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Popular Science

Popular Science

Science is all around us. It explains the earth we live on, the space above us, and the physical workings inside us. Scientific innovation makes possible advances in health and technology. Many of us would like to know more about science, but the special vocabulary and complicated concepts can be intimidating. It is difficult to know where to begin. Some scientists, like Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, BR21906, DB89846) and Stephen Hawking (A Briefer History of Time, BR16183, DB60679), have addressed this problem directly in their books. Others, like Carl Sagan (Cosmos, DB15796) and Bill Nye (Undeniable, BR20618, DB80377), have taken to television to make science more accessible. There are more books in this minibibliography to provide an introduction to various branches of science. The NLS collection has additional titles by many of these authors and on these subjects. Your reader advisor can suggest others.

All titles in this minibibliography can be downloaded from BARD. Contact your local cooperating library to register for BARD. Registered users may also play audio titles on iOS and Android devices using the BARD Mobile app. Find your local cooperating library online or call toll-free 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).


Life Science

The Body
by Bill Bryson

Guides readers through the human body—how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and the ways it can fail. Using facts—your body made a million red blood cells since you started reading this—and anecdotes, Bryson creates a deeper understanding of the miracle that is you. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
Download DB96770

by Dorothy H. Crawford

Professor of medical microbiology relates how viruses were discovered and unravels the intricate structures of the tiny parasites that are by far the most abundant life forms on the planet. Recounts stories of killer viruses such as Ebola, rabies, HIV, swine flu, and SARS. Evaluates evidence about cancer-causing viruses. 2011.
Download DB87185

The Selfish Gene
by Richard Dawkins

A zoologist explores the principles of evolution for the purpose of examining the biology of selfishness and altruism. Dawkins argues that a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness. 1976.
Download DB10899

Forensic Science
by James Curtis Fraser

Past president of the Forensic Science Society uses examples from his own experience to detail the ways that DNA, fingerprints, blood and body fluids, and the like can help bring criminals to justice. Describes the methods police use to investigate crimes and recover, protect, and analyze evidence. 2010.
Download DB86490

The Pandemic Century
by Mark Honigsbaum

Author of The Fever Trail (DB57286) examines the history of pandemics since the 1918 Spanish influenza. Cases include the 1924 pneumonic plague in Los Angeles, 1930 “parrot fever,” and 2015 Zika outbreaks. Discusses public health efforts, prominent personalities, and potential future epidemics. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
Download DB96020

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World
by Steven Johnson

Chronicles the 1854 London cholera outbreak and the efforts of physician John Snow and clergyman Henry Whitehead to find its cause. Discusses Snow’s search for geographic patterns of death, which led to the contagion’s source—a contaminated water well. Examines the epidemic's influence on waste disposal and disease control. 2006.
Download DB64203

Human Anatomy
by Leslie Klenerman

Orthopedic surgery professor presents the principles and basic structure of the complex machine that is the human body. Describes the origins of the science, noted physiologists' contributions, and its terminology. Studies the skeleton, cardiovascular and central nervous systems, and each body part, including what can go wrong. 2015.
Download DB85686

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA
by Brenda Maddox

Award-winning biographer reconstructs the life and complicated personality of the woman who used X-ray imaging to study DNA. Explains how Franklin’s unpublished but vital research in the 1950s led her male colleagues to discover the double-helix structure, earning them a Nobel prize in 1962, four years after her death at age thirty-seven. 2002.
Download DB56462

The Gene: An Intimate History
by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Physician and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies (DB72227) examines the birth, growth, and future of what he calls one of the most powerful and dangerous ideas in the history of science. Discusses key geneticists' work, beginning with Mendel's 1856 discovery of heredity in pea plants. Bestseller. 2016.
Download DB84946

Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation
by Bill Nye

Author of Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World (DB87772), who won an Emmy for Bill Nye the Science Guy, discusses the history and mechanics of evolution, how its practical effects can be witnessed, and how it plays into the search for alien life. Reports on his debate in February 2014 with creationist Ken Ham. Bestseller. 2014.
Download BR20618
Download DB80377

Viruses, Plagues, and History
by Michael B.A. Oldstone

Chronicles the effects that the smallpox, measles, polio, and yellow fever viruses once had worldwide. Traces the history of newer viruses such as mad cow disease, Ebola, and HIV. Includes discussion of the social and political climates during epidemics, the major scientists who struggle to combat the diseases, and the principles of immunology. 1998.
Download DB47020

by David Quammen

Science reporter investigates the field of epidemiology, specifically the transmission of disease from animal to human. Traces the development of illnesses such as Ebola, SARS, avian influenza, and Lyme disease and theorizes on the likelihood of where the next outbreak may occur. 2012.
Download DB75676

The Evolution of Everything
by Matt Ridley

Author of Genome (DB50310) surveys the evolution of seventeen concepts, systems, and philosophies. Includes the universe, morality, life, genes, culture, economy, technology, mind, personality, education, population, leadership, government, religion, money, the Internet, and the future. 2015.
Download DB84003

by Mary Roach

Science writer and author of Stiff (DB58302), Spook (DB62108), and Bonk (DB66788) investigates the alimentary canal to explore eating, digestion, and elimination. Uses anecdotes and research to explain the functions of taste, smell, saliva, gas, and mastication. Bestseller. 2013.
Download DB76624

by Oliver Sacks

Neurologist and author of Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf (DB30553)
examines the phenomenon, history, and treatment of hallucinations. Investigates visual, auditory, and olfactory events. Discusses drug-induced mind-altering experiences and diseases with hallucinatory symptoms such as Charles Bonnet syndrome, which affects blind individuals. Bestseller. 2012.
Download BR19709
Download DB75782

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales
by Oliver Sacks

A doctor explores neurological disorders with a novelist’s skill and appreciation of his patients as human beings. Sacks suggests that therapy for brain-damaged patients be designed to help restore the personal quality of the individual. Bestseller 1986.
Download DB23901

The Mind's Eye
By Oliver Sacks

Neurologist uses case studies to illustrate the brain’s ability to adapt to lost senses. Discusses a concert pianist who can no longer read music, a writer who is unable to read print after suffering a stroke, and Sacks's own macular melanoma and its effects on his visual perception. 2010.
Download BR19131
Download DB71931

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot

Science journalist chronicles the life of African American Henrietta Lacks, who in 1951 had cervical tissue removed and grown in culture—without her permission—to produce the first continuously replicating human-cell samples for research. Discusses subsequent medical breakthroughs, including the polio vaccine and AIDS treatment. Explores bioethical concerns involving tissue ownership. Bestseller. 2010.
Download DB70661

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
by James D. Watson

The 1962 Nobel Prize winner for medicine and physiology relates how he, cowinner Francis Crick, and their collaborators hit upon the “double helix” model of the DNA molecule, the fundamental genetic material. Critical edition includes overview of the scientific and historical setting, perspectives of collaborators, reviews, and original papers. 1980.
Download DB51672

Earth Science

Silent Spring
by Rachel Carson

The author criticizes large-scale use of chemical insecticides and weed killers, warning that they jeopardize the environment and harm wildlife. 1962.
Download BR11887
Download DB20184

Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History
by Stephen Jay Gould

Strange creatures once lived in an ancient sea that formed the Burgess Shale, a limestone quarry high in the Canadian Rockies. Gould’s account of the 1909 discovery of the Burgess fossils and their incorrect classification forms one part of this book; another deals with the evolution of the creatures that survived the fossils’ era and their place in the history of life. 1989.
Download DB33372

The Sixth Extinction
by Elizabeth Kolbert

Editor of The Ends of the Earth (DB66582) examines the causes of the five prehistoric mass extinctions and compares previous conditions with those existing in the twenty-first century. Posits that humanity is on the brink of the sixth mass extinction and is the primary cause of it. Bestseller. 2014.
Download BR20478
Download DB78463

The Penguin Book of Outer Space Exploration
by John M. Logsdon

Space historian presents the story of America’s journey to space. Chronicles the creation of NASA; notable people in the space program, from astronauts to policy makers; major accomplishments such as the moon landings; setbacks; and the future of space exploration in the twenty-first century. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2018.
Download DB92406

Packing for Mars
by Mary Roach

Popular-science writer and author of Stiff (DB58302), Spook (DB62108), and Bonk (DB66788) explores the human elements of space travel, including having bowel movements in zero gravity, coping with motion sickness and sexual urges, maintaining personal hygiene, and more. Bestseller. 2010.
Download DB71911

The Oceans: A Deep History
by Eelco J. Rohling

Oceanographer provides a history of the world's oceans and their role in Earth's climate systems over the past 4. 4 billion years. Discusses the oceans' origins, change agents, climate swings, the impacts of life on Earth, acidification, and prospects for the future. 2017.
Download DB94383

by Carl Sagan

Explores the fifteen-billion-year history of cosmic evolution; describes the planets, stars, and galaxies; and traces man’s attempts from earliest times to understand the universe of which he is a part. The author relates how science and civilization grew up together and examines the promise of man’s future as his scientific knowledge continues to increase. Based on the thirteen-part television series. Bestseller. 1980.
Download DB15796
Download DB26740 (Spanish language)

Pale Blue Dot
by Carl Sagan

Sequel to Cosmos (DB15796), which is about human attempts to understand the universe from the vantage point of Earth, continues with a view of Earth from the perspective of space. The popular astronomer and author examines the claim that “our world and species are unique, and even central to the workings and purpose of the Cosmos,” and concludes with an optimistic look at a future beyond our planet. Bestseller. 1994.
Download DB40718

Hidden Figures
by Margot Lee Shetterly

Daughter of a NASA engineer profiles the black women who worked for NASA and its predecessor, NACA, as human computers. Discusses their lives prior to joining NACA/NASA, the challenges they faced due to gender and race discrimination, and their impact on the space program. Basis for a 2016 movie. 2016.
Download BR21798
Download DB86234

Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier
by Neil deGrasse Tyson

America’s space program is at a turning point. After decades of global primacy, NASA has ended the space shuttle program. Tyson—one of our foremost thinkers on all things space—illuminates the past, present, and future of space exploration and reminds us why NASA matters now as much as ever. 2013.
Download DBC00149

Physical Science

Coming of Age in the Milky Way
by Timothy Ferris

This is a story of the human quest to comprehend the enormities of cosmic space and time. Ferris focuses on the individuals who shaped the fields of astronomy, physics, religion, and philosophy, describing scientific concepts in straightforward terms. Sequel to The Red Limit (DB32333). 1988.
Download BR07745
Download DB33384

by James Gleick

Chaos theory, considered the third revolution in twentieth-century science, after relativity and quantum mechanics, uses traditional mathematics to understand complex natural systems with too many variables to study. In this new science, apparent disorder is meaningful, and the structure of chaos can be mapped by using fractal geometry. Offers a look at trailblazers on a new scientific frontier. Bestseller. 1987.
Download DB27005

Time Travel
by James Gleick

Author of The Information (DB73808) tackles the topic of time travel. Discusses the science behind the potential of it—through the work of Einstein, Feynman, and more—and its roots in literature such as H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine (DB33367). Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2016.
Download DB85888

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos
by Brian Greene

Bestselling author of The Elegant Universe (DB48203) and The Fabric of the Cosmos (DB57798) explains the principles of quantum mechanics, cosmology, and string theory that propose the existence of multiple universes. Uses analogies and metaphors to illustrate research that supports several different models of parallel universes. Bestseller. 2011.
Download DB72630

Earth in Human Hands
by David Harry Grinspoon

Astrobiologist author of Venus Revealed (DB46319) examines the impact of human existence on Earth by comparing it to other planets in our solar system. Discusses climate change, the use and depletion of natural resources, interaction with other species, and more. Strong language. Commercial audiobook. 2016.
Download DB87672

A Briefer History of Time
by Stephen Hawking

An updated and more accessible version of A Brief History of Time (DB26996). Emphasizes the concept of a dynamic cosmos, incorporating scientific knowledge from research and space exploration—by the Hubble Space telescope and satellites—not available in the 1988 publication. 2005.
Download BR16183
Download DB60679

The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe
by Stephen Hawking

Brilliant physicist outlines the history of the universe, from the big bang to black holes. Reviews past ideas about the universe and how it began and discusses black holes, applying Einstein’s general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. Advances a “no boundary” conception of time and space that could lead to a unified theory. 2002.
Download DB55940

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
By Carlo Rovelli

Theoretical physicist expounds the scientific and philosophical implications of the discoveries in physics over the past century, as well as the questions that still face the field. Uses examples from outside of physics to explain such concepts as Einstein’s theory of relativity. Translated from 2014 Italian edition. Bestseller. 2015.
Download BR21539
Download DB84064

The Periodic Table
by Eric R. Scerri

Lecturer in chemistry and the history of science describes the development of the periodic table and explains its importance in chemistry and physics. Notes the contributions of scientists such as Dimitri Mendeleev, Niels Bohr, and John Dalton—who, in 1801, published the beginnings of modern atomic theory. 2011.
Download DB86534

Big Bang
by Simon Singh

A history of scientific thought on the birth of the universe, focusing on the big bang theory’s gradual acceptance during the twentieth century. Covers the role of telescopes and modern technology in gathering data and developing methodical proof. Includes profiles of subject specialists, outlining their debates on fundamental issues. 2004.
Download DB60171

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Author of Merlin’s Tour of the Universe: A Skywatcher’s Guide to Everything from Mars and Quasars to Comets, Planets, Blue Moons, and Werewolves (DB85038) explains astrophysics concepts in a condensed and easily digestible manner intended for people with limited time to read about the subject. Topics include the big bang, light, the space between galaxies, dark matter, the solar system, and more. Commercial audiobook. 2017.
Download BR21906
Download DB89846


A Short History of Nearly Everything
by Bill Bryson

Curious about the composition of the physical world and wanting to make it understandable, Bryson explores science from the basics to the complex - from a proton and a protein to a quark and a quasar, and from nothingness to human beings. In the process, he discusses how scientists figured out known facts. Bestseller. 2003.
Download DB56241

by Yuval N. Harari

A discussion of the development of human culture and history, from the emergence of the first species of the genus Homo over two million years ago to the twenty-first century. Examines progress from the standpoints of biology, anthropology, paleontology, and economics. Translated from the 2011 Hebrew edition. 2015.
Download DB81335
Download DB84962 (Spanish language)
Download DBF99815 (French language)

To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science
by Steven Weinberg

Nobel Prize-winning physicist and author of The First Three Minutes (DB15438) examines the development of scientific reasoning across the world in a number of different fields. Chronologically examines the advancements of the ancient Greeks, Europe, and the Arab world in the Middle Ages, and the scientific revolution during the Enlightenment. 2015.
Download DB81278

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