Call of Nature

July 2, 2018

This fascinating book takes you into the improbably extravagant secret world of dung—the inevitable by-product of all human, animal and bird life.

While humans have traditionally made use of this abundant natural resource, from burning cow-dung patties to making elephant poo paper, the world would be drowning in dung if it weren’t for nature’s ultimate recyclers. As Call of Nature explains, the expulsion of bodily waste is the start of a race against time, as creatures eat, breed and compete for dung, creating a miniature ecosystem to explore. This secret world contains dung-feeders who can devour a giant ball of elephant dung in minutes; dung-breeders, including the enigmatic dung-rolling beetles that gave rise to the Egyptian sacred scarab; and parasites, such as the terrifying wasps that lay their eggs in the larvae of other dung-breeding insects.

For those who want a hands-on approach, the author completes the book with the various types of dung and illustrated identification guides to the species of dung-feeders you’re most likely to encounter on an exploration of the dung heap. But even if you never go hunting through dung heaps yourself, this witty, highly acclaimed book is an eye-opening look into the alien world that surrounds all of us.

The Secret Life of Zika Virus

July 4, 2017

Zika Virus has wreaked havoc in Brazil in recent times and is rapidly raising the spectre of a global pandemic. It has also resurfaced in India. In June 2017, three individuals in Ahmedabad were found infected. The ensuing panic was compounded by lack of knowledge and, worse, by conflicting and confusing information.

The Secret Life of Zika Virus cuts through the noise and misinformation to present an in-depth, comprehensive biography of Zika Virus and to answer these questions: What is Zika Virus? Where did it come from? When did it get here? Why is it suddenly so dangerous? How does it affect the body? How does it spread? And why should a mosquito which is already, very efficiently, spreading Dengue and Chikungunya decide to acquire and transmit Zika?

Drawing extensively on history, as well as on scientific data and research—both archival and current—this book examines the nature of viruses, how they evolved and how they co-exist with and affect humans and other animals. It traces linkages between virus and vector, and the role of the mosquito in carrying and spreading Zika as well as other deadly viruses. It also explores the ongoing explosion of Zika Virus infections in Brazil—and the crippling deformities it causes in newborns—its connection with the widespread destruction of the rainforest in the country, and the lessons for us, especially as urbanization in India increases exponentially.

One of the best works of popular science from India in recent years, The Secret Life of Zika Virus is a necessary book for our times, and crucial to arming ourselves with information relating to our own health.

Science Tales

November 2, 2016

Shortlisted for ‘Best Book’ by the British Comics Awards

In this graphic milestone of investigative reporting, Darryl Cunningham explodes the lies, hoaxes and scams of popular science, debunking media myths and decoding some of today’s most fiercely debated issues:

• climate change

• homeopathy

• electroconvulsive therapy

• the moon landing

• the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine

• chiropractic

• evolution

• science denialism

• fracking

Thoroughly researched and sourced, Cunningham’s clear narrative, graphic lines and photographic illustrations explain complicated and controversial issues with deceptive ease.

Growing Older without Feeling Old

March 1, 2016

The past century has witnessed a revolution.

Less than a hundred years ago, the average Western life expectancy was 40; now it is 80. And there is no end in sight: the first person who will reach 135 has already been born. It’s the most radical change in our society since industrialisation, and naturally it raises many questions.

What do longer life spans mean for the way we organise our societies? How can people best prepare themselves for living considerably longer? Does it help to eat less, or to take hormones, vitamins, or minerals? And what can we learn from old people who remain full of vitality, despite illness and infirmity?

Growing Older without Feeling Old is the definitive book on a key issue for the twenty-first century, written by one of the world’s leading experts in geriatric medicine. Combining medical, biological, economic, and sociological insights, Rudi Westendorp explores the causes of the ageing revolution and explains how we can greet it with confidence and enjoy leading longer, healthier, and more productive lives than ever before.

The Science of Happiness

February 1, 2016

An international bestseller, this book is an enthralling exploration of the science of happiness.

We all know what it feels like to be happy, but what mechanisms inside our brains trigger such a positive emotion? What does it really mean to be happy, and why can’t we feel that way all of the time? Psychologists and neuroscientists have been studying negative emotions for decades, but until recently few have focused on the subject of happiness.

Now, in The Science of Happiness, leading science journalist Stefan Klein ranges widely across the latest frontiers of neuroscience and psychology to explain how happiness is generated in our brains, what biological purpose it serves, and the conditions required to foster the ‘pursuit of happiness’. A remarkable synthesis of a growing body of research that has not been brought together before, The Science of Happiness is, ultimately, a book that helps us understand our own quest for happiness—and is certain to help make you happier.

We Are All Stardust

December 1, 2015

When acclaimed science writer Stefan Klein asks Nobel Prize- winning chemist Roald Hoffmann what sets scientists apart, Hoffmann says, ‘First and foremost, curiosity.’ In this collection of intimate conversations with nineteen of the world’s best-known scientists, Klein lets us listen in as today’s leading minds reveal what they still hope to discover—and how their paradigm-changing work entwines with their lives outside the lab.

From the sports car that physicist Steven Weinberg says helped him on his quest for ‘the theory of everything’ to the jazz musicians who gave psychologist Alison Gopnik new insight into raising children, scientists explain how they find inspiration everywhere. Hear from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on selfishness; anthropologist Sarah Hrdy on motherhood; primatologist Jane Goodall on animal behaviour; neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran on consciousness; geographer Jared Diamond on chance in history; and other luminaries!

ASAP Science

December 1, 2015

From the creators of the wildly popular YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE comes a book about the science that people actually want to learn, presented in a quirky and accessible way. And in the spirit of science, no subject is taboo.

Why do we get hungover? Which actually came first, the chicken or the egg? Is binge-watching TV bad for you? Now, for the first time, Mitchell Moffit and Greg Brown, the geniuses behind AsapSCIENCE and AsapTHOUGHT, answer these questions by explaining the true science of how things work in this fascinating and hilarious book.

Applying the fun, illustrated format of their addictive videos to topics ranging from brain freeze to hiccups to the science of the snooze button, Asap Science is the book that answers the questions you were too afraid to ask in science class. Whether you’re a total science newbie or the next Albert Einstein, this guide is sure to educate and entertain …ASAP.

The Naked Surgeon

October 16, 2015

‘[The Naked Surgeon] takes a Malcolm Gladwell-esque look at what happens in operating theatres… If a book-length examination of the topic sounds dry, it isn’t. Nashef’s humanity and compassion shine through.’–The Times

We are not meant to touch hearts. We all have one, but most of us will never see one. The heart surgeon now has that privilege but, for centuries, the heart was out of reach even for surgeons. So when a surgeon nowadays opens up a ribcage and mends a heart, it remains something of a miracle, even if, to some, it is merely plumbing.

As with plumbers, the quality of surgeons’ work varies. As with plumbers, surgeons’ opinion of their own prowess and their own attitude to risk are not always reliable. Measurement is key. We’ve had a century of effective evidence-based medicine. We’ve had barely a decade of thorough monitoring of clinical outcomes. Thanks to the ground-breaking risk modelling of pioneering surgeons like Samer Nashef, we at last know how to judge whether an operation is in a patient’s best interest, which hospital and surgeon would be best for that operation, when it might best be performed and what the exact level of risk is. We have at last made what is important in surgery measurable. But how should surgeons, and their patients, use these newfound insights?

Ever since his days as a medical student, Samer Nashef has challenged the medical profession to be more open and more accurate about the success of surgical procedures, for the sake of the patients. In The Naked Surgeon, he unclothes his own profession to demonstrate to his reader (and prospective patient) many revelations, such as the paradox at the heart of the cardiac surgeon’s craft: the more an operation is likely to kill you, the better it is for you. And he does so with absolute clarity, fluency and not a little wit.

Animal Madness

October 16, 2015

Charles Darwin developed his evolutionary theories by studying Galapagos finches and fancy pigeons; Alfred Russel Wallace investigated creatures in the Malay Archipelago. Laurel Braitman got her lessons closer to home—by watching her dog. Oliver snapped at flies that only he could see, suffered from debilitating separation anxiety, was prone to aggression, and may even have attempted suicide. Braitman’s experiences with Oliver made her acknowledge a startling connection: non-human animals can lose their minds. And when they do, it often looks a lot like human mental illness.

Thankfully, all of us can heal. Braitman spent three years travelling the world in search of emotionally disturbed animals and the people who care for them, finding numerous stories of recovery: parrots that learn how to stop plucking their feathers, dogs that cease licking their tails raw, polar bears that stop swimming in compulsive circles, and great apes that benefit from the help of human psychiatrists. How do these animals recover? The same way we do: with love, medicine, and above all, the knowledge that someone understands why we suffer and what can make us feel better.

The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World

October 16, 2015

When Malthus famously outlined the brutal relationship between food and population, he never imagined the success of modern agriculture. New seeds, chemicals and irrigation, coupled with free trade, drove the greatest global population boom in history—but left ecological devastation and an unsustainable agro-economic status quo in their wake. Now, with a greater number of mouths to feed than ever before, tightening global food supplies have spurred riots and reform around the world.

Joel K. Bourne Jr takes readers from his family farm to international agricultural hotspots, searching for new solutions that can sustainably feed us all. He visits young corporate farmers trying to restore Ukraine as Europe’s breadbasket, a Canadian aquaculturist channelling ancient Chinese traditions, the agronomist behind the world’s largest organic sugar-cane plantation, and many other people and groups, large and small, who are racing to stave off a Malthusian catastrophe. Part history, part reportage, part advocacy, The End of Plenty is a wake-up call for anyone concerned with what the coming decades will hold for our planet and its inhabitants if we don’t take action.

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