8 Best Books About Science Update 05/2022

This year, the news focused on stories about Covid-19 again, and rightly so. But other big discoveries were made in other fields, too. NASA sent another rover to Mars, researchers found a new possible human species, and scientists found out how climate change is affecting the evolution of animals. All of these topics could be used in future books.

In 2021, with one year of the fight against the coronavirus over, a lot of books were written about the pandemic. One of those books, The Premonition, by Michael Lewis, is on this list, as is another one. This isn’t the only important book that has an impact on how we fight disease. The Code Breaker, by Walter Isaacson, is on the list of Smithsonian scholars’ favorite books of the year. (We didn’t want to review it again here.) These are some of the books we’ve chosen. They include reports from scientists who are on scientific journeys to find a hard-to-find physics equation and learn about the connections between trees, as well as in-depth stories from veteran science journalists about everything from environmental solutions to the benefits of sweat. With so many interesting and educational books to choose from, it was hard to pick just ten. These are the books that changed our minds the most in 2021.

Under a White Sky:The Nature of the Future, by Elizabeth Kolbert

Elizabeth Kolbert, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her book Under a White Sky, talks about how scientists come up with crazy ways to solve environmental problems. As Kolbert points out, humans have changed more than half of the land that isn’t covered by ice, and we’ve also changed the rest of the planet in some way. This has caused many problems that need to be fixed. There is a canal near Chicago where the water has been electrified so that invasive carp don’t move up the waterway and into the Great Lakes, which can be very bad for the fish. For her next trip, she’s going to Hawaii and Australia, where marine biologists are trying to make super corals that can withstand rising water temperatures in order to save reefs from dying. She also talks about a geoengineer’s plan to put diamond dust in the air to reflect sunlight and lessen the effects of climate change. A geologist who helped set up Harvard’s geoengineering program talks to her later in the book. Dan Schrag is a geologist who helped set up the program. He says that he sees a lot of pressure from his coworkers to have a happy ending, but he doesn’t like it. People want to believe. ‘You know what?’ I’m a scientist, and I work in the field. The good news is not my job. To do my job, I have to describe the world as well as I can. She does the same thing in her book. When she talks about where we are, she paints a realistic picture of how things are going right now. It was (Joe Spring)

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future

Man was told that he would have dominion “over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that crawleth on the earth.” This has become a fact. Those who study geology say we’re living in the Anthropocene, which means we’re living in a new time period. It’s hard to look at the new world we are making in Under a White Sky, but Elizabeth Kolbert does it anyway.

The Premonition: A Pandemic Story, by Michael Lewis

The Premonition, by Michael Lewis, is a thriller, even though you know from the start that the heroes will lose and that they will die. They were public servants and scientists who saw Covid-19 coming and did everything they could to stop it from spreading in the United States. The book tells their stories. Lewis sticks to what he does best: He drops readers into the lives of people who thought differently than the people who were thought of as experts. It used to be that the people who knew about the inside were Wall Street traders and professional baseball scouts (The Big Short and Moneyball, respectively). They are high-ranking government officials who don’t pay attention to or muzzle our heroes, and bureaucratic systems that make it hard for them to be successful. The back stories of the main characters are told in Part I. They include a public health officer who was once condemned to hell by church leaders for going to medical school; a microbiologist who injected an Ebola cousin into the hearts of live pythons; and the Wolverines, a secret group of medical and military government insiders who are pushing pandemic preparedness. They meet and try to keep Covid under control in Part II, which takes place in early 2020. Lewis’ account then turns into a maddening page-turner, as politics, optics, and profits stop our heroes and allow the virus to spread across the country. (Bridget and Alex)

The Premonition: A Pandemic Story

As the COVID-19 virus spread, the Trump administration’s official response was to put up a wall of ignorance. In Michael Lewis’s thriller, a group of medical visionaries fights against that wall of ignorance.

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, by Suzanne Simard

We think Suzanne Simard wrote the best book written by a scientist this year because it was so personal and interesting. She is a forest ecologist. When you find the Mother Tree, you learn about how the forest thinks. During the summer, Simard worked as an employee for a logging company when he was 20 years old. Simard was born in Canada and grew up in a logging family. That’s not what happened. Even when they were young, she knew that cutting down trees and poisoning the earth so monocultures could grow was not the right way to do things. Simard thought that forests were made up of things that helped each other, so she went to school for a career in science. She studied silviculture for the Forest Service and then earned a PhD in forest sciences from Oregon State University. In tests, she found that birch and Douglas fir trees exchanged carbon underground. “Mother Trees,” which are very old trees, are at the heart of the forest’s “wood-wide web.” They exchange nutrients and chemical signals with other plants through their roots and fungal networks.

Simard’s findings have important implications for how governments should care for forests. Clear-cutting large areas and killing all but the species you want may not be the best way to go. Ecologists say that leaving Mother Trees and allowing plants to grow together and support each other is better. That’s not the only reason this book is good. Simard’s science isn’t the only thing that makes this book good. The book is filled with personal stories as she embarks on her scientific journey. She talks about how close she is to her brother, how her marriage fell apart, and how she had to fight breast cancer. In the middle of all this, Simard is still trying to find out more about how forests work. They go to scientific conferences with her, where she talks about research that many people don’t believe in, to her lab at the University of British Columbia, and to forests in western Canada where grizzly bears live. When she tells her story, she shows how connections that are as complex as the root and fungal network that grows beneath the forest floor shaped her scientific path. (J.S.)

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

Susanne Simard invites us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, where she brilliantly reveals the interesting and important truths about trees. She shows us that trees are not just the source of wood or pulp, but are part of a complicated, interdependent circle of life.

The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration, by Sarah Everts

At least a little of us sweat all the time. That’s good. Because our bodies are made up of mostly water, they can get very hot when they’re running. But there’s a lot more to the salty discharge than that, too. Scientist Sarah Everts wrote a strange and wonderful book called The Joy of Sweat. In it, she pays tribute to the bodily fluids that keep us cool and can tell us so many things about ourselves. When you sweat, Everts says, it’s “an oddly flamboyant way to keep your body temperature in check.” The temperature control system in your body is made up of two to five million sweat pores that work together to keep your body temperature stable. Sweat is not just a way for animals to stay cool. As Everts looks at the natural and cultural history of sweat, it becomes so much more than that. Sweat gives us unique smells that help people like us and may also tell people that we’re sick. There have been a lot of changes made to the sauna over the years, which shows that sometimes it’s just good to get a good sweat on. In the beginning, it was just an experiment, but then it turned into an ode to our bodies. Even though we already sweat a lot, Everts thinks that we might even enjoy it more than we already do. Riley Black: (Riley Black)

The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration

Sweating may be one of our strangest bodily functions, but it’s also one of our most important and least known. As Sarah Everts reads her book The Joy of Sweat, she talks about sweat’s role in the body and in the history of the world.

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