Tim Low, award-winning author of Feral Future, in an eye-opening book on the unique nature of Australian birds and their role in ecology and global evolution.
Renowned for its unusual mammals, Australia is a land of birds that are just as unusual, just as striking, a result of the continent's tens of millions of years of isolation. Compared with birds elsewhere, ours are more likely to be intelligent, aggressive and loud, to live in complex societies, and are long-lived. They're also ecologically more powerful, exerting more influences on forests than other birds.
But unlike the mammals, the birds did not keep to Australia; they spread around the globe. Australia provided the world with its songbirds and parrots, the most intelligent of all bird groups. It was thought in Darwin's time that species generated in the Southern Hemisphere could not succeed in the Northern, an idea that was proven wrong in respect of birds in the 1980s but not properly accepted by the world's scientists until 2004 – because, says Tim Low, most ornithologists live in the Northern Hemisphere. As a result, few Australians are aware of the ramifications, something which prompted the writing of this book.
Tim Low has a rare gift for illuminating complex ideas in highly readable prose, and making of the whole a dynamic story. Here he brilliantly explains how our birds came to be so extraordinary, including the large role played by the foods they consume (birds, too, are what they eat), and by our climate, soil, fire, and Australia's legacy as a part of Gondwana. The story of its birds, it turns out, is inseparable from the story of Australia itself, and one that continues to unfold, so much having changed in the last decade about what we know of our ancient past. Where Song Began also shines a light on New Guinea as a biological region of Australia, as much a part of the continent as Tasmania. This is a work that goes far beyond the birds themselves to explore the relationships between Australia's birds and its people, and the ways in which scientific prejudice have hindered our understanding.
'Although Tim Low's book is overwhelmingly, excitingly science-based, he does allow himself the occasional flight of fancy... A stimulating, informative read for citizens of our bird-rich metropolis.' Canberra Times
Iain McCalman's brilliant history of the Great Barrier Reef, told in twelve extraordinary tales, charts its shifting status from labyrinth of terror to global treasure.
Equal parts gifted storyteller and acclaimed historian, McCalman brings to life the people who've shaped our knowledge and perception of this World Heritage-listed site. Arguing that the Barrier Reef is a product of human as much as natural history, created by minds as well as corals, McCalman describes encounters between peoples and places, ideas and environments, over the past two centuries and more.
Where today the Reef is known for its astonishing underwater beauty and diversity, once it was notorious for the shipwrecks in its treacherous waters. Navigators struggled to chart a safe passage through, and scientists later theorised about the creation of this massive structure - the largest marine environment on the planet. Quixotic individuals spent years sailing the globe for an answer, and the fiery debate between Darwinists and creationists caught the world's attention.
Then came successive waves of resource hunters and exploiters, followed by beachcombers and artists who fought to stop them, and the marine specialists who first became aware of the threats to the Reef's survival. In between, the Indigenous peoples of the Reef gave succour to castaways like Eliza Fraser, and were then vilified for it. Other survivors of shipwrecks lived for years with the clans of the region, were adopted by them and taught their traditional ways of life.
The first social, cultural and environmental history to be written of the Great Barrier Reef, The Reef is an effortlessly readable and often moving story of one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Why do we care what others think? What keeps us bound together? How does the brain shape our behaviour? Bruce Hood is an award-winning psychologist who has taught at Cambridge and Harvard universities and is currently Director of the Cognitive Development Centre at the University of Bristol. He delivered the Royal Institution's Christmas Lectures in 2011 and is the author of The Self Illusion and Supersense, described by New Scientist as 'important, crystal clear and utterly engaging'.
What makes us human? How did we develop language, thought and culture? Why did we survive, and other human species fail? Robin Dunbar is an evolutionary psychologist and former director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University. His acclaimed books include How Many Friends Does One Person Need? and Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language, described by Malcolm Gladwell as 'a marvellous work of popular science.'
A clarion call to save humanity's most essential fellow creatures - and our health Far beneath our skin exists an unfathomable, ancient universe - an internal ecosystem that is critical to our health. Dr Martin Blaser invites us into the wilds of the human 'microbiome', unfurling its inner workings and evolution. For thousands of years, bacteria and human cells have co-existed in a relationship that has ensured the health and equilibrium of our body. But now, much like the natural world outside of us, our internal environment is being irrevocably destroyed. The culprit: some of our most revered medical advances - antibiotics - which appear to be linked to the epidemics of asthma, eczema, obesity, certain forms of cancer, and other diseases plaguing modern society. In a book that stands as the Silent Spring of its day, Blaser sounds a provocative alarm that we ignore at our peril.
The story of evolution as you've never heard it before What's the easiest way to tell species apart? Check their genitals. Researching private parts was long considered taboo, but scientists are now beginning to understand that the wild diversity of sex organs across species can tell us a lot about evolution. Menno Schilthuizen invites readers to join him as he uncovers the ways the shapes and functions of genitalia have been molded by complex Darwinian struggles: penises that have lost their spines but evolved appendages to displace sperm; female orgasms that select or reject semen from males, in turn subtly modifying the females' genital shape. We learn why spiders masturbate into miniature webs, discover she dungflies that store sperm from attractive males in their bellies, and see how, when it comes to outlandish appendages and bizarre behaviors, humans are downright boring. Nature's Nether Regions joyfully demonstrates that the more we learn about the multiform private parts of animals, the more we understand our own unique place in the great diversity of life.
With carbon we access heat, light and mobility at the flick of a switch, while silicon enables us to communicate across the globe in an instant. Yet our use of the Earth's mineral resources is not always for the benefit of humankind - our relationship with the elements is one of great ambivalence. On the one hand, uranium provides productive nuclear power, but on the other destructive atomic bombs; iron is the bloody weapon of war, but also the economic tool of peace; our desire for alluring gold is the foundation of global trade, but has also led to the death of millions. John Browne, CEO of BP for twelve years, vividly describes how seven elements are shaping the world around us - for good and bad. Combining history, science and politics, SEVEN ELEMENTS takes you on a present-day adventure of human passion, ingenuity and discovery. This journey is far from over: we continue to find surprising new uses for these seven elements. Discover how titanium pervades modern consumer society, how natural gas is transforming the global energy sector, and how an innovative new form of carbon could be starting a technology revolution.
We all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. And that includes five of the greatest scientists in history -- Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, Albert Einstein. But the mistakes that these great scientists made helped science to advance. Indeed, as Mario Livio explains in this fascinating book, science thrives on error; it advances when erroneous ideas are disproven. All five scientists were great geniuses and fascinating human beings. Their blunders were part of their genius and part of the scientific process. Livio brilliantly analyses their errors to show where they were wrong and right, but what makes his book so enjoyable to read is Livio's analysis of the psychology of these towering figures. Along the way the reader learns an enormous amount about the evolution of life on earth and in the universe, but from an unusual vantage point -- the mistakes of great scientists rather than the achievements that made them famous.
Meet Norm. He's 31, 5'9 , just over 13 stone, and works a 39 hour week. He likes a drink, doesn't do enough exercise and occasionally treats himself to a bar of chocolate (milk). He's a pretty average kind of guy. In fact, he is the average guy in this clever and unusual take on statistical risk, chance, and how these two factors affect our everyday choices. Watch as Norm (who, like all average specimens, feels himself to be uniquely special), and his friends careful Prudence and reckless Kelvin, turns to statistics to help him in life's endless series of choices - should I fly or take the train? Have a baby? Another drink? Or another sausage? Do a charity skydive or get a lift on a motorbike? Because chance and risk aren't just about numbers - it's about what we believe, who we trust and how we feel about the world around us. From a world expert in risk and the bestselling author of The Tiger That Isn't (and creator of BBC Radio 4's More or Less), this is a commonsense (and wildly entertaining) guide to personal risk and decoding the statistics that represent it.
Official publication of the National Maritime Museum's exhibition Ships, Clocks and Stars: The Quest for Longitude . 300 years ago, amidst growing frustration from the naval community and pressure from the increasing importance of international trade, the British government passed the 1714 Longitude Act. It was an attempt to solve one of the most pressing problems of the age: how to determine a ship's longitude (east-west position) at sea. With life-changing rewards on offer, the challenge captured the imaginations and talents of astronomers, skilled craftsmen, politicians, seamen and satirists. This beautifully illustrated book is a detailed account of these stories, and how the longitude problem was solved. Highlights of the book include: * Foreword by the fifteenth Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees. * Specially commissioned photographs of the National Maritime Museum's collection. * A new description of the collaborations and conflicts in a tale of technical creativity, scientific innovation and hard commercialism. From the same publisher as Dava Sobel's Longitude, Finding Longitude tells a new story of one of the great achievements of the Georgian age, and how it changed our understanding of the world.
This book is only about numbers - that is, whole numbers and nothing but the whole numbers, which start from 0, 1, 2, 3, 4... and go on forever. Here you can meet perfect numbers, happy numbers, lucky, untouchable, weird, narcissistic, evil and deficient numbers, not to mention nice Friedmans and multi-legged repunits, as well as primes and their cousins, the sexy primes. It is also full of fascinating facts and curios, prime number conjectures, the sieve of Eratosthenes, the Fibonacci series, and much more besides. This is an accessible, clearly explained approach which will appeal to recreational maths enthusiasts, puzzle solvers, and mathematicians of all ages.
The 50 most significant chemical elements, each explained in half a minute.
We live in epoch-making times. Literally. The changes we humans have made in recent decades have altered our world beyond anything it has experienced in its 4.5 billion-year history - we have become a force on a par with earth-shattering asteroids and planet-cloaking volcanoes. As a result, our planet is said to be crossing a geological boundary - from the Holocene into the Anthropocene, or Age of Man. Gaia Vince decided to quit her job at science journal Nature, and travel the world at the start of this new age to explore what all these changes really mean - especially for the people living on the frontline of the planet we've made. She found ordinary people solving severe crises in ingenious, effective ways. Take the retired railway worker who's building artificial glaciers in the Himalayas, for example, or the Peruvian painting mountains white to retain snowfall. Meet the villagers in India using satellite technology to glean water; and the women farmers in Africa combining the latest genetic discoveries with ancient irrigation techniques; witness the electrified reefs in the Maldives and the man who's making islands out of rubbish in the Caribbean. Alongside these extraordinary - and inspiring - stories, Gaia looks at how humanity's changes are reshaping our living planet, transforming our relationship with the natural world, and explores how we might engineer Earth for our future.
Climate change seems to be an insurmountable problem. Political solutions have so far had little impact. Some scientists are now advocating the so-called 'Plan B', a more direct way of reducing the rate of future warming by reflecting more sunlight back to space, creating a thermostat in the sky. In this book, Mike Hulme argues against this kind of hubristic techno-fix. Drawing upon a distinguished career studying the science, politics and ethics of climate change, he shows why using science to fix the global climate is undesirable, ungovernable and unattainable. Science and technology should instead serve the more pragmatic goals of increasing societal resilience to weather risks, improving regional air quality and driving forward an energy technology transition. Seeking to reset the planet's thermostat is not the answer. Climate change seems to be an insurmountable problem. Political solutions have so far had little impact. Some scientists are now advocating the so-called 'Plan B', a more direct way of reducing the rate of future warming by reflecting more sunlight back to space, creating a thermostat in the sky. In this book, Mike Hulme argues against this kind of hubristic techno-fix. Drawing upon a distinguished career studying the science, politics and ethics of climate change, he shows why using science to fix the global climate is undesirable, ungovernable and unattainable. Science and technology should instead serve the more pragmatic goals of increasing societal resilience to weather risks, improving regional air quality and driving forward an energy technology transition. Seeking to reset the planet's thermostat is not the answer.
The New York Times bestselling manifesto for the future that is grounded in practical solutions addressing the world's most pressing concerns: overpopulation, food, water, energy, education, health care and freedom ( The Wall Street Journal ). Since the dawn of humanity, a privileged few have lived in stark contrast to the hardscrabble majority. Conventional wisdom says this gap cannot be closed. But it is closing--fast. In Abundance, space entrepreneur turned innovation pioneer Peter H. Diamandis and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler document how progress in artificial intelligence, robotics, digital manufacturing synthetic biology, and other exponentially growing technologies will enable us to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the previous 200 years. We will soon have the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every person on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp. Breaking down human needs by category--water, food, energy, healthcare, education, freedom--Diamandis and Kotler introduce us to innovators and industry captains making tremendous strides in each area. Not only is Abundance a riveting page-turner...but it's a book that gives us a future worth fighting for. And even more than that, it shows us our place in that fight ( The Christian Science Monitor ).
This volume is the first systematic presentation of the work of Albert Einstein, comprising fourteen essays by leading historians and philosophers of science that introduce readers to his work. Following an introduction that places Einstein's work in the context of his life and times, the book opens with essays on the papers of Einstein's 'miracle year', 1905, covering Brownian motion, light quanta, and special relativity, as well as his contributions to early quantum theory and the opposition to his light quantum hypothesis. Further essays relate Einstein's path to the general theory of relativity (1915) and the beginnings of two fields it spawned, relativistic cosmology and gravitational waves. Essays on Einstein's later years examine his unified field theory program and his critique of quantum mechanics. The closing essays explore the relation between Einstein's work and twentieth-century philosophy, as well as his political writings.
Charles Darwin is often credited with discovering evolution through natural selection, but the idea was not his alone. The naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, working independently, saw the same process at work in the natural world and elaborated much the same theory. Their important scientific contributions made both men famous in their lifetimes, but Wallace slipped into obscurity after his death, while Darwin's renown grew. Dispelling the misperceptions that continue to paint Wallace as a secondary figure, James Costa reveals the two naturalists as true equals in advancing one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time. Analyzing Wallace's Species Notebook, Costa shows how Wallace's methods and thought processes paralleled Darwin's, yet inspired insights uniquely his own. Kept during his Southeast Asian expeditions of the 1850s, the notebook is a window into Wallace's early evolutionary ideas. It records his evidence-gathering, critiques of anti-evolutionary arguments, and plans for a book on transmutation. Most important, it demonstrates conclusively that natural selection was not some idea Wallace stumbled upon, as is sometimes assumed, but was the culmination of a decade-long quest to solve the mystery of the origin of species. Wallace, Darwin, and the Origin of Species also reexamines the pivotal episode in 1858 when Wallace sent Darwin a manuscript announcing his discovery of natural selection, prompting a joint public reading of the two men's papers on the subject. Costa's analysis of the Species Notebook shines a new light on these readings, further illuminating the independent nature of Wallace's discoveries.
We are in the midst of a revolution. It is a scientific revolution built upon the tools of molecular biology, with which we probe and prod the living world in ways unimaginable a few decades ago. Need to track a bacterium at the root of a hospital outbreak? No problem: the offending germ's complete genetic profile can be obtained in 24 hours. We insert human DNA into E. coli bacteria to produce our insulin. It is natural to look at biotechnology in the 21st century with a mix of wonder and fear. But biotechnology is not as 'unnatural' as one might think. All living organisms use the same molecular processes to replicate their genetic material and the same basic code to 'read' their genes. The similarities can be seen in their DNA. Here, John Archibald shows how evolution has been 'plugging-and-playing' with the subcellular components of life from the very beginning and continues to do so today. For evidence, we need look no further than the inner workings of our own cells. Molecular biology has allowed us to gaze back more than three billion years, revealing the microbial mergers and acquisitions that underpin the development of complex life. One Plus One Equals One tells the story of how we have come to this realization and its implications.
Britain is the home of the badger - there are more badgers per square kilometre in this country than in any other. And yet many of us have never seen one alive and in the wild. They are nocturnal creatures who vanish into their labyrinthine underground setts at the first hint of a human. Here, Patrick Barkham follows in the footsteps of his badger-loving grandmother, to meet the feeders, farmers and scientists who know their way around Badgerlands: the mysterious world in which these distinctively striped creatures snuffle, dig and live out their complex social lives. As the debate over the badger cull continues, Barkham weighs the evidence on both sides of the argument, and delves into the rich history of the badger - from their prehistoric arrival in Britain and their savage persecution over the centuries, to Kenneth Grahame's fictional creation in Wind in the Willows and the badger who became a White House pet.From the celebrated author of The Butterfly Isles, this is rich, vivid nature writing at its best.
This is a Sunday Times bestseller. It is shortlisted for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize. Dave Goulson has always been obsessed with wildlife, from his childhood menagerie of exotic pets and dabbling in experimental taxidermy to his groundbreaking research into the mysterious ways of the bumblebee and his mission to protect our rarest bees. Once commonly found in the marshes of Kent, the short-haired bumblebee is now extinct in the UK, but still exists in the wilds of New Zealand, descended from a few queen bees shipped over in the nineteenth century. A Sting in the Tale tells the story of Goulson's passionate drive to reintroduce it to its native land and contains groundbreaking research into these curious creatures, history's relationship with the bumblebee, the disastrous effects intensive farming has had on our bee populations and the potential dangers if we are to continue down this path.
In The Secret Language of Animals Janine Benyus takes us inside the world of the animal kingdom and shows us the whys and the hows behind the behaviour of creatures great and small in their natural environments. Divided geographically into five sections including Africa, Asia, North America, the oceans and the poles, the book examines and describes the behaviour of twenty different animals. For each animal, Benyus describes and explains basic behaviours, communication behaviour and parenting behaviour
Authoritative and reliable, this A-Z provides jargon-free definitions for even the most technical mathematical terms. With over 3,000 entries ranging from Achilles paradox to zero matrix, it covers all commonly encountered terms and concepts from pure and applied mathematics and statistics, for example, linear algebra, optimisation, nonlinear equations, and differential equations. In addition, there are entries on major mathematicians and on topics of more general interest, such as fractals, game theory, and chaos. Using graphs, diagrams, and charts to render definitions as comprehensible as possible, entries are clear and accessible. Almost 200 new entries have been added to this edition, including terms such as arrow paradox, nested set, and symbolic logic. Useful appendices follow the A-Z dictionary and include lists of Nobel Prize winners and Fields' medallists, Greek letters, formulae, and tables of inequalities, moments of inertia, Roman numerals, a geometry summary, additional trigonometric values of special angles, and many more. This edition contains recommended web links, which are accessible and kept up to date via the Dictionary of Mathematics companion website. Fully revised and updated in line with curriculum and degree requirements, this dictionary is indispensable for students and teachers of mathematics, and for anyone encountering mathematics in the workplace.
This clear and correct summation of basic results from a specialized field focuses on the behavior of infinite matrices in general, rather than on properties of special matrices. Three introductory chapters guide students to applications related to the summability of divergent sequences and series. Each chapter concludes with examples - nearly 200 in all. 1950 edition.
A thorough first course in linear algebra, this two-part treatment begins with the basic theory of vector spaces and linear maps, including dimension, determinants, eigenvalues, and eigenvectors. The second section addresses more advanced topics such as the study of canonical forms for matrices. Ample examples, applications, and exercises appear throughout the text. 1992 edition.
Focusing on everyday applications as well as those of scientific research, this classic of modern statistical methods requires little to no mathematical background. Readers develop basic skills for evaluating and using statistical data. Lively, relevant examples include applications to business, government, social and physical sciences, genetics, medicine, and public health. Fascinating. - The New York Times. 1962 edition.
Devoted to fully worked out examples, this unique text constitutes a self-contained, introductory course in vector analysis. Topics include vector addition and subtraction, scalar and vector multiplication, and applications of vector analysis to dynamics and physics. Numerous examples and solutions ...very comprehensive. A handy book. - Mathematical Gazette. 1931 edition.
Well respected and widely used, this volume presents problems and full solutions related to a wide range of topics in thermodynamics, statistical physics, and statistical mechanics. Twenty-eight chapters, each prepared by an expert, proceed from easier to more difficult subjects. Suitable for undergraduates and graduate students; excellent for self-study, reference, and as a classroom supplement. 1989 edition.
A complete guide for NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and South-west Western Australia, covering more than 700 species, with 1000 colour illustrations; also gives information on dangerous fishes and first aid; fish deformities and parasites; edibility, fish preservation and photography; Australian record sizes.
Australian High Country Raptors covers raptor species that regularly breed in the high country above 600 metres from Goulburn in New South Wales down to the hills outside Melbourne Victoria. Author Jerry Olsen explores the nature of these striking animals that are classified as Accipitriformes (diurnal hawks falcons kites and eagles), Falconiformes and Strigiformes (nocturnal owls). Comparisons between these high country raptors and lower-elevation breeders are also provided in addition to comparisons with raptors found overseas especially from North America and Europe. The book begins with a description of habitats and vegetation types in the high country and which raptors are likely to be seen in each habitat type. It continues with sections on finding and watching raptors raptor identification hunting styles food breeding and behaviour and conservation. Appendices provide species accounts for diurnal breeding species in the high country with basic information about their ecology distribution and conservation as well as detailed instructions about handling an injured or orphaned raptor. Illustrated throughout with photographs and drawings Australian High Country Raptors offers readers a chance to look into the lives of Australiaa's fascinating birds of prey.
An indispensable guide to Australia's fascinating reptiles and frogs, packed with information about their behaviour, development, food and habitat. Each entry fully describes the species and its way of life. Colourfully illustrated throughout with detailed artwork and with maps showing where each animal occurs, this is a handy family reference or a guide for the bushwalker or traveller.