From opsins to Technicolor movies, Rogers covers the colorscape with brio, dash, and crystal clearness.



The author of Proof: The Science of Booze (2014) returns with a lucid study of the physics, chemistry, and neuroscience of color and its influence on the human condition.

The natural world is bursting with seemingly endless color, writes Wired deputy editor Rogers in this sharp, often jocular look at waves and particles, fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic and electrical fields, and the electromagnetic spectrum, of which humans only experience a small visual slice. Since prehistory, we have gone about repurposing objects around us; one example is the engineering of chemicals to provide color. Those colors are picked up by the photoreceptors in our eyes and then processed. Rogers discusses how our neurophysiological and psychophysiological impressions help create our sense of the world, examining color as knowledge (discovering a good place to find food), color as commerce (desire, rarity, trade), color as semiotics, “to know how someone will see those colors once applied.” Rogers is particularly illuminating in his discussions of the history of color and our ever growing appreciation of it, from Aristotle to Arab physicists to the Chinese to the caves at Lascaux and beyond, as craft expertise blossomed into a revolution that marched in parallel with that of optics. While the author is in his element exploring the evolution of dyes and pigments, from the highly toxic to the highly opaque and bright, he is on less firm ground when approaching the “salience” of color, its “cultural and personal significance”—of course, this is understandable given that science has only begun to plumb the subject. Rogers also makes valiant attempts to discern the universality of color—“Do people who speak different languages literally see different colors?”—and through all the scientific concepts, he brings a tinder-dry humor and evident enthusiasm for the subject.

From opsins to Technicolor movies, Rogers covers the colorscape with brio, dash, and crystal clearness.

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-328-51890-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.


The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A straightforward, carefully detailed presentation of how ``fruit comes from flowers,'' from winter's snow-covered buds through pollination and growth to ripening and harvest. Like the text, the illustrations are admirably clear and attractive, including the larger-than-life depiction of the parts of the flower at different stages. An excellent contribution to the solidly useful ``Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science'' series. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-020055-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1991

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