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

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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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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