Thursday, December 07, 2017

Christmas Ideas: Science and Nature

The Inner Life of Animals, Peter Wohlleben - £16.99
Mother deer that grieve? Horses that feel shame? Squirrels that adopt their grandchildren? We humans tend to assume that we are the only living things able to experience feelings intensely and consciously. But have you ever wondered what's going on in an animal's head? 

From the leafy forest floor to the inside of a bee hive, The Inner Life of Animals takes us microscopic levels of observation to the big philosophical, ethical and scientific questions. We hear the stories of a grateful humpback whale, of a hedgehog who has nightmares, and of a magpie who commits adultery; we meet bees that plan for the future, pigs who learn their own names and crows that go tobogganing for fun.

And at last we find out why wasps exist. As more and more researchers are discovering, animals experience a rich emotional life that is ready to be explored. The Inner Life of Animals will show you these living things in a new light and will open up the animal kingdom like never before.

The Secret Life of Cows, Rosamund Young - £9.99
Cows are as varied as people. They can be highly intelligent or slow to understand, vain, considerate, proud, shy or inventive. Although much of a cow's day is spent eating, they always find time for extra-curricular activities such as babysitting, playing hide and seek, blackberry-picking or fighting a tree.  This is an affectionate record of a hitherto secret world.

Woods : A Celebration, Robert Penn - £20
A tribute to the natural history of some of our most iconic British woods. The National Trust manages hundreds of woods, covering over 60,000 acres of England and Wales. They include many of the oldest woodlands in the land and some of the oldest living things of any kind - trees that are thousands of years old.

From Dean to Epping, from Hatfield to Sherwood, this book covers the natural history of our forests and how they have changed the face of our landscape. Covering the different species of trees that give our woods their unique characters, the plants and animals that inhabit them and the way their appearance changes throughout the seasons, Woods is a fascinating and beautifully illustrated celebration of Britain's trees and the ancient stories that surround them.

What's Next? Jim Al-Khalili - £8.99
Thought the science of the future was all hoverboards and space travel? Think again. Every day, scientists come up with the ingenious solutions and surprising discoveries that will define our future.  So here, Jim Al-Khalili and his crack team of experts bin the crystal ball and use cutting-edge science to get a glimpse of what's in store.

From whether teleportation is really possible (spoiler: it is), to what we'll do if artificial intelligence takes over, What's Next? takes on the big questions.  And along the way, it'll answer questions like: Will we find a cure to all diseases? An answer to climate change? Will bionics make us into superheroes?  Touching on everything from genetics to transport, and nanotechnology to teleportation, What's Next? is a fascinating, fun and informative look at what's in store for the human race.

Furry Logic, Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher  - £9.99
The animal world is full of mysteries. Why do dogs slurp from their drinking bowls while cats lap up water with a delicate flick of the tongue? How does a tiny turtle hatchling from Florida circle the entire northern Atlantic before returning to the very beach where it hatched? And how can a Komodo dragon kill a water buffalo with a bite only as strong as a domestic cat's?  

These puzzles - and many more besides - are all explained by physics. From heat and light to electricity and magnetism, Furry Logic unveils the ways that more than 30 animals exploit physics to eat, drink, mate and dodge death in their daily battle for survival.

Along the way, science journalists Matin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher introduce the great physicists whose discoveries helped us understand the animal world, as well as the animal experts of today who are scouring the planet to find and study the animals that seem to push the laws of physics to the limit. Presenting mind-bending physics principles in a simple and engaging way, Furry Logic will appeal both to animal lovers and to those curious to see how physics crops up in the natural world. It's more of a `howdunit' than a whodunit, though you're unlikely to guess some of the answers.


The Infinite Monkey Cage - How to Build a Universe, Brian Cox & Robin Ince £20
The Infinite Monkey Cage, the legendary BBC Radio 4 programme, brings you this irreverent celebration of scientific marvels. Join us on a hectic leap through the grand and bizarre ideas conjured up by human imagination, from dark matter to consciousness via neutrinos and earthworms. Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince muse on multifaceted subjects involved in building a universe, with pearls of wisdom from leading scientists and comedians peppered throughout.

Covering billions of concepts and conundrums, they tackle everything from the Big Bang to parallel universes, fierce creatures to extraterrestrial life, brain science to artificial intelligence. How to Build a Universe is an illuminating and inspirational celebration of science - sometimes silly, sometimes astounding and very occasionally facetious.

Science is Beautiful, Colin Salter - £20
Our understanding of disease and the powers of medicine today are unparalleled, and their documentation has increased signficantly. Science is Beautiful collects the most fascinating microscopic photographs of our diseases along with the medicines we use to treat them. These photographs are profoundly fascinating - and also beautiful.

Featured are some of the most illuminating microscopic images of bacteria, viruses and cancers ever captured, now made possible by electron micrograph technology. It also uncovers some diseases specific to animals. 

But there are also dazzling images of the crystals, powders and potions that we take to cure ourselves, including magnified versions of aspirin, insulin, morphine and caffeine. This collection of images, as beautiful as any artwork, can be enjoyed purely as a visual voyage but also as a way to understand more of the science behind the image, whether it's the work of a meningitis virus, our chromosomes in a cancer cell or the breakdown of painkillers.

The Zoomable Universe, Caleb Scharf - £20
Embark on a breath-taking, cutting-edge voyage through the enormity of our reality - travelling one "power of ten" or order of magnitude at a time.  Echoing the classic film by Charles and Ray Eames, acclaimed astrobiologist Caleb Scharf and artist Ron Miller guide us from the very edge of the observable universe - about 91 billion light-years away - to the subatomic realm, where the fabric of space-time itself behaves in a way that confounds all the rules of physics we currently know. 

Gorgeously designed and visually inspiring, The Zoomable Universe takes a truly unique approach toward explaining our place in the universe, charting an unforgettable course through galaxies, black holes, solar systems, stars and planets, oceans, plants and animals, microorganisms, atoms, quantum fields, and much more.

Illustrated with stunning colour artwork and infographics, this is an unforgettable journey that will thrill readers who want to discover more about the incredible reality we inhabit.

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