Welcome to our Best of 2010 top 10 books for Science. This is a list of most popular science books at Amazon published for the first time in 2010. Best Science Books is definitely a collection of titles that should be present in the library of everybody interested in science.Science continuously evolves and brings new answers to old questions. Best Science Books of 2010 is the latest answer to these questions.
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10. Here’s Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through tUnlike in a traditional classroom setting, Bellos’s book aims to reintroduce readers into the world of math by wandering off the beaten algebraic path and investigating interesting topics. Bellos, a former international newspaper correspondent, jets off to exotic places to talk to people about mathematical concepts that catch his fancy. Readers learn the remarkable story of how Sudoku became an overnight international sensation only after its developer, a retired judge, worked for six years on a computer program to write the puzzles. In Japan he visits a club whose school-age members can almost instantaneously add up a string of three-digit numbers by visualizing an abacus in their heads. When in America, Bellos finds himself in Nevada, exploring Reno’s casino scene with a discussion of why some gamblers win, but most don’t. Adult math buffs will be familiar with most of Bellos’s discoveries, but his enthusiasm and lively writing-along with helpful charts and graphics-should inspire younger readers to make their own journeys of mathematical exploration.You can also check the list of Best Science Books in 2009.
Welcome to our Best of 2009 top 10 lists for Science. Our list of the best science books of 2009 Â includes top pick, The Age of Wonder, Richard Holmes’s delightfully masterful group biography of the adventurous scientists of Britain’s Romantic age, Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species, Complexity: A Guided Tour and other top science books.Best Science Books are ranked according to Amazon’s customer orders through October. Only books published for the first time in 2009 are eligible. See more editors’ picks and customers’ favorites in our Best Books of 2009 Store.
1. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
Amazon.com ReviewOliver Sacks is the author of Musicophilia, Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and many other books, for which he has received numerous awards, including the Hawthornden Prize, a Polk Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and lives in New York City, where he is a practicing neurologist. Read his exclusive guest review of The Age of Wonder: I am a Richard Holmes addict. He is an incomparable biographer, but in The Age of Wonder, he rises to new heights and becomes the biographer not of a single figure, but of an entire unique period, when artist and scientist could share common aims and ambitions and a common language–and together create a “romantic,” humanist science. We are once again on the brink of such an age, when science and art will come together in new and powerful ways. For this we could have no better model than the lives of William and Caroline Herschel and Humphry Davy, whose dedication and scientific inventiveness were combined with a deep sense of wonder and poetry in the universe. Only Holmes, who is so deeply versed in the people and culture of eighteenth-century science, could tell their story with such verve and resonance for our own time.
2. Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of SpeciesIt’s unclear whether the title refers to the daring naturalist/explorers Carroll depicts or the creatures whose remains they found. In this thoroughly enjoyable book, Carroll (Endless Forms Most Beautiful), a molecular biologist at the University of Wisconsin, provides vignettes of some of the fascinating people who have made the most significant discoveries in evolutionary biology. He starts with some of the experiences and insights of great explorers like Alexander von Humboldt, Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and Henry Walter Bates, then turns his attention to paleontologists who searched for the fossil evidence to support the new theory of evolution. Among them are Euge`ne Dubois’s discovery of Java Man; Charles Walcott’s discovery of the Burgess Shale and the evidence it provided for the Cambrian explosion; and Neil Shubin’s recent discovery in arctic Canada of Tiktaalik, the intermediary between water- and land-dwelling vertebrates. Carroll closes with studies of human evolution, from Louis and Mary Leakey to the advances of Linus Pauling and Allan Wilson, which indicated that Neanderthals were cousins of Homo sapiens rather than direct ancestors. While there’s little that’s new here, Carroll does weave an arresting tapestry of evolutionary advancement.
3. Complexity: A Guided Tourâ€œAll theoretical models are wrong, but some are useful.â€ Both inevitable error and promising usefulness abound in the bold conceptual models that Mitchell surveys in exploring the nascent science of complexity. Readers will marvel at the sheer range of settings in which complex systems operate: from ant hills to the stock market, from T cells to Web searches, from disease epidemics to power outages, complexity challenges theoristsâ€™ intellectual adroitness. With refreshing clarity, Mitchell invites nonspecialists to share in these researchersâ€™ adventures in recognizing and measuring complexity and then predicting its cascading effects. Concepts central to thermodynamics, information theory, and computer programming all come into focus in this foray into the recesses of complexity. Still, the analysis illuminates more than explanatory frameworks (such as network diagrams and genetic algorithms); piquant personalities (including Stephen Jay Gould and John von Neumann) also receive illuminating scrutiny. Though Mitchell acknowledges the doubts of skeptics, she still expresses hope that persistent complexity researchers will yet weld their disparate accomplishments into a coherent paradigm. Mind-expanding.
4. Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist’s Journey Into Seeing in Three Dimensionsâ€œFixing My Gaze is a beautiful description and appreciation of two very distinct ways of seeingâ€¦ But it is also an exploration of much more. Sue is at pains not only to present her story, in clear and lucid, often poetic, language, but also, as a scientist, to provide understanding and explanation. She is in a unique position to do this, drawing on both her personal experience and her background as a neurobiologistâ€¦.Though Sue originally thought her own case unique, she has since found a number of other people with strabismus and related problems who have unexpectedly achieved stereo vision through vision therapy. This is no easy accomplishment. It may require not only optical corrections (proper lenses or prisms, for example), but very intensive training and learning–in effect, learning how to align the eyes and to fuse their images, and unlearning the unconscious habit of suppressing vision which has been occurring perhaps for decades. In this way, vision therapy is directed at the whole person: it requires high motivation and self-awareness, and enormous perseverance, practice and determination, as does psychotherapy, for instance, or learning to play the piano. But it is also highly rewarding, as Sue brings out. And this ability to acquire new perceptual abilities later in life has great implications for anyone interested in neuroscience or rehabilitation, and, of course, for the millions of people who, like Sue, have been strabismic since infancy.Sue’s case, and many others, suggest that if there are even small islands of function in the visual cortex, there may be a fair chance of reactivating and expanding them in later life, even after a lapse of decades, if vision can be made optically possible. Cases like these may offer new hope for those once considered incorrigibly stereo-blind. Fixing My Gaze will offer inspiration for anyone in this situation, but it is equally a very remarkable exploration of the brain’s ability to change and adapt, and an ode to the fascination and wonder of the visual world, even those parts of it which many of us take for granted.â€
5.The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the AtomPaul Dirac (1902 – 1984) shared the Nobel Prize for physics with Erwin Schrödinger in 1933, but whereas physicists regard Dirac as one of the giants of the 20th century, he isn’t as well known outside the profession. This may be due to the lack of humorous quips attributed to Dirac, as compared with an Einstein or a Feynman. If he spoke at all, it was with one-word answers that made Calvin Coolidge look loquacious . Dirac adhered to Keats’s admonition that Beauty is truth, truth beauty: if an equation was beautiful, it was probably correct, and vice versa. His most famous equation predicted the positron (now used in PET scans), which is the antiparticle of the electron, and antimatter in general. In 1955, Dirac came up with a primitive version of string theory, which today is the rock star branch of physics. Physicist Farmelo (It Must Be Beautiful) speculates that Dirac suffered from undiagnosed autism because his character quirks resembled autism’s symptoms. Farmelo proves himself a wizard at explaining the arcane aspects of particle physics. His great affection for his odd but brilliant subject shows on every page, giving Dirac the biography any great scientist deserves.
6. Every Patient Tells a StoryIn her first book, internist and New York Times columnist Sanders discusses how doctors deal with diagnostic dilemmas. Unlike Berton RouechÃ© in his books of medical puzzles, Sanders not only collects difficult cases, she reflects on what each means for both patient and struggling physician. A man arrives at the hospital, delirious, his kidneys failing. Batteries of tests are unrevealing, but he quickly recovers after a resident extracts two quarts of urine. An abdominal exam would have detected the patient’s obstructed, grossly swollen bladder. The author then ponders the neglect of the physical exam, by today’s physicians, enamored with high-tech tests that sometimes reveal less than a simple exam. Another patient, frustrated at her doctor’s failure to diagnose her fever and rash, googles her symptoms and finds the correct answer. Sanders uses this case to explain how computers can help in diagnoses (Google is not bad, she says, but better programs exist). Readers who enjoy dramatic stories of doctors fighting disease will get their fill, and they will also encounter thoughtful essays on how doctors think and go about their work, and how they might do it better.
7. The Mathematical Mechanic: Using Physical Reasoning to Solve ProblemsMark Levi’s book “The Mathematical Mechanic” is a wonderful attempt to integrate physical reasoning with mathematical reasoning. These two strands have historically run in parallel and only occasionally have they been united at least at a pedagogical level. There seems to be a trend among Russian mathematicians particularly in the area of differential equations whereby they use physical reasoning to illuminate the more abstract mathematical approaches that are taken. V I Arnold is an example someone who has been known to integrate the two approaches. Perhaps Levi’s Russian roots explain some of the impetus for this book. As mathematics becomes more and more specialized I fear that fewer mathematicians have the time or even inclination to think about the interconnections between physical reasoning and their own area. Levi’s book is an antidote to that trend and he is to be congratulated for his efforts.What Levy does is to take a large number of mathematical problems/theorems and show how physical reasoning using concepts such as conservation of energy, torque, resolution of forces, etc can be used to solve what are quite fundamental problems/theorems. In Chapter 2 he uses essentially torque concepts to prove the Pythagorean theorem be a thought experiment involving a right angled prism sitting in a water filled fish tank but attached to a spindle so it can rotate. The fact that it doesn’t (ie there is zero net torque) leads directly to Pythagoras’ Theorem.
8. Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger DisasterOn a cold January morning in 1986, NASA launched the Space Shuttle Challenger, despite warnings against doing so by many individuals, including Allan McDonald. The fiery destruction of Challenger on live television moments after launch remains an indelible image in the nation’s collective memory. In “Truth, Lies, and O-Rings”, McDonald, a skilled engineer and executive, relives the tragedy from where he stood at Launch Control Center. As he fought to draw attention to the real reasons behind the disaster, he was the only one targeted for retribution by both NASA and his employer, Morton Thiokol, Inc., makers of the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters. In this whistle-blowing yet rigorous and fair-minded book, McDonald, with the assistance of internationally distinguished aerospace historian James R. Hansen, addresses all of the factors that led to the accident, some of which were never included in NASA’s “Failure Team” report submitted to the Presidential Commission. “Truth, Lies, and O-Rings” is the first look at the Challenger tragedy and its aftermath from someone who was on the inside, recognized the potential disaster, and tried to prevent it. It also addresses the early warnings of very severe debris issues from the first two post-Challenger flights, which ultimately resulted in the loss of Columbia some fifteen years later. What they didn’t want you to know.
9. Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine 1880-1930This is a startling window into the education of American doctors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries-on both a visceral level and for its revealing cultural record. Cringe-worthy shots of medical students-bare-handed gentlemen and a few ladies in street clothes show off their scalpels, saws and textbooks-while their cadavers, mostly poor and black, are awkwardly posed, and exposed. In one stunning shot, a black woman looks out from behind the young students. “What are we to make of an African-American woman, standing, broom handle in hand, behind the dissection table, her gaze fixed on the camera?” the authors ask. More importantly, they conclude, the photo is now drawn “out of the shadows of history” where “we can at least bear witness.” A blood-soaked dissection table makes you want to look away and the dark humor of students playing pranks with skeletons are both hilarious and horrible. Postcards sent to family and friends must have caused shock and awe for postmen and recipient alike. Here, a difficult glanc
e into medicine’s “uncomfortable past” offers a grand opportunity to understand the legacy doctors and patients live with, and benefit from, today.