A fascinating, fact-based report for aquaphiles and those at one with the tides.

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BLUE MIND

THE SURPRISING SCIENCE THAT SHOWS HOW BEING NEAR, IN, ON, OR UNDER WATER CAN MAKE YOU HAPPIER, HEALTHIER, MORE CONNECTED, AND BETTER AT WHAT YOU DO

A lifelong ocean advocate and aquatic educator examines the biocentric and neurochemical wonderments of water.

Passionately dedicated to oceanic sciences, marine biologist and California Academy of Sciences research associate Nichols presents fieldwork largely focused on scientific experiments measuring the human brain’s electrical response to water. He astutely examines how the ocean, the color blue and regular human interaction with water significantly affect mood, attitude and energetic productivity, and he explores our evolutionary connection to water and the ways it inspires creative flow. On a personal note, Nichols admits to his own attraction to the water’s edge initiated when he brought his 18-month-old daughter along on an oceanside coastal trek from Oregon to Mexico. Factors such as DNA, biology and physical well-being can predispose one to an attraction to water, he writes, and as his numerous studies suggest, we tend to be at our happiest when surrounded by a natural environment, whether swimming, surfing or simply bathing, and “riverbanks, beaches, and lakefronts” play a large part in this accumulated state of blissfulness. This postulate is further proved by the consistent demand for premium-priced oceanfront property across the globe. But as seductively pristine as these waters are, Nichols warns, they also carry risk and a downside, as evidenced by the devastation of Superstorm Sandy and the environmentally devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A true voice for environmental advocacy, Nichols promotes the “Blue Mind” approach to conscious ecological conservation and fosters the Earth-friendly, interconnectedness expressed through his Blue Marble Project. In the book’s thought-provoking introduction, Celine Cousteau admits to being as irresistibly drawn to water as her grandfather Jacques was, yet she previously resisted the need to “explain the magic.” She now realizes that Nichols’ unique fieldwork and scientific scrutiny is necessary “to restore the health of the world’s water systems.”

A fascinating, fact-based report for aquaphiles and those at one with the tides.

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-25208-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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