Everyone appreciates a well-designed bridge, a sturdy skyscraper, or a flightworthy aircraft. But how many of us who aren’t engineers think, “I could build that”? In fact, you can. You may not have a professional engineer’s credentials, but you can tinker all you want in your own workshop, using readily available materials to build working models that solve all the fundamental problems of the real thing.
Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the Universe
There’s more to the universe than meets the eye—a lot more. In recent years, scientists have discovered that 95% of the contents of the cosmos are invisible to our current methods of direct detection. Yet something is holding galaxies and galaxy clusters together, and something else is causing space to fly apart.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: How Life Works
One of the triumphs of modern science has been our ever-improving understanding of how life works—how chemical reactions at the cellular level account for respiration, digestion, reproduction, locomotion, and a host of other living processes. This exciting subject is biochemistry—and its allied field of molecular biology. In the past century, progress in these complementary disciplines has been astonishing, and a week rarely passes without major advances in medicine, physiology, genetics, nutrition, agriculture, or other areas, where biochemistry and molecular biology are shedding new light on life.
A Visual Guide to the Universe
For the first time in human history, we can see the full splendor and mystery of the universe, thanks to instruments on scores of planetary probes and observatories that have been launched into space since the 1990s.
A New History of Life
Life is stranger than fiction. Recent investigations hint at episodes in the history of life on Earth that rival the most imaginative movies. For example: Could our planet have been seeded with life from elsewhere? Did the development of life create conditions that threatened to poison the biosphere? How have natural forces conspired, over and over, to remove most traces of life from the planet? And how has life itself responded with determination to survive and thrive in a multitude of astonishing forms?
Albert Einstein: Physicist, Philosopher, Humanitarian
In May 1905, an unknown 26-year-old Swiss patent clerk wrote to a friend about four scientific papers he had been working on in his spare time. He casually alluded to one as “revolutionary,” and he confidently asserted that another would modify the “theory of space and time.” He had not yet started on a fifth paper that would also come out in 1905 and that would propose a surprising and earth-shaking equation, E=mc2.
A Field Guide to the Planets
Humanity’s first steps on the Moon were an immense accomplishment in 1969 and a fantastic milestone in the history of space exploration. And yet, how little we knew about our solar system as compared to what we know now!
It has been called the third great revolution of 20th-century physics, after relativity and quantum theory. But how can something called chaos theory help you understand an orderly world? What practical things might it be good for? What, in fact, is chaos theory? “Chaos theory,” according to Dr. Steven Strogatz, Director of the Center for Applied Mathematics at Cornell University, “is the science of how things change.” It describes the behavior of any system whose state evolves over time and whose behavior is sensitive to small changes in its initial conditions.
Modern Physics for Non-Scientists
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Big History, The Big Bang, Life on Earth and the Rise of Humanity
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12 Essential Scientific Concepts
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The Science of Extreme Weather
Extreme weather captures our attention, perhaps now more than ever. Great writers and artists have depicted it in powerful works such as Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Winslow Homer’s The Gale. Movies such as The Perfect Storm, Twister, and The Day After Tomorrow entertain—and terrify—us. Weather apps, websites, and TV channels alert us to our local weather around the clock and also warn us about severe weather.