It’s National Science Week, which means all around the country there are thousands of events happening to celebrate science and technology!
Established in 1997 with the aim of encouraging an interest in science among the general public, over one million people participate in National Science Week every year. This year, planned events include festivals, talks, demonstrations, forums, walks, performance and open days. Many popular science writers are hosting talks during National Science Week , including Dr Karl and Lisa Harvey-Smith.
To celebrate all things scientific, we have gathered together a list of 12 Must Read Science Books. This is a list that covers all kinds of topics from the Big Bang and the meaning of time through to the science of jellyfish! Every book on this list is packed full of fascinating knowledge that will broaden your mind and deepen your appreciation of science.
Happy National Science Week!
Sapiens showed us where we came from. Homo Deus shows us where we’re going.
War is obsolete. You are more likely to commit suicide than be killed in conflict.
Famine is disappearing. You are at more risk of obesity than starvation.
Death is just a technical problem. Equality is out – but immortality is in.
What does our future hold?
Yuval Noah Harari, author of the bestselling phenomenon Sapiens envisions a not-too-distant world in which we face a new set of challenges. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century – from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers?
“A fascinating and inspiring tour of the galaxies, illuminated by vivid and often humorous accounts of the day-to-day life of an astronomer.” – Brian Cox, astrophysicist
You’ll never look up at the night sky in the same way
Why is the Milky Way blue? Why isn’t a black hole dark? How many stars can you see with your naked eye?* How much hotter are blue stars than red ones?**
Humans are the only known astronomers in the universe. When we look up at the night sky, we are linked to our ancestors. Away from city lights, we can see what generations of people before us have wondered at and weaved stories around.
But all that will change. The Andromeda Galaxy is rushing towards us at 400,000 kilometres an hour.
When Galaxies Collide will guide you to look at the night sky afresh. It peers 5.86 billion years into the future to consider the fate of Earth and its inhabitants. Will the solution be to live in space without a planet to call home? Will one of the other 100 billion planets spawn life?
Following the success of the original Zoo Quest expeditions, in the late 1950s onwards a young David Attenborough embarked on further travels in a very different part of the world.
From Madagascar and New Guinea to the Pacific Islands and the Northern Territory of Australia, he and his team were not just searching for rare animals, but were aiming to record the way of life of some of the tribes of these regions, whose traditions had never been seen by most of the British public before.
From the land divers of Pentecost Island and the sing-sings of New Guinea, to a Royal Kava ceremony on Tonga and the ancient art of the Northern Territory – the place where, it has since been discovered, humanity has existed the longest – it is a journey like no other. Along the way, he encounters paradise birds, lemurs, sifakas, and many more animals in areas that are home to some of the most unique wildlife on the planet.
Written with David Attenborough’s characteristic charm, humour and warmth, Journeys to the Other Side of the World is a unique, and inimitable, adventure among people, places and the wildest of wildlife.
Best-selling author Simon Winchester maps the amazing trajectory of the fathers of engineering. The lives of Wilkinson, Whitworth, Maudslay, Bramah, and Ramsden are interwoven with anecdotes such as the invention of the Rolls-Royce and Thomas Jefferson’s innovations, offering a fascinating narrative about the men who shaped today’s world. Through stories of their trials and tribulations, Exactly celebrates the memorable men who shaped today’s world through their early innovation in engineering.
John Wilkinson, known as ‘“Iron-Mad” Wilkinson’ became one of the richest Englishmen of the industrial revolution following the invention of perfectly round cylinders, which forever changed the steam engine business. Joseph Bramah masterminded an eclectic array of inventions, not least the banknote numbering machine, the beer tap, the hydraulic press, and locks. Jesse Ramsden crafted precise optical instruments. As the first man to create a perfect sheet of steel, Henry Maudslay virtually invented the concept of precision. His peer Joseph Whitworth standardised it through the British Standard Whitworth system for imperial measurement – a framework that guides the railway, shipbuilding and car manufacturing industries to this day.
Simon Winchester chronicles the genesis of precision by shining a light on the quintet of pioneers who enabled us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson through their unparalleled work of minutiae.
Grab your towel and hitchhike across the galaxy with Australia’s most popular scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki. Learn about Dr Karl, the universe and everything, and discover how air-conditioning is sexist, how you can kill a spinning hard drive by shouting at it and how space junk is threatening our future capabilities for space travel.
Could there be life on one of Saturn’s moons? How much power could you collect from all the lightning on Earth? Why do books have book-smell? Why is 10 per cent of the Earth’s land area prone to sinkholes?
Why are some people chronically late? What would happen if the Earth stopped spinning? Why do most people hardly remember anything from the first half-a-dozen years of their life?
How close are we to the Artificial Uterus? Why do some songs turn into “earworms” and stick inside your brain? Why does your hotel room access card get wiped so easily?
And is your home WiFi really spying on you?
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.
What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us?
There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.
But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in digestible chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.
While waiting for your morning coffee to brew, or while waiting for the bus, the train, or the plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.
Epigenetics upends natural selection and genetic mutation as the sole engines of evolution, and offers startling insights into our future heritable traits.
In the 1700s, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck first described epigenetics to explain the inheritance of acquired characteristics; however, his theory was supplanted in the 1800s by Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection through heritable genetic mutations. But natural selection could not adequately explain how rapidly species re-diversified and repopulated after mass extinctions. Now advances in the study of DNA and RNA have resurrected epigenetics, which can create radical physical and physiological changes in subsequent generations by the simple addition of a single small molecule, thus passing along a propensity for molecules to attach in the same places in the next generation.
Epigenetics is a complex process, but paleontologist and astrobiologist Peter Ward breaks it down for general readers, using the epigenetic paradigm to reexamine how the history of our species–from deep time to the outbreak of the Black Plague and into the present–has left its mark on our physiology, behavior, and intelligence. Most alarming are chapters about epigenetic changes we are undergoing now triggered by toxins, environmental pollutants, famine, poor nutrition, and overexposure to violence.
Lamarck’s Revenge is an eye-opening and provocative exploration of how traits are inherited, and how outside influences drive what we pass along to our progeny.
A former ocean scientist goes in pursuit of the slippery story of jellyfish, rediscovering her passion for marine science and the sea’s imperilled ecosystems.
Jellyfish have been swimming in our oceans for well over half a billion years, longer than any other animal that lives on the planet. They make a venom so toxic it can kill a human in three minutes. Their sting–microscopic spears that pierce with five million times the acceleration of gravity–is the fastest known motion in the animal kingdom. Made of roughly 95 percent water, some jellies are barely perceptible virtuosos of disguise, while others glow with a luminescence that has revolutionized biotechnology. Yet until recently, jellyfish were largely ignored by science, and they remain among the most poorly understood of ocean dwellers.
More than a decade ago, Juli Berwald left a carer in ocean science to raise a family in landlocked Austin Texas, but jellyfish drew her back to the sea. Recent, massive blooms of billions of jellyfish have clogged power plants, decimated fisheries, and caused millions of dollars of damage. Driven by questions about how overfishing, coastal development, and climate change were contributing to a jellyfish population explosion, Juli embarked on a scientific odyssey. She travelled the globe to meet the biologist who devote their careers to jellies, hitched rides on Japanese fishing boats to see giant jellyfish in the wild, raised jellyfish in her dining room, and throughout it all marvelled at the complexity of these alluring and ominous biological wonders.
Gracefully blending personal memoir with crystal-clear distillations of science, Spineless is the story of how Juli learned to navigate and ultimately embrace her ambition, her curiosity, and her passion for the natural world. She discovers that jellyfish science is more that just a quest for answers. It’s a call to realize our collective responsibility for the planet we share.
The bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics takes us on an exhilarating journey to discover the meaning of time.
Time is a mystery that does not cease to puzzle us. Philosophers, artists and poets have long explored its meaning while scientists have found that its structure is different from the simple intuition we have of it. From Boltzmann to quantum theory, from Einstein to loop quantum gravity, our understanding of time has been undergoing radical transformations. Time flows at a different speed in different places, the past and the future differ far less than we might think, and the very notion of the present evaporates in the vast universe.
With his extraordinary charm and sense of wonder, bringing together science, art and philosophy, Carlo Rovelli unravels this mystery, inviting us to imagine a world where time is in us and we are not in time.
66 million years ago the dinosaurs were wiped from the face of the earth. Today a new generation of dinosaur hunters, armed with cutting edge technology, is piecing together the complete story of how the dinosaurs created a hugely successful empire that lasted for around 150 million years.
In this hugely ambitious and engrossing story of how dinosaurs rose to dominate the planet, using the fossil clues that have been gathered using state of the art technology, Steve Brusatte, one of the world’s leading paleontologists, follows these magnificent creatures from the Early Triassic period at the start of their evolution, through the Jurassic period to their final days in the Cretaceous’ and the legacy that they left behind.
Along the way, Brusatte introduces us to the cast of new dinosaur hunters and gives an insight into what it’s like to be a paleontologist whose job it is to hunt for dinosaurs. He offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable discoveries he has made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs, monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex, and feathered raptor dinosaurs preserved in lava from China.
At a time when Homo sapiens has existed for less than 200,000 years and we are already talking about planetary extinction, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a timely reminder of what humans can learn from the magnificent creatures who ruled the earth before us.
This is the epic story of the universe and our place in it, from 13.8 billion years ago to the remote future.
How did we get from the Big Bang to today’s staggering complexity, in which seven billion humans are connected into networks powerful enough to transform the planet? And why, in comparison, are our closest primate relatives reduced to near-extinction?
Big History creator David Christian gives the answers in a mind-expanding cosmological detective story told on the grandest possible scale. He traces how, during eight key thresholds, the right conditions have allowed new forms of complexity to arise, from stars to galaxies, Earth to homo sapiens, agriculture to fossil fuels. This last mega-innovation gave us an energy bonanza that brought huge benefits to mankind, yet also threatens to shake apart everything we have created.
This global origin story is one that we could only begin to tell recently, thanks to the underlying unity of modern knowledge. Panoramic in scope and thrillingly told, Origin Story reveals what we learn about human existence when we consider it from a universal scale.
About the Contributor
Sarah McDuling is Booktopia's Senior Content Producer and Editor of The Booktopian Blog. She has been in the bookselling game for almost a decade and a dedicated booklover since birth (potentially longer). At her happiest when reading a book, Sarah also enjoys talking/writing/tweeting about books. In her spare time, she often likes to buy a lot of books and take photographs of books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instragram @sarahmcduling
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