Eye-opening titles on science and nature

The newly released books on nature and science this month are about wide-reaching topics from the neuroscience of gender to the history of seven rare and expensive natural objects.

“Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime” by Sean Carroll is about quantum mechanics, considered the heart and soul of modern physics.

Carroll, a Caltech physicist and New York Times bestselling author explains the Many Worlds Theory of quantum behavior. He clearly discusses the major objections to the notion that there are multiple copies of us created by quantum events. No other popular science book thus far has attempted to make this radical argument.

“Wildwood: the Epic Journey from Adolescence to Adulthood in Humans and Other Animals” by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz discusses how the same four universal challenges are faced by every adolescent human and animal on earth: how to be safe, how to navigate hierarchy, how to court potential mates and how to feed oneself. How human and animal adolescents and young adults confront the challenges of wildhood shapes their adult destinies.

“Strange Harvests: the Hidden Histories of Seven Natural Objects” by Edward Posnett is a beguiling work about seven rare and expensive natural products that represent the commodification of the natural world. Posnett journeys to some of the most far-flung locales on the planet to investigate the supply chain, economic inequality and cultural disruption of harvesting eiderdown, sea silk, vegetable ivory (tagua nuts), civet coffee, guano, edible birds nests and vicuna fiber. He follows the object’s histories, myths, traditions and current practices in this debut work.

“Gender and our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds” by Gina Rippon debunks the myth that there is a biological distinction between male and female brains. In 1674, Poullain bravely stated, after extensive research, that “the brains of women is exactly like ours.” His conclusions went against prevailing beliefs and his publications were universally dismissed. Rippon provides an exhaustive study of long-held beliefs about gender’s role in the development and functioning of the brain.

“Inconspicuous Consumption: the Environmental impact You Don’t Know You Have” by Tatiana Schlossberg is an eye-opening assessment of the environmental costs of our technology, food production, fashion, and fuel, presented in a conversational style. Schlossberg reveals the complicated, confounding ways that we all participate in a greenhouse gas intensive society on a daily basis while empowering the reader to make the best choices they can.

“A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and its Assault on the American Mind” by Harriet A. Washington is about the legacy of racist environmental policies and practices that disproportionately harm communities of color. Washington, an award winning science writer, adds her incisive analysis to the controversial topic on the genetic racial difference in IQ that were first posited in the 1974 publication “The Bell Curve” by Herrnstein and Murray.

She takes apart the spurious notion that intelligence is an inherited trait with data that points to environmental racism.

She investigates heavy metals, neurotoxins, deficient prenatal care, bad nutrition, and even pathogens as chief agents that influence intelligence.

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Tina Winstead is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Monday. Her columns may also be found online at www.thedailystar.com/community/library_corner.

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