marycatelli: (Golden Hair)
A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos by Geraint F. Lewis and Luke A. Barnes

About two-third physics and chemistry.  Carbon, neutrinos, inflation in the early universe, what Albert Einstein thought was his biggest mistake, what would make a universe dull, and more.  All discussing what tweaking the free parameters would do to this universe and life in it.  Much clarification of the Weak and Strong Anthropic Principles.

And then discussing questions this would raise, including the philosophical ones.

The Hive

Feb. 12th, 2014 09:41 pm
marycatelli: (Golden Hair)
The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us by Bee Wilson

A history of what we have thought about the honeybee.
Read more... )
marycatelli: (Golden Hair)
Rambunctious Garden:  Saving Nature In a Post-Wild World by Emma Marris

A fascinating ecosystems in the world as it actually exists.  The one where elk chose to give birth next to highways because of the lesser number of bears.
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marycatelli: (Golden Hair)
Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color Their World by Patricia Lynn Duffy
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marycatelli: (A Birthday)
In Search Of Lost Roses by Thomas Christopher

The author recounts both his own experience in search of old roses -- roses whose varieties predate the Hybrid Tea rose, which has taken over so thoroughly -- and various chapters of the history of the rose.  A far from complete history, but it has some interesting part.

The rediscovery of the true musk rose -- which, BTW, blooms in the fall, not the summer.

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marycatelli: (A Birthday)
The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain by Alice W. Flaherty.

A neurologist's take on writing.

I don't know what a non-writer would think of it, but I found it fascinating.

She starts out with a discussion of hypergraphia which is the compulsive need to write.  It's associated with temporal lobe epilepsy and with maniac-depression and it's probably not what drove you to write so much at some point.  Doctors discovered that they had a simple test for epileptic patients as to whether they were hypergraphic:  ask them to write a letter describing their health.  Non-hypergraphics wrote under a hundred.  Hypergraphics wrote thousands.

It's so compulsive that -- well, she tells the story of a Chinese woman who had hypergraphia.  She wrote, compulsively, and then she burned it all because it was criticism of the Chinese regime at the worst possible time to be caught.  (And then she would bring the ashes to a relative's house because it had a flush toilet and she could flush the ashes.)

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marycatelli: (A Birthday)
The Geography of Thought by Richard E. Nisbett

Did you know that American and European children learn nouns a lot faster than verbs, and Chinese, Japanese and Korean children learn verbs about as fast as nouns?

That Americans are better at picking out foreground objects and recognizing them in different situations, while Japanese are better at taking in the whole picture?

That native speakers of English are likely to correlate object by category, and native speakers of Chinese, by relationship?  But if you teach native speakers of Chinese English in their teens or so, which language you use will influence which way they are more likely to use.  And if you teach native speakers of Chinese English very young, correlations will even out between category and relationship, but be independent of language.

Read more... )

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