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The story of science and the Royal Society, edited and introduced by Bill Bryson-with contributions.
On a damp weeknight in November, 350 years ago, a dozen or so men gathered at Gresham College in London. A twenty-eight year old – and not widely famous – Christopher Wren was giving a lecture on astronomy. As his audience listened to him speak, they decided that it would be a good idea to create a Society to promote the accumulation of useful knowledge. With that, the Royal Society was born.
Since its birth, the Royal Society has pioneered scientific exploration and discovery. Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Joseph Banks, Humphry Davy, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, John Locke, Alexander Fleming – all were fellows. Bill Bryson’s favourite fellow was Reverend Thomas Bayes, a brilliant mathematician who devised Bayes’ theorem. Its complexity meant that it had little practical use in Bayes’ own lifetime, but today his theorem is used for weather forecasting, astrophysics and stock market analysis. A milestone in mathematical history, it only exists because the Royal Society decided to preserve it – just in case.
The Royal Society continues to do today what it set out to do all those years ago. Its members have split the atom, discovered the double helix, the electron, the computer and the World Wide Web. Truly international in its outlook, it has created modern science.
Seeing Further celebrates its momentous history and achievements, bringing together the very best of science writing.
NZ$28.00 + delivery.
It is hard to imagine a more male-dominated field in the nineteenth century than sea navigation. This was the high-point of the British Empire and sea navigation drove it. Yet in the midst of this domain Janet Taylor emerged as a young woman able to match the best male minds in the field. She was one of the most remarkable scientists of the period, and yet until now her story has not been told.
A gifted mathematician, astronomer, author and instrument maker, she also possessed extraordinary skills as a teacher of navigation and businesswoman.
The fifth of eight children, Janet Taylor was born in 1804, in Wolsingham, County Durham. By the age of nine her outstanding intellectual abilities were already apparent and she was awarded a special scholarship by Queen Charlotte. She then continued her education in languages, science and mathematics. In so doing, she overcame her humble beginnings and became one of the most prominent figures in the nautical world.
The only woman in over 200 years to patent a nautical instrument, her journey led her to extraordinary heights and earned her the respect and admiration of her contemporaries. She excelled and maintained a position of leadership in her chosen profession for over thirty years, as well as raising a family of eight children and three stepchildren. A woman far ahead of her time, this is the story of Janet Taylor's modest beginning and her incredible rise to prominence.
NZ$60.00 + delivery.
Her maps of the ocean floor have been called "one of the most remarkable achievements in modern cartography", yet no one knows her name
Soundings is the story of the enigmatic, unknown woman behind one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. Before Marie Tharp, geologist and gifted draftsperson, the whole world, including most of the scientific community, thought the ocean floor was a vast expanse of nothingness. In 1948, at age 28, Marie walked into the newly formed geophysical lab at Columbia University and practically demanded a job. The scientists at the lab were all male; the women who worked there were relegated to secretary or assistant. Through sheer willpower and obstinacy, Marie was given the job of interpreting the soundings (records of sonar pings measuring the ocean's depths) brought back from the ocean-going expeditions of her male colleagues. The marriage of artistry and science behind her analysis of this dry data gave birth to a major work: the first comprehensive map of the ocean floor, which laid the groundwork for proving the then-controversial theory of continental drift..
When combined, Marie's scientific knowledge, her eye for detail and her skill as an artist revealed not a vast empty plane, but an entire world of mountains and volcanoes, ridges and rifts, and a gateway to the past that allowed scientists the means to imagine how the continents and the oceans had been created over time.
Just as Marie dedicated more than twenty years of her professional life to what became the Lamont Geological Observatory, engaged in the task of mapping every ocean on Earth, she dedicated her personal life to her great friendship with her co-worker, Bruce Heezen. Partners in work and in many ways, partners in life, Marie and Bruce were devoted to one another as they rose to greater and greater prominence in the scientific community, only to be envied and finally dismissed by their beloved institute. They went on together, refining and perfecting their work and contributing not only to humanity’s vision of the ocean floor, but to the way subsequent generations would view the Earth as a whole.
Hali Felt brings to vivid life the story of the pioneering scientist whose work became the basis for the work of others scientists for generations to come.
NZ$45.00 + delivery.
A big-think book which tells the riveting story of GPS (Global Positioning System) and how it is affecting our brains, our technology, and our culture.
Over the last fifty years, humanity has developed an extraordinary global utility which is omnipresent, universal, and available to all: the Global Positioning System (GPS). A network of twenty-four satellites and their monitoring stations on Earth, it makes possible almost all modern technology, from the smartphone in your pocket to the Mars rover. Neither the internet nor the cloud would work without it. And it is changing us in profound ways we've yet to come to terms with. While GPS has brought us breathtakingly accurate methods of timekeeping, navigation, and earthquake tracking, our overwhelming reliance on it is having unexpected consequences on our culture, and on ourselves.
GPS is reshaping our thinking about privacy and surveillance, and brings with it the growing danger of GPS terrorism. Neuroscientists have even found that using GPS for navigation may be affecting our cognitive maps - possibly rearranging the grey matter in our heads - leading to the increasingly common phenomenon 'Death by GPS', in which drivers blindly follow their devices into deserts, lakes, and impassable mountains.
Deeply researched, inventive and with fascinating insights into the way we think about our place in the world, Pinpoint reveals the way that the technologies we design to help us can end up shaping our lives. It is at once a grand history of science and a far-reaching book about contemporary culture.
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The Barefoot Navigator is an unusual and fascinating exploration of the skills of navigation employed by the ancients and transferrable
to the present day.
The first half of the book investigates the navigation capabilities of seafarers long before modern navigation instruments or charts became available. For example, how did the Polynesians manage to populate an area of ocean larger than North America simply by analysing clouds, currents, wind direction, sun, stars and the flight patterns of ocean birds? And how did the Vikings routinely travel between Iceland, Greenland and Scandinavia - huge tracts of treacherous water?
The second part of the book analyses how the techniques of the ancients can be employed by 21st century seafarers to supplement today's navigational hardware - especially in survival situations.
NZ$30.00 + delivery.
Their ranks included Williamina Fleming, a Scottish woman originally hired as a maid who went on to identify ten novae and more than three hundred variable stars, Annie Jump Cannon, who designed a stellar classification system that was adopted by astronomers the world over and is still in use, and Dr. Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin, who in 1956 became the first ever woman professor of astronomy at Harvard—and Harvard’s first female department chair.
Elegantly written and enriched by excerpts from letters, diaries, and memoirs, The Glass Universe is the hidden history of a group of remarkable women who, through their hard work and groundbreaking discoveries, disproved the commonly held belief that the gentler sex had little to contribute to human knowledge.
NZ$32.00 + delivery.
The gnashing teeth of an oncoming storm. Wind-launched missiles and wind-tossed airplanes. Sand dunes and the Dust Bowl, shipwrecks and wind-riding spiders, weather forecasting, wind power, windmills, and wars: on page after page of his brisk and fascinating new book, Bill Streever reveal’s wind’s real nature – an its history- shaping force.
Seeking a deep immersion in his subject, Streever will go to any extreme. So after a three-day course, this novice sailor set out on a vintage fifty-year-old sailboat named after don Quixote’s horse, and sailed east from Texas to Guatemala over forty-three days and a thousand miles. How better for Streever to explore and experience the winds that built empires, the storms that wrecked them, and the surprising history and science of moving air?
From history’s great violent storms to the impacts of weather on life and business, from wind’s energy to its power to give and destroy life, And soon I heard a Roaring Wind is a singular and thrilling read. With keen observations, scientific rigor, whimsy, and wit, Bill Streever vividly proves that wind is far more than a passing breeze.
NZ$55.00 + delivery.
Learn to gauge depth, navigate, forecast weather and other predictions of the natural world using our greatest resource - water.
In his previous books, Tristan Gooley helped readers reconnect with nature by finding direction from the trees, stars, clouds, and more. Now, he turns his attention to our most abundant—yet perhaps least understood resource.
Distilled from his far-flung adventures—sailing solo across the Atlantic, navigating with Omani tribespeople, canoeing in Borneo, and walking in his own backyard—Gooley shares hundreds of techniques in this, his latest book.
Techniques include -
NZ$45.00 + delivery.
In 1844, Foy's great-great grandfather, captain of a Norwegian cargo ship, perished at sea after getting lost in a snowstorm. Foy decides to unravel the mystery surrounding Halvor Michelsen's death---and the roots of his own obsession with navigation---by re-creating his ancestor's trip using only period instruments.
Beforehand, he meets a colorful cast of characters to learn whether men really have better directional skills than women, how cells, eels, and spaceships navigate; and how tragedy results from GPS glitches. He interviews a cabby who has memorized every street in London, sails on a Haitian cargo sloop, and visits the site of a secret navigational cult in Greece.
At the heart of Foy's story is this fact: navigation and the brain's memory centers are inextricably linked. As Foy unravels the secret behind Halvor's death, he also discovers why forsaking our navigation skills in favor of GPS may lead not only to Alzheimers and other diseases of memory, but to losing a key part of what makes us human.
NZ$45.00 + Delivery
David Barrie tells how and why the sextant was invented: how offshore navigators depended on it for their lives in wild and uncharted waters: and how it played a vital role in the stirring history of exploration.
Much of the Sextant is set amidst the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, where generations of explorers searched for the fabled Southern Continent and the North-West passage, eventually discovering Polynesia and charting the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Alaska. Stories of Captain Cook and the great French navigator La Perouse, (whose disappearance long remained a mystery), George Vancouver, Mathew Flinders and Captain Fitzroy of the Beagle. Great single-handed or open boat voyages feature with the heroic tales of Joshua Slocum, Captain Bligh and Ernest Shackleton.
Interwoven with the author's account of his own transatlantic voyage in a small yacht, Sextant is a heady mix of adventure, science, mathematics and derring-do. Infused with a sense of wonder and discovery,this is a tribute to the sea and sky, the ships and the sailors, and the difference this instrument made to the world. A marvellous book and a great read.
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Father and son cartographers - Alexander and Malcolm Swanston, demonstrate the skill, creativity and care involved in the timeless art of creating maps – and what these artefacts reveal about the legion of mapmakers who went before us.
NZ$43.00 + delivery.
On the Map a fascinating, witty and irrepressible mini history and exploration of maps and our world, where we've been, where we're going, and how we actually got there! En route there are 'pocket map' tales of dragons and undergrounds, a 19th century murder map, research on the different ways that men and women approach a map, and an explanation of the curious long-term cartographic role played by animals.
NZ$29.00 + delivery.
Why are we drawn to lakes, rivers, oceans and pools each summer? Why does being near water set our minds and bodies at ease?
Blue Mind revolutionizes how we think about these questions, revealing the remarkable truth about the benefits of being in, on, under, or simply near water.
Combining cutting-edge neuroscience with compelling personal stories from top athletes, leading scientists, military veterans, and gifted artists, Dr Nichols shows how proximity to water can improve performance, increase calm, diminish anxiety, and increase professional success.
NZ$30.00 + delivery.
His colourful adventures read like something out of a Boy's Own story: Humboldt explored deep into the rainforest, climbed the world's highest volcanoes and inspired princes and presidents, scientists and poets alike. Napoleon was jealous of him; Simon Bolívar's revolution was fuelled by his ideas; Darwin set sail on the Beagle because of Humboldt; and Jules Verne's Captain Nemo owned all his many books. He simply was, as one contemporary put it, 'the greatest man since the Deluge'.
Taking us on a fantastic voyage in his footsteps - racing across anthrax-infected Russia or mapping tropical rivers alive with crocodiles - Andrea Wulf shows why his life and ideas remain so important today. Humboldt predicted human-induced climate change as early as 1800, and The Invention of Nature traces his ideas as they go on to revolutionize and shape science, conservation, nature writing, politics, art and the theory of evolution. He wanted to know and understand everything and his way of thinking was so far ahead of his time that it's only coming into its own now. Alexander von Humboldt really did invent the way we see nature.
NZ$30.00 + delivery.
In an age when a storm at sea was evidence of God’s great wrath, nineteenth-century meteorologists had to fight against convention and religious dogma. But buoyed by the achievements of the Enlightenment a generation of mavericks set out to explain the secrets of the atmosphere. Among them were Luke Howard, the first to classify the clouds, Francis Beaufort who quantified the winds, James Glaisher, who explored the upper atmosphere in a hot-air balloon, Samuel Morse whose electric telegraph gave scientists the means by which to transmit weather warnings, and FitzRoy himself, master sailor, scientific pioneer and founder of the Met Office.
Reputations were built and shattered. Fractious debates raged over decades between scientists from London to Galway, Paris to New York. Explaining the atmosphere was one thing, but predicting what it was going to do seemed a step too far. In 1854, when a politician suggested to the Commons that Londoners might soon know the weather twenty-four hours in advance the House roared with laughter.
Peter Moore’s exhilarating account navigates treacherous seas, rough winds and uncovers the obsession that drove these men to great invention and greater understanding.
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NZ$56.50 + Delivery
NORTH POLE SOUTH POLE.
By Gillian Turner. Paperback. 274 pages, 140mm x 210mm, black and white illustrations.
This engrossing book tells, for the first time, the complete story of the quest to understand earth’s magnetism – from the fascination of ancient Greeks with magnetised rocks to the astonishing modern discoveries that finally revealed the truth. North Pole South Pole gives us an extraordinary window into science, passion and the brilliance of the human mind.
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