the cradle of humanity and allowing us to dominate the planet.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Cultured : how ancient foods feed our microbiome / Courage, Katherine Harmon
“A revealing look at the 300 trillion microorganisms that keep us healthy–and the foods they need to thrive. These days, probiotic yogurt and other “gut-friendly” foods line supermarket shelves. But what’s the best way to feed our all-important microbiome–and what is a microbiome, anyway? In this engaging and eye-opening book, science journalist Katherine Harmon Courage investigates these questions, presenting a deep dive into the ancient food traditions and the latest research for maintaining a healthy gut.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Exact thinking in demented times : the Vienna Circle and the epic quest for the foundations of science / Sigmund, Karl
Exact Thinking in Demented Times is the first book to tell the often outrageous, sometimes tragic but always riveting stories of the men who shaped present-day scientific thought. A dazzling group biography, this landmark book will make clear the debt we owe to those who dared to reinvent knowledge from the ground up. — from dust jacket.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The space oracle : a guide to your stars / Hollings, Ken
“A radical retelling of our relationship with the cosmos, reinventing the history of astronomy as a new form of astrological calendar. A carefully constructed text in sixty numbered sections, The Space Oracle reinvents the history of astronomy as a new form of astrological calendar.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Brief answers to the big questions

Brief Answers book cover

The popular science section is always fun to peruse — it’s interesting to see what topics are being thought about and considered, and whose legacy is being remembered and promoted.

Below we’ve included just a few of our picks of the new popular science books over the last few months. Our absolute favourite is a collection of answers to questions Stephen Hawking was asked across his long career as a public figure and popular science communicator — Brief answers to the big questions, but there’s lots more on a range of topics, including books on the history of the periodic table, the development of thinking about the atom, and how ancient DNA has changed our understanding of human history. Enjoy!

Brief answers to the big questions / Hawking, Stephen
“Professor Hawking was a brilliant theoretical physicist, an influential author and thinker, and a great popular communicator. Throughout his career he was asked questions by business leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs, academics and the general public on a broad range of subjects, from the origins of the universe to the future of the planet. Brief answers to the big questions brings together his thinking on the most timeless and the most-timely questions in science” (Catalogue)

Who we are and how we got here : ancient DNA and the new science of the human past / Reich, David
“David Reich describes how the revolution in the ability to sequence ancient DNA has changed our understanding of the deep human past. This book tells the emerging story of our often surprising ancestry – the extraordinary ancient migrations and mixtures of populations that have made us who we are. A groundbreaking book about how ancient DNA has profoundly changed our understanding of human history. Geneticists like David Reich have made astounding advances in the field of genomics, which is proving to be as important as archeology, linguistics, and written records as a means to understand our ancestry” (Catalogue)

Caves : exploring New Zealand’s subterranean wilderness / Thomas, Marcus
“New Zealanders as a collective share a deep connection with the outdoors. Our rivers, forests, and mountains are part of our national identity but our caves are less well-known and often misunderstood. Though nearly every corner of the country has been explored and mapped, exploration beneath our land is still in its infancy. This book takes readers on a journey into New Zealand’s longest and deepest caves. In Caves: Exploring New Zealand’s Subterranean Wilderness, Marcus and Neil share their passion for caving with well-researched narrative and dramatic photos – it’s as close as you’ll get to real caving without getting your socks wet” (Catalogue)

The book of why : the new science of cause and effect / Pearl, Judea
“Correlation does not imply causation.’ This mantra was invoked by scientists for decades in order to avoid taking positions as to whether one thing caused another, such as smoking and cancer and carbon dioxide and global warming. But today, that taboo is dead. The causal revolution, sparked by world-renowned computer scientist Judea Pearl and his colleagues, has cut through a century of confusion and placed cause and effect on a firm scientific basis. Now, Pearl and science journalist Dana Mackenzie explain causal thinking to general readers for the first time, showing how it allows us to explore the world that is and the worlds that could have been” (Catalogue)

Cracking the elements / Mileham, Rebecca
“Get back to basics with Cracking the Elements, and learn all about the building blocks of life as we know it. From the earliest-known elements to those named in 2016, this book takes a comprehensive look at the development of the periodic table – and reveals untold stories, unsung pioneers and plenty of fascinating science along the way. “(Catalogue)

Atom : the building block of everything / Challoner, Jack
“Until now, popular science has relegated the atom to a supporting role in defining the different chemical elements of the periodic table. This bold new title places its subject center stage, shining the spotlight directly onto the structure and properties of this tiniest amount of anything it is possible to identify. The book covers a huge range of topics, including the development of scientific thinking about the atom” (Catalogue)

Central Library Event: Raising Awareness on Waste Products – Issues and Solutions

Join Hannah Blumhardt and Liam Prince, the No-Waste Nomads behind The Rubbish Trip for an introduction to the practicalities and philosophy of waste reduction. Drawing on their own research and over three years of experience living zero waste, Hannah and Liam will guide you through the whys and the hows of life without a rubbish bin, including:

– What is the zero waste movement? Why is waste reduction important?
– How zero waste principles can revolutionise your perspectives on living and lifestyle, beyond your rubbish bin.
– Innovative examples of waste minimisation policy, practice and thinking from around the globe, and how these might inform community-level waste reduction.
– Tips for how you can reduce the rubbish in your life (including fun DIY household products, cosmetics, and other life hacks).

This event is free – everyone welcome. Free zero waste nibbles will be provided from 5:30pm, the talk will start at 5:45pm. This talk is part of The Rubbish Trip’s travelling project, taking the zero waste message around Aotearoa New Zealand.

Wednesday, 13 February – 5:30 to 7:45 pm at the Wellington Central Library
Ground Floor – Young Adult Area

Environmental Awareness: Books to Help Heal the World

Waste Not book cover

In preparation for the Zero Waste event presented by The Rubbish Trip crew, February 13th at Central Library, here are some titles to get you in an eco-mood. We hope they inspire you to live a more sustainable 2019!

Waste not: make a big difference by throwing away less / Erin Rhoads
“We are surrounded by stuff that we often use once and then throw away. But what to do about such a huge problem? Erin went from eating plastic-packaged takeaway while shopping online for fast fashion, to becoming one of Australia’s most popular eco-bloggers. Here she shares everything she’s learnt from her own funny, inspiring–and far-from-perfect–journey to living with less waste. Including genuinely accessible and easy tips, this book is perfect for both the novice and the eco-aware.” (Adapted from catalogue)

No impact man : the adventures of a guilty liberal who attempts to save the planet, and the discoveries he makes about himself and our way of life in the process / Colin Beavan
“Bill McKibben meets Bill Bryson in this seriously engaging look at one man’s decision to put his money where his mouth is and go off the grid for one year–while still living in New York City–to see if it’s possible to make no net impact on the environment. In other words, no trash, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no air-conditioning, no television. Colin Beavan hopes to explain to the rest of us how we can realistically live a more eco-effective’ and by turns more content life in an age of inconvenient truths.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Zero waste home : the ultimate guide to simplifying your life / Bea Johnson
“This is a guide to simplified, sustainable living from the author of the popular blog zerowastehome.blogspot.co.uk. Living sustainably should not mean forfeiting either comfort or style. In this book, Bea shows what green living looks like and offers a practical, step-by-step guide to diminishing our environmental footprints and improving our lives. It all comes down to the 5 Rs – refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The Earth and I / James Lovelock 
“This illustrated anthology is a guide book for being human in the 21st century. Conceived by James Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory, the book encourages holistic understanding. Much as Gaia theory considers our earth as an integrated whole of living systems, The Earth and I brings together an all-star lineup of contributors from across the scientific spectrum to offer wide understanding who and where we are.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Garbology : our dirty love affair with trash / Edward Humes
“In Garbology, Edward Humes investigates trash; what’s in it; how much we pay for it; how we manage to create so much of it; and how some families, communities, and even nations are finding a way back from waste to discover a new kind of prosperity. Garbology reveals not just what we throw away but who we are and where our society is headed.” (Adapted from catalogue)

 

We look forward to seeing you at the event. There will be delicious zero-waste nibbles and a bit of time to meander before the talk begins.

Science-ish: Recent Science picks

This month’s selections features all sorts of science – from Kiwi science discoveries to astrophotography to science in films and everything in between!

Syndetics book coverScientific sleuthing : chemical discoveries made in New Zealand / edited by Rebecca Hurrell, Andrew Muscroft-Taylor, Glyn Strange, Bryce Williamson.
“Scientific Sleuthing begins with New Zealanders solving different problems: the cause of toxic honey, uses for our unique flora and fauna, paints that can withstand our harsh and temperamental climate. It then unfolds into a world where globalisation has propelled New Zealand scientists to international standing: seeking treatments for cancer; developing new processes; discovering compounds and materials that perform in ways that earlier generations could not have imagined. In their chosen fields, New Zealand chemists lead the world.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAstronomy photographer of the year. Collection 6.
“All the winning and shortlisted images from the 2017 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, hosted by the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. The images are submitted in one of the following categories:Image Categories* Earth and Space* Our Solar System* Deep Space* Young Astronomy Photographer of the YearSpecial Prize Categories* Best Newcomer* People and Space* Robotic Scope Each image is accompanied by caption, photographer, location and technical details.ExhibitionEvery year the Royal Observatory, Greenwich hosts a free exhibition of the winners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, showcasing some incredible images of the sky.www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlowfish’s oceanopedia : 291 extraordinary things you didn’t know about the sea / Tom Hird.
“The seas of our planet cover more than seventy percent of the Earth, yet we know less about the ocean depths than the surface of the moon. Join marine biologist and fish-fanatic Tom ‘the Blowfish’ Hird as he lifts the lid on a treasure chest of fascinating facts, to reveal just what we do know about what lurks beneath the waves.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe zoomable universe : an epic tour through cosmic scale, from almost everything to nearly nothing / Caleb Scharf ; illustrations by Ron Miller ; and 5W Infographics.
“In The Zoomable Universe , the award-winning astrobiologist Caleb Scharf and the acclaimed artist Ron Miller take us on an epic tour through all known scales of reality, from the largest possible magnitude to the smallest. Drawing on cutting-edge science, they begin at the limits of the observable universe, a scale spanning 10^27 meters–about 93 billion light-years. And they end in the subatomic realm, at 10^-35 meters, where the fabric of space-time itself confounds all known rules of physics. In between are galaxies, stars and planets, oceans and continents, plants and animals, microorganisms, atoms, and much, much more. Stops along the way–all enlivened by Scharf’s sparkling prose and his original insights into the nature of our universe–include the brilliant core of the Milky Way, the surface of a rogue planet, the back of an elephant, and a sea of jostling quarks.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverScience(ish) : the peculiar science behind the movies / Rick Edwards, Dr Michael Brooks.
“Covering movies from 28 Days later to Ex Machina, this is a … ride through astrophysics, neuroscience, psychology, botany, artificial intelligence, evolution and plenty more subjects you’ve always wanted to grasp.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverA grain of sand / text and photography by Gary Greenberg.
“To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower. To hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.” – William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence” 1805
Here is the world viewed within a grain of sand, thanks to the stunning three-dimensional microphotography of Dr. Gary Greenberg. To some, all sand looks alike–countless grains in a vast expanse of beach. Look closer–much closer–and your view of sand will never be the same. Employing the fantastic microphotographic techniques that he developed, Greenberg invites readers to discover the strange and wonderful world that each grain of sand contains.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe botanical treasury : celebrating 40 of the world’s most fascinating plants through historical art and manuscripts / edited by Christopher Mills.
“For centuries, an eclectic group of plants have captivated the world and propelled explorers to extraordinary lengths to collect them. Now, The Botanical Treasury brings together centuries of botanical adventures and discoveries in one sumptuous collection.
This treasury features a full-color exploration of our most important and interesting plants; facsimiles of rarely seen letters, maps, and journals from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; and forty beautifully reproduced, frameable prints. Together they offer a fascinating look at the world of plant hunting and the cultivation of our knowledge about the plant world.
Every one of the featured plants is extraordinary in some way, be it for its appearance, biology, medicinal properties, or importance to economics, politics, or the arts. Equally extraordinary are the stories associated with the discovery of these plants, revealing the lengths to which collectors and growers would go to find them. The entries build a history of botany and paint a larger picture of the age of exploration.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Featured books: The history of science

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.
— Albert Einstein

Syndetics book coverThe age of wonder : how the Romantic generation discovered the beauty and terror of science / Richard Holmes.The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
“Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books, Richard Holmes’s dazzling portrait of the age of great scientific discovery is a groundbreaking achievement. The book opens with Joseph Banks, botanist on Captain Cook’s first Endeavour voyage, who stepped onto a Tahitian beach in 1769 fully expecting to have located Paradise. Back in Britain, the same Romantic revolution that had inspired Banks was spurring other great thinkers on to their own voyages of artistic and scientific discovery – astronomical, chemical, poetical, philosophical – that together made up the ‘age of wonder’. In this breathtaking group biography, Richard Holmes tells the stories of the period’s celebrated innovators and their great scientific discoveries: from telescopic sight to the miner’s lamp, and from the first balloon flight to African exploration.” (Goodreads review)

Syndetics book coverNewton and the counterfeiter : the unknown detective career of the world’s greatest scientist / Thomas Levenson.
“In 1695, Isaac Newton—already renowned as the greatest mind of his age—made a surprising career change. He left quiet Cambridge, where he had lived for thirty years and made his earth-shattering discoveries, and moved to London to take up the post of Warden of His Majesty’s Mint.Newton was preceded to the city by a genius of another kind, the budding criminal William Chaloner. Thanks to his preternatural skills as a counterfeiter, Chaloner was rapidly rising in London’s highly competitive underworld, at a time when organized law enforcement was all but unknown and money in the modern sense was just coming into being. Then he crossed paths with the formidable new warden. In the courts and streets of London—and amid the tremors of a world being transformed by the ideas Newton himself had set in motion—the two played out an epic game of cat and mouse.” (Goodreads review)

Syndetics book coverThe immortal life of Henrietta Lacks / Rebecca Skloot.The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
“Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells — taken without her knowledge in 1951 — became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew” (Goodreads review)

Syndetics book coverThe ghost map : the story of London’s most terrifying epidemic–and how it changed science, cities, and the modern world / Steven Johnson.
“From Steven Johnson, the dynamic thinker routinely compared to James Gleick, Dava Sobel, and Malcolm Gladwell, The Ghost Map is a riveting page-turner about a real-life historical hero, Dr. John Snow. It’s the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure — garbage removal, clean water, sewers — necessary to support its rapidly expanding population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a physician and a local curate are spurred to action-and ultimately solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time.” (Goodreads review)

Syndetics book coverThe philosophical breakfast club : four remarkable friends who transformed science and changed the world / Laura J. Snyder.
“The Philosophical Breakfast Club recounts the life and work of four men who met as students at Cambridge University: Charles Babbage, John Herschel, William Whewell, and Richard Jones. Recognizing that they shared a love of science (as well as good food and drink) they began to meet on Sunday mornings to talk about the state of science in Britain and the world at large. Inspired by the great 17th century scientific reformer and political figure Francis Bacon ‘another former student of Cambridge’ the Philosophical Breakfast Club plotted to bring about a new scientific revolution. And to a remarkable extent, they succeeded, even in ways they never intended.” (Goodreads review)

Syndetics book coverThe fossil hunter : dinosaurs, evolution, and the woman whose discoveries changed the world / Shelley Emling.The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World
“Mary Anning was only twelve years old when, in 1811, she discovered the first dinosaur skeleton — of an ichthyosaur — while fossil hunting on the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England. Until Mary’s incredible discovery, it was widely believed that animals did not become extinct. The child of a poor family, Mary became a fossil hunter, inspiring the tongue-twister, ‘She Sells Sea Shells by the Seashore’. She attracted the attention of fossil collectors and eventually the scientific world. Once news of the fossils reached the halls of academia, it became impossible to ignore the truth. Mary’s peculiar finds helped lay the groundwork for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, laid out in his On the Origin of Species. Darwin drew on Mary’s fossilized creatures as irrefutable evidence that life in the past was nothing like life in the present. A story worthy of Dickens, The Fossil Hunter chronicles the life of this young girl, with dirt under her fingernails and not a shilling to buy dinner, who became a world-renowned paleontologist.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIngenious pursuits : building the scientific revolution / Lisa Jardine.
“In this fascinating look at the European scientific advances of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, historian Lisa Jardine demonstrates that the pursuit of knowledge occurs not in isolation, but rather in the lively interplay and frequently cutthroat competition between creative minds. The great thinkers of that extraordinary age, including Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, and Christopher Wren, are shown in the context in which they lived and worked. We learn of the correspondences they kept with their equally passionate colleagues and come to understand the unique collaborative climate that fostered virtuoso discoveries in the areas of medicine, astronomy, mathematics, biology, chemistry, botany, geography, and engineering. Ingenious Pursuits brilliantly chronicles the true intellectual revolution that continues to shape our very understanding of ourselves, and of the world around us.” (Goodreads review)

Syndetics book coverGalileo’s daughter : a historical memoir of science, faith and love / Dava Sobel.
“Inspired by a long fascination with Galileo, and by the remarkable surviving letters of Galileo’s daughter, a cloistered nun, Dava Sobel has written a biography unlike any other of the man Albert Einstein called “the father of modern physics – indeed of modern science altogether.” Galileo’s Daughter also presents a stunning portrait of a person hitherto lost to history, described by her father as ‘a woman of exquisite mind, singular goodness, and most tenderly attached to me’. The son of a musician, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) tried at first to enter a monastery before engaging the skills that made him the foremost scientist of his day. Though he never left Italy, his inventions and discoveries were heralded around the world. Most sensationally, his telescopes allowed him to reveal a new reality in the heavens and to reinforce the astounding argument that the Earth moves around the Sun. For this belief, he was brought before the Holy Office of the Inquisition, accused of heresy, and forced to spend his last years under house arrest. Of Galileo’s three illegitimate children, the eldest best mirrored his own brilliance, industry, and sensibility, and by virtue of these qualities became his confidante.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRosalind Franklin : the dark lady of DNA / Brenda Maddox.
“In 1962, Maurice Wilkins, Francis Crick, and James Watson received the Nobel Prize, but it was Rosalind Franklin’s data and photographs of DNA that led to their discovery. Brenda Maddox tells a powerful story of a remarkably single-minded, forthright, and tempestuous young woman who, at the age of fifteen, decided she was going to be a scientist, but who was airbrushed out of the greatest scientific discovery of the twentieth century.” (Goodreads review)

Overdrive cover Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly (eBook)
“Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets and astronauts into space. Among these problem solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly these overlooked math whizzes had shots at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia, and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black West Computing group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War and complete domination of the heavens.” (Goodreads review)

Syndetics book coverLost history : the enduring legacy of Muslim scientists, thinkers, and artists / Michael Hamilton Morgan ; [foreword by King Abdullah II of Jordan].
“In an era when the relationship between Islam and the West seems mainly defined by mistrust and misunderstanding, we often forget that for centuries Muslim civilization was the envy of the world. […] Michael Hamilton Morgan reveals how early Muslim advancements in science and culture lay the cornerstones of the European Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and modern Western society. As he chronicles the Golden Ages of Islam, beginning in 570 a.d. with the birth of Muhammad, and resonating today, he introduces scholars like Ibn Al-Haytham, Ibn Sina, Al-Tusi, Al-Khwarizmi, and Omar Khayyam, towering figures who revolutionized the mathematics, astronomy, and medicine of their time and paved the way for Newton, Copernicus, and many others. And he reminds us that inspired leaders from Muhammad to Suleiman the Magnificent and beyond championed religious tolerance, encouraged intellectual inquiry, and sponsored artistic, architectural, and literary works that still dazzle us with their brilliance. Lost History finally affords pioneering leaders with the proper credit and respect they so richly deserve.” (Syndetics summary)

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)

8 Non-Fiction Health Books worth checking out in August

From analyzing the science and looking at the evidence to listening to memoirs and personal experiences we recommend that you check out this list of 8 non-fiction health books new to the collection!

Syndetics book coverDirt is good : the advantage of germs for your child’s developing immune system / Jack Gilbert, Ph.D., and Rob Knight, Ph.D. with Sandra Blakeslee.
“From two of the world’s top scientists and one of the world’s top science writers comes a Q&A-based guide to everything you need to know about kids & germs. “Is it OK for my child to eat dirt?” is just one of the many questions authors Jack Gilbert and Rob Knight are bombarded with every week. The internet is rife with speculation and misinformation about the risks and benefits of what most parents think of as simply germs. Dirt Is Good is a comprehensive, authoritative and accessible guide you’ve been searching for to answer these questions.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Harvard Medical School guide to yoga : 8 weeks to strength, awareness, and flexibility / by Marlynn Wei, MD, JD and James E. Groves, MD.
“While there are many yoga books available, most are based on an individual yogis expertise. This book relies on modern medical science to illustrate the benefits of yoga;and offers a practical, easy-to-implement plan. This 8-week program features step-by-step sequences that are easy to learn and practice at home with minimal equipment. The book also offers poses and sequences targeted to improve arthritis, cardiovascular health, type 2 diabetes, weight loss, sleep issues, chronic pain, neurological disorders, as well as depression, anxiety, stress, and more.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe boy in 7 billion : a true story of love, courage and hope / Callie Blackwell and Karen Hockney.
“True story,  Deryn Blackwell is a walking, talking miracle. At the age of 10, he was diagnosed with Leukaemia. Then 18 months later he developed another rare form of cancer called Langerhan’s cell syndrome. Only five other people in the world have it, he is the youngest of them all and the only person in the world known to be fighting it alongside another cancer, making him one in seven billion. This is the true story of the extraordinary lengths that a mother went to, to help her dying son.” (Adapted Syndetics Review)

Syndetics book coverLifted : 28 days to strengthen your body, focus your mind + elevate your spirit / Holly Rilinger with Myatt Murphy.
“There’s a secret to a successful fitness program: you won’t feel truly satisfied with your results until your mind and spirit are as strong as your body. That’s why Holly Rilinger created LIFTED , the first program to combine the mental and emotional benefits of meditation with the amazingly fast results of HIIT (high-intensity interval training ).  This 28-day program will show you how to focus on your goals and commit to daily movement and meditation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoys don’t cry / Tim Grayburn.
“Meet Tim. For nearly a decade he kept his depression secret. It made him feel so weak and shameful he thought it would destroy his whole life if anyone found out. And Tim is not alone. After finally opening up he realised that mental illness was affecting many men around the globe, and he knew that wasn’t ok. A brutally honest, wickedly warming and heart-breaking tale about what it really takes to be a ‘real man’, written by one who decided that he wanted to change the world by no longer being silent. This is Tim’s story, but it could be yours too.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wellness project : how I learned to do right by my body, without giving up my life / Phoebe Lapine
“After she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in her early twenties, Phoebe Lapine bounced among every fat diet and new health program on the bestseller list in her attempt to get well, only to experience mixed results and a life of deprivation that seemed unsustainable at best. The Wellness Project is the insightful and hilarious result of a 12 year exploration. Part memoir and part health and wellness primer, it’s a must-read not just for those suffering from autoimmune disease, but for anyone looking for simple ways to improve their health without sacrificing life’s pleasures.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy lovely wife : a memoir of madness and hope / Mark Lukach.
“With compassion and candour, in My Lovely Wife, Mark takes us through years with his wife and her battle with mental illnesses. A story of the fragility of the mind, and the tenacity of the human spirit, this is, above all, a love story that raises profound questions: How do we best care for the people we love? What and who do we live for? Breath-taking in its honesty, radiant with compassion, written with dazzling lyricism, this intensely personal odyssey offers much-needed insight into the caregiving side of mental illness, and affirms the power of love.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRigor mortis : how sloppy science creates worthless cures, crushes hope, and wastes billions / Richard Harris.
“Bad science doesn’t just hold back medical progress, it can sign the equivalent of a death sentence. Often, research institutes and academia emphasize publishing results over getting the right answers, incentivizing poor experimental design, improper methods, and sloppy statistics. In Rigor Mortis, award-winning science journalist Richard F. Harris reveals these urgent issues with vivid anecdotes, personal stories, and interviews with the nation’s top biomedical researchers. We need to fix our dysfunctional biomedical system-now.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Miracle cures, compulsion and talking bodies – New Health Books in June

This month, explore areas of medical science that are often overlooked, such as sense of taste and the science of flavour, and research into compulsive behaviour. Take a look at the groundbreaking research of a Nobel Prize Winner, and at the history of antibiotics and how it changed humanity’s relationship with nature. Books on menopause, anxiety and  postpartum depression are also showcased this month, so make sure you have a browse!

Syndetics book coverMiracle cure : the creation of antibiotics and the birth of modern medicine / William Rosen.
“As late as the 1930s, virtually no drug intended for sickness worked; doctors could set bones, deliver babies, and offer palliative care. That all changed in less than a generation with the discovery and development of a new category of medicine known as antibiotics. William Rosen captures this scientific revolution with all its false starts, lucky surprises, and eccentric characters. Timely, engrossing, and eye-opening, this is a must-read science narrative combining science, technology, politics, and economics to illuminate the reasons behind one of the most dramatic changes in humanity’s relationship with nature in history!” (Adapted Syndetics Review)

Syndetics book coverFlavor : the science of our most neglected sense / Bob Holmes.
“Can you describe how the flavor of halibut differs from that of red snapper? How the taste of a Fuji apple differs from a Spartan? For most of us, this is a difficult task: flavor remains a vague concept that we don’t know enough about to describe, or appreciate fully. Journey into the surprising science of the sense of flavor with veteran New Scientist correspondent Bob Holmes as he outlines narrative principles in neurobiology and modern food production to reveal the broad range of factors that can affect one’s appreciation of what we consume.” (Adapted Syndetics Review)

Syndetics book coverOn edge : a journey through anxiety / Andrea Petersen.
“A wry, sympathetic, bracingly honest account of living with anxiety, coupled with deep reportage on the science of anxiety disorders. Andrea Petersen was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of twenty, and began a journey that took her from psychiatrists’ offices to yoga retreats to the Appalachian Trail. Woven into Petersen’s personal story is a fascinating look at the biology of anxiety and the groundbreaking research that might point the way to new treatments.  Brave and empowering, this is essential reading for anyone who knows what it means to live on edge.” (Adapted Syndetics Review)

Syndetics book coverCan’t just stop : an investigation of compulsions / Sharon Begley
“Do you check your smartphone continuously for messages? Or perhaps do the weekly shop with military precision? Maybe you always ensure the cutlery is perfectly lined up on the table? Compulsion is something most of us have witnessed in daily life. Sharon Begley’s meticulously researched book is the first of its kind to examine the science behind both mild and extreme compulsive behaviour; using fascinating case studies to understand their deeper meaning and reveal the truth about human compulsion.” (Adapted Amazon Review)

Syndetics book coverThe telomere effect : a revolutionary approach to living younger, healthier, longer / Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD ; Elissa Epel, PhD.
“The New York Times bestselling book coauthored by the Nobel Prize winner Dr Elizabeth Blackburn who discovered telomerase and telomeres’ role in the aging process and health psychologist Dr Elissa Epel, who has done original research into how specific lifestyle and psychological habits can protect telomeres, slowing disease and improving life. The Telomere Effect explains this groundbreaking research and how we can make simple changes to keep our chromosomes and cells healthy, allowing us to stay disease-free longer and live more vital and meaningful lives.” (Adapted Syndetics Review)

Syndetics book coverSod sitting, get moving! : getting active in your 60s, 70s and beyond / Diana Moran and Muir Gray.
Sod Sitting, Get Moving! is the must-have guide to keeping fit and healthy in your sixties, seventies and beyond. As we get older too many of us spend our time sitting and not exercising. This is a call to arms, a bonfire of the slippers! With easy exercise ideas created by Green Goddess and health and fitness expert Diana Moran, with text from Sir Muir Gray, author of the bestselling Sod Seventy!, this is the perfect present for yourself, or for anybody turning sixty, seventy or eighty!” (Adapted Syndetics Review)

Syndetics book coverIf our bodies could talk : a guide to operating and maintaining a human body / James Hamblin, M.D
“In 2014, James Hamblin launched a series of videos for The Atlantic called “If Our Bodies Could Talk.” Now Hamblin explores the stories behind health questions that never seem to go away such as: Can I “boost” my immune system? Does caffeine make me live longer? Do we still not know if cell phones cause cancer? How much sleep do I actually need?  In considering these questions, he draws from his own medical training and from hundreds of interviews with distinguished scientists and medical practitioners.” (Adapted Syndetics Review)

Syndetics book coverThings that helped : essays / Jessica Friedmann.
“In this stunning collection, Jessica Friedmann navigates her journey through postpartum depression after the birth of her son. Drawing on critical theory, popular culture, and personal experience, her wide-ranging essays touch on class, race, gender, and sexuality, as well as motherhood, creativity, and mental illness. Occasionally confronting, but always powerfully moving and beautifully observed, Things That Helped charts Jessica’s return into the world: a slow and complex process of reassembling what depression fractured, and sometimes broke.”(Adapted Syndetics Review)

Syndetics book coverMenopause : the answers / Rosemary Leonard.
“Every woman experiences menopause, but with an abundance of advice on your body’s changes, how do you know what to believe? In this definitive guide, Dr Rosemary Leonard debunks some of the myths surrounding menopause, including why ‘perimenopause’ is a layman’s term, and the pros and cons of HRT. Covering everything from hot flushes, changes to your menstrual bleeding pattern, how to tackle sex after menopause, and advice on alternative remedies, this book is the comprehensive bible on how to navigate your body’s changes.” (Adapted Syndetics Review)