> SCIENTISTS' NIGHTSTAND
When Mount St. Helens exploded in May 1980, predicting volcanic eruptions was still a nascent science. As Steve Olson demonstrates in Eruption, the lack of clear scientific guidance and an absence of straightforward jurisdictional relationships fostered government inaction at all levels, with disastrous results.
Andy Field’s An Adventure in Statistics, provides solid statistical instruction, and it does so like no other textbook: Field has embedded his lessons in a novel-length science fiction story illustrated with graphic-novel artwork.
The story behind the pioneering game Tetris is complex, spanning the worlds of technology, psychology, entertainment, politics, and business. Thirty years on, two books tell the tale: The Tetris Effect, by technology journalist Dan Ackerman, and Tetris, by Ignatz Award–winning cartoonist Box Brown. Each ushers readers along a distinct and enlightening path.
Casual observers of catastrophe continue to distinguish between human-caused and natural disasters, but in either case consider them to be unforeseeable events. Two recent books—Love Canal, by Richard Newman, and The Cure for Catastrophe, by Robert Muir-Wood—might change some minds.
Plants are essential to human life, which means their health and propagation are vital to us. Yet their seeds mostly escape our notice. Carolyn Fry aims to remedy this. Her book Seeds reveals the humble seed in all its fascinating, colorful detail.
In The Science Writers’ Essay Handbook, Michelle Nijhuis explores the similarities between the writing process and the scientific process, offering a wealth of practical writing advice along the way.
An Enlightenment mathematician and astronomer, Nathaniel Bowditch improved many areas of life in the early American republic and earned praise both at home and abroad. Yet today his work has largely been forgotten. In Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers, Tamara Plakins Thornton reminds readers why Bowditch was so influential and ponders his legacy.
Critic and theorist Peter Buse’s examination of the cultural history of Polaroid technology, The Camera Does the Rest, considers the societal forces at work as the company succeeded and failed, from the launch of its first camera in 1948 to its considerably paler existence today.
For more than two decades, ecologist and evolutionary biologist Drew Harvell has curated Cornell University’s collection of 569 glass models of marine invertebrates, crafted in the 19th century by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. In 2011 she began exploring oceans and waterways to find each species represented in Cornell’s collection. In this excerpt from her book A Sea of Glass, Harvell describes her encounters with marvelously changeable cephalopods.
Many, if not most, popular histories attempt to identify a particular set of antecedent causes and imbue them with an agency to explain later events—to find, in a way, the pivotal events leading up to the pivotal events. In The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics, Stephen Coss trains his focus on Boston during the years 1720 through 1722.
Bestselling poet Christian Bök has worked on this groundbreaking project for more than a decade, collaborating with scientists and studying the science himself from the ground up, in order to create what may be considered the first “living poetry.”
There are almost 2,000 species of fireflies, and Tufts University biologist Sara Lewis’s fascination with the creatures is so captivating that readers may want to learn about them all.
Agatha Christie knew her poisons. Written by a former research chemist, A is for Arsenic examines 14 of the toxic substances featured in Christie’s mysteries.
Through the pages of A Brief History of Creation, Bill Mesler and H. James Cleaves II trace humanity’s obsession with the origin story of life on Earth as Westerners have told it, from the philosophy of Anaximander in the 6th century BCE to a 21st-century biology lab at Harvard Medical School.
In Rust, journalist Jonathan Waldman follows a winding, oxidized path—to the Statue of Liberty, through Alaskan oil fields, into the Ball can-making factory, and well beyond—revealing how the work of corrosion engineers improves contemporary life, making it easier, more productive, and far safer.
For Professor Astro Cat's Atomic Adventure, author Dominic Walliman and illustrator Ben Newman bring an intrepid cosmic traveler back for a journey through physics' many realms.
Geobiologist Hope Jahren’s memoir, Lab Girl, takes readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of science as she recounts the triumphs and misadventures of setting up three labs and conducting research in the Canadian Arctic, Ireland, Hawaii, and across the continental United States.
American Scientist’s readers, writers, and editors share the science books that struck their fancy in 2015—summed up in just six words!
What happens in this virtual world—the Dark Net—and why?
An inveterate explorer with an insatiable curiosity about the natural world, Alexander von Humboldt observed flora, fauna, climatic variation, and geology in close detail from continent to continent and described his findings in some of the bestselling volumes of his age.
A brief review of Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science, by Daniel P. Todes
A brief review of Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe, by Lisa Randall
A review essay on Thank You, Madagascar: The Conservation Diaries of Alison Jolly, by Alison Jolly
A brief review of Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, by Randall Munroe
A brief review of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, by J. Kenji López-Alt
A brief review of Scientists at War: The Ethics of Cold War Weapons Research, by Sarah Bridger
A brief review of Dragonflies: Magnificent Creatures of Water, Air, and Land, by Pieter van Dokkum
A brief review of Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind, by David J. Linden
A brief review of Creating Symmetry: The Artful Mathematics of Wallpaper Patterns, by Frank A. Farris
A brief excerpt of Longing for the Bomb: Oak Ridge and Atomic Nostalgia, by Lindsey A. Freeman
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