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Science Book Discussion

Join the discussion and meet some interesting people in the process. We read books about life sciences, chemistry and physics to name just a few areas of interest.

When: 7:15 pm

Where: Room 105 in Noble Library, ASU, Tempe campus

The book discussion is free and open to the public.

Our book club is registered at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. You'll get 10% off paperback and 20% off hardcover club selections. In addition, they have ebooks available through their website.

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Stuff Matters - Mark Miodownik
A globally-renowned materials scientist, Miodownik has spent his life exploring objects as ordinary as an envelope and as unexpected as concrete cloth, uncovering the fascinating secrets that hold together our physical world. In Stuff Matters, Miodownik...offers a compendium of the most astounding histories and marvelous scientific breakthroughs in the material world, including the imprisoned alchemist who saved himself from execution by creating the first European porcelain. Graphene, the thinnest, strongest, stiffest material in existence—only a single atom thick—that could be used to make entire buildings sensitive to touch. From the teacup to the jet engine, the silicon chip to the paper clip, the plastic in our appliances to the elastic in our underpants, our lives are overflowing with materials. Full of enthralling tales of the miracles of engineering that permeate our lives, Stuff Matters will make you see stuff in a whole new way.

July 9, 2014; 7:15 pm - 8:30 pm

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Garbology - Edward Humes
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist takes readers on a surprising tour of America’s biggest export, our most prodigious product, and our greatest legacy: our trash. The average American produces 102 tons of garbage across a lifetime and $50 billion in squandered riches are rolled to the curb each year. But our bins are just the starting point for a strange, impressive, mysterious, and costly journey that may also represent the greatest untapped opportunity of the century. Garbology reveals not just what we throw away, but who we are and where our society is headed. Waste is the one environmental and economic harm that ordinary working Americans have the power to change; and prosper in the process.

Special Guest: Alana Levine, ASU's Recycling Program Manager.
May 21, 2014; 7:15 pm - 8:45 pm

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The Way of Natural History - Thomas Lowe Fleischner (Editor)
In The Way of Natural History, scientists, nature writers, poets, and Zen practitioners show how mindful attention to the natural world can bring rewarding and surprising discoveries. They call for a renewal of natural history and provide models for personal interactions with nature. Attention to nature, the contributors argue, is a key pathway to nurturing our humanity, and it's more important than ever to connect with the natural world and the positive energy we can find there.

rescheduled for: April 24, 2014
7:15-8:30 pm

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Galileo's Daughter - Dava Sobel
Inspired by a long fascination with Galileo, and by the remarkable surviving letters of his daughter Maria Celeste, a cloistered nun, Dava Sobel has crafted a biography that dramatically recolors the personality and accomplishments of a mythic figure whose early-seventeenth-century clash with Catholic doctrine continues to define the schism between science and religion-the man Albert Einstein called "the father of modern physics-indeed of modern science altogether." It is also a stunning portrait of Galileo's daughter, a person hitherto lost to history, described by her father as "a woman of exquisite mind, singular goodness, and most tenderly attached to me."

March 13, 2014
7:15-8:30 pm

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Guns, Germs, and Steel - Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion--as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war--and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history.

February 13, 2014
7:15 - 8:30 pm
Prologue and Chapters 2 thru 11.

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This Is Your Brain on Music - Daniel J. Levitin
Music, Science, and the Brain are more closely related than you think.  Daniel J. Levitin, James McGill Professor of Psychology and Music at McGill University, shows you why this is.   In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin (The World in Six Songs) explores the connection between music, its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it, and the human brain...Taking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin poses that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language. A Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, This Is Your Brain on Music will attract readers of Oliver Sacks, as it is an unprecedented, eye-opening investigation into an obsession at the heart of human nature.

January 16, 2014
7:15 - 8:30 pm

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The Signal and the Noise - Nate Silver
Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair's breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger--all by the time he was thirty. Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our predictions, Nate Silver's insights are an essential read.

December 12, 2013
7:15 - 8:30 pm
Chapters 1-4 and 12,13.

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The Particle at the End of the Universe - Sean Carroll
"A modern voyage of discovery.” --Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, author of The Lightness of Being. The Higgs boson is one of our era’s most fascinating scientific frontiers and the key to understanding why mass exists. The most recent book on the subject,The God Particle, was a bestseller. Now, Caltech physicist Sean Carroll documents the doorway that is opening--after billions of dollars and the efforts of thousands of researchers at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland--into the mind-boggling world of dark matter. The Particle at the End of the Universe has it all: money and politics, jealousy and self-sacrifice, history and cutting-edge physics--all grippingly told by a rising star of science writing.

November 21, 2013
7:15 - 8:30 pm
Chapters 1-5 and 7,8.

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Mycelium Running - Paul Stamets
Mycelium Running is a manual for the mycological rescue of the planet. That's right: growing more mushrooms may be the best thing we can do to save the environment, and in this groundbreaking text from mushroom expert Paul Stamets, you'll find out how. The basic science goes like this: Microscopic cells called mycelium--the fruit of which are mushrooms--recycle carbon, nitrogen, and other essential elements as they break down plant and animal debris in the creation of rich new soil.

October 10, 2013
7:15 - 8:30 pm

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The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan
An ecological and anthropological study of eating offers insight into food consumption in the twenty-first century, explaining how an abundance of unlimited food varieties reveals the responsibilities of everyday consumers to protect their health and the environment.

September 12, 2013
7:15 - 8:30 pm

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Frankenstein's Cat - Emily Anthes
One of Barnes and Nobles Best Books of March 2013. One of Amazons Best Nonfiction Books for March 2013. One of "Publishers Weekly"s Top Ten Spring 2013 Science Books. So what does biotechnology "really "mean for the world's wild things? And what do our brave new beasts tell us about ourselves? With keen insight and her trademark spunk, Anthes highlights both the peril and the promise of our scientific superpowers, taking us on an adventure into a world where our grandest science fiction fantasies are fast becoming reality.

August 8, 2013
7:15 - 8:30 pm

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What a Plant Knows - Daniel Chamovitz
What a Plant Knows is a rare inside look at what life is really like for the grass we walk on, the flowers we sniff, and the trees we climb. It is a true field guide to the senses for science buffs and green thumbs, and for anyone who seeks a greater understanding of our place in nature.

July 18, 2013
7:15 - 8:30 pm

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Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology that challenged the rational model of judgment and decision making, is one of our most important thinkers...Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.

June 13, 2013
7:15 - 8:30 pm

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Cells to Civilizations - Enrico Coen
Cells to Civilizationsis the first unified account of how life transforms itself--from the production of bacteria to the emergence of complex civilizations. What are the connections between evolving microbes, an egg that develops into an infant, and a child who learns to walk and talk? Award-winning scientist Enrico Coen synthesizes the growth of living systems and creative processes, and he reveals that the four great life transformations--evolution, development, learning, and human culture--while typically understood separately, actually all revolve around shared core principles and manifest the same fundamental recipe.

May 23, 2013 (new date!)
7:15 pm - 8:30 pm

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The Superorganism - Bert Hölldobler; Margaret C. Nelson (Illustrator); Edward O. Wilson
The Pulitzer Prize winning authors of The Ants render the extraordinary lives of the social insects in this visually spectacular volume...The study of the superorganism has led to important advances in our understanding of how the transitions between such levels have occurred in evolution, and how life as a whole has progressed from simple to complex forms.

April 18, 2013
7:00 - 8:15 pm
We'll read: 1-102, 167-182, and 407-500

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The Medical Book - Clifford A. Pickover
ISBN: 9781402785856
Following his hugely successful The Math Book and The Physics Book, Clifford Pickover now chronicles the advancement of medicine in 250 entertaining, illustrated landmark events. Touching on such diverse subspecialties as genetics, pharmacology, neurology, sexology, and immunology...

March 14, 2013
7:15-8:30 pm

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Epigenetics - Richard C. Francis
ISBN: 039334228X
The burgeoning new science of epigenetics offers a cornucopia of insights-some comforting, some frightening. For example, the male fetus may be especially vulnerable to certain common chemicals in our environment, in ways that damage not only his own sperm but also the sperm of his sons...But here’s the good news: unlike mutations, epigenetic effects are reversible. Indeed, epigenetic engineering is the future of medicine.
*note: the paperback and hardcover have different titles, but they are the same book*

February 21, 2013
7:15-8:30 pm

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The Emotional Lives of Animals - Marc Bekoff; Jane Goodall (Foreword by)
...After years of fieldwork studying the communication patterns of coyotes and domestic dogs, Bekoff began challenging the scientific status quo that argued that no scientific proof existed that animals even have emotions, an argument that stubbornly persists today. In The Emotional Lives of Animals, Bekoff moves beyond this academic argument to address what every animal lover and pet owner knows from everyday observation: that animals have rich emotional lives that not only can teach us about love, empathy and compassion but that require us to alter radically our current relationship of domination and abuse with them...

January 17, 2013
7:30 - 9 pm

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How the Mind Works - Steven Pinker
In this extraordinary bestseller, Steven Pinker, one of the world's leading cognitive scientists, does for the rest of the mind what he did for language in his 1994 book, The Language Instinct. He explains what the mind is, how it evolved, and how it allows us to see, think, feel, laugh, interact, enjoy the arts, and ponder the mysteries of life. And he does it with the wit that prompted Mark Ridley to write in the New York Times Book Review, "No other science writer makes me laugh so much. . . . [Pinker] deserves the superlatives that are lavished on him." 

November 15, 2012
7:30 - 9 pm
We'll discuss: Aladdin’s Lamp 131-148, What is Intelligence 179-210, The Mind’s Eye 211-298 and Hotheads 369-424.

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Your Inner Fish - Neil Shubin
Why do we look the way we do? What does the human hand have in common with the wing of a fly? Are breasts, sweat glands, and scales connected in some way? To better understand the inner workings of our bodies and to trace the origins of many of today's most common diseases, we have to turn to unexpected sources: worms, flies, and even fish. Your Inner Fish is science writing at its finest; enlightening, accessible, and told with irresistible enthusiasm.

October 11, 2012
7:30 - 9 pm

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A World Without Ice - Henry N. Pollack; Al Gore (Foreword by)
A co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize offers a clear-eyed explanation of the planet's imperiled ice. Much has been written about global warming, but the crucial relationship between people and ice has received little focus-until now... Henry Pollack provides an accessible, comprehensive survey of ice as a force of nature, and the potential consequences as we face the possibility of a world without ice.

September 13, 2012
7:30 - 9 pm

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1493 - Charles C. Mann
...More than 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents... When Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas, he ended that separation at a stroke... Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City---where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted---the center of the world.

August 9, 2012
7:30 - 9 pm
We'll discuss: Parts 3, 4, and the Coda

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1493 - Charles C. Mann
From the author of 1491, the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas, a deeply engaging new history of the most momentous biological event since the death of the dinosaurs... In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.

July 12, 2012
7:30 - 9 pm
We'll discuss: Parts 1 and 2

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Animals in Translation - Temple Grandin; Catherine Johnson
I don't know if people will ever be able to talk to animals the way Doctor Doolittle could, or whether animals will be able to talk back. Maybe science will have something to say about that. But I do know people can learn to "talk" to animals, and to hear what animals have to say, better than they do now. —From Animals in Translation

May 10, 2012
7:30-9 pm

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The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring - Richard Preston
"Richard Preston...is a science writer with an uncommon gift for turning complex biology into riveting page-turners. In The Wild Trees, he hoists himself into a gentler subject: old-growth forests, mostly redwoods, that have managed to evade the timber industry's blades and still live along the coast of northern California. Preston assures us that, amazingly, until the past two decades the ecosystem formed by the intertwining limbs of these ancient, gargantuan living things had never really been studied..." Grace Lichtenstein

April 12, 2012
7:30-9 pm

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot
"From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory..." --Tom Nissley

March 8, 2012
7:30-9 pm

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Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science - Lawrence Krauss
ISBN: 0393064719
“Lawrence Krauss's wonderful biography manages to combine a rolling narrative with a crystal clear explanation of Richard Feynman's science. Its lively descriptions make both electromagnetism and quantum mechanics fun, while Krauss's personal reflections on his subject add a new level of insight into the man and his scientific legacy. Quantum Man is a masterpiece.” (Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe)

February 9, 2012
7:30-9 pm

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Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain - Oliver Sacks
...Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain examines the extreme effects of music on the human brain and how lives can be utterly transformed by the simplest of harmonies. With clinical studies covering the tragic (individuals afflicted by an inability to connect with any melody) and triumphant (Alzheimer's patients who find order and comfort through music), Sacks provides an erudite look at the notion that humans are truly a "musical species." --Dave Callanan

January 12, 2012
7:30-9 pm

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Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle - Thor Hanson
“[C]aptivating…. Beginning with the evolution of birds, Hanson, a biologist, explains competing theories with ease, and unfolds the human fascination with feathers in terms of science, commerce, tools, folklore, art, and aerodynamics with panache. Anecdotes infuse the fascinating survey.” Audubon

December 8, 2011
7:30-9 pm

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Marie Curie: A Life - Susan Quinn
"This book...is a carefully researched, well-rounded study of Curie (1867-1934), the physicist credited with isolating radium. Born Marie Sklodowska in Poland, she left her home to study in Paris, where she met and married physics professor Pierre Curie. Agreeing with earlier accounts, Quinn depicts their marriage as a devoted partnership...Quinn breaks ground in her detailed description, drawn from newly available papers, of Marie's life after Pierre's accidental death in 1906." --Reed Business Information, Inc.

November 10, 2011
7:30-9 pm

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The Disappearing Spoon (Parts IV-V) - Sam Kean
"...Kean presents the elements in stories. The result is an entertaining book of interwoven tales that will give even the most highly trained chemist renewed appreciation of the history and drama of the central science..."
--Gussman, Neil. Chemical Engineering Progress 107. 5 (May 2011): 64.

October 13, 2011
7:30-9 pm
Read: pages 203-346

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The Disappearing Spoon (Parts I-III) - Sam Kean
"Science magazine reporter Kean views the periodic table as one of the great achievements of humankind, "an anthropological marvel," full of stories about our connection with the physical world...The title refers to gallium (Ga, 31), which melts at 84F, prompting a practical joke among "chemical cognoscenti": shape gallium into spoons, "serve them with tea, and watch as your guests recoil when their Earl Grey eats their utensils..."
--Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

September 8, 2011
7:30-9 pm
Read: pages 3-199

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Journey to the Ants - Bert Hölldobler; Edward O. Wilson
Journey to the Ants combines autobiography and scientific lore to convey the excitement and pleasure the study of ants can offer. Bert Holldobler and E. O. Wilson interweave their personal adventures with the social lives of ants, building, from the first minute observations of childhood, a remarkable account of these abundant insects' evolutionary achievement.

August 11, 2011
7:30 - 9 pm

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Life Ascending - Nick Lane
Where does DNA come from? What is consciousness? How did the eye evolve? Drawing on a treasure trove of new scientific knowledge, Nick Lane expertly reconstructs evolution's history by describing its ten greatest inventions-from sex and warmth to death-resulting in a stunning account of nature's ingenuity.

July 14, 2011
7:30 - 9 pm

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver; Camille Kingsolver; Steven L. Hopp
When Kingsolver and her family move from suburban Arizona to rural Appalachia, they take on a new challenge: to spend a year on a locally produced diet, paying close attention to the provenance of all they consume. "Our highest shopping goal was to get our food from so close to home, we'd know the person who grew it. Often that turned out to be ourselves as we learned to produce what we needed, starting with dirt, seeds, and enough knowledge to muddle through. Or starting with baby animals, and enough sense to refrain from naming them."

June 9, 2011
7:30 - 9 pm

 

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After 7 pm, Mon-Fri, parking is free at several parking structures on Tempe Campus. The Tyler Street structure is the nearest free parking to Noble Library.

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