Before going on to my regular suggestions (which will link to Amazon via my associates account, so I get a small bounty), note that at this time, and probably for only a few days, Cosmic Queries: StarTalk’s Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going by Neil deGrasse Tyson is on super cheap sale in Kindle form (2 bucks in the US, YMMV).
Also, for the super geeky, you will want to know about this forthcoming book by my friend Kevin Trenberth, The Changing Flow of Energy Through the Climate System.
I’ve seen some of the information and graphics going into this book. Let me tell you: If you are an erg, Kevin knows where you are, where you came from, and where you are going. Indispensable for those interested in climate systems. This is an academic book, so get serious with it.
Everything here is a book, because books are what gets us through a pandemic. Except this: Pandemic, the Board Game
New and Amazing Science Books
Drunk Flies and Stoned Dolphins: A Trip Through the World of Animal Intoxication by One Pagan.
From parrots to primates, consuming medicinal chemicals is an instinctive behavior that helps countless organisms fight infection and treat disease. But the similarities don’t end there: Like us, many creatures also consume substances that have no apparent benefit . . . except for inducing intoxication. In fact, animals have been using drugs for recreational purposes since prehistoric times. We may even have animals to thank for the idea—legend says that coffee was discovered by observing the behavior of goats that had eaten it.
In his previous book, Strange Survivors, author and biologist Oné R. Pagán introduced readers to some of the truly bizarre strategies animals use to survive in the cutthroat world of natural selection. Now, in Drunk Flies and Stoned Dolphins, he sheds light on the surprising cravings they indulge when it’s time to unwind.
In this book, you’ll get an eye-opening glimpse into the mind-altering behavior of the non-human members of the animal kingdom, spanning insects to elephants—including the dolphin species that apparently likes to pass around an intoxicating pufferfish as if they were sharing a joint.
Combining fascinating science with humor and enthusiasm, Pagán’s latest is full of the kind of unforgettable stories and odd facts that you’ll find yourself repeating to everyone you meet. From fruit fly happy hour to the evolutionary reasons behind nature’s drugs, Drunk Flies and Stoned Dolphins takes you on a trip through the colorful world of animal intoxication—and along the way, explores what this science reveals about the surprising connections between all the world’s creatures.
Pump: A Natural History of the Heart by Bill Schutt.
In this lively, unexpected look at the hearts of animals—from fish to bats to humans—American Museum of Natural History zoologist Bill Schutt tells an incredible story of evolution and scientific progress.
We join Schutt on a tour from the origins of circulation, still evident in microorganisms today, to the tiny hardworking pumps of worms, to the golf-cart-size hearts of blue whales. We visit beaches where horseshoe crabs are being harvested for their blood, which has properties that can protect humans from deadly illnesses. We learn that when temperatures plummet, some frog hearts can freeze solid for weeks, resuming their beat only after a spring thaw. And we journey with Schutt through human history, too, as philosophers and scientists hypothesize, often wrongly, about what makes our ticker tick. Schutt traces humanity’s cardiac fascination from the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, who believed that the heart contains the soul, all the way up to modern-day laboratories, where scientists use animal hearts and even plants as the basis for many of today’s cutting-edge therapies.
Written with verve and authority, weaving evolutionary perspectives with cultural history, Pump shows us this mysterious organ in a completely new light.
I’ve gotten great value out of these next two books. I used Inkscape and Gimp for years before sitting down to learn how to actually get the most out of them. Then, I read and used these books and everything is different! (In a good way). Admittedly, these and many of the items listed here are probably more for you than anyone you know, but feel free to stuff your own stockings, as it were.
–The Book of Inkscape, 2nd Edition: The Definitive Guide to the Graphics Editor
–The Book of GIMP: A Complete Guide to Nearly Everything
Scenic Science of the National Parks: An Explorer’s Guide to Wildlife, Geology, and Botany by Emily Hoff and Maygen Keller
The national parks are some of the most beloved, visited, and biodiverse places on Earth. They’re also scientific playgrounds where you can learn about plants, animals, and our planet’s coolest geological features firsthand. Scenic Science of the National Parks curates and breaks down the compelling and offbeat natural science highlights of each park, from volcanic activity, glaciers, and coral reefs to ancient redwood groves, herds of bison, giant bats, and beyond. Featuring full-color illustrations, information on the history and notable features of each park, and insider tips on how to get the most out of your visit, this delightful book is the perfect addition to any park lover’s collection.
Why Trust Science? by Naomi Oreskes.
Are doctors right when they tell us vaccines are safe? Should we take climate experts at their word when they warn us about the perils of global warming? Why should we trust science when so many of our political leaders don’t? Naomi Oreskes offers a bold and compelling defense of science, revealing why the social character of scientific knowledge is its greatest strength?and the greatest reason we can trust it. Tracing the history and philosophy of science from the late nineteenth century to today, this timely and provocative book features a new preface by Oreskes and critical responses by climate experts Ottmar Edenhofer and Martin Kowarsch, political scientist Jon Krosnick, philosopher of science Marc Lange, and science historian Susan Lindee, as well as a foreword by political theorist Stephen Macedo.
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
A charmingly illustrated and educational book, New York Times best seller Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more!
Data your thing? New edition:
Practical SQL, 2nd Edition: A Beginner’s Guide to Storytelling with Data
You’ll learn how to:
• Create databases and related tables using your own data
• Aggregate, sort, and filter data to find patterns
• Use functions for basic math and advanced statistical operations
• Identify errors in data and clean them up
• Analyze spatial data with a geographic information system (PostGIS)
• Create advanced queries and automate tasks
This updated second edition has been thoroughly revised to reflect the latest in SQL features, including additional advanced query techniques for wrangling data. This edition also has two new chapters: an expanded set of instructions on for setting up your system plus a chapter on using PostgreSQL with the popular JSON data interchange format.
For the adult interested in programming: Learning Python, These books:
Preorder Object- by Irv Kalb.
Object-Oriented Python is an intuitive and thorough guide to mastering object-oriented programming from the ground up. You’ll cover the basics of building classes and creating objects, and put theory into practice using the pygame package with clear examples that help visualize the object-oriented style. You’ll explore the key concepts of object-oriented programming — encapsulation, polymorphism, and inheritance — and learn not just how to code with objects, but the absolute best practices for doing so. Finally, you’ll bring it all together by building a complex video game, complete with full animations and sounds. The book covers two fully functional Python code packages that will speed up development of graphical user interface (GUI) programs in Python
–Python Crash Course, 2nd Edition: A Hands-On, Project-Based Introduction to Programming
–Automate the Boring Stuff with Python: Practical Programming for Total Beginners
For kids, Scratch programming
Scratch 3 Programming Playground: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games by Al Sweigart.
Scratch, the colorful drag-and-drop programming language, is used by millions of first-time learners worldwide. Scratch 3 features an updated interface, new programming blocks, and the ability to run on tablets and smartphones, so you can learn how to code on the go.
In Scratch 3 Programming Playground, you’ll learn to code by making cool games. Get ready to destroy asteroids, shoot hoops, and slice and dice fruit! Each game includes easy-to-follow instructions with full-color images, review questions, and creative coding challenges to make the game your own. Want to add more levels or a cheat code? No problem, just write some code.
You’ll learn to make games like:
• Maze Runner: escape the maze!
• Snaaaaaake: gobble apples and avoid your own tail
• Asteroid Breaker: smash space rocks
• Fruit Slicer: a Fruit Ninja clone
• Brick Breaker: a remake of Breakout, the brick-breaking classic
• Platformer: a game inspired by Super Mario Bros
Learning how to program shouldn’t be dry and dreary. With Scratch 3 Programming Playground, you’ll make a game of it!
And also, Super Scratch Programming Adventure! (Scratch 3)
2 thoughts on “Massive Holiday Shopping Suggestions for Science and Technology Nerds”
These suggestions all look great, Greg, except that the python book won’t be released until January 2022, and the Practical SQL book until March.
You might want to look at Elizabeth Kolbert’s Under a White Sky, although it’s been out for a while. Here’s a Washington Post review:
Then, Powell’s list of the best nonfiction books of 2021 has four titles that look good:
Of Time and Water
Islands of Abandonment, and
No Planet B, an anthology for young adults.
Yes, those would be pre-orders. So maybe a later holiday?