Science can be artful

Beads, flowers, patterns; don’t be mistaken by the book covers, these are science books. From the microscope to the telescope, and from feathers to unhatched; these hand picked books provide a new perspective for discovering the art in science. 

The book of eggs : a lifesize guide to the eggs of six hundred of the world’s bird species / Hauber, Mark E.
“This book introduces eggs from six hundred species – some endangered or extinct – from around the world and housed mostly at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. Organized by habitat and taxonomy, the entries include photographs of each egg in full colour and at actual size, as well as distribution maps and drawings and descriptions of the birds and their nests where the eggs are kept warm.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Jellyfish : a natural history / Gershwin, Lisa-Ann
“Jellyfish are mysterious creatures, luminously beautiful with remarkably varied life cycles. These simple, ancient animals are found in every ocean at every depth, and have lived on Earth for at least the last 500 million years. Ominously, they are also increasing in number as they adapt well to marine environmental degradation. This book looks at their anatomy, life history, taxonomy and ecology, and includes species profiles featuring stunning marine photography.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Science is beautiful : botanical life : under the microscope / Salter, Colin
“This stunning collection unearths exquisite photographs of flowers, trees, and grasses, all made possible by the electron microscope. Whether it’s the work of a lavender leaf oil gland, the inside of a pine pollen, flower stamen sculptures deep inside a tree bark, or the wonderful patterns of lichen, each image is an eye opening combination of art and science.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Pearls : a natural history
“Based on an exhibition mounted by the American Museum of Natural History in New York and The Field Museum in Chicago, Pearls combines science, history, and beautiful objects both natural and crafted. The authors draw on their varied disciplines to explore all aspects of pearls – biology, gemology, anthropology, mineralogy, ecology, and the decorative arts. Rich with new color photography and archival images, Pearls: A Natural History chronicles this enduring obsession. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Capturing the universe : the most spectacular astrophotography from across the cosmos / Evans, Rhodri
“The very best images captured by the new generation of terrestrial telescopes, orbiting telescopes and deep-space probes and landers have been collected in this magnificent volume.  From the world’s gigantic telescopes in the Canary Islands, Hawaii and Chile to the New Horizons probe now heading into the Kuiper Belt to examine other icy mini-worlds, each page reveals extraordinary images that take us deeper into our universe.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

As kingfishers catch fire : birds & books / Preston, Alex
“Preston created his own personal anthology of nature writing. Moving from the ‘high requiem’ of Keats’s nightingale to the crow-strewn sky at the end of Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, from Ted Hughes’s brooding ‘Hawk in the Rain’ to the giddy anthropomorphism of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, this is a book that will make you look at birds, at the world, in a newer, richer light. Beautifully illustrated and illuminated by the celebrated graphic artist Neil Gower.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

 

 

 

 

New Science books

From the red planet to natural history, from palaeontology to resilience thinking – these new science books provide a range of reading for people who want to see what’s happening from a distance in time and space, and look to what’s in the future.

The red planet : a natural history of Mars / Morden, Simon
“As NASA lays its plans for a return to the moon and, from there, a manned mission to Mars, Planetary geologist, geophysicist and acclaimed SF author Dr Simon Morden takes us on a vivid guided tour of Mars. From its formation four and half billion years ago, through an era of cataclysmic meteor strikes and the millions of years during which a vast ocean spanned its entire upper hemisphere, to the long, frozen ages, Morden presents a tantalising vision of the next planet we will visit.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Drawn to Nature : Gilbert White and the Artists / Martin, Simon
“Gilbert White’s Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne has inspired generations of artists, writers and naturalists. From Thomas Bewick to Eric Ravilious and Clare Leighton, many artists’ depictions of animals, birds and wildlife have illustrated White’s celebrated book, together providing a microcosm of natural history illustration from the eighteenth century until today.  The book also includes an introduction to the life of Gilbert White by Sir David Attenborough, and an essay by Virginia Woolf.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

A brief history of timekeeping : the science of marking time, from Stonehenge to atomic clocks / Orzel, Chad
“Our modern lives are ruled by clocks and watches, smartphone apps and calendar programs. Predating written language and marching on through human history, the desire for ever-better timekeeping has spurred technological innovation and sparked theories that radically reshaped our understanding of the universe. For those interested in science, technology who’s ever wondered about the instruments that divide our days into moments.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Perseverance and the Mars 2020 Mission : Follow the Science to Jezero Crater / Von Ehrenfried, Manfred Dutch
“The book takes readers through every stage of the Mars mission, describing its major goals and objectives, the cutting-edge technology and instrumentation onboard the Perseverance rover and other spacecraft components, and the members of the scientific team who steered the mission. The chapters therefore delve into how and why Jezero Crater was selected as the optimal landing and sample collecting site to meet the mission objectives.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Do hard things : why we get resilience wrong and the surprising science of real toughness / Magness, Steve
“Steve Magness, a performance scientist who coaches Olympic athletes, rebuilds our broken model of resilience with one grounded in the latest science and psychology. Magness teaches us how we can work with our body – how experiencing discomfort, leaning in, paying attention, and creating space to take thoughtful action can be the true indications of cultivating inner strength. He offers four core pillars to cultivate such resilience: Smart and wise all at once. ” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Paleontology : an illustrated history / Bainbridge, David
“David Bainbridge recounts how legends of marvellous creatures gradually gave rise to the modern science of palaeontology, and how this pioneering discipline has reshaped our view of the natural world. Bainbridge discusses how contemporary palaeontologists use cutting-edge technologies to flesh out the discoveries of past and present. This panoramic book brings together stunning illustrations ranging from early sketches and engravings to eye-popping paleoart and high-tech computer reconstructions.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Supertall : how the world’s tallest buildings are reshaping our cities and our lives / Al, Stefan
“In Supertall, TED Resident Stefan Al-himself an experienced architect who has worked on some of the largest buildings in the world-reveals the advancements in engineering, design, and data science that have led to this worldwide boom. He  explores the ingenious technological innovations-in cement, wind resistance, elevator design, and air-conditioning-that make the latest megastructures a reality. And he examines the risks of wealth inequality, carbon emissions, and contagion.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

 

Mind-boggling: new science

There is no system more complex than the human mind. With this month’s top science picks, delve into some insightful reads that aim to shed light on just how powerful this fascinating organ can be.

Cured : the power of our immune system and the mind-body connection / Rediger, Jeffrey
“Dr Jeff Rediger, a world-leading Harvard psychiatrist, has spent the last fifteen years studying thousands of individuals from around the world, examining the stories behind extraordinary cases of recovery from terminal illness. In Cured, he explains the vital role that nutrition plays in boosting our immunity and fighting off disease, and he also outlines how stress, trauma and identity affect our physical health. In analysing the remarkable science of recovery, Dr Rediger reveals the power of our mind to heal our body and shows us the keys to good health.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Connections : a story of human feeling / Deisseroth, Karl
“Addressing some of the most timeless questions about the human condition while illuminating the roots of misunderstood disorders such as depression, psychosis, schizophrenia and sociopathy, Connections transforms the way we understand the brain, and our selves..” (Catalogue)

 

Being you : a new science of consciousness / Seth, Anil K.
“Anil Seth, one of Britain’s leading neuroscientists, charts the developments in our understanding of consciousness, revealing radical interdisciplinary breakthroughs that must transform the way we think about the self. Seth puts forward an exhilarating new theory about how we experience the world that should encourage us to view ourselves as less apart from and more a part of the rest of nature. Seth’s revolutionary framework for consciousness will turn what you thought you knew about yourself on its head.” (Adapted from Fishpond)

This is your mind on plants : opium – caffeine – mescaline / Pollan, Michael
“Of all the many things humans rely on plants for, surely the most curious is our use of them to change consciousness: to stimulate, calm, or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience. In This Is Your Mind On Plants, Michael Pollan explores three very different drugs – opium, caffeine, and mescaline – and throws the fundamental strangeness of our thinking about them into sharp relief.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Head first : a psychiatrist’s stories of mind and body / Santhouse, Alastair
“What does it mean to be well? Is it something in our body? Or, is it rather something subjective — something of the mind? Psychiatrist Dr Alastair Santhouse draws on his experience of treating thousands of hospital patients to show how our emotions are inextricably linked to our physical wellbeing. Our minds shape the way we understand and react to symptoms that we develop, dictate the treatments we receive, and influence whether they work. Written with honesty, compassion, and a wry sense of humour, Head First examines difficult cases that illuminate some of our most puzzling and controversial medical issues. “–Publisher’s description.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How to keep your brain young / Phelps, Kerryn
“How to Keep Your Brain Young details the fundamentals of a healthy brain, from diet and exercise to gut microbiome and mindfulness techniques, and shows us how to feel sharper, kick out the brain fog and retain mental acuity in later life. Drawing on years of clinical experience and the latest research, How to Keep Your Brain Young is the ultimate guide for happy, healthy grey matter.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

eLibrary spotlight: Environmental Studies in Context (Gale)

Image of a forest road with the Gale logo


Have you checked out our eLibrary resource Environmental Studies in Context? Provided by Gale, it is a database filled with curated, educational resources about the physical, social, and economic aspects of environmental issues. Their collections are made up of accurate and peer-reviewed material,  and are created by a global network of scholars and educators.

This resource contains information on 446 issues related to Environmental Studies, spanning the agriculture industry, fast fashion, climate change and more. Gale has also included an in-built note-taking function, perfect for saving key quotes and research data for later. Environmental Studies in Context is the perfect place to deep dive into a new topic of interest, and is available for free with your Wellington City Libraries card. Login and start exploring through our eLibrary here.

Photo of wind turbines For instance, have you ever heard about the concept of green technology? Gale defines green technology as “technology that conserves energy while producing few or no emissions.”. The concept encompasses many types of technology, such as solar panels and electric cars, and aims to “harness power available in nature without destroying nature in the process”.

Green technology is not just a beacon of hope in terms of living sustainably on Earth, it has also led to scientists discovering creative solutions to other world problems. For example, green technology may be able to support parts of the world where the availability and reliability of electricity is currently lacking. It has also lead to advancements in food production; in the future, farmers will hopefully be able to utilise green technology to improve their irrigation systems and reduce food waste. 

For any passionate environmentalists who would like some book recommendations, we’ve also included a booklist below. Happy researching!

Salmon: A Fish, The Earth, And The History Of A Common Fate / Kurlansky, Mark
“In his new global food history, Mark Kurlansky says if we can save the salmon, we can save the world. Centuries of our greatest assaults on nature, from overfishing to dams, from hatcheries to fish farms, from industrial pollution to the ravages of climate change, can be seen in their harrowing yet awe-inspiring life cycle.” (Catalogue)

Environment Aotearoa : a collection of essays / Cleave, Peter
“This grew out of studies and discussions on the health of localities that I had been doing on the Manawatu River and on other places around New Zealand so the series was called Environment Aotearoa… This research, this thinking on the environment has, in the main, appeared since the turn of the century. Many of the ideas involved have been around for a lot longer but there is a fair bit of new writing in this mix and it came across to me at least as fresh and refreshing.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wild souls : freedom and flourishing in the non-human world / Marris, Emma
“From an acclaimed environmental writer, a groundbreaking and provocative new vision for our relationships with-and responsibilities toward-the planet’s wild animals […] When is it right to capture or feed wild animals for the good of their species? How do we balance the rights of introduced species with those already established within an ecosystem? (Adapted from Catalogue)

Climate Aotearoa : what’s happening & what can we do about it?
“Climate Aotearoa outlines the climate situation as it is now, and as it will be in the years to come. It describes the likely impact on the environment and on our day-to-day living situation. It suggests the changes you can make for maximum impact, what we should be asking of our government and what we should be asking of our business community. In doing so, this is a hopeful book – actions can make a difference.” — Publisher’s website.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Beloved beasts : fighting for life in an age of extinction / Nijhuis, Michelle
“A vibrant history of the modern conservation movement–told through the lives and ideas of the people who built it. In the late nineteenth century, as humans came to realize that our rapidly industrializing and globalizing societies were driving other animal species to extinction, a movement to protect and conserve them was born. In Beloved Beasts, acclaimed science journalist Michelle Nijhuis traces the movement’s history” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The great derangement : climate change and the unthinkable / Ghosh, Amitav
“Is our imagination adequate to the realities of global warming? The novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that we need art and literature to help us imagine our future in the Anthropocene, but that they are falling short of the task. If culture cannot help us see the realities of our plight, then our era, which so congratulates itself on its self-awareness, may come to be known as the time of the Great Derangement.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Living with the anthropocene : love, loss and hope in the face of environmental crisis
“Australia — and the world — is changing. On the Great Barrier Reef corals bleach white, across the inland farmers struggle with declining rainfall, birds and insects disappear from our gardens and plastic waste chokes our shores. The 2019–20 summer saw bushfires ravage the country like never before and young and old alike are rightly anxious. Human activity is transforming the places we live in and love. In this extraordinarily powerful and moving book, some of Australia’s best-known writers and thinkers — as well as ecologists, walkers, farmers, historians, ornithologists, artists and community activists — come together to reflect on what it is like to be alive during an ecological crisis.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parables for our planet: New science

Landscape image featuring three book covers from our recent picks.

Still looking for a sustainable New Years resolution? This month’s new science picks should be of interest!

From a in-depth look into our earth’s climate history in Brian Fagan’s Climate Chaos, to Mark Maslin’s handy guide book How to Save our Planet, these enthralling new non-fiction titles have got you covered. Check out these titles and more, below!

Climate chaos : lessons on survival from our ancestors / Fagan, Brian M
“Man-made climate change may have began in the last two hundred years, but humankind has witnessed many eras of climate instability. The results have not always been pretty: once-mighty civilizations felled by pestilence and glacial melt and drought. But we have one powerful advantage as we face our current crisis: history. Climate Chaos is thus a book about saving ourselves. Brian Fagan and Nadia Durrani show in remarkable detail what it was like to battle our climate over centuries, and offer us a path to a safer and healthier future” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wild souls : freedom and flourishing in the non-human world / Marris, Emma
“Are any animals truly wild on a planet that humans have so thoroughly changed? When is it right to capture or feed wild animals for the good of their species? Transporting readers into a field with scientists tackling profound challenges, Emma Marris offers a companionable tour of the philosophical ideas that may steer our search for sustainability and justice in the non-human world. Revealing just how intertwined animal life and human life really are, Wild Souls will change the way you think about nature – and our place within it.” (Adapted from Fishpond)

The nutmeg’s curse : parables for a planet in crisis / Ghosh, Amitav
“The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis frames climate change and the Anthropocene as the culmination of a history. Ghosh makes the case that the political dynamics of climate change today are rooted in the centuries-old geopolitical order that was constructed by Western colonialism. Ghosh also writes explicitly against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, and other pressing issues, framing these ongoing crises in a new way by showing how the colonialist extractive mindset is directly connected to the deep inequality we see around us today.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How to save our planet : the facts / Maslin, Mark
“How can we save our planet and survive the 21st century? How can you argue with deniers? How can we create positive change in the midst of the climate crisis? Professor Mark Maslin has the key facts that we need to protect our future. Global awareness of climate change is growing rapidly. Science has proven that our planet and species are facing a massive environmental crisis. How to Save Our Planet is a call to action, guaranteed to equip everyone with the knowledge needed to make change. — Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Saving us : a climate scientist’s case for hope and healing in a divided world / Hayhoe, Katharine
“Called “one of the nation’s most effective communicators on climate change” by The New York Times, Katharine Hayhoe knows how to navigate all sides of the conversation on our changing planet. In Saving Us, Hayhoe argues that when it comes to changing hearts and minds, facts are only one part of the equation. We need to find shared values in order to connect our unique identities to collective action. This is not another doomsday narrative about a planet on fire. Saving Us leaves us with the tools to open a dialogue with your loved ones about how we all can play a role in pushing forward for change.”–Jacket.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wai Pasifika : indigenous ways in a changing climate / Young, David
“David Young focuses on the increasingly endangered resource of freshwater, and what so-called developed societies can learn from the Indigenous voices of the Pacific. Combining nineteenth century and Indigenous sources with a selection of modern studies and his own personal encounters, Young keeps a human face on the key issue of water. He confirms that the gift of Indigenous people to their colonisers is that they offer systematic and different concepts of being in, and experiencing, nature.” (Catalogue)

The arbornaut / Lowman, Margaret
“One of the world’s first tree-top scientists, Meg Lowman is as innovative as MacGuyver and as can-do as the Unsinkable Molly Brown. From climbing solo hundreds of feet into Australia’s rainforests to studying leaf-eaters in Scotland’s Highlands, Lowman launches us into the life and work of a field scientist and ecologist. She also offers hope, specific plans, and recommendations for action; despite devastation across the world, we can still make an immediate and lasting impact against climate change.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Footprints and Future Fossils: New Science

What will the world look like in ten thousand years―or ten million? What kinds of stories will be told about us?”

David Farrier, Footprints

Just as traces of dinosaurs and the Mesozic era remained 65 million years later, or as remnants of the Palaeolithic period persist to exist in the modern world, we too have created long-lasting imprints to be discovered by our descendants, both in the distant and not so distant future.

Plastic-ridden oceans, cities dominated by roads and remnants of our radioactive waste are just a few of the fossils we are set to leave behind, as explained by David Farrier in his latest work Footprints.

Considering these future fossils with reference to our children, grandchildren, and all those who may come after us is confronting, but it may just be the call to action we’ve all been waiting for.

Check out this title, or any of our other recent science picks below.

Footprints / Farrier, David
“A profound meditation on climate change and the Anthropocene, and an urgent search for the fossils–industrial, chemical, geological–that humans are leaving behind. Footprints invites us to think about how we will be remembered in the myths, stories, and languages of our distant descendants. Travelling from the Baltic Sea to the Great Barrier Reef, and from an ice core laboratory in Tasmania to Shanghai, David Farrier will not only alter how you think about the future, but also change how you see the world today.” (Adapted from Fishpond)

The glitter in the green : in search of hummingbirds / Dunn, Jon
“Hummingbirds are a glittering, sparkling collective of over three hundred wildly variable, colourful species. This tells the colourful story of these fabulous birds — their history, their compelling life cycles, and their perilous position in a changing landscape — and the stories of the people, past and present, whose lives have been shaped by the zealous passion hummingbirds inspire. Travelling the full length of their worldwide range, nature writer Jon Dunn embarks on a search for the most remarkable examples of their kind, exploring their rich cultural heritage, and encountering a host of human characters as colourful as the birds themselves.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Beasts before us : the untold story of mammal origins and evolution / Panciroli, Elsa
“For most of us, the story of mammal evolution starts after the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs, but over the last 20 years scientists have uncovered new fossils and used new technologies that have upended this story. In Beasts Before Us, palaeontologist Elsa Panciroli charts the emergence of the mammal lineage, Synapsida. They made the world theirs long before the rise of dinosaurs. Travelling forward into the Permian and then Triassic periods, we learn how our ancient mammal ancestors evolved from large hairy beasts with accelerating metabolisms to exploit miniaturisation, which was key to unlocking the traits that define mammals as we now know them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

On time and water / Andri Snær Magnason
“Author and activist Andri Snaer Magnason’s ‘Letter to the Future’, an extraordinary and moving eulogy for the lost Okjokull glacier, made global news and was shared by millions. Now he attempts to come to terms with the issues we all face in his new book On Time and Water. Magnason writes of the melting glaciers, the rising seas and acidity changes that haven’t been seen for 50 million years. These are changes that will affect all life on earth.” (Adapted from Fishpond)

Jungle : how tropical forests shaped the world – and us / Roberts, Patrick
“Jungle tells a deep new history of the world, arguing that tropical rainforests played an outsized and overlooked role in our lives.  Blending cutting-edge research and incisive social commentary, Jungle offers a bold vision of what the rainforests can teach us about who we are and where we come from.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Islands of abandonment : life in the post-human landscape / Flyn, Cal
“This is a book about abandoned places – and what happens when nature is allowed to reclaim its place. In Chernobyl, following the nuclear disaster, only a handful of people returned to their dangerously irradiated homes. On an uninhabited Scottish island, feral cattle live entirely wild. In Detroit, once America’s fourth-largest city, entire streets of houses are falling in on themselves, looters slipping through otherwise silent neighbourhoods. This book explores the extraordinary places where humans no longer live – or survive in tiny, precarious numbers – to give us a possible glimpse of what happens when mankind’s impact on nature is forced to stop.” (Adapted from Catalogue)