Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2008 Holiday Gift Guide: Bioscience Fact

Even if the people you are buying gifts for aren't interested in SF, they might enjoy a popular science book. I've rounded up a selection of books that take a look at different aspects of the biosciences that were published this year. Note that the descriptions were swiped from Amazon.com, since I haven't read most of these books myself. All Amazon.com links are affiliate links.

Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique by Michael S. Gazzaniga

Neuroscientist Gazzaniga is "adept at aiding even the scientifically unsophisticated to grasp his arguments about what separates humans from other animals. His main premise is that human brains are not only proportionately larger than those of other primates but have a number of distinct structures, which he explores along with evolutionary explanations for their existence."
Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life by Carl Zimmer

Science writer Zimmer "guides us on a memorable journey into the invisible but amazing world within and around a tiny bacterium. He reveals a life-or-death battle every bit as dramatic as that on the Serengeti and one that offers profound insights into how life is made and evolves."
The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies by Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson

"The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of The Ants render the extraordinary lives of the social insects in this visually spectacular volume. [...] Coming eighteen years after the publication of The Ants, this new volume expands our knowledge of the social insects (among them, ants, bees, wasps, and termites) and is based on remarkable research conducted mostly within the last two decades."

Cloning: A Beginner's Guide by Aaron D. Levine

This is a well-reviewed introductory guide to the science and ethics of cloning.

Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin.

"Fish paleontologist Shubin illuminates the subject of evolution with humor and clarity in this compelling look at how the human body evolved into its present state."
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

Roach offers a witty look at the science of sex. I think it would make a nice gift bundled with Laura Woodmansee's Sex in Space.
The Science of Heroes: The Real-Life Possibilities Behind the Hit TV Show by Yvonne Carts-Powell

Carts-Powell uses the TV show Heroes as a jumping off point for discussing biology and physics. I actually have a copy of this which I'll post a review for soon.
Beyond Human: Living with Robots and Cyborgs by Gregory Benford and Elisabeth Malatre

"The simple title of this book belies its profundity-and its sense of humor. Besides an up-to-date, comprehensive overview of developments in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence, physicist Benford and biologist Malartre also address deeper questions about the relationship between the brain and the mind, as well as humankind's nervous relationship with increasingly sophisticated machines"

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are many more similar books listed at the Biology in Science Fiction bookstore.


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