What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
by Randall Munroe
What would happen if the moon went away?
If someone’s DNA suddenly vanished, how long that person would last?
If we hooked turbines to people exercising in gyms, how much power could we produce?
Could you build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?
These and other thought-provoking hypothetical questions are addressed in this book by former NASA scientist and webcomic, xkcd, creator, Randall Munroe. Using clever scientific reasoning based on research, computer simulations and experiments, Munroe presents an entertaining look at science and answers the perplexing ‘what if’ questions you never thought to ask.
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
by Cathy O'Neil
Every time we surf the web, buy something, register for school, data is being collected on us, about us and, you would think, for us. O’Neil argues in this book that Big Data can be a tool for good but unfortunately, reducing our choices to data in a mathematical model often leads to the opposite. Data can be used to reinforce bias and limit opportunities for people who most need it. Data can also be interpreted in ways that skew our thinking. O’Neil presents her argument by tracing the life of an average person - from college application to retirement. Big data is not going away and it is increasingly important for us to understand its effects on our choices and be thoughtful about how we use and interpret it.
I Contain Multitudes : The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
By Ed Yong
Microbes have always had a bad rap. People think of all the ways they cause disease, discomfort, or death. Ed Yong’s book aims to dispel our stereotypical notions of microbes by demonstrating how vital they are to life on earth. Microbes “sculpt our organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune systems, guide our behavior, bombard our genomes with their genes, and grant us incredible abilities.” Microbes are everywhere and Yong shows us that our tendency to wipe them out using antibacterial soaps, detergents and the like, may eventually cause more damage to us and our environment.
Black Hole Blues : And Other Songs From Outer Space
By Janna Levin
When black holes collide, they do so in the dark - there is no light that allows us to observe this cosmic event. In 1916, Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves which are the result of black holes colliding. Levin documents the work of a group of scientists, who has collaborated over fifty years, to document gravitational waves. Through their efforts, LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) was developed to measure and record the sounds of the universe - the hiss of the Big Bang, the moans of collapsing stars, and the percussive beat of black holes colliding.
Thing Explainer : Complicated Stuff in Simple Words
By: Randall Munroe
Former NASA scientist and web comic creator Randall Munroe has produced a visually compelling book, filled with line drawings, that aims to explain, in very simple language, using only the 10,000 most common words, complex things like nuclear bombs (machine for burning cities), the Mars Rover (red world space car), large hadron collider (big tiny thing hitter), and more.