The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
Believe it or not, today we may be living in the most peaceful moment in our species' existence. In his gripping and controversial new work, New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows that despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism, violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history. Exploding myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious book continues Pinker's exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly enlightened world.
The Ballet of the Planets: On the Mathematical Elegance of Planetary Motion
The Ballet of the Planets unravels the beautiful mystery of planetary motion, revealing how our understanding of astronomy evolved from Archimedes and Ptolemy to Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton. Benson shows that ancient theories of planetary motion were based on the assumptions that the Earth was the center of the universe and the planets moved in a uniform circular motion. Since ancient astronomers noted that occasionally a planet would exhibit retrograde motion--would seem to reverse its direction and move briefly westward--they concluded that the planets moved in epicyclic curves, circles with smaller interior loops, similar to the patterns of a child's Spirograph. With the coming of the Copernican revolution, the retrograde motion was seen to be apparent rather than real, leading to the idea that the planets moved in ellipses. This laid the ground for Newton's great achievement--integrating the concepts of astronomy and mechanics--which revealed not only how the planets moved, but also why.
The Best Science Writing Online 2012
This collection showcases some of the most provocative, original, and significant online essays from 2011, andwill change the way we think about science- from fluids to fungi, poisons to pirates. Featuring noted authors and journalists as well as the brightest up-and-comers writing today, this collection provides a comprehensive look at the fascinating, innovative, and trailblazing scientific achievements and breakthroughs of 2011, along with elegant and thoughtprovoking new takes on favorite topics.
The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
Diamond's book provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past as it had been for millions of years—a past that has mostly vanished—and considers what the differences between that past and our present mean for our lives today. It is most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Without romanticizing traditional societies, he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us.
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