One hundred thousand years ago, at least six human species inhabited the Earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations, and human rights; to trust money, books, and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables, and consumerism?
"Sums it up nicely"
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells, taken without her knowledge, became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first immortal human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than 60 years.
Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically acclaimed New York Times best seller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity's future and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.
"Fun But With A Couple O' Caveats--"
The dead talk - to the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces.
"Wow! I Got This On Sale?!?"
The authors of the best-selling Bold and The Rise of Superman explore altered states of consciousness and how they can ignite passion, fuel creativity, and accelerate problem solving, in this groundbreaking book in the vein of Daniel Pink's Drive and Charles Duhigg's Smarter Faster Better.
"Very disappointing. Not what it promises to be."
Cosmos is one of the best-selling science books of all time. In clear-eyed prose, Sagan reveals a jewel-like blue world inhabited by a life form that is just beginning to discover its own identity and to venture into the vast ocean of space.
Our ancestors crossed deserts, mountains, and oceans without even a whisper of what anyone today might consider modern technology. Those feats of endurance now seem impossible in an age where we take comfort for granted. But what if we could regain some of our lost evolutionary strength by simulating the environmental conditions of our forbears? Investigative journalist and anthropologist Scott Carney takes up the challenge to find out: Can we hack our bodies and use the environment to stimulate our inner biology?
"Entertaining and Inspiring"
How do trees live? Do they feel pain or have awareness of their surroundings? Research is now suggesting trees are capable of much more than we have ever known. In The Hidden Life of Trees, forester Peter Wohlleben puts groundbreaking scientific discoveries into a language everyone can relate to.
"Revealing the Wonders of the Forest"
The extraordinary Siddhartha Mukherjee has written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.
"It's a Wonderful Book"
Sparked by a provocative comment to BigThink.com last fall, and fueled by a highly controversial debate with Creation Museum curator Ken Ham, Bill Nye's campaign to confront the scientific shortcoming of creationism has exploded in just a few months into a national crusade.
"Leasurly read for those who don't want equations"
Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands to rethink their beliefs about life.
Since Darwin's day, we've been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. Mainstream science - as well as religious and cultural institutions - has maintained that men and women evolved in families in which a man's possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman's fertility and fidelity. But this narrative is collapsing....
"Strawmen and Ad Hominems"
In Brain Rules for Baby, Dr. John Medina shares what the latest science says about how to raise smart and happy children from zero to five. This book is destined to revolutionize parenting. Just one of the surprises: The best way to get your children into the college of their choice? Teach them impulse control. Brain Rules for Baby bridges the gap between what scientists know and what parents practice.
"The Only Baby Book I'd Recommend"
Joining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin - a "microbe's-eye view" of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on Earth.
"Undoes what you've learned from the headlines"
Although mammals and birds are widely regarded as the smartest creatures on earth, it has lately become clear that a very distant branch of the tree of life has also sprouted higher intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus. In captivity, octopuses have been known to identify individual human keepers, raid neighboring tanks for food, turn off lightbulbs by spouting jets of water, plug drains, and make daring escapes.
"Wanted to love it, still liked it a lot"
Since the publication of The Biology of Belief, Dr. Bruce Lipton has received widespread acclaim as one of the most accessible and knowledgeable voices of "new biology". The science is called epigenetics a revolutionary field that shows us how the energy of consciousness is as important in shaping life on earth as DNA and chemistry.
"Audiobook or speech?"
Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent of the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there were a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?
"Just two words needed."
Have you wondered why some 60-year-olds look and feel like 40-year-olds and why some 40-year-olds look and feel like 60-year-olds? While many factors contribute to aging and illness, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn discovered a biological indicator called telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes telomeres, which protect our genetic heritage. Dr. Blackburn and Dr. Elissa Epel's research shows that the length and health of one's telomeres are a biological underpinning of the long-hypothesized mind-body connection.
"Just Not Enough Hard Information"
Dish up the red meat, eggs, and whole milk! In this well-researched and captivating narrative, veteran food writer Nina Teicholz proves how everything we've been told about fat is wrong. For decades, Americans have cut back on red meat and dairy products full of "bad" saturated fats. We obediently complied with nutritional guidelines to eat "heart healthy" fats found in olive oil, fish, and nuts, and followed a Mediterranean diet heavy on fruits, vegetables, and grains. Yet the nation's health has declined. What is going on?
"Great book. Challenges your belief system."
We're all getting older every day, and scientific research has shown that starting in our 20s, some brain functions begin a linear decline. But is old age all doom and gloom? Not at all! While it's true that some functions in the aging brain decline, neuroscientists have discovered that many other brain functions remain stable - or even improve - as we age.
"Getting Older Smarter!"
In his groundbreaking book The Biology of Belief, Dr. Bruce Lipton outlined the evidence that our thoughts are just as important as our genes in controlling our health and evolution. As the emerging science of epigenetics shows, our beliefs and choices can control our biology down to a cellular level. According to Dr. Lipton, this startling scientific insight suggests a major evolutionary shift for the human species is on the horizon.
A day in the life of Carla Valentine - curator, pathology technician and 'death professional' - is not your average day. She spent 10 years training and working as an Anatomical Pathology Technologist: where the mortuary slab was her desk and that day's corpses her task list. Past Mortems tells Carla's stories of those years and investigates the body alongside our attitudes towards death - shedding light on what the living can learn from the dead and the toll the work can take on the living souls who carry it out.
This science classic by Paul de Kruif chronicles the pioneering bacteriological work of the first scientists to see and learn from the microscopic world. Paul de Kruif's Microbe Hunters is a timeless dramatization of the scientists, bacteriologists, doctors, and medical technicians who discovered microbes and invented the vaccines to counter them.
Around 250,000 people have had their genomes sequenced, and scientists expect that number to rise to one billion by 2025. Professor Steven J. Heine argues that the first thing we will do on receiving our DNA test results is to misinterpret them completely. Despite breathless (often lightly researched) media coverage about newly discovered "cancer" or "divorce" or "IQ" genes, the prospect of a DNA test forecasting how your life is going to turn out is vanishingly small.
A life-affirming nature diary - with something amazing to see and experience on every day of the year - from award-winning authors and Springwatch experts Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss. From blackbirds, beavers and beetles to tawny owls, natterjack toads and lemon slugs. Every day of the year, winter or summer, in every corner of the British Isles, there's plenty to see if you know where - and how - to look.
Despite the association of peregrines with the wild outer reaches of the British Isles, The Peregrine is set on the flat marshes of the Essex coast, where J. A. Baker spent a long winter looking at and writing about the visitors from the uplands - peregrines that spend the winter hunting the huge flocks of pigeons and waders that share the desolate landscape with them. Such luminaries as Ted Hughes and Andrew Motion have cited this as one of the most important books in 20th century nature writing.
Leaving her garden to the mercy of the slugs, award-winning writer Alys Fowler set out in an inflatable kayak to explore Birmingham's canal network, full of little-used waterways where huge pike skulk and kingfishers dart. Her book is about noticing the wild everywhere and what it means to see beauty where you least expect it. What happens when someone who has learned to observe her external world in such detail decides to examine her internal world with the same care?
This audiobook recounts the experiences of two children as they take a look inside the giant Biomes and discover the exciting plants and exotic foods that grow in difficult environments.
Pandora's Lab takes us from opium's heyday as the pain reliever of choice to recognition of opioids as a major cause of death in the United States; from the rise of trans fats as the golden ingredient for tastier, cheaper food to the heart disease epidemic that followed; and from the cries to ban DDT for the sake of the environment to an epidemic-level rise in world malaria.
In 1993, a strange disease began to kill people in the Four Corners area of the Southwest near the Navajo Reservation. Before it was all over, 26 people were dead. The disease was traced to a group of viruses called Hanta viruses. Western interest in this group of viruses dates to the 1950s and the Korean War, where it infected UN troops. However some researchers believe it is endemic to the U.S. Producer Ann Finkbeiner travels to the region and talk with scientists, doctors and Navajo medicine men.
By looking at disease from the perspective of a microorganism, scientists have found that the main goal of any virus or other type of bug is to reproduce. Illness is just a side effect of the microorganism's efforts to multiply as much as it possibly can. Whether a virus is carried by water, air, or by other creatures, the way it spreads is a numbers game; the more hosts that are infected, the more it can reproduce, and the more it reproduces, the stronger it can become.
Anyone sending a space shuttle into orbit, building a skyscraper, or even studying bone density owes a debt of gratitude to Isaac Newton and his theory of gravitation and laws of motion. Yet, the role of gravity in life’s processes, from cell structure to the human cardiovascular system remains unclear.
Anyone sending a space shuttle into orbit, building a skyscraper, or even studying bone density owes a debt of gratitude to Isaac Newton and his theory of gravitation and laws of motion. Yet, the role of gravity in life’s processes, from cell structure to the human cardiovascular system remains unclear. Judith Kampfner explores the enigma force by starting in an eight grade science class, following a high school physics class as they perform some experiments on NASA’s vomit comet.
The front line in the battle against mosquito-borne viruses is a bustling Peruvian metropolis on the Amazon River. Iquitos, Peru, home to nearly 400,000 people, is a living laboratory. Researchers there are tracing the spread of lethal dengue fever by going door to door in neighborhoods throughout the city. They're mapping the spread of the virus, as well as the mosquitoes that carry it. Producer Dan Charles follows researchers as they try to figure out what people can do to stop it.
The world of biology is a messy business. But the study of reproduction and evolution is crucial to understanding the nature of all things animal, vegetable, and even digital. The code that is used to build computer programs is much like our own DNA. And as it turns out, not only can computer programs have sex and reproduce, but they can also lie, cheat, steal, copy, infect and gang up on each other. In short, they can act a lot like humans, which is good news for evolutionary biologists.
Dinosaurs continue to be one of the greatest mysteries of the world. Paleontologists have been working for years to find out everything possible about these creatures that roamed the earth millions of years ago. While they have discovered quite a lot by studying dinosaur bones, there are still so many unanswered questions. Were they warm-blooded or cold-blooded? Were they more like birds, or more like reptiles? Why and how did they become extinct?
FMD (Foot and Mouth Disease) is feared among farmers. It decimates herds and severely impacts beef and milk production. Award winning producer Judith Kampfner looks at FMD control measures around the world. In Britain, she revisits an outbreak in 2001, which led to mass cattle killings. Virologist Jef Hammond, head of the FMD Reference Laboratory at the U.K.’s Institute for Animal Health lays out the risks.
Thousands of varieties of plants are rapidly disappearing in the United States, especially non-hybrid types of garden vegetables. These are called heirloom varieties, and they're difficult, if not impossible, to buy from commercial sources. The seeds are instead often passed from gardener to gardener, often in families, and they represent an irreplaceable genetic heritage that is being lost. We examine the reasons these seeds are disappearing and the efforts underway to preserve them.
Mountain lions are viewed as a charismatic symbol of the West, but when human populations expand closer and closer to the natural habitat of these big cats, life can get complicated for both humans and animals. Similarly, growing populations of Giant Canada Geese in Minnesota and deer in the Northeast are having an impact on communities in those areas.
The Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is a common virus that touches billions of human beings in one way or another — from a tiny wart on the hand to invasive cancer. HPV can be found worldwide, yet most people who are infected never show any symptoms. The virus can "hide" for years from a person's immune system, with no apparent ill effects, and then awaken and trigger deadly disease.
Our gut is almost as important to us as our brain, yet we know very little about how it works. Gut: The Inside Story is an entertaining, informative tour of the digestive system from the moment we raise a tasty morsel to our lips until the moment our body surrenders the remnants to the toilet bowl. No topic is too lowly for the author's wonder and admiration, from the careful choreography of breaking wind to the precise internal communication required for a cleansing vomit.
"Best Gut Microbe Book Around"
The whole of Western natural philosophy is undergoing a sea change, forced upon us by the experimental findings of quantum theory. At the same time, these findings have increased our doubt and uncertainty about traditional physical explanations of the universe's genesis and structure. Biocentrism completes this shift in worldview, turning the planet upside down again with the revolutionary view that life creates the universe instead of the other way around.
"Mystical hogwash, but I loved it."
The Earth teems with life: in its oceans, forests, skies, and cities. Yet there's a black hole at the heart of biology. We do not know why complex life is the way it is, or, for that matter, how life first began. In The Vital Question, award-winning author and biochemist Nick Lane radically reframes evolutionary history, putting forward a solution to conundrums that have puzzled generations of scientists.
"A must read for the interested, literate nonscientist"
The Blind Watchmaker, knowledgably narrated by author Richard Dawkins, is as prescient and timely a book as ever. The watchmaker belongs to the 18th-century theologian William Paley, who argued that just as a watch is too complicated and functional to have sprung into existence by accident, so too must all living things, with their far greater complexity, be purposefully designed. Charles Darwin's brilliant discovery challenged the creationist arguments; but only Richard Dawkins could have written this elegant riposte.
"Challenging textbook more than an enjoyable listen"
Are men literally born to cheat? Does monogamy actually serve women's interests? These are among the questions that have made The Moral Animal one of the most provocative science books in recent years. Wright unveils the genetic strategies behind everything from our sexual preferences to our office politics - as well as their implications for our moral codes and public policies.
"A Masterpiece of Science Writing"
Why evolution is more than just a theory: it is a fact. In all the current highly publicized debates about creationism and its descendant "intelligent design", there is an element of the controversy that is rarely mentioned: the evidence, the empirical truth of evolution by natural selection.
"Perfect !! Just what I was looking for."
A riveting investigation of the myriad ways that parasites control how other creatures - including humans - think, feel, and act. These tiny organisms can live only inside another animal, and, as McAuliffe reveals, they have many evolutionary motives for manipulating their host's behavior. Far more often than appreciated, these puppeteers orchestrate the interplay between predator and prey.
"A parasitologist view of the world"
The emergence of strange new diseases is a frightening problem that seems to be getting worse. In this age of speedy travel, it threatens a worldwide pandemic. We hear news reports of Ebola, SARS, AIDS, and something called Hendra killing horses and people in Australia - but those reports miss the big truth that such phenomena are part of a single pattern. The bugs that transmit these diseases share one thing: they originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover. David Quammen tracks this subject around the world.
"Fascinating, but not Riveting"
A dazzling tour of the universe as Einstein saw it. How did Albert Einstein come up with the theories that changed the way we look at the world? By thinking in pictures. Michio Kaku, leading theoretical physicist (a cofounder of string theory) and best-selling science storyteller, shows how Einstein used seemingly simple images to lead a revolution in science. With originality and expertise, Kaku uncovers the surprising beauty that lies at the heart of Einstein's cosmos
We have a lifetime's association with our bodies, but for many of us they remain uncharted territory. In Adventures in Human Being, Gavin Francis leads the listener on a journey through health and illness, offering insights on everything from the ribbed surface of the brain to the secret workings of the heart and the womb; from the pulse of life at the wrist to the unique engineering of the foot.
"The anecdotes in this writing are entertaining."
A riveting exploration of how microbes are transforming the way we see nature and ourselves - and could revolutionize agriculture and medicine. Prepare to set aside what you think you know about yourself and microbes. Good health - for people and for plants - depends on Earth's smallest creatures. The Hidden Half of Nature tells the story of our tangled relationship with microbes and their potential to revolutionize agriculture and medicine, from garden to gut.
"Probably the secret to most of our chronic disease"
By identifying the structure of DNA, the molecule of life, Francis Crick and James Watson revolutionized biochemistry and won themselves a Nobel Prize. At the time, Watson was only 24, a young scientist hungry to make his mark. His uncompromisingly honest account of the heady days of their thrilling sprint against other world-class researchers to solve one of science's greatest mysteries gives a dazzlingly clear picture of a world of brilliant scientists with great gifts, very human ambitions, and bitter rivalries.
The burgeoning new science of epigenetics offers a cornucopia of insights - some comforting, some frightening. For example, the male fetus may be especially vulnerable to certain common chemicals in our environment, in ways that damage not only his own sperm but also the sperm of his sons. And it’s epigenetics that causes identical twins to vary widely in their susceptibility to dementia and cancer. But here’s the good news: unlike mutations, epigenetic effects are reversible. Indeed, epigenetic engineering is the future of medicine.
"Biology background helpful"
Paul Falkowski looks "under the hood" of microbes to find the engines of life, the actual working parts that do the biochemical heavy lifting for every living organism on Earth. With insight and humor, he explains how these miniature engines are built - and how they have been appropriated by and assembled like Lego sets within every creature that walks, swims, or flies. Falkowski shows how evolution works to maintain this core machinery of life, and how we and other animals are veritable conglomerations of microbes.
"Best Science Book Ever Written. Period."
In their latest audiobook, Joe Kirschvink and Peter Ward will show that many of our most cherished beliefs about the evolution of life are wrong. Gathering and analyzing years of discoveries and research not yet widely known to the public, A New History of Life proposes a different origin of species than the one Darwin proposed, one which includes eight-foot-long centipedes, a frozen snowball Earth, and the seeds for life originating on Mars.
"Perspective worth reading"
In this lively and illuminating discussion of his landmark research, esteemed primatologist Frans de Waal argues that human morality is not imposed from above but instead comes from within. Moral behavior does not begin and end with religion but is in fact a product of evolution. For many years, de Waal has observed chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbors and bonobos share their food. Now he delivers fascinating fresh evidence for the seeds of ethical behavior in primate societies that further cements the case for the biological origins of human fairness.
"Great research on apes, bad research on humans"
Deep is a voyage from the ocean's surface to its darkest trenches, the most mysterious places on Earth. Fascinated by the sport of freediving - in which competitors descend to great depths on a single breath - James Nestor embeds with a gang of oceangoing extreme athletes and renegade researchers. He finds whales that communicate with other whales hundreds of miles away, sharks that swim in unerringly straight lines through pitch-black waters, and other strange phenomena.
Edward O. Wilson has distilled sixty years of teaching into a book for students, young and old. Reflecting on his coming-of-age in the South as a Boy Scout and a lover of ants and butterflies, Wilson threads these twenty-one letters, each richly illustrated, with autobiographical anecdotes that illuminate his career - both his successes and his failures - and his motivations for becoming a biologist.
"Inspiring and thought provoking"