The Age of Radiance

The Age of Radiance

The brilliance and the pathos of the nuclear age can be traced to the eccentric geniuses who discovered radiation and realized that splitting atoms — fission — could release gargantuan amounts of energy, in bombs and electric generators. These engineers, scientists and weaponeers were not playing with fire. They were playing with something far more potent. More »

Cancer Chronicles

Cancer Chronicles

Using his wife’s brush with stage IV cancer as an armature, science writer George Johnson sculpts an exploration of cancer that would be entertaining, but for its persistent and pernicious protagonist. More »

Brilliant Blunders

Brilliant Blunders

From Darwin to Einstein: Colossal mistakes by great scientists that changed our understanding of life and the universe. More »

Toms River

Toms River

An outbreak of leukemia in New Jersey led to a long investigation and cleanup, but nobody was ever able to conclusively pin the blame on the chemical companies that had dumped their waste in unlined pits. More »

The Half Life of Facts

The Half Life of Facts

Beneath our attention, facts often change. What causes this change, and why are we attached to the “facts” of our childhood? Are any facts immutable? More »

On the Map

On the Map

A celebration of the urge to map, from the ancients to GPS, with detours into the male-female map-reading divergence, “X marks the spot,” and the role of maps in war. More »

Universe: The Definitive Visual Guide

Universe: The Definitive Visual Guide

This new edition covers the beauty and the mystery of the sky: From our moon to the most distant galactic explosion. With photos that just can’t be reduced to the computer screen, the book renews our enthusiasm for understanding the mysteries of the cosmos. With enviable info-graphics, Universe shows a consummate marriage of image and text. More »

Prize Fight

Prize Fight

Think scientists don’t squabble for glory? Think again. The behind-the-scenes scramble for fame is almost tawdry enough for Hollywood! Read all about the non-noble quest for Nobels! More »

The Viral Storm

The Viral Storm

The Viral Storm Nathan Wolfe • Times Books, 2012, 305 pp. If you appreciate efficiency, you have to love viruses. A few genes, a few thousand “letters” of DNA or RNA, and they can conquer large, important organism like us.… More »

The power of Habit

The power of Habit

The power of Habit Charles Duhigg • Random House, 2012, 371 pp. Duhigg’s new look at human behavior analyzes some fascinating issues: the birth of the modern Civil Rights movement, the use of data-mining to suck another buck from the… More »

Hot: Living through the next fifty years on Earth

Hot: Living through the next fifty years on Earth

Global warming is not an abstraction to people in flood-ravaged Bangladesh or corruption-addled New Orleans. Now that warming is a reality rather than a threat, what do effective response to changes in climate, oceans, and life look like? More »

The Book of Deadly Animals

The Book of Deadly Animals

Dangers lurk on a walk in the woods or a swim in the ocean, writes Gordon Grice: “… no matter how much we may love them, wild animals are not our friends.”
Nature, Grice asserts, is surprisingly scary, or surprisingly natural. We know that sharks, coyotes and wolves are dangerous — although much of our “knowledge” is myth compounded by hearsay. More »

The 4% Universe

The 4% Universe

If many scientific quests should be marked with an academic form of caution tape: “Progress = 2 steps forward + step back,” cosmologists have been in steady retreat for decades. The “cosmo” girls (and mainly boys) who explore the origin and fate of the universe were once mocked as data-free arm wavers. Then, in 1964, cosmo was promoted into a science by the discovery that echoes of the Big Bang were rattling around the universe. More »

The Poisoner’s Handbook

The Poisoner's Handbook

Could good come from a wave of poisonings eight decades ago? Yes, argues Deborah Blum, in a quick, entertaining read that, for better not worse, does not teach exactly what the title promises. Rather than a handbook for agents of arsenic or quaffers of chloroform, the book instead shows how a scientific establishment grew up to detect poison and deter poisoners. More »