Book Nook

The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human Rights in Human Experimentation

The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human Rights in Human Experimentation, Annas & Grodin (1995)

The atrocities committed by Nazi physicians and researchers during World War II prompted the development of the Nuremberg Code to define the ethics of modern medical experimentation utilizing human subjects. Since its enunciation, the Code has been viewed as one of the cornerstones of modern bioethical thought. The sources and ramifications of this important document are thoroughly discussed in this book by a distinguished roster of contemporary professionals from the fields of history, philosophy, medicine, and law. The book sheds light on keenly debated issues of both science and jurisprudence, including the ethics of human experimentation; the doctrine of informed consent; and the Code's impact on today's international human rights agenda. It provides stimulating, provocative reading for physicians, legal professionals, bioethicists, historians, biomedical researchers, and concerned laypersons (Product Description).

Why Sh*t Happens: The Science of a Really Bad Day

Why Sh*t Happens: The Science of a Really Bad Day, Bentley (2009)

Bentley goes through a hypothetical very bad day in which the science behind 34 mishaps is explained. Oversleeping, shaving cuts, bad milk, bird poop, skipping CDs, skin burns and hard drive crashes are examples of what's covered (good thing this bad day is hypothetical!)

Milestones in Microbiology: 1546 to 1940

Milestones in Microbiology: 1546 to 1940, Brock (1999)

Few microbiologists have had the occasion or opportunity to read those articles considered milestones in the development of their science. Now Dr. Thomas Brock has collected and translated those papers that form the foundations of microbiology, making them available and accessible to students and practicing microbiologists.

Milestones in Microbiology is a fascinating collection that brings readers into the laboratories of such famous researchers as Leeuwenhoek, Pasteur, Koch, Lister, and many others. Valuable reading for anyone with an interest in the science's historical roots. (ASM Press release).

A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bryson (2003)

Bryson wrote this book because he was dissatisfied with his scientific knowledge - that was, not much at all. He writes that science was a distant, unexplained subject at school. Textbooks and teachers alike did not ignite the passion for knowledge in him, mainly because the never delved in the why, hows, and whens. "It was as if [the textbook writer] wanted to keep the good stuff secret by making all of it soberly unfathomable." - Bryson, on the state of science books used within his school. (from Wikipedia)

The Selfish Gene

The Selfish Gene, Dawkins (1976)

This book on evolution builds upon the principal theory of George C. Williams's first book Adaptation and Natural Selection. Dawkins coined the term "selfish gene" as a way of expressing the gene-centered view of evolution as opposed to the view focused on the organism. From the gene-centered view follows that the more two individuals are genetically related, the more sense (at the level of the genes) it makes for them to behave selflessly. Therefore the concept is especially good at explaining many forms of altruism, regardless of a common misuse of the term along the lines of a selfishness gene. (from Wikipedia)

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, Dawkins (2009)

"This book is my personal summary of the evidence that the 'theory' of evolution is actually a fact - as incontrovertible a fact as any in science."

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Diamond (1997)

"Jarad Diamond's excellent book about the fate of several human societies didn't win a Pulitzer Prize because it was an unreadable academic mess, it won becuase it's a thought-provoking, interesting look at the history of humanity. His follow-up, Collapse is just as good, but as a starting point Guns, Germs, and Steel lays the foundation for his studies. If you've ever wondered why Europeans dominated early history, this book sets out to answer that question and more, and even if you don't buy Diamond's conclusions, it's still an interesting theory".

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!': Adventures of a Curious Character

“Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character, Feynman (1985)

"This is an edited collection of reminiscences by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. The book, released in 1985, covers a variety of instances in Feynman's life. Some are lighthearted in tone, such as his fascination with safe-cracking, fondness for topless bars, and ventures into art and samba music. Others cover more serious material, including his work on the Manhattan Project (during which his first wife Arline Greenbaum died of tuberculosis) and his critique of the science education system in Brazil.

The anecdotes were edited from taped conversations that Feynman had with his close friend and drumming partner Ralph Leighton. Its surprise success led to a sequel entitled What Do You Care What Other People Think?, also taken from Leighton's taped conversations. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! sold more than 500,000 copies.

The title derives from a woman's response at Princeton University when, after she asked the newly-arrived Feynman if he wanted cream or lemon in his tea, he absentmindedly requested both (not knowing that they would curdle).

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, Glick (1992)

From the author of the national bestseller Chaos comes an outstanding biography of one of the most dazzling and flamboyant scientists of the 20th century that "not only paints a highly attractive portrait of Feynman but also . . . makes for a stimulating adventure in the annals of science" (The New York Times, Nov. 2, 1993).

The Richness of Life

The Richness of Life, Gould (2006)

Gould was one of the greatest scientific writers of his time and this collection of his writing captures that prefectly. He speaks clearly to a popular audiences but doesn't dumb things down. The combination of narrative, information and story telling are so seamless there will be moments you won't even realize you're learning. The essays are sprinkled with wit and humor while imparting information about sociology, psychology, religion, culture, archeology, biology and more. Gould's veiws on evolution are an interesting and refreshing counter balance to those of many other specialists in the field.

"Nature is so wonderously complex and varied that almost anything possible does happen... I rejoice in [its] multiferiousness and leave the chimera of certainty to politicians and preachers." ~ J. Gould

The Grand Design

The Grand Design, Hawking & Mlodinow (2010)

“Hawking, who needs no introduction, and Mlodinow, a Caltech physicist with a string of excellent books to his credit, have taken on that ultimate question in a somewhat more rigorous form by asking three related ones: Why is there something instead of nothing? Why do we exist? Why does this particular set of laws govern our universe and not some other set? … I've waited a long time for this book. It gets into the deepest questions of modern cosmology without a single equation. The reader will be able to get through it without bogging down in a lot of technical detail and will, I hope, have his or her appetite whetted for books with a deeper technical content. And who knows? Maybe in the end the whole multiverse idea will actually turn out to be right!“ ~ James Trefil is a professor of physics at George Mason University (Washington Post, Sunday, September 5, 2010)

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, Holmes (2008)

This popular science book describes the scientific discoveries of the great polymaths of the late eighteenth century –linking the stories of Banks, Herschel and Davy, among others- and describes how this period formed the basis for modern scientific discoveries. It won the 2009 Royal Society Prize for Science Books and the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction.

“The Age of Wonder is ….an excellent introduction to one of the most whacky moments in scientific history: the romatic period… when humanist science was the new fringe, where art and science combined to create some of the most mystical and interesting moments in discovery and experimentation?. [In Daily List, by thorink].

The Eighth Day of Creation: The Makers of the Revolution in Biology

The Eighth Day of Creation: The Makers of the Revolution in Biology, Judson (1996)

The revelations of modern biology make a remarkable human and scientific story, and it has never been told better than in Horace Freeland Judson's The Eighth Day of Creation. What is especially fortunate is that he is a graceful writer with a keen sense of the human as well as the scientific drama. I finished the book with a great sense of elation and a deepened sense of admiration for what the human family, at its best, can accomplish." (Review of the First Edition) ~ JEREMY BERNSTEIN, New York Times Book Review

Brave Companions Portraits in History

Brave Companions Portraits in History, McCullough (1992)

The book consists of previously published essays, most of which are biographical portraits of a specific historical figure or group of figures including scientists such as the German explorer Alexander von, Humboldt, his protégé the Swiss/American naturalist and geologist Louis Agassiz and the English zoologist andentomologist Miriam Rothschild.

“Readers familiar with McCullough’s popular, true tales of historical adventure will find his wares well-displayed in this collection. In these articles he celebrates not so much the achievement as the quest, elevating curiosity and purpose to the rank of high virtue. He refuses to disparage, after the modern fashion, the achievements of these bold and curious adventurers. With all their bravado, ambition, and self-reference, they still left something for humanity. It matters little if these “brave companions” were immediately or even ultimately successful in the eyes of the world, for to McCullough, “the key is attitude.” eNotes.com, Inc. (2010)

Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries

Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries, Second Edition, McGrayne (2001)

‘As the subtitle suggests, this book describes the lives and struggles of 14 women who were either awarded the Nobel Prize or played a critical part in the work of the men who received it. And the "struggles" were horrendous. From the nonadmission policies of most graduate schools, even as late as 1960, to the restrictive admission policies even at the undergraduate level, simply obtaining an adequate education in the sciences was a battle for women. And, with few exceptions, most of them had to take unpaid or lowly paid jobs if they wanted to do science. Tenured positions might be offered after the Nobel Prize was won! Bertsch is a former newspaper reporter, and her background is reflected in her terse, dramatic treatment of each woman. There is an excellent set of references, as well as a thoughtful introduction and conclusion. At the outset, Bertsch asks "Why so few?"--at the conclusion, given the trials and tribulations, one wonders how so many endured. Highly recommended for all science collections. Hilary D. Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab., Livermore, Cal. (Library Journal, 1993).

Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul Examined

Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul Examined, Miller (2008)

Only a Theory … is Kenneth R. Miller's response to the slick public relations campaign orchestrated by the various supporters of the Intelligent Design movement. As a professor of biology and a devout Christian, Miller is uniquely qualified to speak to both sides of the issue and help the average person to understand the more complex science involved. Having testified at the infamous Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in 2005, Miller has seen the lengths that those within the Intelligent Design community will go to in order to further their agenda…… What frightens Miller about the Intelligent Design movement isn't simply the idea that they might inject the concept of a supernatural creator into the study of evolution, but that once they succeed in wedging the supernatural into one science that they will proceed to do so in all branches of science. In Miller's view, the goal of the Intelligent Design movement isn't simply the revising of the study of evolution to suit their religious views, but to inject religion into the study and pursuit of science in all its forms. He makes a compelling case by citing the movement's own documents and quoting its own leading lights as they advocate exactly that.

Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life

Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life, Mlodinow (2003)

This book is about Mlodinow's relationship with Richard Feynman, during his post-doctoral years in Caltech, in the early eighties. The book offers an insight into Feynmen's attitude towards physics and life, his relationship with Murray Gell-Mann and the rise of String Theory. Somwhat dated but still a good read.

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English, O’Conner (2003)

We've all been there: staring at black text on a white screen, sweat beading down the backs of our necks, fingers trembling slightly over the keyboard... "Should I use that or which? Does the period go inside the quotation mark, or outside? Is a semicolon actually a gastrointestional disorder, or what?" Grammer is hard. So, for those of us who are occasionally paralyzed by fear when confronted with it's or its, relief comes in the form of Patricia T. O'Conner's lively book, Woe Is I.

O'Conner's book is a fun, lighthearted tour of the wacky, wild world of grammer. Woe Is I is a thorough examination of the morass that is the English language. Each of its eleven chapters is full of clever wit that elucidates both the obvious and subtle hang-ups of written English. ~ Jessica Mocle, Technically Write (2003)

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, Oreskes & Conway (2010)

‘Merchants of Doubt' delves into contrarian scientists. No matter how overwhelmingly the scientific community may back a research study, naysayers can always find a scientist to support the opposing view on issues ranging from tobacco smoke to global warming.

According to science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, the same contrarian scientists keep popping up no matter the topic: Fred Seitz, Fred Singer and Bill Nierenberg, to name three. All physicists, Seitz and Nierenberg worked on the atomic bomb, while Singer, a rocket scientist, worked on observation satellites. Their subjects have stood against the scientific consensus on a number of issues. They gained traction because a media concerned with fairness gave them equal time. All in all, Oreskes and Conway paint an unflattering picture of why some scientists continue to stand against the overwhelming scientific consensus on issues at the center of public discussion. Seth Brown Special for, USA TODAY (7/8/2010).

A Glow in the Dark: The Revolutionary Science of Biofluorescence

A Glow in the Dark: The Revolutionary Science of Biofluorescence, Vincent Pieribone & David Gruber (2005)

“Green fluorescent protein (GFP) has so much to offer the world of medicine and neurobiology that I would classify it among the top biological discoveries of the twentieth century. Pieribone and Gruber tell the GFP story well, in prose that is clearly written and engaging. I particularly enjoyed the contrast between Shimomur ’s life in Japan during the war and Tsien’s early life in New York. This is a pitch-perfect telling, one well worth the notice of the curious, intelligent reader, and I give it a ringing endorsement.” Adam P. Summers, University of California at Irving, regular columnist for Natural History.

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, Sagan & Druyan (1993)

In a leisurely, lyrical meditation on the roughly four-billion year span since life dawned on Earth, Sagan and Druyan argue that territoriality, xenophobia, ethnocentrism, occasional outbreeding and a preference for small, semi-isolated groups are elements in a survival strategy common to many species, including Homo sapiens. Yet society's problems, they assert, increasingly demand global solutions and require a dramatic, strategic shift which the authors optimistically believe humankind is capable of achieving. This engaging, humane odyssey offers a stunning refutation of the behavioristic worldview with its mechanistic notion that animals (except for humans) lack conscious awareness. Writing with awe and a command of their material, the husband-wife team cover well-trod terrain while they discuss the evolution of Earth's atmosphere and life forms, the genetic code, the advantages of sexual reproduction. The last third of the book, dealing with chimpanzees, baboons and apes, is the most interesting. Sagan and Druyan find chimps' social life "hauntingly familiar" with its hierarchy, combat, suppression of females and chimps' remarkable ability to communicate through symbols. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons

A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons, Sapolsky (2002)

Few would relish a job requiring proficiency with a blowgun as well as a willingness to put up with parching heat, low pay and copious amounts of baboon shit. But for Sapolsky (The Trouble with Testosterone), a Stanford professor and MacArthur grant recipient, it was literally a dream come true. As a boy in New York City, he'd wanted to live in one of the African dioramas at the Museum of Natural History. One week after graduating from Harvard in the mid-1970s, he got his chance: he went to Kenya to study social behavior in baboons. Hilariously unprepared for the challenges of living in the bush, the naive grad student learned to deal with supply and transportation snafus, army ants and giant cockroaches, safari tourists, dinners of canned spaghetti coated with a mixture of sugar and rancid camel's milk, and surreal government bureaucracies. He developed great fondness for "his" baboons, whose behavior seemed uncannily like that of a bunch of quarrelsome human adolescents, and discovered that their interactions didn't necessarily conform to accepted theories. While Sapolsky's primate observations are always fascinating, his thoughts on Africa and Africans are even more compelling. As funny and irreverent as a good ol' boy regaling his friends with vacation-from-hell stories, Sapolsky can also be disarmingly emotional as in his clear-headed tribute to late gorilla researcher Dian Fossey, and his final chapters, which reveal his rage and impotence as he watched his baboons succumb to a horrific plague. Filled with cynicism and awe, passion and humor, this memoir is both an absorbing account of a young man's growing maturity and a tribute to the continent that, despite its troubles and extremes, held him in its thrall. Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Sapolsky (2004)

Entertaining explanation of how stress affects the body and what we can do to counteract its effects. Sapolsky (a MacArthur Fellow who divides his time between teaching biological sciences and neuroscience at Stanford and conducting stress research on baboons in Kenya) makes a much discussed topic seem fresh and new. Using humor, unexpected analogies, and offbeat examples (to illustrate how the brain sends messages to other parts of the body, he slips in a steamy passage from Lady Chatterley's Lover), Sapolsky covers how the stress response affects the cardiovascular, digestive, reproductive, and immune systems; the body's perception of pain; growth; and the aging process. He concludes with some words on how to cope with psychological stress--the type of stress that humans (unlike zebras) experience most often. He also cautions against the oversimplification of stress-reduction manuals, asserting that many suggested strategies--such as developing a sense of control, finding an outlet for your frustrations, and building a system of social support--can backfire. As a first line of defense against stress-related disease, Sapolsky recommends prevention--learning to recognize the signs of the stress response and to identify the situations that trigger it. His lucid text and not-to-be-overlooked footnotes are filled with delightful twists and turns, personal anecdotes, and nuggets of odd information--for instance, on voodoo death, Peter Pan, and the hunting skills of hyenas. Possessed of a lively intelligence, wide-ranging curiosity, and love of science, Sapolsky writes as though his readers share these traits. First-rate science for the nonscientist that's certain to reduce stress--at least during the time spent reading it. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Skloot (2010)

From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive--even thrive--in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta's family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution--and her cells' strange survival--left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories? ~Tom Nissley

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Truss (2004)

“A cheery, chatty mini-tome, it offers numerous examples of the role that punctuation plays in enlivening and clarifying language. The joke from which it takes its title — about a single misplaced comma that changes a foliage-eating panda into a casual murderer who walks away from the scene — is just one of those examples.” Michael Upchurch / Seattle Times book critic ( April, 2004)

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, Watson (1968)

Watson's tale of scientific sausage-making has upset lots of people over the years, but it's essential reading for any budding scientist. ~ Wanack Mar 25, 2010

An enjoyable and easy read. It is well suited to for everyone whether you have any scientific knowledge and background or not. Remember to take Watson's interpretations of things with a grain of salt, he definitely puts his own, somewhat arrogant spin on what happened and the other personalities involved. A wonderful introduction to the personal and rather unscientific side of science. ~ Atychonievich Apr 12, 2010

This is the account of the discovery of the structure of DNA, penned by one of the main protagonists in this history-making tale. It is an account from his perspective only, and is perfused by the arrogance and self-confidence that I believe was integral in James Watson's ability to perservere and make, along with Frances Crick and the other scientists involved, this earth shatteringly important scientific breakthrough. It is a picture of a man clearly rooted in the academic cliques and prejudices of the time, an invaluable record of a pivotal moment in our scientific history and a flashback to a time when academic science was firmly rooted in the field of thought and ideas, less polluted with the commercial world that now governs much of the research carried out in the scientific community. ~ Klarusu Oct 21, 2008

The Emperor of All Maladies

The Emperor of All Maladies, Mukherjee (2011)

A magnificent, beautifully written biography of cancer - from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles to cure, control and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. In The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee, doctor, researcher and award-winning science writer, examines cancer with a cellular biologist's precision, a historian's perspective, and a biographer's passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with - and perished from - for more than five thousand years. The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience and perseverance, but also of hubris, arrogance and misperception, all leveraged against a disease that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out 'war against cancer'. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories and deaths, told through the eyes of predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary. From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave cut off her malignant breast, to the nineteenth-century recipient of primitive radiation and chemotherapy and Mukherjee's own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through toxic, bruising, and draining regimes to survive and to increase the store of human knowledge. Riveting and magisterial, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments and a brilliant new perspective on the way doctors, scientists, philosophers and lay people have observed and understood the human body for millennia.

Some Modest Advise for Graduate Students, Stephen C. Stearns

Dr. Stephen C. Stearns, the Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, presents his case for being proactive in designing and “taking charge” of your own graduate education program. Advice for graduate students (PDF)