Best Science Books of All Time

Last updated on 12/24/2015
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Best Science Books of All Time recommended by Google. See the list here: Best Science Books of All Time

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A Brief History of Time

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking's book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe begin—and what made its start possible? Does time always flow forward? Is the universe unending—or are there boundaries? Are there other dimensions in space? What will happen when it all ends?

Told in language we all can understand, A Brief History of Time plunges into the exotic realms of black holes and quarks, of antimatter and “arrows of time,” of the big bang and a bigger God—where the possibilities are wondrous and unexpected. With exciting images and profound imagination, Stephen Hawking brings us closer to the ultimate secrets at the very heart of creation.

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The Origin of Species
The classic that exploded into public controversy, revolutionized the course of science, and continues to transform our views of the world.
Cosmos
RETURNING TO TELEVISION AS AN ALL-NEW MINISERIES ON FOX

Cosmos is one of the bestselling science books of all time. In clear-eyed prose, Sagan reveals a jewel-like blue world inhabited by a life form that is just beginning to discover its own identity and to venture into the vast ocean of space. Featuring a new Introduction by Sagan's collaborator, Ann Druyan, full color illustrations, and a new Foreword by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos retraces the fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution that have transformed matter into consciousness, exploring such topics as the origin of life, the human brain, Egyptian hieroglyphics, spacecraft missions, the death of the Sun, the evolution of galaxies, and the forces and individuals who helped to shape modern science.

Praise for Cosmos
 
“Magnificent . . . With a lyrical literary style, and a range that touches almost all aspects of human knowledge, Cosmos often seems too good to be true.”The Plain Dealer
 
“Sagan is an astronomer with one eye on the stars, another on history, and a third—his mind's—on the human condition.”Newsday
 
“Brilliant in its scope and provocative in its suggestions . . . shimmers with a sense of wonder.”The Miami Herald
 
“Sagan dazzles the mind with the miracle of our survival, framed by the stately galaxies of space.”Cosmopolitan
 
“Enticing . . . iridescent . . . imaginatively illustrated.”The New York Times Book Review
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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.
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The Selfish Gene
Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands of readers to rethink their beliefs about life.
In his internationally bestselling, now classic volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk.
This 30th anniversary edition of Dawkins' fascinating book retains all original material, including the two enlightening chapters added in the second edition. In a new Introduction the author presents his thoughts thirty years after the publication of his first and most famous book, while the inclusion of the two-page original Foreword by brilliant American scientist Robert Trivers shows the enthusiastic reaction of the scientific community at that time. This edition is a celebration of a remarkable exposition of evolutionary thought, a work that has been widely hailed for its stylistic brilliance and deep scientific insights, and that continues to stimulate whole new areas of research today.
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Gödel, Escher, Bach. Anniversary Edition
Douglas Hofstadter's book is concerned directly with the nature of “maps” or links between formal systems. However, according to Hofstadter, the formal system that underlies all mental activity transcends the system that supports it. If life can grow out of the formal chemical substrate of the cell, if consciousness can emerge out of a formal system of firing neurons, then so too will computers attain human intelligence. Gödel, Escher, Bach is a wonderful exploration of fascinating ideas at the heart of cognitive science: meaning, reduction, recursion, and much more.
Silent Spring
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson's passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.  
A Universe from Nothing
Bestselling author and acclaimed physicist Lawrence Krauss offers a paradigm-shifting view of how everything that exists came to be in the first place.

“Where did the universe come from? What was there before it? What will the future bring? And finally, why is there something rather than nothing?”

One of the few prominent scientists today to have crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss describes the staggeringly beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending new theories that demonstrate not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing. With a new preface about the significance of the discovery of the Higgs particle, A Universe from Nothing uses Krauss's characteristic wry humor and wonderfully clear explanations to take us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved—and the implications for how it's going to end.

Provocative, challenging, and delightfully readable, this is a game-changing look at the most basic underpinning of existence and a powerful antidote to outmoded philosophical, religious, and scientific thinking.
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Physics of the Impossible
Teleportation, time machines, force fields, and interstellar space ships—the stuff of science fiction or potentially attainable future technologies? Inspired by the fantastic worlds of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Back to the Future, renowned theoretical physicist and bestselling author Michio Kaku takes an informed, serious, and often surprising look at what our current understanding of the universe's physical laws may permit in the near and distant future.Entertaining, informative, and imaginative, Physics of the Impossible probes the very limits of human ingenuity and scientific possibility.
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The Poisoner's Handbook
***PBS's AMERICAN EXPERIENCE released a film based on The Poisoner's Handbook in January 2014***

Equal parts true crime, twentieth-century history, and science thriller, The Poisoner's Handbook is "a vicious, page-turning story that reads more like Raymond Chandler than Madame Curie"
(The New York Observer)

A fascinating Jazz Age tale of chemistry and detection, poison and murder, The Poisoner's Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten era. In early twentieth-century New York, poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Science had no place in the Tammany Hall-controlled coroner's office, and corruption ran rampant. However, with the appointment of chief medical examiner Charles Norris in 1918, the poison game changed forever. Together with toxicologist Alexander Gettler, the duo set the justice system on fire with their trailblazing scientific detective work, triumphing over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice.
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The World Without Us

Time #1 Nonfiction Book of 2007
Entertainment Weekly #1 Nonfiction Book of 2007
Finalist for the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award
Salon Book Awards 2007
Amazon Top 100 Editors' Picks of 2007 (#4)
Barnes and Noble 10 Best of 2007: Politics and Current Affairs
Kansas City Star's Top 100 Books of the Year 2007
Mother Jones' Favorite Books of 2007
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Best Books of the Year 2007
Hudson's Best Books of 2007
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Books of 2007
St. Paul Pioneer Press Best Books of 2007

If human beings disappeared instantaneously from the Earth, what would happen? How would the planet reclaim its surface? What creatures would emerge from the dark and swarm? How would our treasured structures--our tunnels, our bridges, our homes, our monuments--survive the unmitigated impact of a planet without our intervention? In his revelatory, bestselling account, Alan Weisman draws on every field of science to present an environmental assessment like no other, the most affecting portrait yet of humankind's place on this planet.

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Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality

“A lucid account of quantum theory (and why you should care) combined with a gripping narrative.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Quantum theory is weird. As Niels Bohr said, if you weren't shocked by quantum theory, you didn't really understand it. For most people, quantum theory is synonymous with mysterious, impenetrable science. And in fact for many years it was equally baffling for scientists themselves. In this tour de force of science history, Manjit Kumar gives a dramatic and superbly written account of this fundamental scientific revolution, focusing on the central conflict between Einstein and Bohr over the nature of reality and the soul of science. This revelatory book takes a close look at the golden age of physics, the brilliant young minds at its core—and how an idea ignited the greatest intellectual debate of the twentieth century. 16 pages of photographs
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Death by Black Hole

“[Tyson] tackles a great range of subjects . . . with great humor, humility, and―most important― humanity.” ―Entertainment Weekly

Loyal readers of the monthly "Universe" essays in Natural History magazine have long recognized Neil deGrasse Tyson's talent for guiding them through the mysteries of the cosmos with clarity and enthusiasm. Bringing together more than forty of Tyson's favorite essays, ?Death by Black Hole? explores a myriad of cosmic topics, from what it would be like to be inside a black hole to the movie industry's feeble efforts to get its night skies right. One of America's best-known astrophysicists, Tyson is a natural teacher who simplifies the complexities of astrophysics while sharing his infectious fascination for our universe.
A Briefer History of Time

FROM ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT MINDS OF OUR TIME COMES A BOOK THAT CLARIFIES HIS MOST IMPORTANT IDEAS
 
Stephen Hawking's worldwide bestseller A Brief History of Time remains a landmark volume in scientific writing. But for readers who have asked for a more accessible formulation of its key concepts—the nature of space and time, the role of God in creation, and the history and future of the universe—A Briefer History of Time is Professor Hawking's response.
 
Although “briefer,” this book is much more than a mere explanation of Hawking's earlier work. A Briefer History of Time both clarifies and expands on the great subjects of the original, and records the latest developments in the field—from string theory to the search for a unified theory of all the forces of physics. Thirty-seven full-color illustrations enhance the text and make A Briefer History of Time an exhilarating and must-have addition in its own right to the great literature of science and ideas.

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Nature's Building Blocks
Written by award-winning science writer John Emsley, this informative and highly enjoyable book explains the what, the why and the wherefore of the elements. Arranged alphabetically, from Actinium to Zirconium, it is a complete guide to all the elements that are currently known, with more extensive coverage of those we encounter in our everyday life. The entry on each element reveals where it came from, what role it may have in the human body, the foods that contain it, how it was discovered, its role in human health, the uses and misuses to which it is put, and its environmental role. The new edition includes the three chemical elements discovered since the first edition--Darmstadtium, Roetgenium, and Copernicium--and the section on "transfermium elements" has now been incorporated into the main part of the book. In addition, Emsley has added new information on the economic uses of elements such as Scandium and Gold. Praised by Nature as "amusing and finely crafted," Nature's Building Blocks offers a pleasurable tour of the very essence of our material world.
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The Voyage of the Beagle

Enjoy the best-selling memoir of Charles Darwin's journey of discovery aboard the HMS Beagle--now fully illustrated for the first time.

The Voyage of the Beagle is Darwin's fascinating account of his groundbreaking sea voyage that led to his writing On the Origin of Species.

When the HMS Beagle sailed out of Devonport on December 27, 1831, Charles Darwin was only twenty-two and setting off on the voyage of a lifetime. His journal reveals him to be a naturalist making patient observations concerning geology and natural history as well as people, places, and events. He witnessed and visited volcanoes in the Galapagos, saw the Gossamer spider of Patagonia, sailed through the Australasian coral reefs, and recorded the brilliance of the firefly--these recollections are found in these extraordinary writings. The insights made on the five-year voyage set in motion the intellectual currents that led to the most controversial book of the Victorian age: On the Origin of Species. An introduction on the background to Darwin's work, as well as notes, maps, appendices, and an essay on scientific geology and the Bible by Robert FitzRoy, Darwin's friend and captain of the Beagle, provide context for this incredible story.

This volume is the first fully illustrated edition of Darwin's journal and includes excerpts of On the Origin of Species so the reader can connect the author's journey with his discovery that made him famous.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics Set
"The whole thing was basically an experiment," Richard Feynman said late in his career, looking back on the origins of his lectures. The experiment turned out to be hugely successful, spawning a book that has remained a definitive introduction to physics for decades. Ranging from the most basic principles of Newtonian physics through such formidable theories as general relativity and quantum mechanics, Feynman's lectures stand as a monument of clear exposition and deep insight. Now, we are reintroducing the printed books to the trade, fully corrected, for the first time ever, and in collaboration with Caltech. Timeless and collectible, the lectures are essential reading, not just for students of physics but for anyone seeking an introduction to the field from the inimitable Feynman.
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On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres
The Ptolemaic system of the universe, with the earth at the center, had held sway since antiquity as authoritative in philosophy, science, and church teaching. Following his observations of the heavenly bodies, Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) abandoned the geocentric system for a heliocentric model, with the sun at the center. His remarkable work, On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres, stands as one of the greatest intellectual revolutions of all time, and profoundly influenced, among others, Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton.
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The Demon-haunted World
"A glorious book . . . A spirited defense of science . . . From the first page to the last, this book is a manifesto for clear thought."

*Los Angeles Times



"POWERFUL . . . A stirring defense of informed rationality. . . Rich in surprising information and beautiful writing."

*The Washington Post Book World



How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives if we don't understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience and the testable hypotheses of science? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and distinguished astronomer Carl Sagan argues that scientific thinking is critical not only to the pursuit of truth but to the very well-being of our democratic institutions.



Casting a wide net through history and culture, Sagan examines and authoritatively debunks such celebrated fallacies of the past as witchcraft, faith healing, demons, and UFOs. And yet, disturbingly, in today's so-called information age, pseudoscience is burgeoning with stories of alien abduction, channeling past lives, and communal hallucinations commanding growing attention and respect. As Sagan demonstrates with lucid eloquence, the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong turn but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms.



"COMPELLING."

*USA Today



"A clear vision of what good science means and why it makes a difference. . . . A testimonial to the power of science and a warning of the dangers of unrestrained credulity."

*The Sciences



"PASSIONATE."

*San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle
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Guns, Germs, and Steel
Why did Eurasians conquer, displace, or decimate Native Americans, Australians and Africans, instead of the reverse? In this groundbreaking book, evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history by revealing the environmental factors actually responsible for shaping the modern world. Societies that had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed writing, technology and government, and organized religion - as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war.

"The scope and explanatory power of this book are astounding." (The New Yorker)

release date: Jan 01, 2007
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Dune
Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad'Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family--and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what it undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

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The Mysterious Universe
This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.
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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were—and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. Fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach.

With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don't arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation but that the revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of “normal science,” as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age.

This new edition of Kuhn's essential work in the history of science includes an insightful introduction by Ian Hacking, which clarifies terms popularized by Kuhn, including paradigm and incommensurability, and applies Kuhn's ideas to the science of today. Usefully keyed to the separate sections of the book, Hacking's introduction provides important background information as well as a contemporary context.  Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.

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Warped Passages

The universe has many secrets. It may hide additional dimensions of space other than the familier three we recognize. There might even be another universe adjacent to ours, invisible and unattainable . . . for now.

Warped Passages is a brilliantly readable and altogether exhilarating journey that tracks the arc of discovery from early twentieth-century physics to the razor's edge of modern scientific theory. One of the world's leading theoretical physicists, Lisa Randall provides astonishing scientific possibilities that, until recently, were restricted to the realm of science fiction. Unraveling the twisted threads of the most current debates on relativity, quantum mechanics, and gravity, she explores some of the most fundamental questions posed by Nature—taking us into the warped, hidden dimensions underpinning the universe we live in, demystifying the science of the myriad worlds that may exist just beyond our own.

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The Language Instinct

In this classic, the world's expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America. This edition includes an update on advances in the science of language since The Language Instinct was first published.

"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"

A New York Times bestseller―the outrageous exploits of one of this century's greatest scientific minds and a legendary American original.

Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. Here he recounts in his inimitable voice his experience trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek; cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets; accompanying a ballet on his bongo drums; painting a naked female toreador. In short, here is Feynman's life in all its eccentric―a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah.

Black-and-white photographs throughout
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The Emperor's New Mind
For decades, proponents of artificial intelligence have argued that computers will soon be doing everything that a human mind can do. Admittedly, computers now play chess at the grandmaster level, but do they understand the game as we do? Can a computer eventually do everything a human mind can do?
In this absorbing and frequently contentious book, Roger Penrose--eminent physicist and winner, with Stephen Hawking, of the prestigious Wolf prize--puts forward his view that there are some facets of human thinking that can never be emulated by a machine. Penrose examines what physics and mathematics can tell us about how the mind works, what they can't, and what we need to know to understand the physical processes of consciousness.
He is among a growing number of physicists who think Einstein wasn't being stubborn when he said his "little finger" told him that quantum mechanics is incomplete, and he concludes that laws even deeper than quantum mechanics are essential for the operation of a mind. To support this contention, Penrose takes the reader on a dazzling tour that covers such topics as complex numbers, Turing machines, complexity theory, quantum mechanics, formal systems, Godel undecidability, phase spaces, Hilbert spaces, black holes, white holes, Hawking radiation, entropy, quasicrystals, the structure of the brain, and scores of other subjects.
The Emperor's New Mind will appeal to anyone with a serious interest in modern physics and its relation to philosophical issues, as well as to physicists, mathematicians, philosophers and those on either side of the AI debate.
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The Science of Interstellar

A journey through the otherworldly science behind Christopher Nolan's highly anticipated film, Interstellar, from executive producer and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne.

Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie's jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne's scientific insights―many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar―describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible.

Interstellar and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s14).

200 color illustrations
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King Solomon's Ring
Solomon, the legend goes, had a magic ring which enabled him to speak to the animals in their own language. Konrad Lorenz was gifted with a similar power of understanding the animal world. He was that rare beast, a brilliant scientist who could write (and indeed draw) beautifully. He did more than any other person to establish and popularize the study of how animals behave, receiving a Nobel Prize for his work. King Solomon's Ring, the book which brought him worldwide recognition, is a delightful treasury of observations and insights into the lives of all sorts of creatures, from jackdaws and water-shrews to dogs, cats and even wolves. Charmingly illustrated by Lorenz himself, this book is a wonderfully written introduction to the world of our furred and feathered friends, a world which often provides an uncanny resemblance to our own. A must for any animal-lover!
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Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

"[An] extraordinary book. . . . Mr. Gould is an exceptional combination of scientist and science writer. . . . He is thus exceptionally well placed to tell these stories, and he tells them with fervor and intelligence."―James Gleick, New York Times Book Review

High in the Canadian Rockies is a small limestone quarry formed 530 million years ago called the Burgess Shale. It hold the remains of an ancient sea where dozens of strange creatures lived―a forgotten corner of evolution preserved in awesome detail. In this book Stephen Jay Gould explores what the Burgess Shale tells us about evolution and the nature of history.
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