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Find more Top 10 Sci-Tech Books
The top 10 science and technology books of the last 12 months cover subjects at once earthy and esoteric—from birds and bees to the workings of the brain and the invention of the telephone—with verve and expertise.
The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters. By Rose George. 2008. Holt/Metropolitan, $26 (9780805082715).
Journalist George addresses an urgent health and environmental challenge, the sanitary disposal of human waste, in this unique and fascinating global inquiry.
Beyond the Zonules of Zinn: A Fantastic Journey through Your Brain. By David Bainbridge. 2008. Harvard, $25.95 (0-674-02610-1).
Bainbridge uses the zonules of Zinn, tiny ligaments that secure the lens of the eye to the ciliary, as the starting point for an illuminating tour of the brain and neuroanatomical research.
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. By Mary Roach. 2008. Norton, $24.95 (9789393064643).
Roach, a science writer with a sense of humor and adventure, surveys the many sides of sex research in this marvelously breezy yet genuinely enlightening study.
Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds about Animals and Food. By Gene Baur. 2008. Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, $25 (0-7432-9158-1).
Baur presents a stunning indictment of factory farming and a host of revelations gleaned from close observation of farm animals.
Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis. By Rowan Jacobsen. 2008. Bloomsbury, $25 (9781596915374).
Jacobsen explicates the honeybee’s role in agricultural fecundity and documents the many ways we’ve endangered this essential pollinator.
Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect with Others. By Marco Iacoboni. 2008. Farrar, $25 (0-374-21017-9).
Neuroscientist Iacoboni enthusiastically explains mirror neurons and how they enable individuals to imitate the traits and abilities common to their species.
The Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog. By Nancy Ellis-Bell. 2008. Harmony, $23 (9780307405944).
A blue-and-gold macaw lost a foot during her capture, was abused, and became vicious, but once Ellis-Bell brings her home, the now-loved bird becomes a lively and instructive companion.
The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell’s Secret. By Seth Shulman. 2008. Norton, $24.95 (9780393062069).
Shulman chronicles his discovery of an anomaly in Alexander Graham Bell’s laboratory notes and the sleuthing that uncloaked evidence suggesting that the iconic inventor may have pilfered the discoveries of another man.
Thousand Mile Song: Whale Music in a Sea of Sound. By David Rothenberg. 2008. Basic, $27.50 (9780465071289).
Rothenberg continues his inquiry into interspecies music begun in Why Birds Sing (2005) in this many-faceted analysis of whale song and the role these “great singers of the sea” play in life’s pageant.
The Universe in a Mirror: The Saga of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Visionaries Who Built It. By Robert Zimmerman. 2008. Princeton, $29.95 (9780691132976).
The Hubble Telescope is the fruit of brilliant technical innovations, a crushing setback, and a triumphant rebound, a dramatic tale exceptionally well told by Zimmerman.
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