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Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another

Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another

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In the bestselling tradition of Stuff Matters and The Disappearing Spoon a clever and engaging look at materials, the innovations they made possible, and how these technologies changed us. Finalist for the 41st Los Angeles Times Book Award in Science and Technology and selected as one of the Best Summer Science Books Of 2020 by Science Friday.

In The Alchemy of Us, scientist and science writer Ainissa Ramirez examines eight inventions--clocks, steel rails, copper communication cables, photographic film, light bulbs, hard disks, scientific labware, and silicon chips--and reveals how they shaped the human experience. Ramirez tells the stories of the woman who sold time, the inventor who inspired Edison, and the hotheaded undertaker whose invention pointed the way to the computer. She describes, among other things, how our pursuit of precision in timepieces changed how we sleep; how the railroad helped commercialize Christmas; how the necessary brevity of the telegram influenced Hemingway's writing style; and how a young chemist exposed the use of Polaroid's cameras to create passbooks to track Black citizens in apartheid South Africa. These fascinating and inspiring stories offer new perspectives on our relationships with technologies.

CAESAR'S LAST BREATH: AND OTHE

CAESAR'S LAST BREATH: AND OTHE

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The Guardian's Best Science Book of 2017: the fascinating science and history of the air we breathe.

It's invisible. It's ever-present. Without it, you would die in minutes. And it has an epic story to tell.

In Caesar's Last Breath, New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe, which, it turns out, is also the story of earth and our existence on it. With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world.

On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds on the Senate floor, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding; in fact, you're probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might well bear traces of Cleopatra's perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe's creation.

Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Along the way, we'll swim with radioactive pigs, witness the most important chemical reactions humans have discovered, and join the crowd at the Moulin Rouge for some of the crudest performance art of all time. Lively, witty, and filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar's Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second.

DISAPPEARING SPOON: AND OTHER

DISAPPEARING SPOON: AND OTHER

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From New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean comes incredible stories of science, history, finance, mythology, the arts, medicine, and more, as told by the Periodic Table.

Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why is gallium (Ga, 31) the go-to element for laboratory pranksters?

The Periodic Table is a crowning scientific achievement, but it's also a treasure trove of adventure, betrayal, and obsession. These fascinating tales follow every element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, and in the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them. The Disappearing Spoon masterfully fuses science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, and discovery -- from the Big Bang through the end of time.

Though solid at room temperature, gallium is a moldable metal that melts at 84 degrees Fahrenheit. A classic science prank is to mold gallium spoons, serve them with tea, and watch guests recoil as their utensils disappear.

ELEMENTAL: HOW THE PERIODIC TA

ELEMENTAL: HOW THE PERIODIC TA

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If you want to understand how our world works, the periodic table holds the answers. When the seventh row of the periodic table of elements was completed in June 2016 with the addition of four final elements--nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson--we at last could identify all the ingredients necessary to construct our world.In Elemental, chemist and science educator Tim James provides an informative, entertaining, and quirkily illustrated guide to the table that shows clearly how this abstract and seemingly jumbled graphic is relevant to our day-to-day lives.James tells the story of the periodic table from its ancient Greek roots, when you could count the number of elements humans were aware of on one hand, to the modern alchemists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries who have used nuclear chemistry and physics to generate new elements and complete the periodic table. In addition to this, he answers questions such as: What is the chemical symbol for a human? What would happen if all of the elements were mixed together? Which liquid can teleport through walls? Why is the medieval dream of transmuting lead into gold now a reality?Whether you're studying the periodic table for the first time or are simply interested in the fundamental building blocks of the universe--from the core of the sun to the networks in your brain--Elemental is the perfect guide.
Ingredients: The Strange Chemistry of What We Put in Us and on Us

Ingredients: The Strange Chemistry of What We Put in Us and on Us

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When it comes to chemicals and our bodies, there are no simple answers. Thanks to George Zaidan, there are beautifully clear, elegant, accurate explanations. And they're funny. Zaidan has accomplished something I would not have thought possible. He has written an entertaining book about chemistry. Thank you, George, for this much-needed breakwater against the tide of misinformation that sloshes onto our screens.
--Mary Roach, author of Stiff

Cheese puffs. Coffee. Sunscreen. Vapes. George Zaidan reveals what will kill you, what won't, and why--explained with high-octane hilarity, hysterical hijinks, and other things that don't begin with the letter H.


INGREDIENTS offers the perspective of a chemist on the stuff we eat, drink, inhale, and smear on ourselves. Apart from the burning question of whether you should eat those Cheetos, Zaidan explores a range of topics. Here's a helpful guide:

Stuff in this book:
- How bad is processed food? How sure are we?
- Is sunscreen safe? Should you use it?
- Is coffee good or bad for you?
- What's your disease horoscope?
- What is that public pool smell made of?
- What happens when you overdose on fentanyl in the sun?
- What do cassava plants and Soviet spies have in common?
- When will you die?

Stuff in other books:
- Your carbon footprint
- Food sustainability
- GMOs
- CEO pay
- Science funding
- Politics
- Football
- Baseball
- Any kind of ball, really

Zaidan, an MIT-trained chemist who cohosted CNBC's hit Make Me a Millionaire Inventor and wrote and voiced several TED-Ed viral videos, makes chemistry more fun than Hogwarts as he reveals exactly what science can (and can't) tell us about the packaged ingredients sold to us every day. Sugar, spinach, formaldehyde, cyanide, the ingredients of life and death, and how we know if something is good or bad for us--as well as the genius of aphids and their butts--are all discussed in exquisite detail at breakneck speed.

RADIOACTIVE: MARIE & PIERRE CU

RADIOACTIVE: MARIE & PIERRE CU

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NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE directed by Marjane Sartrapi, starring Rosamund Pike and Sam Riley.

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINIALIST.

"Vivid and ethereal" -New York Times

"Radioactive is quite unlike any book I have ever read--part history, part love story, part art work and all parts sheer imaginative genius."
-- Malcolm Gladwell

Radioactive is the mesmerizing, landmark illustrated biography of Marie Curie, by acclaimed author and artist Lauren Redniss. Through brilliant visual storytelling, Redniss walks us through Curie's life, which was marked by extraordinary scientific discovery and dramatic personal trauma-- from her complex working and romantic relationship with Pierre Curie, to their discovery of two new scientific elements, to Pierre's tragic death, to Marie's two Nobel Prizes. A haunting and wondrous portrait of one of history's most intriguing figures, Radioactive combines archival photos, images, and clippings with dazzling line drawings and a compelling narrative to tell Curie's story. Far more than an art book or a graphic novel, Radioactive is a stunning visual biography and a true work of art.

STUFF MATTERS

STUFF MATTERS

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New York Times Bestseller - New York Times Notable Book 2014 - Winner of the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

"A thrilling account of the modern material world." --Wall Street Journal

"Miodownik, a materials scientist, explains the history and science behind things such as paper, glass, chocolate, and concrete with an infectious enthusiasm."

--Scientific American

Why is glass see-through? What makes elastic stretchy? Why does any material look and behave the way it does? These are the sorts of questions that renowned materials scientist Mark Miodownik constantly asks himself. Miodownik studies objects as ordinary as an envelope and as unexpected as concrete cloth, uncovering the fascinating secrets that hold together our physical world. In Stuff Matters, Miodownik explores the materials he encounters in a typical morning, from the steel in his razor to the foam in his sneakers. Full of enthralling tales of the miracles of engineering that permeate our lives, Stuff Matters will make you see stuff in a whole new way.

"Stuff Matters is about hidden wonders, the astonishing properties of materials we think boring, banal, and unworthy of attention...It's possible this science and these stories have been told elsewhere, but like the best chocolatiers, Miodownik gets the blend right." --New York Times Book Review