The book for anyone who wants to understand some of the world’s most important scientific questions.

HOW TO MAKE AN APPLE PIE FROM SCRATCH

IN SEARCH OF THE RECIPE FOR OUR UNIVERSE––FROM THE ORIGINS OF ATOMS TO THE BIG BANG

An entertainingly accurate account of how everything in the universe came to be, as told by a leading experimental physicist and popularizer.

Carl Sagan once said, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” On July 4, 2012, the scientific community celebrated Higgsdependence Day, when the more than 10,000 physicists from around the world who had worked together for more 15 years announced conclusive evidence for the Higgs boson, the “God particle.” Without the Higgs boson and all the other star stuff that makes the universe and holds it together, butter, flour, water, and apples wouldn’t exist, and bakeries would have nothing to sell. In his first book, Cliff, a particle physicist at Cambridge and researcher at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, brings physics down to Earth and persuades us that even if one can easily buy fruit and pie crusts, we should still care about their deep origins. Through a clear knowledge of many areas of physics as well as individual physicists, years spent in hands-on work at CERN, the instincts of a good storyteller, and a wicked sense of humor, Cliff draws readers into the bizarre and beautiful world inside the atom, offering an accessible education on the “standard model…a deceptively boring name for one of humankind’s greatest intellectual achievements. Developed over decades through the combined efforts of thousands of theorists and experimentalists, [it] says that everything we see around us—galaxies, stars, planets, and people—is made of just a few different types of particles, which are bound together inside atoms and molecules by a small number of fundamental forces.” In addition to the ins and outs of the Standard Model, this outstanding book, sometimes as funny as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, will also teach readers why experimental subjects are often called “guinea pigs.”

The book for anyone who wants to understand some of the world’s most important scientific questions.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-385-54565-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

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THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS

Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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