March 2013 Best Nonfiction Books

Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts by Emily Anthes

Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts

Frankenstein’s Ca

Book Description
Release date: March 12, 2013 | ISBN-10: 0374158592 | ISBN-13: 978-0374158590
One of Barnes and Noble’s Best Books of March 2013

One of Amazon’s Best Nonfiction Books for March 2013

One of Publishers Weekly’s Top Ten Spring 2013 Science Books

For centuries, we’ve toyed with our creature companions, breeding dogs that herd and hunt, housecats that look like tigers, and teacup pigs that fit snugly in our handbags. But what happens when we take animal alteration a step further, engineering a cat that glows green under ultraviolet light or cloning the beloved family Labrador? Science has given us a whole new toolbox for tinkering with life. How are we using it?

In Frankenstein’s Cat, the journalist Emily Anthes takes us from petri dish to pet store as she explores how biotechnology is shaping the future of our furry and feathered friends. As she ventures from bucolic barnyards to a “frozen zoo” where scientists are storing DNA from the planet’s most exotic creatures, she discovers how we can use cloning to protect endangered species, craft prosthetics to save injured animals, and employ genetic engineering to supply farms with disease-resistant livestock. Along the way, we meet some of the animals that are ushering in this astonishing age of enhancement, including sensor-wearing seals, cyborg beetles, a bionic bulldog, and the world’s first cloned cat.

Through her encounters with scientists, conservationists, ethicists, and entrepreneurs, Anthes reveals that while some of our interventions may be trivial (behold: the GloFish), others could improve the lives of many species—including our own. So what does biotechnology really mean for the world’s wild things? And what do our brave new beasts tell us about ourselves?

With keen insight and her trademark spunk, Anthes highlights both the peril and the promise of our scientific superpowers, taking us on an adventure into a world where our grandest science fiction fantasies are fast becoming reality.

 

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff

Book Description
Release date: March 21, 2013 | ISBN-10: 1591844762 | ISBN-13: 978-1591844761
“If the end of the twentieth century can be characterized by futurism, the twenty-first can be defined by presentism.”

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, explains award-winning media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, but we don’t seem to have any time in which to live it. Instead we remain poised and frozen, overwhelmed by an always-on, live-streamed re­ality that our human bodies and minds can never truly in­habit. And our failure to do so has had wide-ranging effects on every aspect of our lives.

People spent the twentieth century obsessed with the future. We created technologies that would help connect us faster, gather news, map the planet, compile knowledge, and con­nect with anyone, at anytime. We strove for an instanta­neous network where time and space could be compressed.

Well, the future’s arrived. We live in a continuous now en­abled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technologi­cal shift. Yet this “now” is an elusive goal that we can never quite reach. And the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety: present shock.

Rushkoff weaves together seemingly disparate events and trends into a rich, nuanced portrait of how life in the eter­nal present has affected our biology, behavior, politics, and culture. He explains how the rise of zombie apocalypse fic­tion signals our intense desire for an ending; how the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street form two sides of the same post-narrative coin; how corporate investing in the future has been replaced by futile efforts to game the stock market in real time; why social networks make people anxious and email can feel like an assault. He examines how the tragedy of 9/11 disconnected an entire generation from a sense of history, and delves into why conspiracy theories actually comfort us.

As both individuals and communities, we have a choice. We can struggle through the onslaught of information and play an eternal game of catch-up. Or we can choose to live in the present: favor eye contact over texting; quality over speed; and human quirks over digital perfection. Rushkoff offers hope for anyone seeking to transcend the false now.

Absorbing and thought-provoking, Present Shock is a wide-ranging, deeply thought meditation on what it means to be human in real time.

 

Storm Kings: The Untold History of America’s First Tornado Chasers by Lee Sandlin

Storm Kings: The Untold History of America's First Tornado Chasers by Lee Sandlin

Storm Kings by Lee Sandlin

Book Description
Release date: March 5, 2013
With 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations

From the acclaimed author of Wicked River comes Storm Kings, a riveting tale of supercell tornadoes and the quirky, pioneering, weather-obsessed scientists whose discoveries created the science of modern meteorology.

While tornadoes have occasionally been spotted elsewhere, only the central plains of North America have the perfect conditions for their creation. For the early settlers the sight of a funnel cloud was an unearthly event. They called it the “Storm King,” and their descriptions bordered on the supernatural: it glowed green or red, it whistled or moaned or sang. In Storm Kings, Lee Sandlin explores America’s fascination with and unique relationship to tornadoes. From Ben Franklin’s early experiments to the “great storm war” of the nineteenth century to heartland life in the early twentieth century, Sandlin re-creates with vivid descriptions some of the most devastating storms in America’s history, including the Tri-state Tornado of 1925 and the Peshtigo “fire tornado,” whose deadly path of destruction was left encased in glass.

Drawing on memoirs, letters, eyewitness testimonies, and archives, Sandlin brings to life the forgotten characters and scientists who changed a nation—including James Espy, America’s first meteorologist, and Colonel John Park Finley, who helped place a network of weather “spotters” across the country. Along the way, Sandlin details the little-known but fascinating history of the National Weather Service, paints a vivid picture of the early Midwest, and shows how successive generations came to understand, and finally coexist with, the spiraling menace that could erase lives and whole towns in an instant.

 

Erwin Schrodinger and the Quantum Revolution by John Gribbin

Erwin Schrodinger and the Quantum Revolution by John Gribbin

Erwin Schrodinger and the Quantum Revolution

Book Description
Publication Date: April 8, 2013 | ISBN-10: 1118299264 | ISBN-13: 978-1118299265 | Edition: 1
A lively, fascinating biography of the father of quantum mechanics by the bestselling author of the science classic, In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat
Erwin Schrödinger, best known for his famous “Schrödinger’s Cat” paradox, is one of the most famous physicists of the early twentieth century and a member of a new generation of quantum physicists, including Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, and Niels Bohr. Yet Schrödinger’s scientific discoveries only scratch the surface of what makes him so fascinating. More rumpled than Einstein, a devotee of eastern religion and philosophy, and infamous for his alternative lifestyle, his major contribution to physics—and the work for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1933—was to some extent a disappointment to him. Regardless, Schrödinger’s masterpiece became an important part of the new physics of his time. This book tells the story of Schrödinger’s surprisingly colorful life during one of the most fertile and creative moments in the history of science.

The first accessible, in-depth biography of the Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger
Takes you into the heart of the quantum revolution and explains the captivating world of quantum mechanics, which underpins all of modern science
Written by bestselling author John Gribbin, one of today’s greatest popular science writers whose other books include In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat , In Search of the Multiverse, and Alone in the Universe

 

 

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