Category: Popular Science

The Fourth Flood

We know we are changing the climate. We now know more about the human causes of our planet’s warming, and likely future effects including some sea level rise. Scientists have a growing understanding of triggers and feedback loops. But new evidence suggests we have missed the most important tipping point of all.

This urgent book by Dr Stephen Oppenheimer updates his work on the previous three catastrophic rises in world sea level during the past 14,000 years with the latest field research on sub-polar activity. He discovers how on each of the three previous occasions, initial rapid sea level rise proved merely the harbinger of a far more potent positive feedback cycle which led to a 1000-year temperature hike and unrelenting global flood. Dr Oppenheimer argues that we are now facing the fourth flood and that it has effectively started.

This book is a wake-up call. What we do now and how quickly we do it is of paramount importance in mitigating the worst consequences.

Youniverse: A Short Guide to Modern Science

Your guide to science, from the Big Bang to AI

Whether you wish to discover the basics of science or catch up on its latest developments, this short accessible guide is for you.

YOUNIVERSE describes in simple terms the world you are inseparably a part of: what it is, how it works and your place in it – insofar as these things are known. The text has been vetted by 13 distinguished scientists.

Journey now through time and space, a world of the unimaginably big and the inconceivably small – though the marvels of science.

*PRAISE FOR YOUNIVERSE*

‘This is a fine piece of work… very entertaining and informative… It should appeal and be useful to the generalist who wants an overview of science.’ Sir Peter Ratcliffe, 2019 Nobel Prize winner and head of clinical research at the Francis Crick Institute

The Remarkable Lives of Numbers

Did you know there are 17 possible types of symmetric wallpaper pattern? Do you know what ‘casting out the nines’ is? Or why 88 is the fourth ‘untouchable’ number? Or how 7 is used to test for the onset of dementia.

Number fanatic Derrick Niederman has a mission to bring numbers to life. He explores the unique properties of the most exciting numbers from 1 to 200, wherever they may crop up: from mathematics to sport, from history to the natural world, from language to pop culture.

Packed with illustrations, amusing facts, puzzles, brainteasers and anecdotes, this is an enthralling and thought-provoking numerical voyage through the history of mathematics, investigating problems of logic, geometry and arithmetic along the way.

***PRAISE FOR THE REMARKABLE LIVES OF NUMBERS***

‘A hugely entertaining pick-and-mix of history, culture and mathematical puzzles.’ BBC Focus

‘This book is a complete joy. It made me smile. A lot.’ Carol Vorderman

‘Entertaining and engaging… Once you start reading it’s just like the number system itself – impossible to stop.’ Ian Stewart

‘A fun book… definitely challenging.’ Vanity Fair

‘All sorts of fascinating mathematical minutiae.’ Time Out

The Man Who Wasn’t There

Reveals the mind boggling neuroscience connecting brain, body, mind, and society, by examining a range of brain disorders, in the tradition of Oliver Sacks.

Identifying what makes up the nature of the human mind has long been neuroscience’s greatest challenge – a mystery perhaps never to be fully understood. Award-winning author and master of science journalism Anil Ananthaswamy smartly explores the concept of self by way of several mental conditions that alter patients’ identities, showing how we learn a lot about being human from people with a fragmented or altered sense of self.

He travels the world to meet those who suffer from “maladies of the self” interviewing patients, psychiatrists, philosophers and neuroscientists along the way. He charts how the self is affected by Asperger’s, autism, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, schizophrenia, among many other mental conditions, revealing how the brain constructs our sense of self. Each chapter is anchored with stories of people who experience themselves differently from the norm.

The Man Who Wasn’t There is a magical mystery tour of scientific analysis and philosophical pondering, now utterly transformed by recent advances in cutting-edge neuroscience.

***PRAISE FOR THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE***

‘Ananthaswamy excels at making theoretical concepts and experimental procedures both comprehensible and compelling.’ Science

‘If you simply want to read a great science book, I can’t recommend any more highly than this one.’ Forbes

‘A compelling and entertaining look at the last untapped mystery, the true final frontier: the nature of our selves. Science journalism at its best.’ Daniel J. Levitin, author of The Organized Mind

‘An agreeably written travelogue through this mysterious landscape at the frontiers of knowledge.’ The Wall Street Journal 

‘You’ll never see yourself—or others—the same way again.’ People

‘Ananthaswamy’s remarkable achievement is to make sense of these unhappy individuals’ otherness, while holding on to their human sameness. You’ll come away enlightened and chastened, asking searching questions about who you are.’ Nicholas Humphrey, author of A History of the Mind

‘It is an astonishing journey and an ambitious book, bringing together cutting-edge science and philosophy from West and East. You will not be quite the same self after reading it.’ New Scientist

Through Two Doors at Once

The clearest, most accessible explanation yet of the amazing world of quantum mechanics. 

How can matter behave both like a particle and a wave? Does a particle exist before we look at it or does the very act of looking bring it into reality? Are there hidden elements to reality missing from the orthodox view of quantum physics? And is there a place where the quantum world ends and our perceivable world begins?

Many of science’s greatest minds have grappled with these questions embodied by the simple yet elusive "double-slit" experiment. Thomas Young devised it in the early 1800s to show that light behaves like a wave, and in doing so opposed Isaac Newton’s theories. Nearly a century later, Albert Einstein showed that light comes in particles, and the experiment became key to a fierce debate with Niels Bohr over the nature of reality. Richard Feynman held that the double slit embodies the central mystery of the quantum world. Hypothesis after hypothesis, scientists have returned to this ingenious experiment to help them answer the deep questions about the fabric of our universe.

With his extraordinary gift for making the complicated comprehensible, Anil Ananthaswamy travels around the world and through history, down to the smallest scales of physical reality we have yet fathomed for the answers.

***PRAISE FOR THROUGH TWO DOORS AT ONCE***

A Physics Book of the Year

A Forbes Best Book of the Year

A Kirkus Best Book of the Year

A Smithsonian Favourite Book of the Year 

Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of Autumn

‘A fascinating read and a must for anyone who would like to find out the latest experimental advances made in this most fundamental of quantum experiments.’ Physics World

‘Ananthaswamy cleverly comes at quantum physics from a different direction… An excellent addition to the ‘Quantum physics for the rest of us’ shelf.’ Brian Clegg, author of Are Numbers Real? and The Quantum Age

‘A challenging and rewarding survey of how scientists are grappling with nature’s deepest, strangest secrets.’ Wall Street Journal

‘A fascinating tour through the cutting-edge physics the experiment keeps on spawning.’ Scientific American

‘Ananthaswamy gives an absolutely mind-boggling tour of how quantum physicists try to explain this “reality” that one of the most powerful scientific models of our era.’ Smithsonian 

‘Offers beginners the tools they need to seriously engage with the philosophical questions that likely drew them to quantum mechanics.’ Science

‘At a time when popular physics writing so valorizes theory, a quietly welcome strength of Ananthaswamy’s book is how much human construction comes into focus here. This is not “nature” showing us, but us pressing “nature” for answers to our increasingly obsessional questions.’ Washington Post

‘Ananthaswamy’s book is simply an outstanding exploration of the double slit experiment and what makes it so weird.’ Forbes

‘A thrilling survey of the most famous, enduring, and enigmatic experiment in the history of science.’ Kirkus, starred review

Ingredients

Cheese puffs. Coffee. Sunscreen. Vapes. Hand sanitiser. George Zaidan reveals the weird science behind everyday items that may or may not kill you, depending on whom you ask.

If you want easy answers, this book is not for you. But if you’re curious which health studies to trust, what dense scientific jargon really means, and how to make better choices when it comes to food and health – dive right in!

Zaidan makes chemistry more fun than potions class as he reveals exactly what science can (and can’t) tell us about the packaged ingredients we buy in the supermarket. He demystifies the ingredients of life and death – and explains how we know whether something is good or bad for you – in exquisite, hilarious detail at breakneck speed.

 

PRAISE FOR INGREDIENTS

‘If you ever thought that chemistry might be really interesting (it is), but your eyes glazed over in high school chem class, this is the book for you. George Zaidan will keep you laughing out loud as he shares the wonders of our most useful, practical science, with brilliant analogies that even an 11-year old can understand.’ Daniel J. Levitin, author of Successful Aging and This is Your Brain on Music

If you crossed Bill Nye with Stephen Colbert, you’d get George Zaidan. Ingredients is a masterful piece of science writing.’ Daniel H. Pink, author of When and Drive

Ingredients lifts the film from our eyes with humour and reassurance.’ Hank Green, author of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

At last, a book on nutrition that tries to make you understand how little we know instead of offering blanket prognostications. If instead of a simple solution, you want a guide to how to think about health, this is it.’ Zach and Kelly Weinersmith, New York Times best-selling authors of Soonish

Ingredients, is everything that should lead you to expect: funny, edgy, fascinating, dismaying, reassuring, and overall just incredibly smart.’ Deborah Blum, Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Poison Squad

You should buy Ingredients because it teaches you how to think better – like a smart, informed, and wickedly funny scientist.’ Sam Kean, author of The Disappearing Spoon

Omfg this book is FABULOUS! It’s hilarious, insightful, sassy, and reassuring. A delightful roller-coaster of science communication.’ Kallie Moore, Co-host of PBS Eons

 

The Secret Life of Bones

Bone is a marvel, an adaptable and resilient building material developed over 500 million years of evolutionary history. It has manifested itself in wings, sails, horns, armour, and an even greater array of appendages since the time of its origin. In dinosaur fossils, skeletons are biological time capsules that tell us of lives we’ll never see in the flesh. Inherited from a common fishy ancestor, it is the stuff that binds all of us vertebrates together into one great family. Swim, slither, stomp, fly, dig, run – all are expressions of what bones make possible. But that’s hardly all.

In The Secret Life of Bones, Brian Switek frames the history of our species through the importance of bone from instruments and jewellery, to objects of worship and conquest from the origins of religion through the genesis of science and up through this very day. While bone itself can reveal our individual stories, the truth very much depends on who’s telling it. Our skeletons are as embedded in our culture as they are in our bodies. Switek, an enthusiastic osteological raconteur, cuts through biology, history, and culture to understand the meaning of what’s inside us and what our bones tell us about who we are, where we came from and the legacies we leave behind.

Every Breath You Take

A fascinating journey through the atmosphere that will leave you breathless.

With seven million early deaths a year linked to air pollution, air quality is headline news around the world. But how do we measure air pollution and what on earth is an odour panel? Why are property prices higher upwind of cities? Should we buy, hold on to, or avoid a diesel car? And will our grandchildren inherit an atmosphere worth breathing?

From the atmosphere on distant planets to the stuff that gets into your lungs, from holes in the ozone layer to lazy and disappearing gases, air quality specialist and full-time breather Dr Mark Broomfield combines scientific evidence with personal stories and advice on what you can do to improve air quality, giving you the low-down on what’s up high.

***PRAISE FOR EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE***

NewBooks Book of the Month

The Revelator, 13 Best Environmental Books of July 2019

‘Written in an easily accessible style yet get across important facts about the world and what we are doing to it.’ Peter Wadhams, author of A Farewell to Ice

‘Not without raising a wry smile, the author takes us from the atmospheres of the planets to the air outside our front door… a fascinating read.’ Professor Duncan Laxen, Associate of Air Quality Consultants

‘Mark Broomfield s writing is just the breath of fresh air needed to lift the fog on atmospheric sciences.’ Piers Forster, Professor of Physical Climate Change, University of Leeds

The Singularity Is Near

‘Startling in scope and bravado.’ The New York Times

A radical and optimistic view of the future course of human development from the bestselling author of How to Create a Mind and who Bill Gates calls ‘the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence.’

For over three decades, Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future. In his classic The Age of Spiritual Machines, he argued that computers would soon rival the full range of human intelligence at its best. Now he examines the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the union of human and machine, in which the knowledge and skills embedded in our brains will be combined with the vastly greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our creations.

PRAISE FOR THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR

‘Artfully envisions a breathtakingly better world.’ Los Angeles Times

‘Elaborate, smart and persuasive.’ The Boston Globe

‘A pleasure to read.’ The Wall Street Journal

An Amazon Best Science Book of 2005

A CBS News Best Autumn Books of 2005

A St Louis Post-Dispatch Best Nonfiction Book of 2005

The Edge of Physics

A scientific and globetrotting exploration of the physics experiments changing the ways we understand our universe.

Why is the universe expanding? What is the nature of dark matter? Do other universes exist? In this timely and original book, science writer Anil Ananthaswamy embarks on a global journey to some of the world’s most inhospitable and dramatic research sites to witness first-hand the audacious physics experiments conducted to answer profound questions about the nature of the universe.

From the Atacama Desert in the Chilean Andes to the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope on Mount Paranal to deep inside an abandoned iron mine in Minnesota and to the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, Ananthaswamy weaves together stories about the people and places at the heart of this cosmological research.

While explaining the immense questions that scientists are trying to answer, Ananthaswamy provides an accessible and unique portrait of the universe and our quest to understand it. An atmospheric, engaging and illuminating read, The Edge of Physics depicts science as a human process and brings cosmology with all its rarefied concepts down to earth.

***PRAISE FOR THE EDGE OF PHYSICS***

‘A travelogue that celebrates the blood, sweat and tears that drive our understanding of the universe.’ Guardian

‘An excellent book. The author has a great knack of making difficult subjects comprehensible. I thoroughly enjoyed it.’ Sir Patrick Moore

‘A remarkable narrative that combines fundamental physics with high adventure.’ New Scientist

‘The ultimate physics-adventure travelogue… brilliant.’ Physics World

‘A grand tour of modern day cosmology’s sacred places… evocative… engaging… refreshing… a taste of science in the heroic mode.’ BBC Sky at Night

‘Clean, elegant prose, humming with interest.’ Robert MacFarlene

‘An accomplished and timely overview of modern cosmology and particle astrophysics.’ Nature