More than 850 book reviews

Tag Archive for ‘science’

A brief look at 15 important dystopian novels

Dystopian fiction figures prominently in the work of some of the world’s best science fiction writers. With Donald Trump in the White House, and an increasingly fearful public contemplating the possibility of the disastrous consequences that might ensue, The Handmaid’s Tale has been haunting the bestseller lists for months, and other dystopian novels have selling… Read More ›

Surveying the future of technology in the mid-21st century

Megatech: Technology in 2050, edited by Daniel Franklin @@@@ (4 out of 5) The concluding chapter in The Economist‘s new book, Megatech: Technology in 2050, highlights “the central role of capitalism” in driving the demand for new technology. The preceding 19 chapters justify that reading, for the most part indirectly. That should be no surprise… Read More ›

Will robots run amok?

Thinking Machines: The Quest for Artificial Intelligence and Where It’s Taking Us Next, by Luke Dormehl @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Driverless cars, for sure. But pilotless airplanes? Machines that will replace doctors and corporate managers? And robots that can out-think the most brilliant human? The popular term “robots“—first used in a Czech science fiction… Read More ›

New perspectives on world history

Less than three decades ago an American historian  named David Christian who was teaching at an Australian university at the time launched a new approach to world history. His unique take on the subject took the discipline far beyond the limits of the written word. Calling it Big History, Christian started his new course at… Read More ›

Microbes, good and bad

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, by Ed Yong @@@@ (4 out of 5) If you’re a physician, a nutritionist, or have studied biology, you’re probably aware that our bodies contain an immense number of microbes. Most of the rest of us find that surprising. Though I knew… Read More ›

The science of decision-making

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, by Michael Lewis @@@@ (4 out of 5) Funny thing. Michael Lewis’ newest book, The Undoing Project, tells the story of two surpassingly brilliant Israeli psychologists whose work earned a Nobel prize in economics and, according to the subtitle, “Changed Our Minds.” As always, Lewis writes… Read More ›

The 5 best books of 2016

I’d already written up my list of the 10 best books of the year when the editors of Berkeleyside asked me to supply them with a list of my five top picks. (I’ll post the longer list next week.) Picking just five is a tough assignment, to put it mildly. But here goes, gritting my… Read More ›

The unlikely story of life on Earth

A Most Improbable Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves, by Walter Alvarez @@@@ (4 out of 5) UC Berkeley professor Walter Alvarez tackles the emerging field of Big History from his perspective as a geologist, viewing himself as “a historian of the Earth.” In A Most Improbable Journey, he writes about the… Read More ›

27 biographies worth reading

One of the very best ways to gain insight into history and the ways of the world around us is to read biographies. Which explains why I read them so frequently. Over the more than six years since I began writing this blog, I’ve read dozens. Here I’m listing 27 that stand out in my… Read More ›

A journalist looks at military science

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Mary Roach @@@@@ (5 out of 5) There’s something seriously wrong with Mary Roach. Conjure up any vile, disgusting, or taboo subject that anyone in her right mind would shun — and you’ll find Mary Roach has written a book about it (or is probably planning… Read More ›