Best Selling Books in Science - History & Philosophy

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release date: May 02, 2017
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Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst
A New York Times Bestseller.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that Behave is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read.” — David P. Barash, The Wall Street Journal


"A quirky, opinionated and magisterial synthesis of psychology and neurobiology...Darwin would have been thrilled.” - Richard Wrangham, The New York Times Book Review

From the celebrated neurobiologist and primatologist, a landmark, genre-defining examination of human behavior, both good and bad, and an answer to the question: Why do we do the things we do?

Sapolsky's storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: he starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person's reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its evolutionary legacy.
 
And so the first category of explanation is the neurobiological one. A behavior occurs--whether an example of humans at our best, worst, or somewhere in between. What went on in a person's brain a second before the behavior happened? Then Sapolsky pulls out to a slightly larger field of vision, a little earlier in time: What sight, sound, or smell caused the nervous system to produce that behavior? And then, what hormones acted hours to days earlier to change how responsive that individual is to the stimuli that triggered the nervous system? By now he has increased our field of vision so that we are thinking about neurobiology and the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology in trying to explain what happened.

Sapolsky keeps going: How was that behavior influenced by structural changes in the nervous system over the preceding months, by that person's adolescence, childhood, fetal life, and then back to his or her genetic makeup? Finally, he expands the view to encompass factors larger than one individual. How did culture shape that individual's group, what ecological factors millennia old formed that culture? And on and on, back to evolutionary factors millions of years old. 

The result is one of the most dazzling tours d'horizon of the science of human behavior ever attempted, a majestic synthesis that harvests cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines to provide a subtle and nuanced perspective on why we ultimately do the things we do...for good and for ill. Sapolsky builds on this understanding to wrestle with some of our deepest and thorniest questions relating to tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, and war and peace. Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, and downright heroic in its own right.
release date: Mar 08, 2011
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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Now an HBO® Film starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne

#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.
release date: Jul 26, 2016
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Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
It’s a scientific fact: Women rock!
 
A charmingly illustrated and educational book, New York Times best seller Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
 
Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more! 

— BrainPickings - Best Science Books of the Year
release date: Sep 25, 2012
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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
“If I could give each of you a graduation present, it would be this—the most inspiring book I've ever read."
Bill Gates (May, 2017)

A provocative history of violence—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Stuff of Thought and The Blank Slate

Believe it or not, today we may be living in the most peaceful moment in our species' existence. In his gripping and controversial new work, New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows that despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism, violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history. Exploding myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious book continues Pinker's exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly enlightened world.

release date: Jan 24, 2017
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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
New York Times and International Bestseller - Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Audible and Amazon

In the spirit of Steve Jobs and Moneyball, Elon Musk is both an illuminating and authorized look at the extraordinary life of one of Silicon Valley's most exciting, unpredictable, and ambitious entrepreneurs--a real-life Tony Stark--and a fascinating exploration of the renewal of American invention and its new "makers."
Elon Musk spotlights the technology and vision of Elon Musk, the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, who sold one of his Internet companies, PayPal, for $1.5 billion. Ashlee Vance captures the full spectacle and arc of the genius's life and work, from his tumultuous upbringing in South Africa and flight to the United States to his dramatic technical innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits.
Vance uses Musk's story to explore one of the pressing questions of our age: can the nation of inventors and creators who led the modern world for a century still compete in an age of fierce global competition? He argues that Musk--one of the most unusual and striking figures in American business history--is a contemporary, visionary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs. More than any other entrepreneur today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as the visionaries of the golden age of science-fiction fantasy.
Thorough and insightful, Elon Musk
brings to life a technology industry that is rapidly and dramatically changing by examining the life of one of its most powerful and influential titans.
release date: Mar 07, 2017
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How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain
A new theory of how the brain constructs emotions that could revolutionize psychology, health care, the legal system, and our understanding of the human mind

Emotions feel automatic, like uncontrollable reactions to things we think and experience. Scientists have long supported this assumption by claiming that emotions are hardwired in the body or the brain. Today, however, the science of emotion is in the midst of a revolution on par with the discovery of relativity in physics and natural selection in biology--and this paradigm shift has far-reaching implications for us all.
  
Leading the charge is psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, whose theory of emotion is driving a deeper understanding of the mind and brain, and shedding new light on what it means to be human. Her research overturns the widely held belief that emotions are housed in different parts of the brain and are universally expressed and recognized. Instead, she has shown that emotion is constructed in the moment, by core systems that interact across the whole brain, aided by a lifetime of learning. This new theory means that you play a much greater role in your emotional life than you ever thought. Its repercussions are already shaking the foundations not only of psychology but also of medicine, the legal system, child-rearing, meditation, and even airport security.
  
Why do emotions feel automatic? Does rational thought really control emotion? How does emotion affect disease? How can you make your children more emotionally intelligent? How Emotions Are Made answers these questions and many more, revealing the latest research and intriguing practical applications of the new science of emotion, mind, and brain. 
release date: Feb 21, 2017
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Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

“A mind-blowing tour along the path from sex and drugs to R&D.” - Financial Times

It’s the biggest revolution you’ve never heard of, and it’s hiding in plain sight. Over the past decade, Silicon Valley executives like Eric Schmidt and Elon Musk, Special Operators like the Navy SEALs and the Green Berets, and maverick scientists like Sasha Shulgin and Amy Cuddy have turned everything we thought we knew about high performance upside down. Instead of grit, better habits, or 10,000 hours, these trailblazers have found a surprising short cut. They're harnessing rare and controversial states of consciousness to solve critical challenges and outperform the competition.

New York Times bestselling author Steven Kotler and high performance expert Jamie Wheal spent four years investigating the leading edges of this revolution—from the home of SEAL Team Six to the Googleplex, the Burning Man festival, Richard Branson’s Necker Island, Red Bull’s training center, Nike’s innovation team, and the United Nations’ Headquarters. And what they learned was stunning: In their own ways, with differing languages, techniques, and applications, every one of these groups has been quietly seeking the same thing: the boost in information and inspiration that altered states provide.

Today, this revolution is spreading to the mainstream, fueling a trillion dollar underground economy and forcing us to rethink how we can all lead richer, more productive, more satisfying lives. Driven by four accelerating forces—psychology, neurobiology, technology and pharmacology—we are gaining access to and insights about some of the most contested and misunderstood terrain in history. Stealing Fire is a provocative examination of what’s actually possible; a guidebook for anyone who wants to radically upgrade their life.

release date: Jun 20, 2017
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The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone
NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"The One Device is a tour de force, with a fast-paced edge and heaps of analytical insight." -Ashlee Vance, New York Times bestselling author of Elon Musk

"A stunning book. You will never look at your iPhone the same way again." -Dan Lyons, New York Times bestselling author of Disrupted

The secret history of the invention that changed everything-and became the most profitable product in the world.

Odds are that as you read this, an iPhone is within reach. But before Steve Jobs introduced us to "the one device," as he called it, a cell phone was merely what you used to make calls on the go.

How did the iPhone transform our world and turn Apple into the most valuable company ever? Veteran technology journalist Brian Merchant reveals the inside story you won't hear from Cupertino-based on his exclusive interviews with the engineers, inventors, and developers who guided every stage of the iPhone's creation.

This deep dive takes you from inside One Infinite Loop to 19th century France to WWII America, from the driest place on earth to a Kenyan pit of toxic e-waste, and even deep inside Shenzhen's notorious "suicide factories." It's a firsthand look at how the cutting-edge tech that makes the world work-touch screens, motion trackers, and even AI-made their way into our pockets.

The One Device is a roadmap for design and engineering genius, an anthropology of the modern age, and an unprecedented view into one of the most secretive companies in history. This is the untold account, ten years in the making, of the device that changed everything.
release date: Sep 14, 2004
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A Short History of Nearly Everything
One of the world’s most beloved writers and bestselling author of One Summer takes his ultimate journey—into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer.

In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trailwell, most of it. In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understandand, if possible, answerthe oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.
release date: Jun 06, 2017
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American Eclipse: A Nation's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World

Richly illustrated and meticulously researched, American Eclipse ultimately depicts a young nation that looked to the skies to reveal its towering ambition and expose its latent genius.

On a scorching July afternoon in 1878, at the dawn of the Gilded Age, the moon’s shadow descended on the American West, darkening skies from Montana Territory to Texas. This rare celestial event―a total solar eclipse―offered a priceless opportunity to solve some of the solar system’s most enduring riddles, and it prompted a clutch of enterprising scientists to brave the wild frontier in a grueling race to the Rocky Mountains. Acclaimed science journalist David Baron, long fascinated by eclipses, re-creates this epic tale of ambition, failure, and glory in a narrative that reveals as much about the historical trajectory of a striving young nation as it does about those scant three minutes when the blue sky blackened and stars appeared in mid-afternoon.

In vibrant historical detail, American Eclipse animates the fierce jockeying that came to dominate late nineteenth-century American astronomy, bringing to life the challenges faced by three of the most determined eclipse chasers who participated in this adventure. James Craig Watson, virtually forgotten in the twenty-first century, was in his day a renowned asteroid hunter who fantasized about becoming a Gilded Age Galileo. Hauling a telescope, a star chart, and his long-suffering wife out west, Watson believed that he would discover Vulcan, a hypothesized "intra-Mercurial" planet hidden in the sun’s brilliance. No less determined was Vassar astronomer Maria Mitchell, who―in an era when women’s education came under fierce attack―fought to demonstrate that science and higher learning were not anathema to femininity. Despite obstacles erected by the male-dominated astronomical community, an indifferent government, and careless porters, Mitchell courageously charged west with a contingent of female students intent on observing the transcendent phenomenon for themselves. Finally, Thomas Edison―a young inventor and irrepressible showman―braved the wilderness to prove himself to the scientific community. Armed with his newest invention, the tasimeter, and pursued at each stop by throngs of reporters, Edison sought to leverage the eclipse to cement his place in history. What he learned on the frontier, in fact, would help him illuminate the world.

With memorable accounts of train robberies and Indian skirmishes, David Baron’s page-turning drama refracts nineteenth-century science through the mythologized age of the Wild West, revealing a history no less fierce and fantastical.

8 pages of color photographs; 65 illustrations; map
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