Staff Picks Category: Science

You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey []

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This book will definitely spark a child’s curiosity about the world around them. Elin Kelsey explores topics of the universe and nature through simple and lighthearted text complimented by beautiful artwork. Soyeon Kim captivates her audience with magical three dimensional dioramas that jump off the page.
stardust
Like this book? Try Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford

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Incognito : the secret lives of the brain by David M. Eagleman []

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Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain is a fun and informal look at the subconscious, and often surprising, workings of the human brain. Consciousness, Eagleman says, only sheds light on a tiny portion of the way our minds work. Most of what goes into our decisions, our preferences, our very thoughts, is invisible to us. The inner workings of the brain are revealed not by introspection; instead, we learn the most about our own thoughts by considering behavioral studies, the perceptions of illusions, and the revealing actions of those suffering from brain damage or cognitive disorders. From such observations we learn that the perception of motion does not require movement, that the acquisition of skills does not require conscious memory, and that certain types of logical problems are easy for us only when they are given meaning in a social context.

This book is meant to entertain. It is not the place to go if you are looking for a good understanding of the science of the human mind. But if you want an enjoyable read which provides some surprising insights into human behavior, you may enjoy Ingcognito.

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The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson []

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The popular fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes once stated,“when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

The Psychopath Test, a work of non-fiction, begins as a real life mystery to discover the meaning and motivation behind selected mailings of a strange bound book entitled Being or Nothingness (notewe are not referring to Sartre’sBeing and Nothingness). Jon Ronson, a journalist and the author of the highly successful novel the Men Who Stare at Goats, is enlisted to find the source and make some sense of the text.

Many aspects of the authors life begin to arrive at certain parallels as the quest progresses and further mysteries unfurl themselves. He finds himself in conversation with members of the church of Scientology (who hold a strong opposition to the field of psychiatry) which leads to an interview with a particular inmate at the Broadmoor Asylum who claims he has faked madness as an escape a lengthy jail sentence.

Ronson becomes intrigued with the concept of psychopathy and learns that there is a specific test that helps experts determine whether any individual has psychopathic tendencies.It should be noted that overall, these studies claim to reveal that 1 out of every 100 people happen to be psychopaths (you’re now cataloging and making a mental list of all the people you know, aren’t you?). He later applies the test to an infamously ruthless CEO after learning studies show that 4 out of every 100 big business, corporate leaders happen to be psychopaths. This interview with the man possessing a menagerie of predatorial creature artwork offers plenty of laughs. You may have heard an excerpt from this humorous section of the book and also the Broadmoor story on NPR’s This American Life.The Psychopath Test eventually extends from Ronson’s personal adventure to discuss the history of experimental treatments for troubled individuals, the present state of the psychiatric and mental health fields and also pharmaceutical industry. While Ronson carefully exhibits little or no bias on these aforementioned subjects, he skillfully presents issues at hand. Though his journey leads him to come face to face with serious and thought provoking dilemmas, Ronson is able find humor in certain situations and always keeps the reader entertained. At one stage the author writes, “I was writing a book about the madness industry and only just realizing that I was part of the industry.”

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How To Wreck A Nice Beach by Dave Tompkins []

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The vocoder is one of the strangest devices in the music world. One only has to listen to the recent trend of “Auto-Tune” (an offspring of the vocoder) to begin the mystification process! Dave Tompkins leads us through the invention of this vocal transmission synthesizer and its initial uses. We learn that Winston Churchill and later John F. Kennedy spoke into early modules before the vocoder was even considered to be used as a musical instrument. Tompkins gives us plenty of military, political, scientific and Cold War history side by side with the then nascent hip-hop and electro movements with tales of the Jonzun Crew, Roger Troutman and Kraftwerk to name a few. What a read!

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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson []

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The author traces the Big Bang through the rise of civilization, documenting his work with a host of the world’s most advanced scientists and mathematicians to explain why things are the way they are. The author provides witty, interesting and, most importantly, understandable commentary on the many subjects the book addresses.

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