ABBEY'S CHOICE SEPTEMBER 2016 ----- This is a story about you.
It is the history of who you are and how you came to be. It is unique to you, as it is to each of the 100 billion modern humans who have ever drawn breath. But it is also our collective story, because in every one of our genomes we each carry the history of our species - births, deaths, disease, war, famine, migration and a lot of sex.
Since scientists first read the human genome in 2001 it has been subject to all sorts of claims, counterclaims and myths. In fact, as Adam Rutherford explains, our genomes should be read not as instruction manuals, but as epic poems. DNA determines far less than we have been led to believe about us as individuals, but vastly more about us as a species.
In this captivating journey through the expanding landscape of genetics, Adam Rutherford reveals what our genes now tell us about history, and what history tells us about our genes. From Neanderthals to murder, from redheads to race, dead kings to plague, evolution to epigenetics, this is a demystifying and illuminating new portrait of who we are and how we came to be.
This book documents the rich and spectacular heritage of the Australian continent over the last 4400 million years. Now in its third edition, The Geology of Australia provides a comprehensive overview of Australia's geology, landscapes and Earth resources. Beginning with the Precambrian rocks that hold clues to the origins of life and the development of an oxygenated atmosphere, it goes on to cover the warm seas, volcanism and episodes of mountain building that formed the eastern third of the Australian continent. This illuminating history details the breakup of the supercontinents Rodinia and Gondwana, the times of previous glaciations, the development of climates and landscapes in modern Australia, and the creation of the continental shelves and coastlines. This third edition features two new chapters on geological time and Paleozoic orogenic rock systems and mountain building, and new and updated illustrations and full-colour images.
Rethink is the story of how old ideas that were mocked or ignored for centuries are now storming back to the cutting edge of science and technology, and informing the way we lead our lives. It's the story of Grace Hopper, the programming language pioneer who allowed us to speak to computers; of Ignaz Semmelweis, the brilliant doctor who worked out how infections occur long before there was a proper germ theory of disease, and was committed to an asylum for his trouble; of Democritus, the laughing philosopher who inferred the atomic foundations of reality just by thinking about bread. Incorporating examples from areas ranging from epigenetics to value investing, from chess tactics to quantum physics, Rethink shows what we can learn by revisiting old, discarded ideas and considering them from a new perspective. From within the rich anecdotes of bad ideas emerge good ones, helping us find new ways to think about ideas in our own time - from novel proposals in the boardroom to grand projects for social and political change. Armed with this picture of the surprising evolution of ideas and their triumphant second lives, you will see the world differently - and perhaps be better equipped to change it.
Opening this book, you are about to enter a wonderland. Tim Flannery, author of Atmosphere of Hope and The Weather Makers Charming, provocative, fascinating. David George Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen, Pulitzer finalist Are trees social beings? In this international bestseller, forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in his woodland. After you have read The Hidden Life of Trees, a walk in the woods will never be the same again.
'Amazing' Guardian From the on-screen experts for BBC2's Cat Watch, and based on their groundbreaking research - this is the ultimate guide to making your cat a happier, more sociable animal. The idea of a trained cat is a contradiction in terms, isn't it? Naturally solitary, wary, easily threatened by newcomers, they are attached to place rather than people, and much of their 'antisocial' behaviour arises in situations where that attachment is threatened. But, as cat experts Sarah Ellis and John Bradshaw argue, such stress-induced behaviour can be prevented, reduced, even eliminated, by training. A comprehensive and engaging step-by-step guide, The Trainable Cat will help you to help your cat negotiate the complexities of everyday life: to enjoy living with humans - including new babies and lively toddlers - and other pets; to answer to their name; settle into a new home; and to overcome the anxiety of a visit to the vet. You can train your cat to do what is in its own best interests - even when its instincts tell it otherwise. 'I doubt you'll find a more well-informed or scientific book on cats that better shows you how feline thinking works' The Times
Enhanced with beautiful full-colour photographs, these true stories of camaraderie, affection, and remarkable bravery are from the author of the New York Times bestsellers Unlikely Friendships, Unlikely Loves, and Unlikely Heroes, as well as other books and calendars, with nearly two-million copies in print. Meet Rex, a Belgian Malinois who learned to love and trust again through the improbable friendship of a goose. The pit bull named Dolly, whose antics with her best friend, Sheldon the tortoise, include games of tag. For the millions of dog lovers, this heart-warming and inspirational book celebrates 39 stories of unusual canine companionship.
On July 8th, 2015, something weird happened. The NYSE computers went down and trading was suspended for several hours. The culprit wasn't hackers or a rogue algorithm. It was just... a glitch. And it's just the beginning.
Technological complexity is no trivial matter. While a few hours of suspended trading may not have had lasting impact on the markets, imagine the damage that could result from a breakdown of our air traffic control systems, or earthquake warning systems. We need a new way to think about technology, and we need it fast.
In Overcomplicated, complexity scientist Samuel Arbesman argues that we've reached a new era: a time when our technological systems have become too complex and interconnected for us to fully understand or predict.
From our machines and software to our legal frameworks and urban infrastructure, Arbesman explores the forces that lead us to continue to make systems more complicated and more incomprehensible, despite our best efforts to make them simpler. He goes on to identify a new framework for thinking about (and planning within) complex systems.
We must abandon the idea that we will understand the rules, and instead become field biologists for technology - relying on description and observation to uncover facts about how a system might work. Whether you work in business, finance, science, or IT, or you simply own a smart phone,Overcomplicated offers valuable insight on how to adapt to the complex age we are living in.
Our enduring fascination in our solar system and the wonders of the universe is now being fed by images of breathtaking detail, whether from data sent back 7.5 billion kilometres to bring Pluto into focus, or our first direct encounter with a comet by the Philae lander. The very best images captured by the new generation of terrestrial telescopes, orbiting telescopes and deep-space probes and landers have been collected in this magnificent volume. Detailed captions explain the equipment and techicalities of producing such images, which are not only mesmerising but also provide a huge amount of information about the geology and atmospheres of celestial bodies, and the formation of distant galaxies. From the world's gigantic telescopes in the Canary Islands, Hawaii and Chile to the New Horizons probe now heading into the Kuiper Belt to examine other icy mini-worlds, each page reveals extraordinary images that take us deeper into our universe.
Water scarcity is on everyone's mind. Long taken for granted, water availability has entered the realm of economics, politics, and people's food and lifestyle choices. But as anxiety mounts - even as a swath of California farmland has been left fallow and extremist groups worldwide exploit the desperation of people losing livelihoods to desertification - many are finding new routes to water security with key implications for food access, economic resilience, and climate change. Water does not perish, nor require millions of years to form as do fossil fuels. However, water is always on the move in this timely, important book, Judith D. Schwartz presents a refreshing perspective on water that transcends zero-sum thinking. By allying with the water cycle, we can revive lush, productive landscapes. Like the river in rural Zimbabwe that, thanks to restorative grazing, now flows miles further than in living memory. Or the food forest of oranges, pomegranates, and native fruit-bearing plants in Tucson, grown through harvesting urban wastewater. Or the mini-oasis in West Texas nourished by dew. Animated by stories from around the globe, Water In Plain Sight is an inspiring reminder that fixing the future of our drying planet involves understanding what makes natural systems thrive.
In this compelling journey through peaks both real and imaginary, Veronica della Dora explores how the history of mountains is deeply interlaced with cultural values and aesthetic tastes, with religious beliefs and scientific practices.
Majestic and awe-inspiring, mountains demand our attention. Through the centuries, they have both repulsed and attracted. They have been appreciated and despised as sites of divine and diabolic sublimity, as the dwellings of gods and demons, hermits and revolutionaries. Mountain encounters have defined ways of seeing. They have changed our sense of time. They have pushed the boundary between life and death. Progressively tamed, exploited, even commodified, today mountains continue to attract seekers of spiritual quietness and of extreme emotions alike, as well as weekend travellers looking for a break from the everyday.
In this compelling journey through peaks both real and imaginary, Veronica della Dora explores how the history of mountains is deeply interlaced with cultural values and aesthetic tastes, with religious beliefs and scientific practices. She shows how mountains are ultimately collaborations between geology and the human imagination, and how they have helped shape our environmental consciousness and our place in the world.
Storms affect our lives in many remarkable and powerful ways. Gales, hurricanes, cyclones, blizzards, tornados, hail and sand and dust storms regularly demonstrate the awesome power of nature that all of us experience in some form. But what causes them? What role have they played in our history, religion and the arts? And will climate change make them even more destructive?
This strikingly illustrated book takes an in-depth and unique look at the nature of storms and their impact on our lives. It shows how storms have changed the course of history, playing a decisive role in major battles and momentous revolutions from Roman times to the modern day. It describes the deadliest storms in history, such as the Bangladesh cyclone of 1970 that killed perhaps a million people, and explains how humans have tried to control storms through religion, superstition and science. Despite their potent ability to cause destruction, storms also benefit humanity.
Storm also describes the major role they have played in the arts, from Shakespeare's plays to novels such as Robinson Crusoe and famous works of art by Rembrandt, Constable, Monet, Munch and Turner.
With a plan to own or manage one per cent of Australia by 2025, Bush Heritage Australia is an organisation with big ambitions. Started by Bob Brown in 1991, Bush Heritage was born from an urgent mission: to protect pristine land from logging. After buying two blocks of land in Tasmania's Liffey Valley, Brown built a philanthropic organisation to help pay for them. As donations flowed in and the organisation grew, Bush Heritage set its sights on acquiring tracts of land across the country, repairing environmental degradation and bringing native plants and wildlife back to health. Twenty-five years later, with more than one million hectares in its care, Bush Heritage's achievements are celebrated in this book along with its growth from humble beginnings into a large non-profit with benefactors all over the world. Central to this story are the ecologists, researchers, land managers, local Indigenous groups, staff, donors and a brigade of volunteers who have helped the organisation to thrive. 'For the ever-growing band of benefactors, and the volunteers and staff of Bush Heritage Australia, happiness flows from our combined effort to ensure that Australia's unique landscapes, wildlife and ecosystems prosper into the future.' BOB BROWN
The inside story of the worst environmental disaster in American history.
Blowout is the first comprehensive account of the legal, economic, and environmental consequences of the April 2010 blowout at a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico. The accident destroyed the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and killed 11 people. The resulting offshore oil discharge the largest ever in the United States - polluted much of the Gulf for months, wreaking havoc on its inhabitants.
A former Justice Department lawyer responsible for enforcing environmental laws, Daniel Jacobs tells the story that neither BP nor the federal government wants heard: how the company and the government fell short, both in terms of preventing and coping with the accident.
All-important details about the cause and aftermath of the disaster have emerged through court proceedings and with the passage of time. The key finding of the federal judge who presided over the civil litigation arising out of the disaster was that the Deepwater Horizon blowout resulted from BP's gross negligence.
BP has paid tens of billions of dollars to settle claims and law suits arising from the accident. The company also has pled guilty to manslaughter in a separate criminal case. Yet, no one responsible for the accident itself is headed to prison. On the other hand, hundreds of people have been prosecuted for filing false claims against BP, some 75 of whom have been sentenced to prison.
Blowout is an important book for readers interested in the environment, sustainability, public policy, leadership and the consequences of poor risk management.
Cities are the world's future. Today, more than half of the global population - 3.7 billion people - are urban dwellers, and that number is expected to double by 2050. There is no question that cities are growing; the only debate is over how they will grow. Will we invest in the physical and social infrastructure necessary for livable, equitable, and sustainable cities?
In the latest edition of State of the World, the flagship publication of the Worldwatch Institute, experts from around the globe examine the core principles of sustainable urbanism and profile cities that are putting them into practice.
State of the World first puts our current moment in context, tracing cities in the arc of human history. It also examines the basic structural elements of every city: materials and fuels; people and economics; and biodiversity.
In part two, professionals working on some of the world's most inventive urban sustainability projects share their first-hand experience. Success stories come from places as diverse as Ahmedabad, India; Freiburg, Germany; and Shanghai, China. In many cases, local people are acting to improve their cities, even when national efforts are stalled.
Parts three and four examine cross-cutting issues that affect the success of all cities. Topics range from the nitty-gritty of handling waste and developing public transportation to civic participation and navigating dysfunctional government.
Throughout, readers discover the most pressing challenges facing communities and the most promising solutions currently being developed. The result is a snapshot of cities today and a vision for global urban sustainability tomorrow.
In Why It's Not All Rocket Science, Robert Cave examines 100 extraordinary projects, theories and experiments that have been conducted in the name of science. Some, including various nuclear tests, have attracted controversy and hostility; others, such as Johann Wilhelm Ritter's erotic self-experiments with a voltaic pile, seem downright weird. But Cave demonstrates, thoroughly and informatively, that it is only by doggedly asking awkward questions, and paying close attention to the answers, that scientists have been able to make progress. From spider monkeys to human cyborgs, and from swimming in syrup to chaos theory, Cave places each experiment and discovery in its scientific context to present an entertaining guide to some of the most jaw-dropping entries in the history of science. Why It's Not All Rocket Science contains chapters on the brain, the body, society and communications, planet Earth and the Universe, and to read it is to gain startling insights into why scientists seem to behave so oddly, and how their brilliant if sometimes bizarre work benefits all of society.
A cutting-edge new book that reveals how foreign microbes might actually be good for us, contrary to past belief. The microorganisms that we have sought to eliminate have been supporting our ancestors for centuries. They comprise 90 percent of the cells in our bodies and yet we have significantly reduced their power, sparking an epidemic of new diseases, or superbugs. The Human Superorganism presents pioneering research and offers a blueprint for a revolution in public health, by going against what we always thought was true: that foreign microbes are bad for us.
This beautifully illustrated pop science book which answers the enduring questions raised by science fiction, such as Do hoverboards really exist? , How can you bring a dinosaur back to life? and Can we really travel in time and space? Packed with stunning images, including 75 illustrations created exclusively for this book, Blueprint for a Battlestar takes twenty-five remarkable and memorable technologies from the world of sci-fi, from Star Wars and The Matrix to Ironman and The Terminator. Each concept will be explained and dissected to reveal the real science behind it. Some are boldly obvious - such as the Death Star and exoskeletons - and some less so (think bio-ports or cloaking devices). All are fascinating and will make wonderful explorations into the science of the future as we understand it today.
Bestselling author Theodore Gray has spent more than a decade dreaming up, executing, photographing, and writing about extreme scientific experiments, which he then published between 2009 and 2014 in his monthly Popular Science column Gray Matter. Previously published in book form by Black Dog in two separate volumes (Mad Science and Mad Science 2), these experiments, plus 5 more all-new ones, will now be combined in one complete book. Packaged in a smaller, chunkier format Completely Mad Science is 432 pages of dazzling chemical demonstrations, illustrated in spectacular full-color photographs. Some of the completely mad experiments in the book include: Casting a model fish out of mercury (demonstrating how this element behaves very differently depending upon temperature); the famous Flaming Bacon Lance that can cut through steel (demonstrating the amount of energy contained in fatty foods like bacon); creating nylon thread out of pure liquid by combining molecules of hexamethylenediamine and sebacoyl chloride; making homemade ice cream using a fire extinguisher and a pillow case; powering your iPhone using 150 pennies and an apple, and many, many more. It's the ultimate collection for Gray's millions of fans.
50 Science Ideas You Really Need to Know is your guide to the biggest questions and deepest concepts from across the whole of science. What was the Big Bang? How did life on Earth arise? What does quantum mechanics tell us about the universe? Is true artificial intelligence possible? And does life exist on other planets? Moving from the basics of atoms and molecules, Newton's laws of physics and the building blocks of life to the cutting edge of nanotechnology, Einstein's theories of relativity and cloning, this book makes the many worlds of science accessible and illuminating. Featuring fifty concise, insightful and illustrated essays covering physics and astronomy, Earth and life sciences, chemistry and materials, psychology and computing, and exploring the ways they connect with each other and impact on our lives, 50 Science Ideas You Really Need to Know is the ideal introduction to the questions which fascinate us all.
Botanical charts are experiencing a resurgence in interest, both as pieces of art and as objects of scientific and historical significance, and The Botanical Wall Chart documents this extraordinary convergence of disciplines that flourished in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Europe was enjoying a golden age of botanical illustration, naturalists were exploring the globe, and there was a calamour for knowledge of the natural world. Intellectual curiosity was no longer limited to the few; education was now considered a right afforded to all, in classrooms across the continent. And thus the botanical wall chart was born, a synthesis of art, science and education. This collection of wall charts from all over the globe, each accompanied by text explaining its historical and botanical contexts, has been put together by botanist Anna Laurent, and will delight anyone with an interest in the natural world.
Thought about sex today? Of course you have! It's about the most natural thing any animal can do. But have you ever wondered how human sex compares to that of other beasts? It's far from merely inserting part A into slot B. The sex lives of our animal cousins are fiendishly difficult, infinitely varied and often violent. They involve razor-sharp penises, murderous cannibals and chemical warfare in an epic battle between the sexes. Like us, animals must first find the perfect partner. You think we have it tough? Try having to do it while being hunted down by predators, against a backdrop of unpredictable or life-threatening conditions. Then, sperm and egg must successfully meet. Can you imagine doing this when your partner is intent on killing you or when other disgruntled singles are determined to throw you off your game? The next task is to ensure that the resultant offspring reach sexual maturity in order to keep the cycle going. The myriad ways in which this is accomplished is ingenious. Join Carin Bondar on a fascinating journey from puberty to old age across the entire animal kingdom - it will forever change your idle daydreams about the nature of sex.
We share the Earth with more than 10,000 species of birds and we have always been enchanted by them. Here, over 60 birds, organized thematically into eight sections, cover all aspects of our relationship with birds. 'Songbirds' celebrates the greatest bird virtuosi, such as the Nightingale, while 'Birds of Prey' include majestic hunters such as the Harpy Eagle, which catches prey as large as monkeys and sloths.
'Feathered Travellers' describes astounding journeys made by birds - even some tiny Hummingbirds migrate huge distances. 'The Love Life of Birds' can rival any soap opera and involves the most brilliant displays, notably the Birds of Paradise, with their extravagant feathers and dances. 'Avian Cities' explores species such as the Flamingo that live in spectacular large colonies. 'Useful to Us' examines the ways we find birds of value, such as the Turkey, but also the Canary.
'Threatened and Extinct' describes some no longer living and others that seem on the brink. Birds have also had great mystical significance, both for good and evil, and 'Revered and Adored' considers such species as the Sacred Ibis, believed by the ancient Egyptians to represent the god Thoth. For anyone interested in the natural world and the wonderful variety of birds around us, this beautifully illustrated book is a visual treat that will inspire, inform and delight.
Bone is one of the most extraordinary materials in the natural world - flexible and strong, available in a number of types and densities. Yet we only absorb quite how amazing it is when we look at the range of different jobs it can do, from supporting and shaping a huge and heavy mammal like an elephant to enabling a bat to fly. And looking into the distant past, scientists know what they know about the dinosaurs and their descendents from their fossilized bones, extraordinary reminders of how different our world used to be. Skeletons takes the virtuoso engravings of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and marries them with a contemporary and readable text that brings them right up to date, creating an appealing mix of scientific eye candy and cutting-edge scholarship.
If you think that intelligence emanates from the mind and that reasoning necessitates the suppression of emotion, you'd better think again-or rather not "think" at all. In his provocative new book, Guy Claxton draws on the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology to reveal how our bodies-long dismissed as mere conveyances-actually constitute the core of our intelligent life. From the endocrinal means by which our organs communicate to the instantaneous decision-making prompted by external phenomena, our bodies are able to perform intelligent computations that we either overlook or wrongly attribute to our brains.
Embodied intelligence is one of the most exciting areas in contemporary philosophy and neuropsychology, and Claxton shows how the privilege given to cerebral thinking has taken a toll on modern society, resulting in too much screen time, the diminishment of skilled craftsmanship, and an overvaluing of white-collar over blue-collar labor. Discussing techniques that will help us reconnect with our bodies, Claxton shows how an appreciation of the body's intelligence will enrich all our lives.
Being among bees is a full-body experience, Mark Winston writes. <i>Bee Time</i> presents his reflections on three decades spent studying these remarkable creatures, and on the lessons they can teach about how humans might better interact with one another and the natural world, from the boardroom to urban design to agricultural ecosystems.
Molecular Biology is the story of the molecules of life, their relationships, and how these interactions are controlled. It is an expanding field in life sciences, and its applications are wide and growing. We can now harness the power of molecular biology to treat diseases, solve crimes, map human history, and produce genetically modified organisms and crops, and these applications have sparked a multitude of fascinating legal and ethical debates. In this Very Short Introduction, Aysha Divan and Janice Royds examine the history, present, and future of Molecular Biology. Starting with the building blocks established by Darwin, Wallace and Mendel, and the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953, they consider the wide range of applications for Molecular Biology today, including the development of new drugs, and forensic science. They also look forward to two key areas of evolving research such as personalised medicine and synthetic biology. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Since the birth of civilisation, human beings have manipulated other life-forms. We have selectively bred plants and animals for thousands of years to maximize agricultural production and cater to our tastes in pets. The observation of the creation of artificial animal and plant variants was a key stimulant for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The ability to directly engineer the genomes of organisms first became possible in the 1970s, when the gene for human insulin was introduced into bacteria to produce this protein for diabetics. At the same time, mice were modified to produce human growth hormone, and grew huge as a result. But these were only our first tottering steps into the possibilities of genetic engineering.
In the past few years, the pace of progress has accelerated enormously. We can now cut and paste genes using molecular scissors with astonishing ease, and the new technology of genome editing can be applied to practically any species of plants or animals. 'Mutation chain reaction' can be used to alter the genes of a population of pests, such as flies; as the modified creatures breed, the mutation is spread through the population, so that within a few generations the organism is almost completely altered. At the same time, scientists are also beginning to synthesize new organisms from scratch.
These new technologies hold much promise for improving lives. Genome editing has already been used clinically to treat AIDS patients, by genetically modifying their white blood cells to be resistant to HIV. In agriculture, genome editing could be used to engineer species with increased food output, and the ability to thrive in challenging climates. New bacterial forms may be used to generate energy. But these powerful new techniques also raise important ethical dilemmas and potential dangers, pressing issues that are already upon us given the speed of scientific developments.
To what extent should parents be able to manipulate the genetics of their offspring - and would designer babies be limited to the rich? Can we effectively weigh up the risks from introducing synthetic lifeforms into complex ecosystems? John Parrington explains the nature and possibilities of these new scientific developments, which could usher in a brave, new world. We must rapidly come to understand its implications if we are to direct its huge potential to the good of humanity and the planet.
Viruses are the last frontier of undiscovered life on our planet. The most abundant type of organism on Earth, they infect all types of cellular life, and, as micro-organisms that cause disease in their hosts, they are highly opportunistic and relentlessly efficient. They exist at the vanguard of DNA variance, exhibiting more structural diversity than plants, animals, archaea, or even bacteria. This 21st-century guide offers an engaging introductory section explaining exactly what viruses are and how they operate, followed by individual profiles of 101 of the world (TM)s most notable examples, each with its own dazzling mugshot. *Each virus profile features visuals, maps, and lively text to highlight key features *With 101 examples, selected to reveal the extraordinary diversity of the viral world *A global overview that uncovers the microlife teeming around us
If you're brilliant at everything else, but lack confidence when it comes to maths, join Liz Strachan, a maths teacher with many, many years of experience, on this magical tour through the seeming mysteries of numbers, algebra and geometry. In the same inimitable, entertaining way she did in her previous bestselling books, A Slice of Pi and Numbers Are Forever, Liz will take readers from number-phobics to mathematical know-it-alls in no time at all. Peppered with absolutely terrible maths jokes and quirkily illustrated by Steven Appleby, this light-hearted but informative book will appeal to anyone with an enquiring mind.
This monograph explores the cohomological theory of manifolds with various sheaves and its application to differential geometry. A self-contained development of the theory constitutes the central part of the book. Topics include categories and functions, sheaves and cohomology, fiber and vector bundles, and cohomology classes and differential forms. 1973 edition.
What can fashionable ideas, blind faith, or pure fantasy possibly have to do with the scientific quest to understand the universe? Surely, theoretical physicists are immune to mere trends, dogmatic beliefs, or flights of fancy? In fact, acclaimed physicist and bestselling author Roger Penrose argues that researchers working at the extreme frontiers of physics are just as susceptible to these forces as anyone else. In this provocative book, he argues that fashion, faith, and fantasy, while sometimes productive and even essential in physics, may be leading today's researchers astray in three of the field's most important areas - string theory, quantum mechanics, and cosmology.
Arguing that string theory has veered away from physical reality by positing six extra hidden dimensions, Penrose cautions that the fashionable nature of a theory can cloud our judgments of its plausibility. In the case of quantum mechanics, its stunning success in explaining the atomic universe has led to an uncritical faith that it must also apply to reasonably massive objects, and Penrose responds by suggesting possible changes in quantum theory. Turning to cosmology, he argues that most of the current fantastical ideas about the origins of the universe cannot be true, but that an even wilder reality may lie behind them. Finally, Penrose describes how fashion, faith, and fantasy have ironically also shaped his own work, from twistor theory, a possible alternative to string theory that is beginning to acquire a fashionable status, to "conformal cyclic cosmology," an idea so fantastic that it could be called "conformal crazy cosmology."
The result is an important critique of some of the most significant developments in physics today from one of its most eminent figures.
What is everything really made of? If we split matter down into smaller and infinitesimally smaller pieces, where do we arrive? At the Particle Zoo - the extraordinary subatomic world of antimatter, ghostly neutrinos, strange-flavoured quarks and time-travelling electrons, gravitons and glueballs, mindboggling eleven-dimensional strings and the elusive Higgs boson itself. Be guided around this strangest of zoos by Gavin Hesketh, experimental particle physicist at humanity's greatest experiment, the Large Hadron Collider. Concisely and with a rare clarity, he demystifies how we are uncovering the inner workings of the universe and heading towards the next scientific revolution. Why are atoms so small? How did the Higgs boson save the universe? And is there a Theory of Everything? The Particle Zoo answers these and many other profound questions, and explains the big ideas of Quantum Physics, String Theory, The Big Bang and Dark Matter...and, ultimately, what we know about the true, fundamental nature of reality.
Measured by the accuracy of its predictions and the scope of its technological applications, quantum mechanics is one of the most successful theories in science'as well as one of the most misunderstood. The deeper meaning of quantum mechanics remains controversial almost a century after its invention. Providing a way past quantum theory's paradoxes and puzzles, QBism offers a strikingly new interpretation that opens up for the nonspecialist reader the profound implications of quantum mechanics for how we understand and interact with the world.
Short for Quantum Bayesianism, QBism adapts many of the conventional features of quantum mechanics in light of a revised understanding of probability. Bayesian probability, unlike the standard 'frequentist probability,'? is defined as a numerical measure of the degree of an observer's belief that a future event will occur or that a particular proposition is true. Bayesianism's advantages over frequentist probability are that it is applicable to singular events, its probability estimates can be updated based on acquisition of new information, and it can effortlessly include frequentist results. But perhaps most important, much of the weirdness associated with quantum theory'the idea that an atom can be in two places at once, or that signals can travel faster than the speed of light, or that SchrÃ?Â¶dinger's cat can be simultaneously dead and alive'dissolves under the lens of QBism.
Using straightforward language without equations, Hans Christian von Baeyer clarifies the meaning of quantum mechanics in a commonsense way that suggests a new approach to physics in general.
"Fossils are the fragments from which, piece by laborious piece, the great mosaic of the history of life has been constructed. Here and there, we can supplement these meager scraps by the use of biochemical markers or geochemical signatures that add useful information, but, even with such additional help, our reconstructions and our models of descent are often tentative. For the fossil record is, as we have seen, as biased as it is incomplete. But fragmentary, selective, and biased though it is, the fossil record, with all its imperfections, is still a treasure. Though whole chapters are missing, many pages lost, and the earliest pages so damaged as to be, as yet, virtually unreadable, this'the greatest biography of all'is one in whose closing pages we find ourselves."
In Origins, Frank H. T. Rhodes explores the origin and evolution of living things, the changing environments in which they have developed, and the challenges we now face on an increasingly crowded and polluted planet. Rhodes argues that the future well-being of our burgeoning population depends in no small part on our understanding of life's past, its long and slow development, and its intricate interdependencies.
Rhodes's accessible and extensively illustrated treatment of the origins narrative describes the nature of the search for prehistoric life, the significance of geologic time, the origin of life, the emergence and spread of flora and fauna, the evolution of primates, and the emergence of modern humans.
South America is home to some of the most distinctive mammals on Earth-giant armadillos, tiny anteaters, the world's largest rodent, and its smallest deer. But the continent once supported a variety of other equally intriguing mammals that have no close living relatives: armored mammals with tail clubs, saber-toothed marsupials, and even a swimming sloth. We know of the existence of these peculiar species thanks to South America's rich fossil record, which provides many glimpses of prehistoric mammals and the ecosystems in which they lived. Organized as a walk through time and featuring species from 15 important fossil sites, this book is the most extensive and richly illustrated volume devoted exclusively to the Cenozoic mammals of South America. The text is supported by 75 life reconstructions of extinct species in their native habitats, as well as photographs of fossil specimens and the sites highlighted in the book. An annotated bibliography is included for those interested in delving into the scientific literature.