A Palette of Particles
In this graceful account, Jeremy Bernstein guides us through high-energy physics from the early twentieth century to the present, including such highlights as the newly discovered Higgs boson. Beginning with Ernest Rutherford’s 1911 explanation of the nucleus, Bernstein moves through the century with all its discoveries. An eyewitness to developments at Harvard University and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Bernstein laces his story with piquant anecdotes of such luminaries as Wolfgang Pauli, Murray Gell-Mann, and Sheldon Glashow. Bernstein remains optimistic about our ability to comprehend the secrets of the cosmos—even as its mysteries deepen. We now know that over eighty percent of the universe consists of matter we have never identified or detected. A Palette of Particles draws readers into the excitement of a field where the more we discover, the less we seem to know.
The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution
The idea of a missing link between humanity and our animal ancestors predates evolution and popular science and actually has religious roots in the deist concept of the Great Chain of Being. Yet, the metaphor has lodged itself in the contemporary imagination, and new fossil discoveries are often hailed in headlines as revealing the elusive transitional step, the moment when we stopped being “animal” and started being “human.” Author Henry Gee takes aim at this misleading notion, arguing that it reflects a profound misunderstanding of how evolution works and, when applied to the evolution of our own species, supports mistaken ideas about our own place in the universe. He argues that human exceptionalism, far from being a quirk of religious fundamentalism, is an error that also infects scientific thought. Touring the many features of human beings that have recurrently been used to distinguish us from the rest of the animal world, Gee shows that our evolutionary outcome is one possibility among many, one that owes more to chance than to an organized progression to supremacy.
Creation: How Science Is Reinventing Itself
In this book, Adam Rutherford explains how we are now radically exceeding the boundaries of evolution and engineering entirely novel creatures—from goats that produce spider silk in their milk to bacteria that excrete diesel to genetic circuits that identify and destroy cancer cells. As strange as some of these creations may sound, this new, synthetic biology is helping scientists develop radical solutions to some of the world’s most pressing crises—from food shortages to pandemic disease to climate change—and is paving the way for inventions once relegated to science fiction.
The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World
Trevor Cox is on a hunt for the sonic wonders of the world. A renowned expert who engineers classrooms and concert halls, Cox has made a career of eradicating bizarre and unwanted sounds. But after an epiphany in the London sewers, Cox now revels in exotic noises—creaking glaciers, whispering galleries, stalactite organs, musical roads, humming dunes, seals that sound like alien angels, and a Mayan pyramid that chirps like a bird. With forays into archaeology, neuroscience, biology, and design, Cox explains how sound is made and altered by the environment, how our body reacts to peculiar noises, and how these mysterious wonders illuminate sound’s surprising dynamics in everyday settings—from your bedroom to the opera house. The Sound Book encourages us to become better listeners in a world dominated by the visual and to open our ears to the glorious cacophony all around us.


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