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In an age of unprecedented exploration and innovation, our oceans remain largely unknown, and endlessly fascinating: full of mystery, danger, beauty, and inspiration. Bill Streever-a longtime deep-sea diver himself-has masterfully woven together the science and history of Earth's last remaining frontier: the sea.
In Oceans Deep celebrates the daring pioneers who tested the limits of what the human body can endure under water: free divers able to reach 300 feet on a single breath; engineers and scientists who uncovered the secrets of decompression; teenagers who built their own diving gear from discarded boilers and garden hoses in the 1930s; saturation divers who lived under water for weeks at a time in the 1960s; and the trailblazing men who voluntarily breathed experimental gases at pressures sufficient to trigger insanity.
Tracing both the little-known history and exciting future of how we travel and study the depths, Streever's captivating journey includes seventeenth-century leather-hulled submarines, their nuclear-powered descendants, a workshop where luxury submersibles are built for billionaire clients, and robots capable of roving unsupervised between continents, revolutionizing access to the ocean.
In this far-flung trip to the wild, night-dark place of shipwrecks, trapped submariners, oil wells, innovative technologies, and people willing to risk their lives while challenging the deep, we discover all the adventures our seas have to offer-and why they are in such dire need of conservation.
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THE BOUNDLESS SEA. A Human History of the oceans
By David Abulafia. Hardback, 165mm x 240mm, 1048 pages, 1.41 kgs. Colour Photographs Published 2019.
A titanic history of the three great oceans - the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian - and of mankind's relationship with the sea from the first voyagers to the present day.
David Abulafia begins with the earliest of seafaring societies - the Polynesians of the Pacific, the possessors of intuitive navigational skills, long before the invention of the compass, who by the first century were trading between their far-flung islands. By the seventh century, trading routes stretched from the coasts of Arabia and Africa to southern China and Japan, bringing together the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific, linking together half the world through the international spice trade. In the Atlantic, centuries before the little kingdom of Portugal carved out its powerful, seaborne colonial empire, many peoples sought new lands across the sea - the Bretons, the Frisians and, most notably, the Vikings, now known to be the first Europeans to reach North America. As Portuguese supremacy dwindled in the late sixteenth century, the Spanish, the Dutch and then the British each successively ruled the waves.
Following merchants, explorers, pirates, cartographers and travellers in their quests for spices, gold, ivory, slaves, lands for settlement and knowledge of what lay beyond, the author has created an extraordinary narrative of humanity and the oceans.
Besides its grand narratives, The Boundless Sea explores the lesser known maritime enterprises of Denmark, Sweden, Oman, Sri Vijaya and many others.
And today, as plastic refuse covers thousands of square miles of the waters, and once exotic trading cities and outposts are replaced by vast, mechanized container ports, he asks - what next for our oceans and our world?
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Waters of the World is a tour through 150 years of the history of a significant but underappreciated idea: that the Earth has a global climate system made up of interconnected parts, constantly changing on all scales of both time and space. A prerequisite for the discovery of global warming and climate change, this idea was forged by scientists studying water in its myriad forms. This is their story.
Linking the history of the planet with the lives of those who studied it, Sarah Dry follows the remarkable scientists who ascended volcanic peaks to peer through an atmosphere’s worth of water vapour, cored mile-thick ice sheets to uncover the Earth’s ancient climate history, and flew inside storm clouds to understand how small changes in energy can produce both massive storms.
We now call this field climate science, and this book delivers a better understanding of our planet’s climate at a time when we need it the most.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Dag Pike sets out to record the development of navigational techniques from the earliest time, five millenniums ago. As explorers started to venture offshore into the unknown they had to rely on the sun and stars for direction. From this pioneers turned to mathematics, astrolobes, sextants and increasing accurate clocks to measure latitude and later longitude. More recently major breakthroughs with electronic navigation, GPS and other satellite systems have revolutionised travel.
Focusing primarily but not exclusively on marine navigation, the author weaves a fascinating course through the successes and failures of mankind’s quest to explore his world.
This is a thoroughly entertaining and informative work.
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NZ$70.00 + 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.
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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.
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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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Maritime navigational tools could find latitude, but finding longitude remained elusive until Harrison developed the reliable sea clock, H4.
Building on H4's success, Kendall made a series of nautical timekeepers, K1, K2 and K3.
This is the story of the K2 timekeeper; its adventurous voyages, the people it touched, and its place in history. K2's first voyage, accompanied by the young Nelson, was nearly its last in the crushing Arctic ice. The next two expeditions saw it survive kidnappings, nautical intrigue, and gunpowder plots of the American revolutionary wars. Bligh took K2 on the Bounty, but lost it in a fight with the mutineers in 1789. It was recovered by an American Quaker from Nantucket, only to be stolen by the Spanish. It rode on mules along the Andes before sailing into the Opium Wars.K2 finally returned to Greenwich in 1963...
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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.
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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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