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  • The Ascent of John Tyndall: Victorian Scientist, Mountaineer, and Public Intellectual
    Roland Jackson

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    A long-awaited biography does justice to John Tyndall, a pioneering climate researcher and science advocate

    In his day, the Victorian physicist and science popularizer John Tyndall was as famous and controversial a figure as Charles Darwin. Unlike Darwin, Tyndall slipped into obscurity following his death in 1893. This is a shame. He has much to teach us about the prominent role of science in Victorian culture. A lively, charismatic figure… Read More
  • The Neuroscience of Emotion: A New Synthesis
    Ralph Adolphs and David J. Anderson


    A pair of neuroscientists finds that investigating emotions is easier done than said

    Ask a roomful of neuroscientists to define the term “emotion” and you will trigger a lively discussion. Some will argue that emotions involve conscious experiences that can be studied only in humans. Others might counter that insects and other invertebrates exhibit some of the emotion building blocks seen in mammals. Some will contend that different… Read More
  • Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media
    Tarleton Gillespie

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    A Microsoft researcher confronts how companies shape what we see and say online

    On 1 March 2018, Twitter announced a new initiative aimed at measuring and evaluating the platform’s “conversational health,” that is, how well it promotes lively conversation and critical thinking while also minimizing the social impact of abuse, spam, and manipulation. The initiative is one piece of a larger effort by social media companies both to… Read More
  • Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna
    Edith Sheffer

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    New research reveals that the physician behind Asperger’s syndrome was an active participant in Nazi eugenics

    On 1 July 1941, a young Austrian physician named Hans Asperger signed a document transferring a toddler named Herta Schreiber to Spiegelgrund, an asylum for mentally ill children on the outskirts of Vienna. Two-year-old Herta had suffered diphtheria and meningitis, leaving her severely disabled. She “must present an unbearable burden to her mother,” Asperger, then… Read More
  • Collection

    Summer reading, science style

    Fearing career repercussions, a theoretical physicist calls out a growing crisis. Setting aside DNA for the filing cabinet, a historian unearths a radically new history of human genetics. Pondering the anatomical correlates of human intelligence, a neurologist searches for Einstein’s brain. From an eye-opening tour of bioluminescence to an idiosyncratic history of energy, this year’s… Read More
  • Fundamentals of Microbiome Science: How Microbes Shape Animal Biology
    Angela E. Douglas

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    A wide-ranging text synthesizes what we know (and don’t know) about the microbiome

    Angela Douglas is an internationally recognized expert on symbiosis, with a number of foundational texts to her name (1, 2). In her new book, Fundamentals of Microbiome Science, Douglas synthetizes data from the burgeoning field of microbiome science in eight highly informative chapters. Topics include the origins of the animal microbiome, what we know about… Read More
  • Orca: How We Came to Know and Love the Ocean’s Greatest Predator
    Jason M. Colby


    Bloodthirsty murderers no more, captive killer whales helped to transform the species’s reputation

    Killer whales, also known as orcas, are idolized, loved, and even revered. Such sentiments, however, have not always been held toward this species, as historian Jason Colby reveals in his new book, Orca. From the 1940s into the 1960s, killer whales were often depicted as a menace to the rest of the ocean’s inhabitants, as… Read More
  • Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain
    Sarah-Jayne Blakemore


    PODCAST: Q&A with Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, author of Inventing Ourselves

    Elusive, evasive, and uncommunicative, the human adolescent is among the most enigmatic subjects ever to be studied. This week on the Science podcast, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore delves into the teenage brain, revealing the extraordinary features that define this transitional state in human development. To hear the rest of the show, visit the Science podcast page. Read More
  • The Ashtray (Or the Man Who Denied Reality)
    Errol Morris


    A filmmaker with an ax to grind takes aim at Thomas Kuhn’s legacy

    Thomas Kuhn, an American physicist, historian, and philosopher of science, achieved prominence with the 1962 publication of his influential book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Science, it contended, does not generate incrementally truer descriptions of reality but develops through radical paradigm shifts. Kuhn’s theory of scientific revolutions motivated expansions and reactions that… Read More
  • She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity
    Carl Zimmer

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    A fascinating history of heredity research reveals the field’s highs and lows

    With hundreds of ancient human genome sequences at our fingertips and millions of contemporary samples provided by customers of consumer genetics companies, now—more than ever before—we are able to discover, decipher, and interpret mixing, migration events, and genetic variants in human populations. Into this zeitgeist enters Carl Zimmer’s most enjoyable new book, She Has Her… Read More