Recommended Science Books (for modern citizens)
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Biology, Genetics, Nature and Climate Change
We Are Electric (2023) Sally Adee
The New Science of Our Body's Electrome
Science journalist Sally Adee breaks open the field of bioelectricity—the electric currents that run through our bodies and
every living thing—its misunderstood history, and why new discoveries will lead to new ways around antibiotic resistance,
cleared arteries, and new ways to combat cancer.
You may be familiar with the idea of our body's biome: the bacterial fauna that populate our gut and can so profoundly affect
our health. In We Are Electric we cross into new scientific understanding: discovering your body's electrome.
Every cell in our bodies—bones, skin, nerves, muscle—has a voltage, like a tiny battery. It is the reason our brain can send
signals to the rest of our body, how we develop in the womb, and why our body knows to heal itself from injury. When
bioelectricity goes awry, illness, deformity, and cancer can result. But if we can control or correct this bioelectricity, the
implications for our health are remarkable: an undo switch for cancer that could flip malignant cells back into healthy ones;
the ability to regenerate cells, organs, even limbs; to slow aging and so much more. The next scientific frontier might be
decrypting the bioelectric code, much the way we did the genetic code.
Yet the field is still emerging from two centuries of skepticism and entanglement with medical quackery, all stemming from an
18th-century scientific war about the nature of electricity between Luigi Galvani (father of bioelectricity, famous for shocking
frogs) and Alessandro Volta (inventor of the battery).
In We Are Electric, award-winning science writer Sally Adee takes readers through the thrilling history of bioelectricity and
into the future: from the Victorian medical charlatans claiming to use electricity to cure everything from paralysis to
diarrhea, to the advances helped along by the giant axons of squids, and finally to the brain implants and electric drugs that
await us—and the moral implications therein.
The author worked as a writer for New Scientist magazine so we should not be surprised that the material in this book is well
referenced across 36 pages. I thought I new all about the early days of electricity but this book corrected my misconceptions
about the rivalry between Luigi Galvani
and Alessandro Volta
, or what Benjamin
was really trying to do with his kite (trying to store lightning in a Leyden Jar
). Anyway this book documents how the study of electricity drifted from biology (Galvani's frogs)
to physics (Volta's chemical battery) where it was trapped for more than a century until recently. This book is a must-read for
all science nerds.
The Evolution of Charles Darwin (2022) Diana Preston
highly recommended for all modern citizens
subtitled: The Epic Voyage of the Beagle That Forever Changed Our View of Life on Earth
and people wanting more details about Darwin, and the
times in which he lived.
From the Los Angeles Times Book Prize-winning historian, the colorful, dramatic story of Charles Darwin's journey on HMS Beagle
that inspired the revolutionary theories in his path-breaking books On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man
When twenty-two-year-old aspiring geologist Charles Darwin boarded HMS Beagle in 1831 with his microscopes and specimen
bottles--invited by ship's captain Robert FitzRoy who wanted a travel companion at least as much as a ship's naturalist -- he
hardly thought he was embarking on what would become the most important and epoch-changing voyage in scientific history.
Nonetheless, over the course of the five-year journey around the globe in often hard and hazardous conditions, Darwin would make
observations and gather samples that would form the basis of his revolutionary, evolutionary theories about the origin of
species and natural selection. Drawing on a rich range of revealing letters, diary entries, recollections of those who
encountered him, and Darwin's and FitzRoy's own accounts of what transpired, Diana Preston chronicles the epic voyage as it
unfolded, tracing Darwin's growth from untested young man to accomplished adventurer and natural scientist in his own right.
Darwin often left the ship to climb mountains or ride hundreds of miles across pampas and through rainforests in search of
further unique specimens. From the wilds of Patagonia to the Galapagos and other Atlantic and Pacific islands, as Preston
vibrantly relates, he collected and contrasted giant fossils and volcanic rocks, observed the Argentinian rhea, Falklands fox,
and Galapagos finch, through which he began to discern connections between deep past and present. Darwin never left Britain
again after his return in 1836, though his mind journeyed far and wide to develop the theories that were first revealed, after
great delay and with great trepidation, in 1859 with the publication of his epochal book On the Origin of Species. Offering a
unique portrait of one of history's most consequential figures, The Evolution of Charles Darwin is a vital contribution to our
understanding of life on Earth.
(1) this book reads like the 2003 movie "Master and Commander" except Fitzroy and Darwin replace the fictional characters Captain Jack Aubrey and
Dr Stephen Maturin
(2) most reader's will be surprised to learn that Darwin studied at Christ's College, Cambridge with the intention of becoming a
"country parson" (clergyman; a man of religion). Contrary to popular opinion (and lies published by some American churches), he
never once claimed to be an atheist.
(3) curious people may enjoy listening to this 4-part CBC radio program from 2009
which is also named The Evolution of Charles Darwin
Life as We Made It (2021) Beth Shapiro
How 50,000 Years of Human Innovation Refined - and Redefined -Nature
highly recommended for all modern citizens Everyone must read this book!
When the 2020 Nobel Prize was awarded to the inventors of CRISPR, the revolutionary gene-editing tool, it underlined our
amazing and apparently novel powers to alter nature. But as biologist Beth Shapiro argues in Life as We Made It, this phenomenon
isn’t new. Humans have been reshaping the world around us for ages, from early dogs to modern bacteria modified to pump out
insulin. Indeed, she claims, reshaping nature—resetting the course of evolution, ours and others’—is the essence of what our
If you are unable to read this book then at least listen to this free interview with the author on the CBC program Quirks & Quarks
titled: Why humans should embrace our role as meddlers of nature — so that we can do it better
The Code Breaker (2021) Walter Isaacson
subtitled: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race
highly recommended for all modern citizens
When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double
Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy
Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama
behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become
scientists, she decided she would. Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions,
she would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his
co-discovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that
will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical
miracles and moral questions. The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our
transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip,
computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those
who study genetic code. Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful
boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Hmmm…Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the
height or muscles or IQ of their kids? After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral
issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is a thrilling detective tale
that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species.
Darwin's Apostles (2019) by
David Orenstein and
highly recommended for all modern citizens
subtitled: The Men Who Fought to Have Evolution Accepted, Their Times, and How the Battle Continues
Review by Harriet Hall MD
At a time when denial of scientific evidence could lead to the end of our species and many others, here is an entertaining and
accessible book about the search for the origin of species, including ours.
In this very readable tome, the authors talk about the trips and research that Charles Darwin conducted that led him to his
theory and those that supported him as well as those that opposed him. Darwin was hesitant to share his theory and was hoping to
amass a large volume of research prior to doing so. However, Alfred Russel Wallace was undertaking studies that led to the same
conclusion. Wallace sent a letter to Darwin outlining his similar views. I did not know that the first public discussion of
evolution was at the Linnean Society of London in July 1858 and that it previewed papers by both Darwin and Wallace. I was
impressed that both gave each other credit for the idea although by the 20th century, Darwin was the one receiving the most
credit. This book outlines the other "apostles" that supported Darwin's theory and worked to defend it in public. Excellent
- The Debate That Ushered in Modernity
- Evolutionary Thought Before Darwin
- Darwin and Defining His Apostles
- Life and Times of Victorian England
- Darwin's Power for Reason and Knowledge
- Biographies of the Apostles, an Introduction
- Thomas Henry Huxley
- Joseph Dalton Hooker
- Asa Gray
- John William Draper
- Alfred Russel Wallace
- The Storm: Nineteenth Century Reaction to The Origin of Species
- The Calm: the Apostles Reach Out, React, and Advocate
- Drawing a Line: Darwin as Apical Freethought Ancestor
- The Storm Clouds Rise Again: Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Reaction to Natural Selection
- In Conclusion: Darwin, the Science of Evolution, and the Wider World
- Bibliography (14 pages of References)
- The one thing all these men have in common (except one who did not have any children) is this: they lost one or more
children to disease (Darwin lost three of ten). Perhaps this was a prerequisite to wondering if god was guiding daily life, or
- Over the previous 6-decades, well-meaning people from my family and church have only presented negative points of view
regarding Charles Darwin, evolution, and Darwin's 1858 book "On the Origin of Species". These people were not educated in any
of these areas so imagine my surprise when I learned that bishop Samuel Wilberforce had not read Darwin's book prior to the
debate with Thomas Huxley at Oxford University in 1860. This should resonate with modern life where uninformed and/or
uneducated, "science deniers" think themselves on equal footing with those who have had the good fortune to attend higher a
higher level of education. Once I started reading "Darwin's Apostles" I could not put it down.
- Many people today throw around colloquial terms like "atheist" and "agnostic" without any actual understanding of these
words. Many claim Darwin was an atheist without knowing that Darwin graduated from Christ's
College, Cambridge with an M.A. in Divinity. So even when it comes to religion, Darwin was more educated than most
religious people with an opinion.
- The minister of my church once said to me: "I can determine who has had formal religious education if they can properly
define the word agnostic" and this got me thinking. I can determine who has had formal scientific education if they can
properly define the words "hypothesis" and "theory"
- More than a few religious people have told me that we would be better off had Darwin not existed. They seem to be unaware of
the fact that that much work in the biological sciences began with Carl
Linnaeus or that Darwin sat on his idea for more than 20-years until he received a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace
outlining the same hypothesis (the works of both authors were simultaneously read into the public record of the Linnean
Society of 1858) so many people were thinking about this stuff at that time. The modern word to use here would be synchronicity.
- Titled: Darwin on God
National Geographic 2004-11 - Titled: Was Darwin Wrong? (Answer: No)
Novacene (2019) James Lovelock
highly recommended for all modern citizens
subtitled: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence
James Lovelock, creator of the Gaia hypothesis and the greatest environmental thinker of our time, has produced an astounding
new theory about future of life on Earth. He argues that the Anthropocene - the age in which humans acquired planetary-scale
technologies - is, after 300 years, coming to an end. A new age - the Novacene - has already begun. New beings will emerge from
existing artificial intelligence systems. They will think 10,000 times faster than we do and they will regard us as we now
regard plants - as desperately slow acting and thinking creatures. But this will not be the cruel, violent machine takeover of
the planet imagined by sci-fi writers and film-makers. These hyper-intelligent beings will be as dependent on the health of the
planet as we are. They will need the planetary cooling system of Gaia to defend them from the increasing heat of the sun as much
as we do. And Gaia depends on organic life. We will be partners in this project. It is crucial, Lovelock argues, that the
intelligence of Earth survives and prospers. He does not think there are intelligent aliens, so we are the only beings capable
of understanding the cosmos. Maybe, he speculates, the Novacene could even be the beginning of a process that will finally lead
to intelligence suffusing the entire cosmos. At the age 100, James Lovelock has produced the most important and compelling work
of his life.
NSR comments: This well written and easily digestible book may be as pivotal for humanity as Darwin's
"On the Origin of Species" but there is a problem: it was written by a nerd (Lovelock) for nerds (scientists, engineers,
technicians, computer programmers, students). Non-nerds (especially those people whose primary interest is in sports, finance,
politics, religion and war) will be tone-deaf to the topics within. But all is not lost. Nerds created the imperfect
internet-based world in which everyone now lives so it is up to the nerds to educate everyone else. It is impossible to Make
America Great Again in the context espoused by politicians since it would mean going back to a previous era (did not work for
Quote from page 116:
It is horrific that our leaders, almost all of whom are wholly ignorant of science and
engineering, are encouraging the development of fill-this-blank
. Their ignorance is compounded by an
inability to reject the advice of lobbyists whose sole aim seems to be to profit from whatever can be made to seem an
The End of Ice (2019) Dahr Jamail
subtitled: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption
This is a shocking book about the reality of climate change (things are much worse than you could imagine). I suggest you buy this
book but begin by watching this Chris Hedges interview:
Gene Machine (2018) Venki Ramakrishnan
highly recommended for anyone intrested in molecular biology or those considering a life in
subtitled: The Race to Decipher the Secrets of the Ribosome
With a forward by CRISPR co-inventor Jennifer Doudna
"An enchanting and invigorating work, Gene Machine casts a many-angled light on the world of science, the nature of discovery,
and on one of the deepest mysteries of twentieth-century biology. Ramakrishnan, one of the key players in deciphering the
molecular basis of protein translation, gives us both a rollicking scientific story and a profoundly human tale. In the
tradition of The Double Helix, Gene Machine does not hesitate to highlight the process by which science advances: moving through
fits and starts, often underscored by deep rivalries and contests, occasionally pitching towards error and misconception, but
ultimately advancing towards profound and powerful truths. An outsider to the world of ribosome biology--an Indian immigrant, a
physicist by training--Ramakrishnan retains his 'outsider's' vision throughout the text, reminding us about the corrosive nature
of scientific prizes, and the intensity of competition that drives researchers (both ideas, I suspect, will have a munificent
effect on our current scientific culture). Ramakrishnan's writing is so honest, lucid and engaging that I could
not put this book down until I had read to the very end."―Siddhartha Mukherjee
"The ribosome is the central processor that decodes the universal machine-code of life, and the history of its unraveling is on a
par with that of DNA itself. You could think of Venki Ramakrishnan as a sort of 'nice Jim Watson.' His meticulously detailed and
generous memoir has the same disarming frankness as The Double Helix. His personal honesty about the competitive ambition that
drove him is tempered by his deeply thoughtful reflections on the potentially corrupting effect of big prizes. Gene Machine will
be read and re-read as an important document in the history of science."―Richard Dawkins
Rigor Mortis (2017) Richard Harris
highly recommended for science students and budding researchers
subtitled: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billons
I bought this book just after hearing an interview with the author on the NPR radio program, Science Friday
(episode: 2017-04-21) which you can still listen to here (
Do not let the subtitle deceive you, this is not a book advocating increases or decreases in government funding. Rather, it
advocates experimental researchers doing a better job with the money they already have. This was the first time I heard the phrase
"Eroom's Law" which is derived from Moore's Law with the first word spelt backwards. According to interviews by the author, if
changes are not forthcoming then humanity can expect no new pharmaceutical treatments after the year 2040.
Skeptic Magazine (volume 20 number 3)
This very thought provoking issue is dedicated to Alfred Russel
Wallace. It contains lots of information about:
- scientific life in Victorian England (Royal Society, Linnean Society, Geological Society, etc.)
- how Wallace interacted with people like Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, and Charles Lyle to only name three of many
- the spiritualism & mysticism craze in both England (Arthur Conan Doyle was a supporter) and America
- the misguided souls who support the flat-earth view (reminds me of today's climate deniers)
The Invention of Nature (2015) Andrea Wulf
Excerpt from page 3: Described by his contemporaries as the most famous man in the world after Napoleon, Alexander
Humboldt was one of the most captivating and inspiring men of his time. Born in 1769 into a wealthy Prussian aristocratic
family, he discarded a life of privilege to discover for himself how the world worked. As a young man he set out on a five year
exploration to Latin America, risking his life many times and returning with a new sense of the world. It was a journey that
shaped his life and thinking, and that made him legendary across the globe. He lived in cities such as Paris and Berlin, but was
equally at home on the most remote branches of the Orinoco River or in the Kazakh Steppe at Russia's Mongolian border. During
much of his long life, he was the nexus of the scientific world, writing some 50,000 letters and receiving at least double that
number. Knowledge, Humboldt believed, had to be shared, exchanged and made available to everybody.
Excerpt from page 4: Charles Darwin wrote that 'nothing ever
stimulated my zeal so much as reading Humboldt's Personal Narrative' saying that he would not have boarded the Beagle, nor
conceived of the Origin of Species, without Humboldt.
we know from his diaries that Darwin continued to read Humboldt during his own five year journey
aboard the Beagle
Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (2014) Bill Nye
This book is much more than a defense of Evolution. It's a well-written and entertaining showcase of what makes nature so
fascinating. I recommend it for creationists, for those who understand evolution, and for those who simply enjoy a good read.
Other reviewers said:
- "With his charming, breezy, narrative style, Bill empowers the reader to see the natural world as it is, not as some would
wish it to be. He does it right. And, as I expected, he does it best."—Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D, host of COSMOS
- "This gracefully written book provides a tour through not just the big ideas of evolution, but why evolution is such a
captivating idea scientifically, philosophically, and emotionally. Written from the heart—but science always comes from the
heart with Bill Nye."—Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D., author of Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction
- "Bill Nye has penned one of the clearest and most moving explanations of that process since Darwin's On the Origin of
Species. With clarity and passion, Nye brings evolutionary theory to life."—Michael Shermer, Ph.D., author of Why
Darwin Matters and The Moral Arc
- "Bill Nye has written a wonderfully clear, readable, and enjoyable explanation of what evolution is and is not. In his
casual, humorous style, he…describes the gigantic mountain of evidence that demonstrates that evolution not only happened in
the past, but is happening in real time."—Donald Prothero, Ph.D., author of Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It
- "Following right in his mentor Carl Sagan's footsteps, this call to action and awareness of the lingering ‘debate’ over the
reality of Evolution will further cement Bill Nye's place as our time's premier spokesman for science and reason."—Dr. Jim
Bell, president of The Planetary Society and author of The Interstellar Age
Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (2013) Donald R. Prothero
highly recommended for citizens. Should be required reading by all first-year secondary school
The battles over evolution, climate change, childhood vaccinations, and the causes of AIDS, alternative medicine, oil
shortages, population growth, and the place of science in our country—all are reaching a fevered pitch. Many people and
institutions have exerted enormous efforts to misrepresent or flatly deny demonstrable scientific reality to protect their
nonscientific ideology, their power, or their bottom line. To shed light on this darkness, Donald R. Prothero explains the
scientific process and why society has come to rely on science not only to provide a better life but also to reach verifiable
truths no other method can obtain. He describes how major scientific ideas that are accepted by the entire scientific community
(evolution, anthropogenic global warming, vaccination, the HIV cause of AIDS, and others) have been attacked with totally
unscientific arguments and methods. Prothero argues that science deniers pose a serious threat to society, as their attempts to
subvert the truth have resulted in widespread scientific ignorance, increased risk of global catastrophes, and deaths due to the
spread of diseases that could have been prevented.
- quote from page 13: The next time you hear a modern Luddite -- from a creationist who rejects all
modern astronomy, biology, and geology, to the faith healer or homeopath or other quack who rejects modern medicine --
just ask yourself one thing: Would you want to go back to the world of the late eighteenth century with its high death rates
and short life expectancy, suffer exposure to many deadly diseases, and live in a world with limited education and poverty?
This is the choice they are offering you -- even as those same creationists and other Luddites benefit from modern medicine,
and even exploit modern technologies like the internet to push their antiscientific causes. As Michael Shermer put it, science
and critical thinking are "the most precious things we have".
- paraphrased from page 34: just a few individuals (Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, William Nierenberg, Robert
Jastrow, Edward Teller, and a handful more) were at the front of attempts to deny reality (denying the science of: the dangers
of smoking tobacco, secondhand smoke, nuclear winter, ozone hole, DDT, acid rain, anthropogenic global warming). Most of these
men gained their reputations as nuclear physicists, and some actually built the first atomic bomb. After the Cold War ended
there was no more Commie bogeyman to fear, they retained the Cold War mentality that anything threatening capitalism and free
enterprise is bad -- even if the scientific case for it is overwhelming. Never mind that a
background in nuclear physics gives one absolutely no qualifications whatsoever to evaluate studies in medicine or climate
science. These few men have done more to harm the country and stunt the dissemination of scientific research than any
Soviet threat ever could have accomplished.
- quote from page 208: Yet this scientific rejection of astrology has had relatively little impact on
the general public, thanks to the general scientific illiteracy of the American people.
- page 109 includes a list of the top 34 countries by GDP but orders the list by scientific
comprehension of their citizens:
- The United States of America
- Chapter Titles:
- Reality Check
- Science, Our Candle in the Darkness
- Betrayers of the Truth: Selling Out Science
- Making the Environment the Enemy: Acid Rain, the Ozone Hole, and the Demonization of Rachel Carson
- Hot Enough for You? The Heated Debate over a Warming Planet
- Gimme That Old Time Religion: Creationism, Intelligent Design, and the Denial of Humanity's Place in Nature
- Jenny's Body Count: Playing [vaccine] Russian Roulette with Our Children
- Victims of Modern Witch Doctors: AIDS Denialism
- If it Quacks like a Quack: Snake-Oil Con Artists in an Era of Medical Science
- What's Your Sign? The Ancient Pseudoscience of Astrology
- Down the Slope of Hubbert's Curve: The End of Cheap Oil and Natural Resources
- Far from the Madding Crowd: Human Overpopulation and Its Consequences
- The Rejection of Reality: How the Denial of Science Threatens Us All
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (2012) Michael Mann
highly recommended for all citizens
The ongoing assault on climate science in the United States has never been more aggressive, more blatant, or more widely
publicized than in the case of the Hockey Stick graph -- a clear and compelling visual presentation of scientific data, put
together by Michael E. Mann and his colleagues, demonstrating that global temperatures have risen in conjunction with the
increase in industrialization and the use of fossil fuels. Here was an easy-to-understand graph that, in a glance, posed a
threat to major corporate energy interests and those who do their political bidding. The stakes were simply too high to ignore
the Hockey Stick -- and so began a relentless attack on a body of science and on the investigators whose work formed its
The Hockey Stick achieved prominence in a 2001 UN report on climate change and quickly became a central icon in the "climate
wars." The real issue has never been the graph's data but rather its implied threat to those who oppose governmental regulation
and other restraints to protect the environment and planet. Mann, lead author of the original paper in which the Hockey Stick
first appeared, shares the story of the science and politics behind this controversy. He reveals key figures in the oil and
energy industries and the media front groups who do their bidding in sometimes slick, sometimes bare-knuckled ways. Mann
concludes with the real story of the 2009 "Climategate" scandal, in which climate scientists' emails were hacked. This is
essential reading for all who care about our planet's health an dour own well-being.
- 377 pages, 106 of them are cross references (I checked many of them - NSR)
- quote from page 254: I can continue to live with the cynical assaults against my integrity and
character by the corporate-funded denial machine. What I could not live with is knowing that I stood by silently as my fellow
human beings, confused and misled by industry-funded propaganda, were unwittingly lead down a tragic path that would mortgage
future generations. How could we explain to our grandchildren that we saw the threat coming, but did not do all we could to
ensure that humankind took the necessary precautions.
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True (2011) Richard Dawkins
- Magic takes many forms:
- Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method
- Stage magic involves everything from card tricks to rabbits in hats to communicating with the dead
- Poetic magic involves the awe and wonder you experience when observing stars in the night sky
- Packed with clever thought experiments, dazzling illustrations and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a
stunningly wide range of natural phenomena. What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? Why do the continents look like
disconnected pieces of a puzzle? What causes tsunamis? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first
man, or woman? This is a page-turning, graphic detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes
the reader to think like a scientist as well.
- Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist and one of science education’s most passionate advocates,
has spent his career elucidating the wonders of science for adult readers. But now, in a dramatic departure, he has teamed up
with acclaimed artist Dave McKean and used his unrivaled explanatory powers to share the magic of science with readers of all
ages. This is a treasure trove for anyone who has ever wondered how the world works. Dawkins and McKean have created an
illustrated guide to the secrets of our world—and the universe beyond—that will entertain and inform for years to come.
My parents were conservative Lutherans who refused to accept evolution primarily due to the fact that they possessed no scientific
education whatsoever, and their church told them not to (you do not need to give up your belief in God to accept the evidence of
Darwin's Theory). While reading this unexpected gem, I kept thinking "I wish my parents were still alive so they could read this
lucid explanation of evolution (in chapter one)". Although not a book targeted toward young adults, I would have no problem
gifting this book to pre-teenagers about to enter secondary school. What an unexpected surprise.
The Inquisition of Climate Science (2011) James Lawrence Powel
- Climate deniers are under the impression they are some sort of modern day Galileo but they've got it backwards: Their views
represent the traditional view of the Vatican
- Modern science is under the greatest and most successful attack in recent history. An industry of denial, abetted by news
media and "infotainment" broadcasters more interested in selling controversy than presenting facts, has duped half the
American public into rejecting the facts of climate science -- an overwhelming body of rigorously vetted scientific evidence
showing that human-caused, carbon-based emissions are linked to warming the Earth. The industry of climate science denial is
succeeding: public acceptance has declined even as the scientific evidence for global warming has increased. It is vital that
the public understand how anti-science ideologues, pseudo-scientists, and non-scientists have bamboozled them. We cannot
afford to get global warming wrong -- yet we are, thanks to deniers and their methods.
- The Inquisition of Climate Science is the first book to comprehensively take on the climate science denial movement and the
deniers themselves, exposing their lack of credentials, their extensive industry funding, and their failure to provide any
alternative theory to explain the observed evidence of warming. In this book, readers meet the most prominent deniers while
dissecting their credentials, arguments, and lack of objectivity. James Lawrence Powell shows that the deniers use a wide
variety of deceptive rhetorical techniques, many stretching back to ancient Greece. Carefully researched, fully referenced,
and compellingly written, his book clearly reveals that the evidence of global warming is real and that an industry of denial
has deceived the American public, putting them and their grandchildren at risk.
- quote from page 46: By now, the conservative administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan had begun to
worry that action to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions could hurt the American economy. [snip] Growing alarm over
carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels might lead to a Montreal-like protocol to reduce carbon emissions,
allegedly crippling the economy -- and on Regan's pro-business watch. To have scientists meeting where they liked, saying
whatever they pleased, issuing disquieting statements, could force the government to respond. The solution was to create a
new, international scientific body and endure that government representatives vetted it reports. The U.S.
signed off on a proposal from the United Nations to create an overarching climate advisory committee called the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mandated to "provide the decision makers and others interested in climate change
with an objective source of information". Governments would appoint their own scientists to the panel. Diplomats and
government bureaucrats form scores of nations would oversee the scientists' work and edit their reports. The structure
guaranteed that the IPCC reports would neither appear too rapidly nor overdramatize the extent of global warming. From
the get-go, by design, the IPCC was a conservative organization predestined for understatement.
- quote from page 136: Oceans, land plants and animals emit about 780 gigatons of carbon annually, and absorb nearly all of
it. Human activities emit 29 gigatons of carbon per year but absorb almost none of it (so it ends up in the atmosphere).
- quote from page 175: In the 1920s, to increase crop production, Soviet leaders forced farmers to give up their land to large
collective farms. The farmers grew restive, production fell, and in the "breadbasket of Europe," millions starved. Then came
the Rasputin of Soviet science, Trofim Denisovitch Lysenko, who claimed he could make wheat flower earlier, putting more
farmers to work and increasing grain production. That was biologically possible but Lysenko went further to claim that the
offspring of "vernalized" wheat would also flower earlier, as though a parent who lifts weights will have more muscular
children. Genetics showed instead that characteristics are passed on by genes, which are unaffected by traits the parent has
acquired. Lysenko denounced geneticists as bourgeois, fascist, pseudoscientists: "fly-lovers and people haters". Lysenko's
image as the peasant genius outwitting the world's biologists dovetailed perfectly with Soviet mythology. In 1938 the
authorities placed him in charge of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and in 1948 they fired all the geneticists and
outlawed dissent from Lysenkoism. Purges sent his opponents to prison,
some to the executioner. Lysenko accused his scientific opponents of trying to "wreck" the Soviet economy. (sound familiar?)
- many of today's climate deniers think "they" are smarter than professional scientists; think scientists are part of some
sort of world-wide liberal conspiracy; think addressing the issues of climate change will "wreck" the economy. A much smaller
number of deniers have actually suggested killing some scientists. Do any of these points sound familiar
- prior to the 1990s, Soviet peoples wasted much bandwidth labeling everything as either "bourgeois this" or
"proletariat that" and I thought it made them sound ridiculous. Since the 1990s, Americans seem to be unable
to discuss anything without including labels liberal or conservative. I wonder why this
ideological shift has gone unnoticed?
Merchants of Doubt (2010) Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway
subtitled: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming
for any citizen wondering about science denial or political
- Oreskes and Conway tell an important story about the misuse of science to mislead the public on matters ranging from the
risks of smoking to the reality of global warming. The people the authors accuse in this carefully documented book are
themselves scientists—mostly physicists, former cold warriors who now serve a conservative agenda, and vested interests like
the tobacco industry. The authors name these scientists—all with powerful connections in government and the media—including
Robert Jastrow, Frederick Seitz, and S. Fred Singer. Seven compelling chapters detail seven issues (acid rain, the dangers of
smoking and second-hand smoke, the ozone hole, global warming, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and the banning of DDT) in
which this group aimed to sow seeds of public doubt on matters of settled science. They did so by casting aspersions on the
science and the scientists who produce it. Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at UC–San Diego, and science
writer Conway also emphasize how journalists and Internet bloggers uncritically repeat these charges. This book
deserves serious attention for the lessons it provides about the misuse of science for political and commercial ends.
- UCSD (University of California at San Diego) Professor of History and Science Studies Naomi
Oreskes Ph.D. presented this 58 minute lecture on the History of Global Warming Science titled The American Denial of Global Warming https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio
<--- 58 minute video lecture by Naomi Oreskes Ph.D.
This book is recommended to anyone who...
- wonder why "peer-reviewed scientists" are attacked by "non-peer-reviewed scientists working for big tobacco, big pharma, the
fossil fuel industry, as well as political and economic think tanks"
- wondered how conservative politics shifted from "conserving the environment" to "conserving big money"
- Conservative presidents from Theodore Roosevelt through to Richard Nixon equated some part of their administration to
also conserving air, land, and water.
- Theodore Roosevelt's administration was well known for setting aside large tracts of wilderness areas for
recreational use by current and future citizens
- Richard Nixon's administration created: The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), "The Clean Air Act", "The
Clean Water Act", "Banned DDT", etc.
- Conservative presidents starting with Ronald Regan (stating: "government was in the way") openly attacked government
organizations like the EPA while turning a blind eye to the actions of big business. Then people of a similar political
mind-set label environmentalists as left-wing liberals, tree-huggers, and enviro-nazis. After this, the Bush-Cheney
administration had no problem opening "protected wilderness" to oil and mining companies.
- wondered why some people have such faith in the "unfettered free market". Can anyone give me one example where pollution
control targets were ever adhered to without government legislation?
- wondered if the "science denial movement" (which was started by conservative scientists working for "big tobacco") might
have been amplified by that other large faction of conservatives, namely "the religious right". People, no amount of prayer
will ever be as effective as the polio vaccine.
- a few right-wing organizations you may wish to inspect (be sure to: search for words like
"tobacco", "second hand smoke", "climate change", etc.)
- wondered why conservatives claim that a liberal-bias exists in the US media when in 2010, the US was home to 76 right-wing
think tanks but only 4 left-wing think tanks. Then there is the takeover by corporate conservatives (see associated scandals)
The Greatest Show On Earth (2010) Richard Dawkins
science lover's "must have"
subtitled: The Evidence for Evolution
- I have read almost every popular publication by Dawkins and can tell you that this is his best work yet. I liked it so much
that I immediately read it a second time.
- Chapter 4 ("Silence and Slow Time")
- Excerpt from page 85:
If the history-deniers who doubt the fact of evolution are ignorant of biology, those who think the world began less than
ten thousand years ago are worse than ignorant, they are deluded to the point of perversity. They are denying not only the
facts of biology but those of physics, geology, cosmology, archaeology, history and chemistry as well. This chapter is
about how we know the ages of rocks and the fossils embedded in them. It presents the evidence that the timescale on which
life has operated on this planet is measured not in thousands of years but in thousands of millions of years.
- pages 91-107 contain a superb explanation of "radioactive clocks" including Carbon-14 (half-life: 5,730 years),
Potassium-40 (half-life: 1.260 billion years), as well as eight others. By the way, these clock prove the Earth is 4.6
billion years old.
- Chapter 5 ("Before Our Very Eyes") contains a detailed explanation of a stunning experiment done by Richard Lenski and his
colleagues at Michigan State University. In the experiment, 12-isolated colonies of e-coli are encouraged to grow beyond the
their food resources every day (inducing a competitive pressure) over a 20-year period and are seen to evolve.
- Chapter 9 ("The Ark of the Continents") contains a superb explanation of "plate tectonics" (previously known as the
Continental Drift Hypothesis) and how it affected evolution on planet earth (marsupials only in Australia; lemurs only in
Madagascar; entire order of Edentata only in South America)
The Discovery of Global Warming (2008) Spencer R. Weart
for anyone interested in science or climate change
- Author Spencer Weart was originally trained as a physicist but is
now a science historian
- This book The Discovery of Global Warming is a
true gem containing no-nonsense facts.
- The second edition (2008), extensively revised and updated
- You should really buy this book but if you can't then please check out the online edition here: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/
- A Discover Top Science Book of the Year
- A USA Today best book of the year
- A Scientific American "Editors Recommend" selection
- Excerpt: In 1973, Nicholas (Nick) Shackleton nailed it all down for certain. What made it possible was the
new magnetic-reversal dates established by radioactive potassium, plus Shackleton's uncommon combination of technical
expertise in different fields. A splendid deep-sea core had been pulled — "one of the best and most complete records of the
entire Pleistocene that is known" — the famous core Vema 28-238 (named after the Lamont Observatory's oceanographic research
vessel, a converted luxury yacht). It reached back over a million years, and included the most recent reversal of the Earth's
magnetic field, which geologists dated at a bit over 700,000 years ago. This calibrated the chronology for the entire core. As
a further benefit, Shackleton managed to extract and analyze the rare foraminifera that lived in the deep sea, and which
reflected basic oceanic changes independent of the fluctuating sea-surface temperatures. The deep-sea forams showed the same
isotopic variations as surface ones, confirming that the variations gave a record of the withdrawal of water to form ice
sheets. When Shackleton showed his graph of long-term change to a roomful of climate scientists, a spontaneous cheer went up.
The core Vema 28-238 and a few others contained such a long run of consistent data that it was possible to analyze the numbers
with a mathematically sophisticated "frequency-domain" calculation, a well-established technique for picking out the lengths
of cycles in a set of data. Detailed measurements and numerical calculations found a set of favored frequencies, a spectrum of
regular cycles visible amid the noise of random fluctuations. The first unimpeachable results (well, almost unimpeachable)
were achieved in 1976 by James Hays, John Imbrie and Shackleton. The trio not only analyzed the oxygen-isotope record in
selected cores from the Indian Ocean, but checked their curves against temperatures deduced from the assemblage of
foraminifera species found in each layer. The long cores proved beyond doubt what Emiliani had stoutly maintained —
there had been not four major ice ages, but dozens. The analysis showed cycles with lengths roughly 20,000 and 40,000 years,
and especially the very strong cycle around 100,000 years, all in agreement with Milankovitch calculations.
Extrapolating the curves ahead, the group predicted cooling for the next 15,000 years. As Emiliani, Kukla, and other
specialists had already concluded several years earlier, the Earth was gradually — indeed, perhaps quite soon as geologists
reckoned time — heading into a new ice age. These results, like so many in paleoclimatology, were promptly called into
question. For one thing, there was no solid reason to suppose that our current interglacial period would be of average length
and was therefore nearing its end. (And in fact, as noted below, improved orbital calculations and paleoclimate data would
eventually show that the natural end of the current interglacial is tens of thousands of years away.) But the main results
withstood all criticism. Confirmation came from other scientists who likewise found cycles near twenty and forty
thousand years, give or take a few thousand. The most impressive analysis remained the pioneering work of Hays, Imbrie, and
Shackleton. They could even split the 15,000 year cycle into a close pair of cycles with lengths of 19,000 and 23,000 years
— exactly what the best new astronomical calculations predicted. By the late 1970s, most scientists were convinced
that orbital variations acted as a "pacemaker" to set the timing of ice ages. Science magazine reported in 1978 that the
evidence for the Milankovitch theory was now "convincing," and the theory "has recently gained widespread acceptance as a
factor" in climate change.
The Evolution of Charles Darwin (2009) CBC Audio
very highly recommended
for people wanting more
details about Darwin, and the times in which he lived.
- this 4-disc package from CBC Audio is a bargain at $40. I recently listened to it a second time and was shocked by the
amount of stuff I missed (or forgot).
- if you don't want to buy it you can still listen to it free-of-charge here:
- No where in Darwin's book "On the Origin of the Species"
will you find...
- that man is descended from apes although he did believe that humans and apes
both descended from a common ancestor
- the word evolution although the word creation was used over 100 times
- god does not exist because Darwin was not an atheist (he never once uttered that word) but did refer to
himself as a possible deist in his autobiography (Note: deism is the hallmark of the Age of Enlightenment)
- Darwin's inspiration for evolution was inspired by geologist Charles
Lyell's book Principles of Geology
- this book was given to Darwin by Robert FitzRoy who was
captain of HMS Beagle
- Darwin experienced an earthquake in Chile and so immediately accepted the principle of Lyle's book that the Earth keeps
changing (the Bible asserted that the world was created as-is and changed very little if at all)
- These next links have nothing to do with the 4-disc set but is worth a visit nevertheless:
He Knew He Was Right (2008) John Gribbin
What an unexpected surprise. Not only does this book include a biography of James
along with a description of his Gaia Hypothesis, it also includes a general history of the physics and chemistry of
atmospheric and geological sciences which starts in the 1700s with the work of Jean Fourier (heat) and Joseph Black (discoverer if
Carbon Dioxide which was then known as "fixed air"). Maybe it is only because I am a science fan but I couldn't put this book
down. It is highly recommended to the general reader wishing to learn more about climate change.
Climate Wars (2008) Gwynne Dyer
for everyone in the
- Although the current warming trend began with the industrial revolution, it really ramps with global industrialization after
World War 2. During this time industrialization of farms enables human
population to grow from 2 billion (in 1927) to 6 billion (by 1999) with a projected value of 7 billion by 2012.
- Average atmospheric CO2 levels:
so human activities are equal to the changes which moved our planet out of an ice age
- 180 ppm during the previous ice age
- 280 ppm after the previous ice age
- 380 ppm after the beginning of the industrial age
- Since oceans are colder than land, global temperature averages can be very misleading. For example, an average temperature
increase of 1.3°C would translate into 2°C over land and 4-5°C over the polar regions.
- Melting winter snow and glacial ice is responsible for most river water in the summer time. A warmer planet will cause three
- rivers will be higher in the winter but much lower in the summer
- the Tibetan plateau feeds 6 rivers running through India, Pakistan, and China. What will happen when these people
can't feed themselves?
- Rivers feeding California will eventually run dry in the summertime.
- the ocean levels are already 20 cm higher since
1880 which means that storm surges will destroy human communities situated too close to river deltas (perhaps
Hurricane Katrina at New Orleans was the first "heads up" warning for the west; people in India and indo-china have been
experiencing these surges for a lot longer)
- Hadley Cells involve ocean evaporation at the equator which
results in rainfall north and south of the equator. A hotter ocean means the cells can rise to a higher height before
falling as rain. This higher height will result in more droughts and desertification (Australia has been experiencing
increased droughts for the past 6 years)
- Chapter 7 contains shocking information from paleontologists like Peter Ward. It appears that four out of five mass
extinctions were due to climate change (one was due to an
asteroid strike 65 million years ago).
Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning (2006) George Monbiot
Just a few interesting facts from the first couple of chapters:
being a technological-Luddite will make things worse: when used as a light source, a candle is 71 times less efficient than
than an old fashioned incandescent bulb and 357 times less efficient than a compact florescent model (page xxii)
sometimes actual facts are counter-intuitive: burning a liter of kerosene in an engine, to drive a generator, to power a
fluorescent lamp, can produce 250-450 times more useful light than burning the same amount in an oil lamp (page xxiii)
In 2004, an article in Science reported the results of a survey of scientific papers containing the words
'global climate change'. The author found 928 of them on the database she searched. None of the papers, she discovered,
disagreed with the consensus position. Politicians, economists, journalists and others may have the impression of confusion,
disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect. (page 4)
(to put it another way, lobbyists have manipulated the facts to protect their own financial interests)
Web sites are popping up all over America to cast doubt on real science. These web sites are funded by companies like oil
producer ExxonMobil and tobacco companies Philip Morris and "Brown and Williamson". These web sites sometimes publish
articles by actual scientists with no experience in Climatology. As is true on the web, these biased articles spread like
wild-fire across the net and eventually get published by newspapers.
Carbon trading won't work but carbon rationing will (if you're dumb enough to buy an SUV, then when you use up your carbon
rations for the year you'll need to buy rations from someone who is behaving a little more responsively. This will shift the
carbon burden away from industries who will never accept it (Oil, Airline, etc.) and place it directly on the consumer.
The Human Advantage (2016) Suzana Herculano-Houzel
A New Understanding of How our Brains Became Remarkable
Humans are awesome. Our brains are gigantic, seven times larger than they should be for the size of our bodies, use 25% of all
the energy the body requires each day, and became enormous in hardly any time in evolution, leaving our cousins, the great apes,
behind. So the human brain is special, right?
Wrong: according to the evidence uncovered by the author, humans have developed cognitive abilities that outstrip those of all
other animals because we have a brain built in the image of other primate brains that managed to gather the largest number of
neurons in the cerebral cortex due to a technological innovation that allowed a larger caloric intake in less time: cooking.
comments: this book explains why "dogs are twice as smart as cats" and "humans are twice as smart as
gorillas". And why is it that elephant brains are three times larger than human brains, and yet human are three times smarter
New science proves why "dogs are smarter than cats" and "humans are smarter than gorillas". Even through elephant brains are three
times larger, why are humans smarter?
my review: This book is a real "page
turner" and I recommend it for all modern citizens who ever wondered "why humans are so much more intelligent than other
species?" Much of my own knowledge on this subject began in 1977 when I read a book by Carl Sagan titled "The Dragons of Eden"
(subtitled: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence). In chapter 1 of "The Human Advantage", the author mentions
that much brain science popularized in Sagan's book (who was publishing outside his area of expertise) is now considered
wrong. Error-1: the concept of the human "triune brain" (where a neocortex is layered over a paleocortex which is layered over
a reptilian (limbic) brain) is now considered a complete fiction because the first mammalian brain evolved "before" the first
reptilian brain. Error-2: previous books claim the human brain is composed of 100 billion neurons. But it appears that an
actual experiment was never done, and the number every book quotes is just a rounded-up estimate. Error-3: the cultural meme
that we only use 10% of our brains is totally wrong. In fact, we use 100% of our gray matter (our brains are composed of 10%
gray matter layered over 90% white matter which acts as a mechanical substrate). CAVEAT: Everything I have just written comes
from chapter 1. The remainder of the book is just as rich with new information. If you enjoyed reading general science books
by Carl Sagan then you will definitely enjoy reading "The Human Advantage".
The Epigenetics Revolution (2012) Nessa Carey
How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance
Epigenetics can potentially revolutionize our understanding of the structure and behavior of biological life on Earth. It
explains why mapping an organism's genetic code is not enough to determine how it develops or acts and shows how nurture
combines with nature to engineer biological diversity. Surveying the twenty-year history of the field while also highlighting
its latest findings and innovations, this volume provides a readily understandable introduction to the foundations of
Nessa Carey, a leading epigenetics researcher, connects the field's arguments to such diverse phenomena as how ants and queen
bees control their colonies; why tortoiseshell cats are always female; why some plants need cold weather before they can flower;
and how our bodies age and develop disease. Reaching beyond biology, epigenetics now informs work on drug addiction, the
long-term effects of famine, and the physical and psychological consequences of childhood trauma. Carey concludes with a
discussion of the future directions for this research and its ability to improve human health and well-being.
Epigenetics: The Ultimate Mystery of Inheritance (2011) by Richard C. Francis
"The potential is staggering. The age of epigenetics has arrived." Time, January 2010
Epigenetic means "on the gene," and the term refers to the recent discovery that stress in the environment can impact an
individual's physiology so deeply that those biological scars are actually inherited by the next several generations. For
instance, a recent study has shown that men who started smoking before puberty caused their sons to have significantly higher
rates of obesity. And obesity is just the tip of the iceberg many researchers believe that epigenetics holds the key to
understanding cancer, Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, autism, and diabetes. Epigenetics is the first book for general readers on this
fascinating and important topic. The book is driven by stories such as the Dutch famine of World War II, Jose Canseco and
steroids, the breeding of mules and hinnies, Tasmanian devils and contagious cancer, and more.
DNA: The Secret of Life (2003/2004) by James Watson
What makes DNA different from hordes of competitors purporting to help readers understand genetics is that it is written by none
other than James Watson, of Watson and Crick fame. He and his co-author Andrew Berry have produced a clear and easygoing history
of genetics, from Mendel through genome sequencing. Watson offers readers a sense of immediacy, a behind-the scenes familiarity
with some of the most exciting developments in modern science. He gleefully reports on the research juggernaut that led to current
obsessions with genetic engineering and cloning. Aided by profuse illustrations and photos, Watson offers an enthusiastic account
of how scientists figured out how DNA codes for the creation of proteins--the so-called "central dogma" of genetics. But as
patents and corporations enter the picture, Watson reveals his concern about the incursions of business into the hallowed halls of
science. After 1975, DNA was no longer solely the concern of academics trying to understand the molecular underpinnings of life.
The molecule moved beyond the cloisters of white-coated scientists into a very different world populated largely by men in silk
ties and sharp suits. In later chapters, Watson aims barbs at those who are concerned by genetic tinkering, calling them
"alarmists" who don't understand how the experiments work. It is in these arguments that Watson may lose favor with those whose
notions of science were born after Silent Spring
. Nevertheless, DNA encompasses both sides of the political
issues involved in genetics, and Watson is an enthusiastic proponent of debate on the subject.
Who better than James Watson to lead a guided tour of DNA? When he and his English colleague, Francis Crick, discovered the double
helix structure of the DNA molecule in 1953, little could they imagine that a mere 50 years later scientists would be putting the
finishing touches on a map of the human genome. In this magisterial work, Watson, who won the Nobel Prize with Crick for their
discovery, guides readers through the startling and rapid advances in genetic technology and what these advances will mean for our
lives. Watson covers all aspects of the genome, from the layout of four simple bases on the DNA molecule through their complex
construction into genes, then to the mechanisms whereby proteins produced by genes create our uniquely human characteristics-as
well as the genetic mutations that can cause illnesses or inherited diseases like Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Huntington's
disease. Watson may have mellowed a little over the years since he displayed his youthful brashness in The Double Helix, but he
still isn't shy about taking on controversial subjects. He criticizes biotech corporations for patenting genes, making diagnostic
medical procedures horribly expensive and damping further basic research. He notes that while China and other countries with large
populations to feed have eagerly grasped the potential of genetically modified foodstuffs, America squandered $100 million on a
recall of taco shells and the genetically modified corn used in them. He pleads passionately for the refinement and widespread use
of prenatal genetic testing. Watson will probably provoke the most controversy with his criticism of scientists, corporations and
government funding sources for their avoidance of important areas of research-notably the genetics of skin coloration-for
political reasons. Every reader who wants to understand their own medical future will want to read this book.
The Code of Codes (1993/2000) Daniel Kevles and Leroy Hood
subtitled: Scientific and Social Issues in the Human Genome Project
Another popularization of the Human Genome Project, this one has the distinction of being the first published as an anthology, and
among its contributors are some leading scholars, scientists, and social critics. The three parts of the book present essays
covering topics in "History, Politics, and Genetics," "Genetics, Technology, and Medicine," and "Ethics, Law, and Society." Some
of the essays are quite provocative, especially editor Kevels' "Out of Eugenics: The Historical Politics of the Human
" (creepy to read but necessary so humanity does not repeat this mistake - NSR
) , Dorothy
Nelkin's "The Social Power of Genetic Information", Ruth Schwartz Conan's "Genetic Technology and Reproductive Choice", and James
D. Watson's "A Personal View of the Project." Still, there is a good deal of substantive overlap among the essays and, while the
discussions by experts are more sophisticated and specialized than those appearing in other books, little new information is
presented for general readers. Public libraries with either Jerry Bishop and Michael Waldholz's Genome ( LJ 7/90) or Robert
Shapiro's The Human Blueprint ( LJ 9/1/91) do not need this title, but academic libraries should consider it.
Leroy Hood, MD, PhD, President and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, is a pioneer in systems
approaches to biology and medicine. Dr. Hood's research has focused on the study of molecular immunology, biotechnology and
genomics. His professional career began at Caltech, where he and his colleagues developed the DNA sequencer and synthesizer and
the protein synthesizer and sequencer--four instruments that paved the way for the successful mapping of the human genome and
lead to his receiving this year's prestigious Russ Prize, awarded by the Academy of Engineering. A pillar in the biotechnology
field, Dr. Hood has played a role in founding more than fourteen biotechnology companies, including Amgen, Applied Biosystems,
Darwin, The Accelerator and Integrated Diagnostics. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of
Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, one of only 10 people in the world to be elected to all three academies. In addition
to having published more than 700 peer reviewed articles, he has coauthored textbooks in biochemistry, immunology, molecular
biology and genetics, as well as a popular book on the human genome project, The Code of Codes. He is the recipient of numerous
awards, including the Lasker Award, the Kyoto Prize and the Heinz Award in Technology. Dr. Hood has also received 17 honorary
degrees from prestigious universities in the US and other countries.
The Eighth Day of Creation (1979/1996/2004) Horace Freeland Judson
subtitled: Makers of the Revolution in Biology (25th Anniversary Edition)
In the foreword to this expanded edition of his 1979 masterpiece, Horace Freeland Judson says, "I feared I might seem the official
historian of the movement"--molecular biology, that is. If by official he means "authoritative; definitive; the standard against
which all others are measured" then his fears are warranted. Detailed without being overly technical, humane without being
fulsome, The Eighth Day of Creation tells of molecular biology's search for the secret of life. "The drama has
everything--exploration of the unknown; low comedy and urgent seriousness; savage competition, vaulting intelligence, abrupt
changes of fortune, sudden understandings; eccentric and brilliant people, men of honor and of less than honor; a heroine, perhaps
wronged; and a treasure to be achieved that was unique and transcendent." And in Judson this drama found its Shakespeare.
This lay history of molecular biology now contains material on some of the principal figures involved, particularly Rosalind
Franklin and Erwin Chargaff. The foreword and epilogue sketch the further development of molecular biology into the era of
Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007) Gary Taubes
Everyone needs to read this book
- A well researched and extensively referenced book describing how the marketing of "low fat food" by government and industry
has made us all much fatter.
- This book begins with a popular low-carb weight-loss program in 1862 which was popularized by William Banting
- I was shocked to learn that people in modern medicine routinely ignored the scientific method while preferring to stick with
preconceived notions "knowing that the science was just around the corner" (I guess medicine really is an art rather
than a science). Each of the chapters begins with a little prologue containing snippets of the scientific method
which, in my opinion, is the only tool for separating the proverbial "wheat from the chaff".
- I was shocked to learn how persuasive personalities, like that of Ancel Keys (the "K" in K-rations), were able to negatively
change the direction of the whole western world without requiring any objective science. Keys' theories seem to be based on
"over analysis of limited data"
- In November of 2007 I heard a radio interview with
the author which ended with professionals from the medical community calling in to attack personally attack him and his
book. Some of their arguments sounded like a witch-hunt so I guess you'll need to read the book then decide for yourself. (but
while listening to the medical people I remembered the old adage that "medicine is an art rather than a science")
- Lots of information touches on missionary records about Africa, India and China. Apparently there were no instances of
diabetes, cancer, hemorrhoids, etc. until the natives started to consume a western diet. And just like smoking cigarettes, it
takes approximately 18 years of abuse to make the damage permanent.
- Fat doesn't make you fat, carbs make you fat.
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