Tag Archives: books

The Gecko’s Foot – Peter Forbes


The Gecko’s Foot

How Scientists are Taking a Leaf from Nature’s Book

Peter Forbes

Genre: Essays

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 7, 2010

Publisher: Harper Perennial


A cutting-edge science book in the style of ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’ and ‘Chaos’ from an exciting and accessible voice in popular science writing. Bio-inspiration is a form of engineering but not in the conventional sense. Extending beyond our established and preconceived notions, scientists, architects and engineers are looking at imitating nature by manufacturing 'wet' materials such as spider silk or the surface of the gecko's foot. The amazing power of the gecko's foot has long been known – it can climb a vertical glass wall and even walk upside down on the ceiling – but no ideas could be harnessed from it because its mechanism could not be seen with the power of optical microscopes. Recently however the secret was solved by a team of scientists in Oregon who established that the mechanism really is dry, and that it does not involve suction, capillary action or anything else the lay person might imagine. Each foot has half a million bristles and each bristle ramifies into hundreds of finer spatula-shaped projections. The fine scale of the gecko's foot is beyond the capacity of conventional microengineering, but a team of nanotechnologists have already made a good initial approximation. The gecko's foot is just one of many examples of this new 'smart' science. We also discover, amongst other things, how George de Mestral's brush with the spiny fruits of the cocklebur inspired him to invent Velcro; how the shape of leaves opening from a bud has inspired the design of solar-powered satellites; and the parallels between cantilever bridges and the spines of large mammals such as the bison. The new 'smart' science of Bio-inspiration is going to produce a plethora of products over the next decades that will transform our lives, and force us to look at the world in a completely new way. It is science we will be reading about in our papers very soon; it is the science of tomorrow's world. Reviews ‘[Forbes has] An easy style and an innocence of jargon, and he treads softly on his scientists’ dreams. Forbes prefers the term “bio-inspiration” to “biomimetics”. The aim is not slavishly to imitate nature, but to learn from it to develop our own solutions to engineering problems. And he is surely right to pounce now, before inspiration turns to perspiration. He has succeeded splendidly.’ Hugh Aldersey-Williams, Independent ‘The book is a witty blend of anecdote and analysis.’ Rita Carter, Daily Mail ‘[Forbes] provides an illuminating discussion of the evolution of visual systems and the emergence of contemporary understandings of the nature of light.’ Dr Brendan Kelly, Sunday Business Post About the author Peter Forbes has written a series of articles Biomimetics for the Guardian and a chapter on the same subject for the Guardian’s book, ‘Frontiers 03’ (Atlantic Books). He was the editor of Poetry Review from 1986 to 2002 and his anthology ‘Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Verse’ was widely acclaimed. He translated Primo Levi’s personal anthology, ‘The Search for Roots’, (Penguin Press) in 2001 and Bloodaxe published his latest poetry anthology ‘We have come through’ in 2003.

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The Gecko’s Foot – Peter Forbes

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Looking for Spinoza – Antonio Damasio


Looking for Spinoza

Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain

Antonio Damasio

Genre: History

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: December 1, 2003

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

A famed neuroscientist explores the emotions that make life worth living in “clear, accessible, and at times eloquent prose” ( San Francisco Chronicle ).   In the seventeenth century, the philosopher Spinoza examined the role emotion played in human survival and culture. Yet, the neurobiological roots of joy and sorrow remained a mystery. Today, we spend countless resources doctoring our feelings with alcohol, prescription drugs, health clubs, therapy, vacation retreats, and other sorts of consumption; yet the inner workings of our minds—what feelings are, how they work, and what they mean—are still largely an unexplored frontier.   Here, bestselling author and distinguished scientist Antonio Demasio concludes the groundbreaking trilogy he began with Descartes’ Error by drawing on his innovative research and experience with neurological patients to examine the cerebral processes of human emotion . With scientific expertise and “a flair for writing,” he navigates the neurology of feelings ( The New York Review of Books ).   “Damasio has the rare talent of rendering science intelligible while also being gifted in philosophy, literature and wit.” —Margaret Jacob, Los Angeles Times   “Exceptionally engaging and profoundly gratifying . . . Achieves a unique combination of scientific exposition, historical discovery and deep personal statement regarding the human condition.” — Nature   “Damasio . . . succeeds in making the latest brain research accessible to the general reader, while his passionate Spinozist reflections make that data relevant to everyday life.” — Publishers Weekly

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Looking for Spinoza – Antonio Damasio

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Gut – Giulia Enders & David Shaw



The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ

Giulia Enders & David Shaw

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $17.99

Publish Date: May 24, 2015

Publisher: Greystone Books

Seller: Perseus Books, LLC

Our gut is almost as important to us as our brain and yet we know very little about how it works. Gut: The Inside Story is an entertaining, informative tour of the digestive system from the moment we raise a tasty morsel to our lips until the moment our body surrenders the remnants to the toilet bowl. No topic is too lowly for the author’s wonder and admiration, from the careful choreography of breaking wind to the precise internal communication required for a cleansing vomit. Along the way, the author provides practical advice such as the best ways to sit on the toilet to have a comfortable bowel movement, how clean your kitchen should be for optimum gut health, and how different laxatives work. She tells stories of gut bacteria that can lead to obesity, autoimmune diseases, or even suicide, and she discusses the benefits of dietary supplements such as probiotics. This book is a fascinating primer for anyone interested in how our ideas about the gut are changing in the light of cutting-edge scientific research. In the words of the author, “We live in an era in which we are just beginning to understand just how complex the connections are between us, our food, our pets and the microscopic world in, on, and around us. We are gradually decoding processes that we used to believe were part of our inescapable destiny.”

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Gut – Giulia Enders & David Shaw

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Mathematics Minus Fear – Lawrence Potter


Mathematics Minus Fear

How to Make Math Fun and Beneficial to Your Everyday Life

Lawrence Potter

Genre: Mathematics

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: September 4, 2012

Publisher: Pegasus Books

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

Forget your classroom nightmares and discover how numbers can enhance and illuminate your world! How can math help you bet on horses or win in Vegas? What’s the foolproof way to solve Sudoku? How can probability teach you to calculate your chances of survival in Russian roulette? In this irreverent and entertaining guide to mathematics, Lawrence Potter takes the fear out of everything from long division to percentages. Using fascinating puzzles and surprising examples, he shows us how math is connected with the world we encounter every day, from how the VAT works to why weather forecasts are wrong, from winning at Monopoly to improving your mental arithmetic. Along the way you’ll also discover who invented numbers, whether animals can count, and what nuns have to do with multiplication. “Does for numbers what Eats, Shoots & Leaves did for punctuation.” — The Times Educational Supplement  “If you follow this eloquently written book you will be equipped to cope with all manner of challenges, such as splitting a restaurant bill, filling in a tax return, or understanding the compound interest on your bank statement.” — The Daily Telegraph  Lawrence Potter attended Oxford University and graduated with a degree in classics before becoming an adventurous mathematics teacher in Romania and Rwanda. He is the author of This May Help You Understand the World and lives in London.

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Mathematics Minus Fear – Lawrence Potter

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Through a Window – Jane Goodall


Through a Window
My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe
Jane Goodall

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: April 7, 2010

Publisher: Mariner Books

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

The renowned British primatologist continues the “engrossing account” of her time among the chimpanzees of Gombe, Tanzania ( Publishers Weekly ).   In her classic, In the Shadow of Man , Jane Goodall wrote of her first ten years at Gombe. In Through a Window she continues the story, painting a more complete and vivid portrait of our closest relatives.   On the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Gombe is a community where the principal residents are chimpanzees. Through Goodall’s eyes we watch young Figan’s relentless rise to power and old Mike’s crushing defeat. We learn how one mother rears her children to succeed and another dooms hers to failure. We witness horrifying murders, touching moments of affection, joyous births, and wrenching deaths.   As Goodall compellingly tells the story of this intimately intertwined community, we are shown human emotions stripped to their essence. In the mirror of chimpanzee life, we see ourselves reflected.   “A humbling and exalting book . . . Ranks with the great scientific achievements of the twentieth century.” — The Washington Post     “[An] absolutely smashing account . . . Thrilling, affectionate, intelligent—a classic.” — Kirkus Reviews , starred review

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Through a Window – Jane Goodall

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The Ascent of Gravity: The Quest to Understand the Force that Explains Everything – Marcus Chown


The Ascent of Gravity: The Quest to Understand the Force that Explains Everything

Marcus Chown

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $12.99

Publish Date: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Pegasus Books

Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Why the force that keeps our feet on the ground holds the key to understanding the nature of time and the origin of the universe. Gravity is the weakest force in the everyday world yet it is the strongest force in the universe. It was the first force to be recognized and described yet it is the least understood. It is a "force" that keeps your feet on the ground yet no such force actually exists. Gravity, to steal the words of Winston Churchill, is "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." And penetrating that enigma promises to answer the biggest questions in science: what is space? What is time? What is the universe? And where did it all come from? Award-winning writer Marcus Chown takes us on an unforgettable journey from the recognition of the "force" of gravity in 1666 to the discovery of gravitational waves in 2015. And, as we stand on the brink of a seismic revolution in our worldview, he brings us up to speed on the greatest challenge ever to confront physics.

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The Ascent of Gravity: The Quest to Understand the Force that Explains Everything – Marcus Chown

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The Birds of Pandemonium – Michele Raffin


The Birds of Pandemonium

Michele Raffin

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 7, 2014

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.

“Michele Raffin has made an important contribution to saving endangered birds, and her book is a fascinating and rarely seen glimpse behind the scenes. The joy she gets from her close relationships with these amazing animals and her outsized commitment to them comes through loud and clear in this engaging and joyful book.” —Dominick Dorsa, Curator of Birds, San Francisco Zoo Each morning at first light, Michele Raffin awakens to the bewitching music that heralds another day at Pandemonium Aviaries—a symphony that swells from the most vocal of over 350 avian throats representing over 40 species. “It knocks me out, every day,” she admits.  Pandemonium Aviaries is a conservation organization dedicated to saving and breeding birds at the edge of extinction, including some of the largest populations of rare species in the world. And their behavior is even more fascinating than their glorious plumage or their songs. They fall in love, they mourn, they rejoice, they sacrifice, they have a sense of humor, they feel jealous, they invent, plot, cope, and sometimes they murder each other. As Raffin says, “They teach us volumes about the interrelationships of humans and animals.” Their stories make up the heart of this book. There’s Sweetie, a tiny quail with an outsize personality; the inspiring Oscar, a Lady Gouldian finch who can’t fly but finds a way to reach the highest perches of his aviary to roost. The ecstatic reunion of a disabled Victoria crowned pigeon, Wing, and her brother, Coffee, is as wondrous as the silent kinship that develops between Amadeus, a one-legged turaco, and an autistic young visitor. Ultimately, The Birds of Pandemonium is about one woman’s crusade to save precious lives, bird by bird, and offers insights into how following a passion can transform not only oneself but also the world. “Delightful . . . full of wonderful accounts of bird behavior, demonstrating caring, learning, sociability, adaptability, and a will to live. Its appeal is ageless, her descriptions riveting, and her devotion to the birds remarkable.” — Joanna Burger, author of  The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship “A remarkable book. Reading about the birds of Pandemonium will make you laugh and cry; it will make you see more clearly the need to take care of our planet; and it will confirm that one person with a passion can make a difference.” —Jeff Corwin, nature conservationist and host, Animal Planet “ The Birds of Pandemonium touched me deeply . . . This book is about reconnecting with the nature of birds, and the nature of ourselves.”  —Jon Young, author of What the Robin Knows


The Birds of Pandemonium – Michele Raffin

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10 Reasons to Support the MeatLess May Campaign (and How to Make a Success of It)

A lot of folks get that eating a plant-based diet is the most Earth-friendly and sustainable food choice. But as we all know, the chasm between knowledge and action can be huge.

In the case of eating less meat, it becomes even wider depending on where you grew up. In South Africa, for example, meat isn?t just something we eat, it?s woven into the fabric of our culture.

When you grow up eating meat, eggs and dairy, it can be hard to give those things up. Black coffee is gross and toast without scrambled eggs is, well, toast. And what about grilled cheese, how on earth are you supposed to survive without that childhood staple?

What is the MeatLess May Campaign?

If you?ve been toying with the idea of eating a plant-based diet, but haven?t been able to wrap your head around the idea of never eating another cheeseburger ever, the MeatLess May campaign is the perfect way to test the water.

Rather than have you quit all animal products outright for the month of May (gasp), it simply challenges you to commit to a more sustainable diet. You choose your ?dietary tribe? based on what you?re able to give up.

For example, meat lovers can opt for the Positive Pioneers tribe, which means you only give up meat, poultry and fish from Monday to Thursday. If you think you can do without meat, but not your morning cappuccino, then the Virtually Veggies tribe is for you.

For vegetarians, this is a great opportunity to quit eggs and dairy and eat 100 percent vegan. The Groovy Gardeners slogan says it all: if it grows in the ground, you can eat it.

10 Reasons to Try MeatLess May

Along with encouraging people to eat fewer animal products, the campaign also aims to raise awareness around the key issues affecting our planet. Ultimately, we are all responsible for the habitat we live in.

These are?10 compelling?reasons to support the MeatLess May campaign.

  1. Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water and causes immense animal suffering.
  2. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
  3. People under 65 who eat a lot of meat, eggs and dairy are four times as likely to die from cancer or diabetes.
  4. Pigs, cows, chickens, fish, and other animals raised at factory farms experience unimaginable cruelty.
  5. Humane meat is a contradiction in terms.
  6. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction.
  7. For every pound of fish caught, five pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill.
  8. Animal agriculture increases acid rain.
  9. Most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.
  10. Eating organic meat will not help you avoid contaminants.

Resources to Keep You on Track during MeatLess May (and beyond!)

We?ve all been there. Something gets you all fired up and raring to go, and then a day or two later you?re flailing. Inspiration is a wonderful thing, but you also need motivation to keep going when things get tough. As they usually do.

If you feel your motivation?flagging, these talks, movies, and books can help you remember why you’re?trying to cut back on (or cut out) animal products.


A Vegan Bodybuilding Experiment by Joshua Knox
The Secrets of Food Marketing by Kate Cooper
Why I?m a Weekday Vegetarian by Graham Hill


Cowspiracy by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn
What The Health by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn
The Secret Reason We Eat Meat by Dr. Melanie Joy [animated]


8 Weeks to Optimum Health by Dr. Andrew Weil
The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner
Esther the Wonder Pig by Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter and Caprice Crane
You?re also welcome to download a free, no strings attached copy of my e-book: Eating a Plant-Based Diet for Beginners (and Curious Omnivores).

Eliminating animal products from your diet benefits you, the planet and of course, the animals. May is a little over a week away, so you?ve got plenty of time to get your head in the game.

Make the commitment to eat less meat for the month. You?ll find plenty of support and inspiration on the MeatLess May Facebook page and by following #meatlessmay on Instagram.

Related at Care2

A Guide to Plant-Based Milks
Why do Vegans Eat Meat and Cheese Alternatives?
10 Reasons the Meat and Dairy Industries are Unsustainable

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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10 Reasons to Support the MeatLess May Campaign (and How to Make a Success of It)

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The Illustrated Theory of Everything – Stephen Hawking


The Illustrated Theory of Everything

The Origin and Fate of the Universe

Stephen Hawking

Genre: Physics

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: October 1, 2009

Publisher: Phoenix Books, Inc,

Seller: Phoenix Books, Inc.

Stephen Hawking is widely believed to be one of the world’s greatest minds, a brilliant theoretical physicist whose work helped reconfigure models of the universe and define what’s in it. Imagine sitting in a room listening to Hawking discuss these achievements and place them in historical context; it would be like hearing Christopher Columbus on the New World. Hawking presents a series of seven lectures—covering everything from big bang to black holes to string theory—that capture not only the brilliance of Hawking’s mind but his characteristic wit as well. Of his research on black holes, which absorbed him for more than a decade, he says, “It might seem a bit like looking for a black cat in a coal cellar.”  Hawking begins with a history of ideas about the universe, from Aristotle’s determination that the Earth is round to Hubble’s discovery, more than 2,000 years later, that the universe is expanding. Using that as a launching pad, he explores the reaches of modern physics, including theories on the origin of the universe (e.g., the Big Bang), the nature of black holes, and space-time. Finally, he poses the questions left unanswered by modern physics, especially how to combine all the partial theories into a “unified theory of everything.” “If we find the answer to that,” he claims, “it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason.” Hawking believes that advances in theoretical science should be “understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists.” In this book, he offers a fascinating voyage of discovery about the cosmos and our place in it. It is a book for anyone who has ever gazed at the night sky and wondered what was up there and how it came to be.

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The Illustrated Theory of Everything – Stephen Hawking

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The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder – Marta McDowell


The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books

Marta McDowell

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: September 20, 2017

Publisher: Timber Press

Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.

“For gardeners, botanists, and fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder, this book looks at the beloved Little House on the Prairie author’s relationship to nature.” — Publishers Weekly The universal appeal of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books springs from a life lived in partnership with the land, on farms she and her family settled across the Northeast and Midwest. In this revealing exploration of Wilder’s deep connection with the natural world, Marta McDowell follows the wagon trail of the beloved Little House series. You’ll learn details about Wilder’s life and inspirations, pinpoint the Ingalls and Wilder homestead claims on authentic archival maps, and learn to grow the plants and vegetables featured in the series. Excerpts from Wilder’s books, letters, and diaries bring to light her profound appreciation for the landscapes at the heart of her world. Featuring the beloved illustrations by Helen Sewell and Garth Williams, plus hundreds of historic and contemporary photographs, The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder is a treasure for anyone enchanted by Laura’s wild and beautiful life. 

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The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder – Marta McDowell

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