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Science related books very cheap

A range of choices, a range of interests.

The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature

In The Science of Liberty, award-winning author Timothy Ferris—called “the best popular science writer in the English language today” by the Christian Science Monitor and “the best science writer of his generation” by the Washington Post—makes a passionate case for science as the inspiration behind the rise of liberalism and democracy. In the grand tradition of such luminaries of the field as Bill Bryson, Richard Dawkins, and Oliver Sacks—as well as his own The Whole Shebang and Coming of Age in the Milky Way—Ferris has written a brilliant chronicle of how science sparked the spread of liberal democracy and transformed today’s world.

Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America’s Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever

This is the incredible account of a flood of near-Biblical proportions in early twentieth-century America—its destruction, its heroes, its victims, and how it shaped natural-disaster policies in the United States for the next hundred years.

The storm began March 23, 1913, with a series of tornadoes that killed 150 people and injured 400. Then the freezing rains started and the flooding began. It continued for days. Some people drowned in their attics, others on the roads when they tried to flee. It was the nation’s most widespread flood ever—more than 700 people died, hundreds of thousands of houses and buildings were destroyed, and millions were left homeless. The destruction extended far beyond the Ohio Valley to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Vermont—fourteen states in all, and every major and minor river east of the Mississippi.

In the aftermath, flaws in America’s natural disaster response system were exposed, much as they would be nearly a century later in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. People demanded change. Laws were passed, and dams were built. Teams of experts vowed to develop flood control techniques for the region and stop flooding for good. So far, those efforts have succeeded—it is estimated that in the Miami Valley alone, nearly two thousand floods have been prevented, and the same methods have been used as a model for flood control nationwide and around the world.

This suspenseful historical tale of a dramatic yet little-remembered disaster “weaves tragic and heroic stories of people in the various affected states into an almost hour-by-hour account of the deadly storm” (Booklist).

The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants

Anyone who has spent serious time outdoors knows that in survival situations, wild plants are often the only sustenance available. The proper identification of these plants can mean the difference between survival and death. This book describes habitat and distribution, physical characteristics, and edible parts of wild plants—the key elements of identification. Hugely important to the book are its color photos. There are over one hundred of them, further simplifying the identification of poisonous and edible plants. No serious outdoors person should ever hit the trail without this book and the knowledge contained within it.

Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society

In Seeing Further, New York Times bestseller Bill Bryson takes readers on a guided tour through the great discoveries, feuds, and personalities of modern science. Already a major bestseller in the UK, Seeing Further tells the fascinating story of science and the Royal Society with Bill Bryson’s trademark wit and intelligence, and contributions from a host of well known scientists and science fiction writers, including Richard Dawkins, Neal Stephenson, James Gleick, and Margret Atwood. It is a delightful literary treat from the acclaimed author who previous explored the current state of scientific knowledge in his phenomenally popular book, A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Interesting Books Cheap

This will be useful for any writer: The Field Guide to Sports Metaphors: A Compendium of Competitive Words and Idioms, cheap right now on Kindle, but I think I’m going to get a print copy as a gift this year for my sports-loving cousin that it is so hard to find gifts for.

There are many metaphors we can quickly identify from the realm of sports: covering all the bases (baseball), game plan (football), and par for the course (golf). But the English language is also peppered with the not-so-obvious influence of sports and games, such as go-to guy (basketball) and dead ringer (horse racing). Filled with pithy entries on each idiom, plus quotes showing how big talkers from President Obama to rapper Ice-T use them, this quirky little handbook from former minor league ballplayer and award-winning journalist Josh Chetwynd is sure to be a conversation starter at tailgates, cocktail parties, and in the boardroom.

Originally published as “The Restless Sea,” Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science by Robert Kunzig is…

A vivid, up-to-date tour of the Earth’s last frontier, a remote and mysterious realm that nonetheless lies close to the heart of even the most land-locked reader.

The sea covers seven-tenths of the Earth, but we have mapped only a small percentage of it. The sea contains millions of species of animals and plants, but we have identified only a few thousand of them. The sea controls our planet’s climate, but we do not really understand how. The sea is still the frontier, and yet it seems so familiar that we sometimes forget how little we know about it. Just as we are poised on the verge of exploiting the sea on an unprecedented scale—mining it, fertilizing it, fishing it out—this book reminds us of how much we have yet to learn. More than that, it chronicles the knowledge explosion that has transformed our view of the sea in just the past few decades, and made it a far more interesting and accessible place. From the Big Bang to that far-off future time, two billion years from now, when our planet will be a waterless rock; from the lush crowds of life at seafloor hot springs to the invisible, jewel-like plants that float at the sea surface; from the restless shifting of the tectonic plates to the majestic sweep of the ocean currents, Kunzig’s clear and lyrical prose transports us to the ends of the Earth.

The FL Park Service and the Coast Guard Fight Over Russian Bouy

Interesting, amusing, a story involving Russia that will probably not make you cringe.

It is presumed that the object in question was brought from Cuban waters to Florida by Irma, the Hurricane.

From here:

A 1,200-pound Soviet buoy that surfaced off Dania Beach looks like it belongs in a James Bond movie. Script — which the Library of Congress says is Russian for Hydrometrical Service of the USSR — is painted in black on its side.

Exactly where the rusty, Cold War-era relic came from, and what it was used for, remain a mystery.

Workers at Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park pulled it off the beach just days after Hurricane Irma swept through town. They think it floated 350 miles from Cuba, given Cuba’s historically close ties with the Soviet Union.

Bill Moore, the park’s maintenance mechanic, locked eyes on the 12-foot buoy at the same time Coast Guard members did. He marveled at it, thinking, “You don’t find that too often.”

The Coast Guard’s administrative offices are next to the park’s headquarters. “They came running down here with their dog,” he said. “They tried to confiscate it.”

But Moore retrieved it before the Coast Guard could, he said. The buoy was too heavy to budge, so Moore tied a rope around it and with a skid-steer loader dragged it up the embankment and then brought it to the park office’s parking lot.

Good deals on books

I usually focus on science books, but suddenly there are some deals on key classics that should still appeal.

A Stillness at Appomattox: The Army of the Potomac Trilogy

Recounting the final year of the Civil War, this classic volume by Bruce Catton won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for excellence in non-fiction.

In this final volume of the Army of the Potomac Trilogy, Catton, America’s foremost Civil War historian, takes the reader through the battles of the Wilderness, the Bloody Angle, Cold Harbot, the Crater, and on through the horrible months to one moment at Appomattox. Grant, Meade, Sheridan, and Lee vividly come to life in all their failings and triumphs.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – 10th anniversary edition: A Year of Food Life bu Barbara Kingsolver Continue reading Good deals on books

How to get rid of spiders in your house

How do I get rid of the spiders???

We had a wet spring and summer in Minnesotan. This meant that insects did quite well at the start of the season. Spiders mainly eat insects (and each other, of course) so that meant that the first generation of spiders had a higher success rate than usual. After that, the compound interest effect kicked in so now, by the end of the season, it is said that many homes in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota are loaded with the tiny eight-legged creatures.

Is it bad to have so many spiders? What if a spider bites me???

Keep in mind that the reason there are so many spiders in your house is that Continue reading How to get rid of spiders in your house

The Truth About The Brown Recluse Spider

Everything you thought you knew about Brown Recluse Spiders is wrong. There is now a book,The Brown Recluse Spider, to set you straight. This is my review of that book.

His name was Bob. I was a kid, he was an adult that all the other adults seemed to think was cool. He used to have a job launching nuclear missiles for the Air Force, but then later got a job as a Hippie. He, another person or two, and I were sitting on a rock pile out in the woods, checking out the patch of marijuana planted, mysteriously, on the neighbor’s property. The neighbor was the head of the local John Birch Society. Whoever planted the patch of pot figured it would be better found, if ever found by the cops, on his property than on the property occupied by the hippies.

Somebody moved a rock. Bob said, “Oh, look, a Brown Recluse spider. They are deadly, but they hardly ever bite.”

I watched the Brown Recluse spider very carefully for a while and memorized it. I found many more over that summer, and in subsequent years. I became very good at identifying them.

This is what it looked like: Continue reading The Truth About The Brown Recluse Spider

Cheap Science Books

Two science books cheap (Kindle version, two bucks):

The Male Brain: A Breakthrough Understanding of How Men and Boys Think

Dr. Louann Brizendine, the founder of the first clinic in the country to study gender differences in brain, behavior, and hormones, turns her attention to the male brain, showing how, through every phase of life, the “male reality” is fundamentally different from the female one. Exploring the latest breakthroughs in male psychology and neurology with her trademark accessibility and candor, she reveals that the male brain:

-is a lean, mean, problem-solving machine. Faced with a personal problem, a man will use his analytical brain structures, not his emotional ones, to find a solution.
-thrives under competition, instinctively plays rough and is obsessed with rank and hierarchy.
-has an area for sexual pursuit that is 2.5 times larger than the female brain, consuming him with sexual fantasies about female body parts.
-experiences such a massive increase in testosterone at puberty that he perceive others’ faces to be more aggressive.

The Male Brain finally overturns the stereotypes. Impeccably researched and at the cutting edge of scientific knowledge, this is a book that every man, and especially every woman bedeviled by a man, will need to own.

I’m not endorsing this book, but if you are a student of sex differences you may want to have a look even if you hate it. But also see by the same author: The Female Brain

Unlocking the Past: How Archaeologists Are Rewriting Human History with Ancient DNA

In Unlocking the Past, Martin Jones, a leading expert at the forefront of bioarchaeology—the discipline that gave Michael Crichton the premise for Jurassic Park—explains how this pioneering science is rewriting human history and unlocking stories of the past that could never have been told before. For the first time, the building blocks of ancient life—DNA, proteins, and fats that have long been trapped in fossils and earth and rock—have become widely accessible to science. Working at the cutting edge of genetic and other molecular technologies, researchers have been probing the remains of these ancient biomolecules in human skeletons, sediments and fossilized plants, dinosaur bones, and insects trapped in amber. Their amazing discoveries have influenced the archaeological debate at almost every level and continue to reshape our understanding of the past.

Devising a molecular clock from a certain area of DNA, scientists were able to determine that all humans descend from one common female ancestor, dubbed “Mitochondrial Eve,” who lived around 150,000 years ago. From molecules recovered from grinding stones and potsherds, they reconstructed ancient diets and posited when such practices as dairying and boiling water for cooking began. They have reconstituted the beer left in the burial chamber of pharaohs and know what the Iceman, the 5,000-year-old hunter found in the Alps in the early nineties, ate before his last journey. Conveying both the excitement of innovative research and the sometimes bruising rough-and-tumble of scientific debate, Jones has written a work of profound importance. Unlocking the Past is science at its most engaging.

Science of Everyday Life: Cheap book opportunity

The Science of Everyday Life: An Entertaining and Enlightening Examination of Everything We Do and Everything We See right now in Kindle format for two bucks

Scientists are in the business of trying to understand the world. Exploring commonplace phenomena, they have uncovered some of nature’s deepest laws. We can in turn apply these laws to our own lives, to better grasp and enhance our performance in daily activities as varied as cooking, home improvement, sports—even dunking a doughnut! This book makes the science of the familiar a key to opening the door for those who want to know what scientists do, why they do it, and how they go about it.

Following the routine of a normal day, from coffee and breakfast to shopping, household chores, sports, a drink, supper, and a bath, we see how the seemingly mundane can provide insight into the most profound scientific questions. Some of the topics included are the art and science of dunking; how to boil an egg; how to tally a supermarket bill; the science behind hand tools; catching a ball or throwing a boomerang; the secrets of haute cuisine, bath (or beer) foam; and the physics of sex. Fisher writes with great authority and a light touch, giving us an entertaining and accessible look at the science behind our daily activities.

Science Books Cheap

Some potentially interesting science related books cheap now in Kindle format:

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution by Jonathan Eig

We know it simply as “the pill,” yet its genesis was anything but simple. Jonathan Eig’s masterful narrative revolves around four principal characters: the fiery feminist Margaret Sanger, who was a champion of birth control in her campaign for the rights of women but neglected her own children in pursuit of free love; the beautiful Katharine McCormick, who owed her fortune to her wealthy husband, the son of the founder of International Harvester and a schizophrenic; the visionary scientist Gregory Pincus, who was dismissed by Harvard in the 1930s as a result of his experimentation with in vitro fertilization but who, after he was approached by Sanger and McCormick, grew obsessed with the idea of inventing a drug that could stop ovulation; and the telegenic John Rock, a Catholic doctor from Boston who battled his own church to become an enormously effective advocate in the effort to win public approval for the drug that would be marketed by Searle as Enovid.

Spanning the years from Sanger’s heady Greenwich Village days in the early twentieth century to trial tests in Puerto Rico in the 1950s to the cusp of the sexual revolution in the 1960s, this is a grand story of radical feminist politics, scientific ingenuity, establishment opposition, and, ultimately, a sea change in social attitudes. Brilliantly researched and briskly written, The Birth of the Pill is gripping social, cultural, and scientific history.

Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era by Daniel J. Levitin

Investigating numerical misinformation, Daniel Levitin shows how mishandled statistics and graphs can give a grossly distorted perspective and lead us to terrible decisions. Wordy arguments on the other hand can easily be persuasive as they drift away from the facts in an appealing yet misguided way. The steps we can take to better evaluate news, advertisements, and reports are clearly detailed. Ultimately, Levitin turns to what underlies our ability to determine if something is true or false: the scientific method. He grapples with the limits of what we can and cannot know. Case studies are offered to demonstrate the applications of logical thinking to quite varied settings, spanning courtroom testimony, medical decision making, magic, modern physics, and conspiracy theories.

This urgently needed book enables us to avoid the extremes of passive gullibility and cynical rejection. As Levitin attests: Truth matters. A post-truth era is an era of willful irrationality, reversing all the great advances humankind has made. Euphemisms like “fringe theories,” “extreme views,” “alt truth,” and even “fake news” can literally be dangerous. Let’s call lies what they are and catch those making them in the act.

Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi, Stefanie Posavec, Maria Popova.

Equal parts mail art, data visualization, and affectionate correspondence, Dear Data celebrates “the infinitesimal, incomplete, imperfect, yet exquisitely human details of life,” in the words of Maria Popova (Brain Pickings), who introduces this charming and graphically powerful book. For one year, Giorgia Lupi, an Italian living in New York, and Stefanie Posavec, an American in London, mapped the particulars of their daily lives as a series of hand-drawn postcards they exchanged via mail weekly—small portraits as full of emotion as they are data, both mundane and magical. Dear Data reproduces in pinpoint detail the full year’s set of cards, front and back, providing a remarkable portrait of two artists connected by their attention to the details of their lives—including complaints, distractions, phone addictions, physical contact, and desires. These details illuminate the lives of two remarkable young women and also inspire us to map our own lives, including specific suggestions on what data to draw and how. A captivating and unique book for designers, artists, correspondents, friends, and lovers everywhere.