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Scientists' Nightstand

Beautiful Corn

Anna Lena Phillips

A brief review of Beautiful Corn: America’s Original Grain from Seed to Plate, by Anthony Boutard


Sex, Genes and Arms Control

Anna Lena Phillips

Our review of reviews published during the first 100 years of the Scientists’ Bookshelf continues, with content ranging from landscape architecture to clouds to alternative energy


Sex Is for Real

Mary S. Calderone

A 1969 review of Sex Is for Real (Human Sexuality & Sexual Responsibility), by W. Dalrymple


Mathematical Models of Arms Control and Disarmament

Gerald H. Kramer

A 1969 review of Mathematical Models of Arms Control & Disarmament: Application of Mathematical Structures to Politics, by T. L. Saaty


Civilizing American Cities, Autokind vs. Mankind and Anatomy of a Park

Paul J. Mitarachi

A 1972 review of Civilizing American Cities, by Frederick Law Olmstead, edited by S. B. Sutton; Autokind vs. Mankind, by Kenneth R. Schneider; and Anatomy of a Park, by Albert J. Rutledge


Patterning of Time

Ernest R. Hilgard

A 1972 review of Patterning of Time, by Leonard W. Doob


Clouds of the World

Barry Saltzman

A 1973 review of Clouds of the World: A Complete Color Encyclopedia, by Richard Scorer


Alternatives to the Internal Combustion Engine

John B. Heywood

A 1973 review of Alternatives to the Internal Combustion Engine: Impacts on Environmental Quality, by Robert U. Ayres and Richard P. McKenna


Ecology and Environment

Jay Martin Anderson

A 1974 review of Ecology and Environment: Civilized Man’s Eight Deadly Sins, by Konrad Lorenz, translated by Marjorie Kerr Wilson


Machine Takeover

Peter M. Will

A 1978 review of Machine Takeover: The Growing Threat to Human Freedom in a Computer-Controlled Society, by Frank George


The Ultimate Experiment: Man-Made Evolution

Yaakou Schechter

A 1978 review of The Ultimate Experiment: Man-Made Evolution, by Nicholas Wade


Food Production and Its Consequences

Margaret Dittemore

A 1978 review of Food Production and Its Consequences, by Philip E. L. Smith


Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply and The Hidden Malpractice

Elizabeth C. Patterson

A 1978 review of Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply: Sexual Barriers in the Medical Profession, 1835–1975, by Mary Roth Walsh, and The Hidden Malpractice:How American Medicine Treats Women as Patients and Professionals, by Gena Corea


In a Class by Itself

Veit Elser

A review of The Nature of Computation, by Cristopher Moore and Stephan Mertens. The authors "have produced one of the most successful attempts to capture the broad scope and intellectual depth of theoretical computer science as it is practiced today," says Elser


Fortean Flora

Andrea Wills

A review of What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses, by Daniel Chamovitz. Plants’ ability to sense and respond to their surrounding environment is stranger and more surprising than one might think, and Chamovitz recounts the stories of scientists’ discoveries in plant biology with wit and charm, says Wills


Making the Land Our Own

Christine Casson

A review of American Georgics: Writings on Farming, Culture, and the Land, edited by Edwin C. Hagenstein, Sara M. Gregg, and Brian Donahue. The United States has always embodied the tension between the ideals of agrarianism and industrialism, says Casson, and this book provides a compelling history of that tension


Chemical Innocence?

Emily Monosson

A review of Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants, by Carl F. Cranor. Cranor notes that it’s not enough for individual citizens to try to avoid chemicals that are known to be toxic; to offer substantive protection, legislation must be improved


A Portrait of the Economy

Brian Hayes

A review of Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius, by Sylvia Nasar. This work is essentially a biography of economics, says Hayes. Nasar reveals the history and the nature of the field through captivating portraits of economists


The Rocks Don't Lie

David Schoonmaker

A brief review of The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood, by David R. Montgomery


A Field Guide to Radiation

Fenella Saunders

A brief review of A Field Guide to Radiation, by Wayne Biddle


Classic Book Reviews: The Early Years

Anna Lena Phillips

We take a look back at reviews published during the first 20 years of the Scientists' Bookshelf


The Sea Around Us, by Rachel L. Carson

Kirtley F. Mather


Silicones and Their Uses, by Rob Roy McGregor

Kirtley F. Mather


The Piltdown Forgery, by J. S. Weiner

Kirtley F. Mather


Book Reviewing in the Sciences: A Conversation

Carl Zimmer, Phillip Manning, Anna Lena Phillips

Three science writers and editors consider the state of science book reviews


Trouble at the Back End

Allison Macfarlane

A review of Fuel Cycle to Nowhere: U.S. Law and Policy on Nuclear Waste, by Richard Burleson Stewart and Jane Bloom Stewart. This comprehensive book details efforts to manage nuclear waste in the United States and, in doing so, offers useful lessons for policy makers and the public





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Alvin Sub

Happy Birthday to Alvin! August 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Alvin, the submersible that has been so influential in ocean research, including the discovery of hydrothermal vents. In 2014, a retrofitted Alvin also took its first test cruise.

Heather Olins, a doctoral candidate at Harvard, studies microbial ecology at deep sea hydrothermal vents with the help of Alvin, and shares her personal tribute to the submersible on these landmark occasions.

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