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  • After Cooling: On Freon, Global Warming, and the Terrible Cost of Comfort
    Eric Dean Wilson

    Book

    A writer grapples with the environmental and social costs of mechanical cooling

    In After Cooling, Eric Dean Wilson uses the history of mechanical cooling and the associated creation of comfort as a commodity to tell a tale of control, oppression, and destruction. The book is as much sociopolitical commentary as history of science. Wilson weaves together the story of the invention of mechanical cooling and Freon—the trademarked… Read More
  • This is Your Mind on Plants
    Michael Pollan

    Book

    A journalist’s meandering meditation probes a trio of mind-altering natural compounds

    Michael Pollan’s This Is Your Mind on Plants combines the author’s long-held interest in the natural world with his growing fascination with the workings of the human mind. In the book, he investigates three plant-derived compounds with vastly different stories and effects on human consciousness: the sedative opium, the stimulant caffeine, and the hallucinogen mescaline. Read More
  • The Soul of Genius: Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and the Meeting that Changed the Course of Science
    Jeffrey Orens

    Book

    Historical documents hint at a fulfilling friendship between Albert Einstein and Marie Curie

    Toward the end of his life, when asked which physicist he most respected, Albert Einstein replied “Hendrik Lorentz and Marie Curie.” His choice of Dutch theoretical physicist Lorentz was predictable; less obvious was his selection of Polish-born Curie (born Maria Skłodowska). Although undoubtedly one of the great pioneers of radioactivity, she did not work on… Read More
  • Voyagers: The Settlement of the Pacific
    Nicholas Thomas

    Book

    An anthropologist traces the emergence of the rich and varied cultures of the Pacific islands

    The peopling of the Pacific continues to draw intense interest from the public and scientific communities alike. Voyagers by anthropologist Nicholas Thomas combines insights gleaned from historical documents, archaeology, geochronology, and ethnographic fieldwork into an eloquent review of this fascinating historical phenomenon. In the book’s introduction, Thomas asks an important question: “W… Read More
  • Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to do About It
    Gale M. Sinatra and Barbara K. Hofer

    Book

    A pair of psychologists confront the obstacles that threaten to undermine scientific literacy

    Are vaccines safe for my baby?” wonders a new mother. After reading a few articles online that seem authoritative, she steps away from the computer and decides that there is not enough evidence to answer her question definitively. This scenario appears in the first of many vignettes in Science Denial that educational psychologists Gale Sinatra… Read More
  • Projections: A Story of Human Emotions
    Karl Deisseroth

    Book

    A neuroscientist recounts a career spent searching for insight into our psychic struggles

    Karl Deisseroth’s Projections: A Story of Human Emotions is a memoir about his life in psychiatry, the patients he has met, and his efforts as a scientist to solve the mysteries of mental illness. His imaginative narrative flows effortlessly through his many passions. There is a first love of reading and writing and hints of… Read More
  • The Aztecs
    Frances F. Berdan

    Book

    Skilled naturalists and healers, the Aztecs left behind a rich cultural legacy

    In Mexico, the Aztecs are far from lost, argues archaeologist and anthropologist Frances Berdan in The Aztecs, her contribution to the Lost Civilizations series. The current Mexican flag shows an eagle and a serpent on top of a cactus—a clear reference to a famous 16th-century Aztec depiction of the founding of their capital city, Tenochtitlan… Read More
  • The Economics of Sustainable Food: Smart Policies for Health and the Planet
    Nicoletta Batini, ed.

    Book

    A new tome offers a road map for sustainable food production policies

    In The Economics of Sustainable Food, editor Nicoletta Batini, a leading expert in designing macroeconomic strategies to deal with issues at the nexus of climate change and public health, argues that macroeconomic policy has largely overlooked food systems—a perplexing oversight, given that the agriculture-food system is the largest industry in the world and considering the… Read More
  • Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution
    Carlo Rovelli; Translated by Erica Segre and Simon Carnell

    Book

    An ode to quantum physics misses the chance to teach readers how to confront uncertainty

    The success of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and The Order of Time has made theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli a household name. In his new book, Helgoland, Rovelli offers to the general public his interpretation of quantum mechanics, arguing that it solves the theory’s paradoxes by so profoundly redefining our notion of reality that it… Read More
  • Sick and Tired: An Intimate History of Fatigue
    Emily K. Abel

    Book

    A historian traces the cultural contexts of chronic fatigue

    Anyone who has an invisible illness: Emily Abel sees you. Abel knows the dual anguish of suffering from an invisible illness and of responding to people who fail to fully recognize this suffering. For decades, she experienced persistent fatigue and intense shame about it. In Sick and Tired, Abel comes to terms with this shame… Read More