Turn off whatever device you’re reading this on, and go pick up a book instead. Honestly, it’s the only sane way to deal with modern life. Non-fiction books in particular are vital in understanding the basic principles that make today’s world what it is. They can help us all decide how to tread the best path through it.
Still here? Perhaps you need a little advice on what to pick up? In that case, you’ve come to the right place. ScienceSeeker's editors have chosen some of the favourites we’ve read this year, which lift the veil on gender, trees, the animals we eat, our feeling for time, and how science emerges from chance. Have a read of any or all of them, and inform yourself!
Andy Extance, chemistry and physics editor and ScienceSeeker editor in chief's pick is Inferior by Angela Saini. He says:
In an extremely readable way, Saini explores how the 'just so' stories that science supposedly tells us about human gender, and specifically women's inferior qualities, often don't bear great scrutiny. Evolutionary psychology explanations are often built on studies of animals where males dominate and overlook those species where females do. Anthropology studies that imply that women's place is in the home similarly overlook evidence to the contrary. For example human mothers kill their babies or leave them to die, which suggest that motherhood in particular is not innate. Saini both brings together the best, latest, evidence and explores the internal politics of science that has distorted our attitudes to women. I highly recommend you read Inferior, and find out about the real story of women and men.
Jennifer Tsang, ecology and policy editor's pick is Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. She says:
Trees are everywhere, but we often walk amidst them without wondering about their daily lives. What controls the come and go of leaves with the seasons? How do they survive such drastic changes in temperature? How do trees communicate with one another – how do they cooperate or compete with each other and other species? These are just a few of the questions that Wohlleben addresses to describe the amazing ways tree survive and evolve. Written to educate and entertain, I found myself fascinated over and over again throughout this book.
Natalie Holmes, science communication editor's pick is Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat by Barbara J. King. She says:
Recent scientific developments are radically changing how we see and understand animals. By engaging with research from a wide range of disciplines, Professor of Anthropology, Barbara J. King, addresses the dissonance between how we feel about our non-human cohabitants and what we choose to eat – in turn creating a nuanced, thoughtful and provocative book.
Teodora Stoica, neuroscience editor's pick is: Your Brain is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time by Dean Buonomano. She says:
This book explores how the human brain not only tells time but creates it, engagingly explaining the concept of “mental time travel” and addressing profound questions such as: “What is time?” and “Is our sense of time’s passage an illusion?” Illustrating these ideas using multi-disciplinary data, Buonamano's book is an engaging and entertaining book that makes time fly by.
Thanassis Psaltis, art, photography, physics and general science editor's pick is: Causality and Chance in Modern Physics by David Bohm
This book was published in 1957, when there was a lot of discussion on the interpretation of the quantum theory, despite the fact that the Copenhagen interpretation pioneered by Bohr and Heisenberg was widely accepted by physicists. The book has a foreword by Louis de Broglie, one of the pioneers of quantum physics, who postulated in his PhD thesis that matter behaves like waves. Prof. Bohm discusses in a very concise way how causality and chance can describe physical laws and he presents his interpretation of the quantum theory. It's great reading for science students, since Prof. Bohm, one of the most rounded scientists of the twentieth century, guides the reader into the inner workings of natural laws, using quantum mechanics as an example.