Bears

Educate Yourself With 2018’s Smartest Science Books

2018 is here, and we have all promised ourselves that this year will be better than the last. One way to achieve this is, of course, by reading more. Although many of our reading lists are sprawling and unmanageable already, it’s important to make sure we read diversely and that we’re reading stuff that’s not only entertaining but educational. Luckily, we live in a good time for popular science books that accomplish both in excess.

 

Here are some of the most exciting science book releases coming this winter, descriptions courtesy of the publishers.

 

1. Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Kathryn Harkup

 

Via Giphy

 Via Giphy

 

Making Monster

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Released: February 8, 2018

 

Making the Monster explores the scientific background behind Mary Shelley’s book. Is there any science fact behind the science fiction? And how might a real-life Victor Frankenstein have gone about creating his monster? From tales of volcanic eruptions, artificial life and chemical revolutions, to experimental surgery, ‘monsters’ and electrical experiments on human cadavers, Kathryn Harkup examines the science and scientists that influenced Shelley, and inspired her most famous creation.

 

2. Bear: Myth, Animal, Icon by Wolf D. Storl

 

Bear

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Released: January 9, 2018

 

Since the beginning of human history, bears have been regarded as animals of great power. Ethnobotanist and cultural anthropologist Wolf Storl, who spent years in the wilderness with bears, explores the fascinating relationship between bears and humans, including the history, mythology, healing lore, and biology of this formidable creature. Storl takes the reader from the bear caves of the Neanderthals to the bear-worshipping Siberian tribes of today, from the extinct cave bear to the modern teddy bear. Bears were traditionally seen as a kind of “forest human” under whose shaggy fur a king or a god was hidden, he explains. Vividly illustrating the power of myths and fairy tales to reveal more than scientific treatises about the true nature of beings–especially in the case of bears–Storl restores this magnificent animal to its rightful place at the forefront of the human imagination as well as among the dwellers of the forest.

 

3. The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love by Michael D. Lemonick

 

Perpetual Now

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Released: January 16, 2018

 

In the aftermath of a shattering illness, Lonni Sue Johnson—a renowned artist who regularly produced covers for The New Yorker, a gifted musician, a skilled amateur pilot, and a joyful presence to all who knew her—lives in a “perpetual now.” 

 

Lonni Sue has almost no memories of the past and a nearly complete inability to form new ones. Remarkably, however, she retains much of the intellect and artistic skills from her previous life. As such, Lonni Sue’s story has become part of a much larger scientific narrative—one that is currently challenging traditional wisdom about how human memory and awareness are stored in the brain.

 

In this probing, compassionate, and illuminating book, award-winning science journalist Michael D. Lemonick tells the unique drama of Lonni Sue Johnson’s day-to-day life and explains the groundbreaking revelations about memory, learning, and consciousness her unique case has uncovered. This is his nuanced and intimate look of the science that lies at the very heart of human nature.

 

4. The Spinning Magnet: The Electromagnetic Force That Created the Modern World—and Could Destroy It by Alanna Mitchell

 

Spinning Magnet

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Released: January 30, 2018

 

An engrossing history of the science of one of the four fundamental physical forces in the universe, electromagnetism, right up to the latest indications that the poles are soon to reverse and destroy the world’s power grids and electronic communications

 

A cataclysmic planetary phenomenon is gathering force deep within the Earth. The magnetic North Pole will eventually trade places with the South Pole. Satellite evidence suggests to some scientists that the move has already begun, but most still think it won’t happen for many decades. All agree that it has happened many times before and will happen again. But this time it will be different. It will be a very bad day for modern civilization.

 

Award-winning science journalist Alanna Mitchell’s delightful storytelling introduces enchanting characters from investigations into magnetism in thirteenth-century France to the discovery in the Victorian era that electricity and magnetism emerge from the same force. No one has ever told so eloquently how the Earth itself came to be seen as a magnet, spinning in space with two poles, and that those poles dramatically, catastrophically reverse now and then…

 

5. Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigations into Extrasensory Perception by Annie Jacobsen

 

Phenomena

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Released: March 28, 2018

 

For more than forty years, the U.S. government, through various military and intelligence agencies, has invested millions in classified programs that study the role of mental telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and other forms of extrasensory perception (ESP) as a means of intelligence collection for military and defense purposes.

 

Now, for the first time, New York Times bestselling author Annie Jacobsen will tell the story of these programs, using interviews with the core group of individuals–including former Defense Department scientists, military officers, CIA analysts and researchers, an Apollo 14 astronaut, government psychics, and members of the Aviary–who ran these phenomena programs at the highest level of government.

 

6. The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth by Michio Kaku

 

Future Humanity

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Released: February 20, 2018

 

Formerly the domain of fiction, moving human civilization to the stars is increasingly becoming a scientific possibility–and a necessity. Whether in the near future due to climate change and the depletion of finite resources, or in the distant future due to catastrophic cosmological events, we must face the reality that humans will one day need to leave planet Earth to survive as a species. World-renowned physicist and futurist Michio Kaku explores in rich, intimate detail the process by which humanity may gradually move away from the planet and develop a sustainable civilization in outer space. He reveals how cutting-edge developments in robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology may allow us to terraform and build habitable cities on Mars. He then takes us beyond the solar system to nearby stars, which may soon be reached by nanoships traveling on laser beams at near the speed of light. Finally, he brings us beyond our galaxy, and even beyond our universe, to the possibility of immortality, showing us how humans may someday be able to leave our bodies entirely and laser port to new havens in space. With irrepressible enthusiasm and wonder, Dr. Kaku takes readers on a fascinating journey to a future in which humanity may finally fulfill its long-awaited destiny among the stars.

 

Feature Image Via Bored Panda