Popular Science Reads

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan

Let me take this opportunity to express appreciation for science writers who open the universe of incredible discoveries to the rest of us. For those of us who are fascinated by scientific discoveries, but have neither the training nor desire to get information from academic journals, popular science books fill a need. Several outstanding titles have been published in the last year. Here are a few:

Mask of the Sun book coverMask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses” is a timely work for Mid-Missourians who reside in this year’s total solar eclipse zone. The book opens, in fact, with a page showing the coverage of upcoming August 21 eclipse. Author John Dvorak provides explanations of the science aspects of eclipses and delves into the human history and beliefs surrounding these celestial events. This includes some significant changes in religious doctrine over the years.

Best American Science and Nature Writing book coverThe Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016,” edited by Amy Stewart, is an anthology of essays. Every piece in the collection is fascinating in its own way. One author finds unexpected beauty of carrion decay. Oliver Sacks provides elegant musings on life, death and the periodic table. Additional topics cover ingenious methods to track ivory poachers, an examination of nail salons, the knowns and many unknowns of addiction treatment and how climate change is already changing our lives. This is a book series with a new edition every year, so the library owns copies of past editions, as well.

Tides bookc coverIn his book “Tides, the Science and Spirit of the Ocean” Jonathan White shares a personal journey of discovery. White traveled the world studying the ebb and flow of water and the impact it has on our lives. Living about as far from the ocean as it’s possible to get, Midwesterners might think tides don’t affect us much. But tides have made a difference in the course of world events and play a large role in the shipping of consumer goods. As climate change causes sea levels to rise, an understanding of tides will be even more important.

Bad SingerTim Falconer suffers from tone deafness, or amusia. “Bad Singer” follows his quest to understand why a small percentage of the population doesn’t experience music in the same way most people do. He meets with one specialist after another, and in the process he learns a lot about brain wiring, as well as the science of music.

Interested in a science topic not mentioned above? See our catalog list for more titles.