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YA Book Club POSTPONED! Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have had to cancel this Saturday's YA book club meeting. We will reschedule and post it here and on our social media as soon as we can. 

Science History

AGE OF WONDER

AGE OF WONDER

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The Age of Wonder is a colorful and utterly absorbing history of the men and women whose discoveries and inventions at the end of the eighteenth century gave birth to the Romantic Age of Science.

When young Joseph Banks stepped onto a Tahitian beach in 1769, he hoped to discover Paradise. Inspired by the scientific ferment sweeping through Britain, the botanist had sailed with Captain Cook in search of new worlds. Other voyages of discovery--astronomical, chemical, poetical, philosophical--swiftly follow in Richard Holmes's thrilling evocation of the second scientific revolution. Through the lives of William Herschel and his sister Caroline, who forever changed the public conception of the solar system; of Humphry Davy, whose near-suicidal gas experiments revolutionized chemistry; and of the great Romantic writers, from Mary Shelley to Coleridge and Keats, who were inspired by the scientific breakthroughs of their day, Holmes brings to life the era in which we first realized both the awe-inspiring and the frightening possibilities of science--an era whose consequences are with us still.

BASTARD BRIGADE: THE TRUE STOR

BASTARD BRIGADE: THE TRUE STOR

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From New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean comes the gripping, untold story of a renegade group of scientists and spies determined to keep Adolf Hitler from obtaining the ultimate prize: a nuclear bomb.

Scientists have always kept secrets. But rarely have the secrets been as vital as they were during World War II. In the middle of building an atomic bomb, the leaders of the Manhattan Project were alarmed to learn that Nazi Germany was far outpacing the Allies in nuclear weapons research. Hitler, with just a few pounds of uranium, would have the capability to reverse the entire D-Day operation and conquer Europe. So they assembled a rough and motley crew of geniuses -- dubbed the Alsos Mission -- and sent them careening into Axis territory to spy on, sabotage, and even assassinate members of Nazi Germany's feared Uranium Club.
The details of the mission rival the finest spy thriller, but what makes this story sing is the incredible cast of characters -- both heroes and rogues alike -- including:

  • Moe Bergm, the major league catcher who abandoned the game for a career as a multilingual international spy; the strangest fellow to ever play professional baseball.
  • Werner Heisenberg, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist credited as the discoverer of quantum mechanics; a key contributor to the Nazi's atomic bomb project and the primary target of the Alsos mission.
  • Colonel Boris Pash, a high school science teacher and veteran of the Russian Revolution who fled the Soviet Union with a deep disdain for Communists and who later led the Alsos mission.
  • Joe Kennedy Jr., the charismatic, thrill-seeking older brother of JFK whose need for adventure led him to volunteer for the most dangerous missions the Navy had to offer.
  • Samuel Goudsmit, a washed-up physics prodigy who spent his life hunting Nazi scientists -- and his parents, who had been swept into a concentration camp -- across the globe.
  • Irène and Frederic Joliot-Curie, a physics Nobel-Prize winning power couple who used their unassuming status as scientists to become active members of the resistance.

  • Thrust into the dark world of international espionage, these scientists and soldiers played a vital and largely untold role in turning back one of the darkest tides in human history.

    Energy: A Human History

    Energy: A Human History

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    A "meticulously researched" (The New York Times Book Review) examination of energy transitions over time and an exploration of the current challenges presented by global warming, a surging world population, and renewable energy--from Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author Richard Rhodes.

    People have lived and died, businesses have prospered and failed, and nations have risen to world power and declined, all over energy challenges. Through an unforgettable cast of characters, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes explains how wood gave way to coal and coal made room for oil, as we now turn to natural gas, nuclear power, and renewable energy. "Entertaining and informative...a powerful look at the importance of science" (NPR.org), Rhodes looks back on five centuries of progress, through such influential figures as Queen Elizabeth I, King James I, Benjamin Franklin, Herman Melville, John D. Rockefeller, and Henry Ford.

    In his "magisterial history...a tour de force of popular science" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Rhodes shows how breakthroughs in energy production occurred; from animal and waterpower to the steam engine, from internal-combustion to the electric motor. He looks at the current energy landscape, with a focus on how wind energy is competing for dominance with cast supplies of coal and natural gas. He also addresses the specter of global warming, and a population hurtling towards ten billion by 2100.

    Human beings have confronted the problem of how to draw energy from raw material since the beginning of time. Each invention, each discovery, each adaptation brought further challenges, and through such transformations, we arrived at where we are today. "A beautifully written, often inspiring saga of ingenuity and progress...Energy brings facts, context, and clarity to a key, often contentious subject" (Booklist, starred review).

    ENLIGHTENMENT NOW

    ENLIGHTENMENT NOW

    $18.00
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    INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
    A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018
    ONE OF THE ECONOMIST'S BOOKS OF THE YEAR

    My new favorite book of all time. --Bill Gates

    If you think the world is coming to an end, think again: people are living longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives, and while our problems are formidable, the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science.

    Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.

    Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature--tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking--which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation.

    With intellectual depth and literary flair, Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.

    EVOLUTION OF USEFUL THINGS

    EVOLUTION OF USEFUL THINGS

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    Only Henry Petroski, author of The Pencil, could make one never pick up a paper clip again without being overcome with feelings of awe and reverence. In his new book the author examines a host of techno-trivia questions - how the fork got its tines, why Scotch tape is called that, how the paper clip evolved, how the Post-it note came to be, how the zipper was named, why aluminum cans have hollow bottoms - and provides us with answers that both astonish and challenge the imagination. In addition to an extended discussion of knives, forks, spoons, and other common devices, the author explains how the interplay of social and technical factors affects the development and use of such things as plastic bags, fast-food packaging, push-button telephones, and other modern conveniences. Throughout the book familiar objects serve to illustrate the general principles behind the evolution of all products of invention and engineering. Petroski shows, by way of these examples as well as a probing look at the patent process, that the single most important driving force behind technological change is the failure of existing devices to live up to their promise. As shortcomings become evident and articulated, new and "improved" versions of artifacts come into being through long and involved processes variously known as research and development, invention, and engineering. He further demonstrates how the evolving forms of technology generally are altered by our very use of them, and how they, in turn, alter our social and cultural behavior. In this wonderful mixture of history, biography, and design theory, Henry Petroski brings us to an understanding of an essential question: By what mechanism do theshapes and forms of our made world come to be?
    FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION

    FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION

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    This New York Times bestselling memoir of a veteran NASA flight director tells riveting stories from the early days of the Mercury program through Apollo 11 (the moon landing) and Apollo 13, for both of which Kranz was flight director.

    Gene Kranz was present at the creation of America's manned space program and was a key player in it for three decades. As a flight director in NASA's Mission Control, Kranz witnessed firsthand the making of history. He participated in the space program from the early days of the Mercury program to the last Apollo mission, and beyond. He endured the disastrous first years when rockets blew up and the United States seemed to fall further behind the Soviet Union in the space race. He helped to launch Alan Shepard and John Glenn, then assumed the flight director's role in the Gemini program, which he guided to fruition. With his teammates, he accepted the challenge to carry out President John F. Kennedy's commitment to land a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s.

    Kranz recounts these thrilling historic events and offers new information about the famous flights. What appeared as nearly flawless missions to the Moon were, in fact, a series of hair-raising near misses. When the space technology failed, as it sometimes did, the controllers' only recourse was to rely on their skills and those of their teammates. He reveals behind-the-scenes details to demonstrate the leadership, discipline, trust, and teamwork that made the space program a success.

    A fascinating firsthand account by a veteran mission controller of one of America's greatest achievements, Failure is Not an Option reflects on what has happened to the space program and offers his own bold suggestions about what we ought to be doing in space now.

    GENIUS

    GENIUS

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    A genius, a great mathematician once said, performs magic, does things that nobody else could do. To his scientific colleagues, Richard Feynman was a magician of the highest caliber. Architect of quantum theories, enfant terrible of the atomic bomb project, caustic critic of the space shuttle commission, Nobel Prize winner for work that gave physicists a new way of describing and calculating the interactions of subatomic particles, Richard Feynman left his mark on virtually every area of modern physics. Originality was his obsession. Never content with what he knew or with what others knew, Feynman ceaselessly questioned scientific truths. But there was also another side to him, one which made him a legendary figure among scientists. His curiosity moved well beyond things scientific: he taught himself how to play drums, to give massages, to write Chinese, to crack safes. In Genius, James Gleick, author of the acclaimed best-seller Chaos, shows us a Feynman few have seen. He penetrates beyond the gleeful showman depicted in Feynman's own memoirs and reveals a darker Feynman: his ambition, his periods of despair and uncertainty, his intense emotional nature. From his childhood on the beaches and backlots of Far Rockaway and his first tinkering with radios and differential equations to the machine shops at MIT and the early theoretical work at Princeton - work that foreshadowed his famous notion of antiparticles traveling backward in time - to the tragic death of his wife while he was working at Los Alamos, Genius shows how one scientist's vision was formed. As that vision crystallized in work that reinvented quantum mechanics, we see Feynman's impact on the elite particle-physicscommunity, and how Feynman grew to be at odds with the very community that idolized him. Finally, Gleick explores the nature of genius, our obsession with it and why the very idea may belong to another time. Genius records the life of a scientist who has forever changed science - and cha
    Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science

    Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science

    $29.00
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    From New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean comes the gripping, untold history of science's darkest secrets, "a fascinating book [that] deserves a wide audience" (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

    Science is a force for good in the world--at least usually. But sometimes, when obsession gets the better of scientists, they twist a noble pursuit into something sinister. Under this spell, knowledge isn't everything, it's the only thing--no matter the cost. Bestselling author Sam Kean tells the true story of what happens when unfettered ambition pushes otherwise rational men and women to cross the line in the name of science, trampling ethical boundaries and often committing crimes in the process.

    The Icepick Surgeon masterfully guides the reader across two thousand years of history, beginning with Cleopatra's dark deeds in ancient Egypt. The book reveals the origins of much of modern science in the transatlantic slave trade of the 1700s, as well as Thomas Edison's mercenary support of the electric chair and the warped logic of the spies who infiltrated the Manhattan Project. But the sins of science aren't all safely buried in the past. Many of them, Kean reminds us, still affect us today. We can draw direct lines from the medical abuses of Tuskegee and Nazi Germany to current vaccine hesitancy, and connect icepick lobotomies from the 1950s to the contemporary failings of mental-health care. Kean even takes us into the future, when advanced computers and genetic engineering could unleash whole new ways to do one another wrong.

    Unflinching, and exhilarating to the last page, The Icepick Surgeon fuses the drama of scientific discovery with the illicit thrill of a true-crime tale. With his trademark wit and precision, Kean shows that, while science has done more good than harm in the world, rogue scientists do exist, and when we sacrifice morals for progress, we often end up with neither.

    IDEA FACTORY

    IDEA FACTORY

    $19.00
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    The definitive history of America's greatest incubator of innovation and the birthplace of some of the 20th century's most influential technologies

    "Filled with colorful characters and inspiring lessons . . . The Idea Factory explores one of the most critical issues of our time: What causes innovation?" --Walter Isaacson, The New York Times Book Review

    "Compelling . . . Gertner's book offers fascinating evidence for those seeking to understand how a society should best invest its research resources." --The Wall Street Journal


    From its beginnings in the 1920s until its demise in the 1980s, Bell Labs-officially, the research and development wing of AT&T-was the biggest, and arguably the best, laboratory for new ideas in the world. From the transistor to the laser, from digital communications to cellular telephony, it's hard to find an aspect of modern life that hasn't been touched by Bell Labs. In The Idea Factory, Jon Gertner traces the origins of some of the twentieth century's most important inventions and delivers a riveting and heretofore untold chapter of American history. At its heart this is a story about the life and work of a small group of brilliant and eccentric men-Mervin Kelly, Bill Shockley, Claude Shannon, John Pierce, and Bill Baker-who spent their careers at Bell Labs. Today, when the drive to invent has become a mantra, Bell Labs offers us a way to enrich our understanding of the challenges and solutions to technological innovation. Here, after all, was where the foundational ideas on the management of innovation were born.
    If Then: How Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future

    If Then: How Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future

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    The Simulmatics Corporation, founded in 1959, mined data, targeted voters, accelerated news, manipulated consumers, destabilized politics, and disordered knowledge--decades before Facebook, Amazon, and Cambridge Analytica. Although Silicon Valley likes to imagine that it has no past, the scientists of Simulmatics are almost undoubtedly the long-dead ancestors of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk--or so argues Jill Lepore, distinguished Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, in this "hilarious, scathing, and sobering" (David Runciman) account of the origins of predictive analytics and behavioral data science.