729 results 1-20

Automate This

Christopher Steiner (Author)

In Automate This, Christopher Steiner looks at how the rise of computerized decision making affects every aspect of business and daily life

These days, high-level tasks-such as diagnosing an illness or interpreting legal documents-are increasingly being handled by algorithms that can do precise work with speed and nuance. These "bots" started on Wall Street, but now their reach has spread beyond anything their original creators expected.

In this fascinating book, Steiner tells the story of how algorithms took over-and shows why the "bot revolution" is about to spill into every aspect of our lives. We meet bots that are driving cars, penning haikus, and writing music mistaken for Bach's. They listen in on customer service calls and figure out what Iran would do in the event of a nuclear standoff.

But what will the world look like when algorithms control our hospitals, our roads, our culture, and our national security? What happens to businesses when we automate judgment and eliminate human instinct? And what role will be left for doctors, lawyers, writers, truck drivers, and many others?

Blood and Guts

Roy Porter (Author)

Mankind's battle to stay alive is the greatest of all subjects. This brief, witty and unusual book by Britain's greatest medical historian compresses into a tiny span a lifetime spent thinking about millennia of human ingenuity in the quest to cheat death. Each chapter sums up one of these battlefields (surgery, doctors, disease, hospitals, laboratories and the human body) in a way that is both frightening and elating. Startlingly illustrated, A SHORT HISTORY OF MEDICINE is the ideal presentfor anyone who is keenly aware of their own mortality and wants to do something about it. It is also a wonderful memorial to one of Penguin's greatest historians.

The Origins of Creativity

Edward O Wilson (Author)

'An intellectual hero ... A superb celebrator of science in all its manifestations' Ian McEwan
'Darwin's great successor' Jeffrey Sachs

The legendary biologist Edward O. Wilson offers his most philosophically probing work to date

'Creativity is the unique and defining trait of our species; and its ultimate goal, self-understanding,' begins Edward Wilson's sweeping examination of the humanities and their relationship to the sciences. By studying fields as diverse as paleontology, evolutionary biology and neuroscience, Wilson demonstrates that human creativity began not 10,000 years ago, as we have long assumed, but over 100,000 years ago in the Paleolithic Age. Chronicling the evolution of creativity from primates to humans, Wilson shows how the humanities, in large part spurred on by the invention of language, have played a previously unexamined role in defining our species. Exploring a surprising range of creative endeavors - the instinct to create gardens; the use of metaphors and irony in speech; or the power of music and song - Wilson proposes a transformational 'Third Enlightenment' in which the blending of science and the humanities will enable us to gain a deeper understanding of the human condition, and how it ultimately originated.

The Science of Meditation

Daniel Goleman (Author) , Richard Davidson (Author)

A radical reinterpretation of mental exercise from two New York Times bestselling authors - "What if we could exercise our minds like we exercise our bodies?" - backed by state-of-the-art scientific research

More than forty years ago, two friends and collaborators at Harvard, Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson were unusual in arguing for the benefits of meditation. Now, as mindfulness and other brands of meditation become ever more popular, to fix even more about our lives, they reveal the cutting-edge science of how smart practice can change our personal traits and even our genome for the better.

Drawing on the kind of cutting-edge research that has made them giants in their fields, Goleman and Davidson sweep away neuromythology and reveal what we can learn from a one-of-a-kind data pool of world-class meditators. They share for the first time remarkable findings that show how meditation can cultivate - without drugs or high expense - qualities such as focus, selflessness, and compassion.

For beyond the pleasant states that mental exercises can produce, purposeful, sustained mind training can create altered traits: sustained, beneficial qualities of thinking, feeling, and acting that are accompanied by lasting, supportive changes in the brain.

Demonstrating two master thinkers at work, The Science of Meditation explains precisely how and when mind training benefits us. More than daily doses or sheer hours, we need smart practice, including crucial ingredients such as targeted feedback from a master teacher and a more spacious, less attached view of the self, all of which are missing in many versions of mind training. Exploring, too, how new technologies can really help with meditation, this is the truth about what meditation can do for us today.

Gripping in its storytelling and grounded in new research, this is one of those rare books that has the power to change us at the deepest level.

Weapons of Math Destruction

Cathy O'Neil (Author)

New York Times Bestseller

'Fascinating and deeply disturbing' - Yuval Noah Harari, Guardian Books of the Year

'A manual for the 21st-century citizen... accessible, refreshingly critical, relevant and urgent' - Federica Cocco, Financial Times

A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life - and threaten to rip apart our social fabric

We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives - where we go to school, whether we get a loan, how much we pay for insurance - are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.

And yet, as Cathy O'Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and incontestable, even when they're wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination. Tracing the arc of a person's life, O'Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These "weapons of math destruction" score teachers and students, sort CVs, grant or deny loans, evaluate workers, target voters, and monitor our health.

O'Neil calls on modellers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it's up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.

Improbable Destinies

Jonathan Losos (Author)

A dazzling tour of evolution in action that sheds light on one of the greatest debates in science

The natural world is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. Convergence suggests that evolution is predictable, and if we could replay the tape of life, we would get the same outcome. But there are also many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change - a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze - caused evolution to take a completely different course.

So are we humans, and all the plants and animals in the world today, inevitabilities or evolutionary freaks? What role does chance play in evolution? And what could it tell us about life on other planets?

In Improbable Destinies, renowned researcher Jonathan Losos reveals what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science. Evolution can occur far more rapidly than Darwin expected, which has opened the door to something that was previously thought impossible: experimental studies of evolution in nature. Drawing on his own work with anole lizards on the Caribbean islands, as well as studies of guppies, foxes, field mice and others being conducted around the world, Losos reveals just how rapid and predictable evolution can be.

By charting the discoveries of the scientists who are rewriting our understanding of evolutionary biology, Improbable Destinies will change the way we think and talk about evolution.

Stars Beneath The Sea

Trevor Norton (Author)

This is the remarkably funny true story of some of the brave, brilliant and often barmy men that invented diving. It is a story of explosive tempers and exploding teeth, of how to juggle live hand grenades and steer a giant rubber octopus. A series of vivid portraits reveal the eccentric exploits of these underwater pioneers. They include Guy who held a world altitude record when only sixteen, wrote a film for Humphrey Bogart, invented snorkelling and loved his wife enough to shoot her. Roy wore a backet over his head and stole a coral reef. Bill wearied of fishing with dynamite and wrestling deadly snakes, so he sealed himself in a metal coffin to dangle half a mile beneath the ocean. Cameron, testing the bouncing bomb for dam busters, made a plastic ear for a dog, a false testicle for a stallion and invented a mantrap disguised as a lavatory. He ascended from a depth of 200 feet without breathing equipment to see if his lungs would burst, then studied the effects of underwater explosions by standing closer and closer until shattered by the blast. The book also traces the evolution of underwater exploration, from spear fishermen to conversationalists, from treasure hunters to archaeologists, from photographers to philosophers. The sea is a secretive and seductive place and the author describes, with incredible humour, knowledge and historical accuracy, the magic and mystery of being beneath the waves.

David Attenborough New Life Stories

David Attenborough (Author) , David Attenborough (Read by) , David Attenborough (Read by)

One of the nation’s most popular presenters examines twenty marvels of the natural world from his extraordinary and pioneering experiences. How did Sir David track down a giant Earthworm? Why does he respect Rats? What was the first bribe in nature? Why do well known foods often have two names? And where can you see evidence of the earliest life on Earth? His enthusiasm is as infectious as ever, and conveys a unique fascination on topics as diverse as the Kiwi, Hummingbirds, Monsters, Butterflies, Chimps, Cuckoos, Fireflies and Elsa, the famous lioness. So listen to these stories to find out why Rats should be respected and which insects emerge from the ground only once every 17 years. Includes detailed programme notes inside the booklet.

3 CDs. 3 hrs 15 mins.

David Attenborough Life Stories

David Attenborough (Author) , David Attenborough (Read by) , David Attenborough (Read by)

One of the nation's most popular presenters examines twenty marvels of the natural world from his extraordinary and pioneering experiences.What was Sir David's first pet? Which animal would he most like to be? What creature lays 'the biggest egg in the world'? How do you communicate with an ancient nomadic community in Fiji? And what did Sir David do when confronted by a ten-foot-long reptile? His enthusiasm is as infectious as ever, and conveys a unique fascination on topics as diverse as the Sloth, Monstrous Flowers, the Platypus, Giant Birds, Dragons, the Fire Salamander, Faking Fossils, the Coelacanth, the Dodo, Bird's-nest Soup and the Large Blue Butterfly. So listen to these stories to find out the real reason why animals sing, the story behind a 150-million-year-old feather and what it is about snakes that really unnerves Sir David.

3 CDs. 3 hrs 9 mins.

Quantum Mechanics (A Ladybird Expert Book)

Jim Al-Khalili (Author)

Part of the new Ladybird Expert series, Quantum Mechanics is a clear, simple and entertaining introduction to the weird, mind-bending world of the very, very small.

Written by physicist and broadcaster Professor Jim Al-Khalili, it explores all the key players, breakthroughs, controversies and unanswered questions of the quantum world.

You'll discover how the sun shines, why light is both a wave and a particle, the certainty of the Uncertainty Principle, Schrodinger's Cat, Einstein's spooky action, how to build a quantum computer, and why quantum mechanics drives even its experts completely crazy.

'Jim Al-Khalili has done an admirable job of condensing the ideas of quantum physics from Max Planck to the possibilities of quantum computers into brisk, straightforward English' The Times

Written by the leading lights and most outstanding communicators in their fields, the Ladybird Expert books provide clear, accessible and authoritative introductions to subjects drawn from science, history and culture.

For an adult readership, the Ladybird Expert series is produced in the same iconic small hardback format pioneered by the original Ladybirds. Each beautifully illustrated book features the first new illustrations produced in the original Ladybird style for nearly forty years.

The Blind Watchmaker

Richard Dawkins (Author)

***30th Anniversary Edition***

Cover note: Each copy of the anniversary edition of The Blind Watchmaker features a unique biomorph. No two covers are exactly alike.

Acclaimed as the most influential work on evolution written in the last hundred years, The Blind Watchmaker offers an inspiring and accessible introduction to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. A brilliant and controversial book which demonstrates that evolution by natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind yet essentially non-random process discovered by Darwin - is the only answer to the biggest question of all: why do we exist?

Soonish

Dr. Kelly Weinersmith (Author) , Zach Weinersmith (Author)

**The New York Times Bestseller**

'Space elevators, gold asteroids, and fusion-powered toasters - who knew science could be so much fun? Soonish is hilarious, provocative, and shamelessly informative' Tim Harford, author of Messy and The Undercover Economist

From a top scientist and the creator of the hugely popular web comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, an illustrated investigation into future technologies

What will the world of tomorrow be like? How does progress happen? And why don't we have a lunar colony yet?

In this witty and entertaining book, Zach and Kelly Weinersmith give us a snapshot of the transformative technologies that are coming next - from robot swarms to nuclear fusion powered-toasters - and explain how they will change our world in astonishing ways. By weaving together their own research, interviews with pioneering scientists and Zach's trademark comics, the Weinersmiths investigate why these innovations are needed, how they would work, and what is standing in their way.

The Filter Bubble

Eli Pariser (Author)

Imagine a world where all the news you see is defined by your salary, where you live, and who your friends are. Imagine a world where you never discover new ideas. And where you can't have secrets.

Welcome to 2011.

Google and Facebook are already feeding you what they think you want to see. Advertisers are following your every click. Your computer monitor is becoming a one-way mirror, reflecting your interests and reinforcing your prejudices.

The internet is no longer a free, independent space. It is commercially controlled and ever more personalised. The Filter Bubble reveals how this hidden web is starting to control our lives - and shows what we can do about it.

The Invention of Air

Stephen T Johnson (Author)

From the bestselling author of Everything Bad is Good for You, Steven Johnson's The Invention of Air tells the incredible story of scientist and radical Joseph Priestley, who invented soda water, discovered oxygen, and incited rioting with his political views.

In 1794, Joseph Priestley - amateur scientist, ordained minister and radical thinker - set sail for America to escape persecution. Steven Johnson tells his incredible story: the discovery of oxygen, the invention of a science, the founding of a church, and, with the great minds of his time, the development of the United States itself. But Priestley's revolutionary ideas put him in terrible danger.

Johnson uses the progress of Priestley and his colleagues not merely to describe the wonder of discovery, but to show us how we have come to understand the world, how far we have travelled with the power of human enquiry - and how one man's curiosity can help build an entire country.

'A shot of the purest oxygen'
  Simon Winchester

'Packed with excellent stuff'
  Russell Davies

'Entertaining ... clear-sighted and intelligent'
  New Yorker

'As full of ingenuity and as delightful as its subject'
  Financial Times

'Brilliant'
  The New York Times

'Johnson paints Priestley not as a man of the past but precisely the sort of figure the world needs more than ever'
  New York Post

Steven Johnson is the author of the acclaimed books Everything Bad is Good for You, Mind Wide Open, Where Good Ideas Come From, The Ghost Map, Emergence and Interface Culture. His writing appeared in the Guardian, the New Yorker, Nation and Harper's, as well as the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is a Distinguished Writer In Residence at NYU's School Of Journalism, and a Contributing Editor to Wired.

Emergence

Steven Johnson (Author)

Steven Johnson's Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software is a fascinating look at how self-organising systems are changing the world.

  • Why do people cluster together in neighborhoods?
  • How do internet communities spring up from nowhere?
  • Why is a brain conscious even though no single neuron is?
  • What causes a media frenzy?

The answer, as Steven Johnson's groundbreaking book shows, is emergence: change that occurs from the bottom up. When enough individual elements interact and organize themselves, the result is collective intelligence - even though no-one is in charge. It is a phenomenon that exists at every level of experience, and will

revolutionize the way we see the world.

'Exhilarating'
  J.G. Ballard

'A dizzying, dazzling romp through fields as disparate as urban planning, computer-game design, neurology and control theory'
  Economist

'Mind-expanding ... intelligent, witty and tremendously thought-provoking ... Popular science books interesting enough to read twice don't come along all that often'
  Guardian

'Not just a fascinating quirk of science: it's the future'
  The New York Times

Steven Johnson is the author of the acclaimed books Everything Bad is Good for You, Mind Wide Open, Where Good Ideas Come From, Emergence and Interface Culture. His writing appeared in the Guardian, the New Yorker, Nation and Harper's, as well as the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is a Distinguished Writer In Residence at NYU's School Of Journalism, and a Contributing Editor to Wired.

Darwin

Adrian Desmond (Author) , James R Moore (Author)

This biography of Charles Darwin attempts to capture the private unknown life of the real man - the gambling and gluttony at Cambridge, his gruelling trip round the globe, his intimate family life, worries about persecution and thoughts about God. Central to all of this, his pioneering efforts on the theory of evolution now that recent studies have overturned the commonplace views of Darwin that have held for more than a century.

The Upstarts

Brad Stone (Author)

New York Times bestselling author of The Everything Store Brad Stone takes us deep inside the new Silicon Valley.

Ten years ago, the idea of getting into a stranger’s car, or walking into a stranger’s home, would have seemed bizarre and dangerous, but today it’s as common as ordering a book online. Uber and Airbnb are household names: redefining neighbourhoods, challenging the way governments regulate business and changing the way we travel.

In the spirit of iconic Silicon Valley renegades like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, a new generation of entrepreneurs is sparking yet another cultural upheaval through technology. They are among the Upstarts, idiosyncratic founders with limitless drive and an abundance of self-confidence. Young, hungry and brilliant, they are rewriting the traditional rules of business, changing our day-to-day lives and often sidestepping serious ethical and legal obstacles in the process.

The Upstarts is the definitive account of a dawning age of tenacity, creativity, conflict and wealth. In Brad Stone’s highly anticipated and riveting account of the most radical companies of the new Silicon Valley, we find out how it all started, and how the world is wildly different than it was ten years ago.

The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins (Author)

The God Delusion caused a sensation when it was published in 2006. Within weeks it became the most hotly debated topic, with Dawkins himself branded as either saint or sinner for presenting his hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types.

His argument could hardly be more topical. While Europe is becoming increasingly secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, is dramatically and dangerously dividing opinion around the world. In America, and elsewhere, a vigorous dispute between 'intelligent design' and Darwinism is seriously undermining and restricting the teaching of science. In many countries religious dogma from medieval times still serves to abuse basic human rights such as women's and gay rights. And all from a belief in a God whose existence lacks evidence of any kind.

Dawkins attacks God in all his forms. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry and abuses children.

The God Delusion is a brilliantly argued, fascinating polemic that will be required reading for anyone interested in this most emotional and important subject.

Big Questions In Science

Harriet Swain (Author)

What is life about? How are men and women different? How did the universe begin? We all ponder these questions from time to time but some scientists spend their lives investigating them. Are they anywhere near finding answers? In this exciting new book, leading scientific thinkers address twenty of the really big questions that people have been asking for hundreds of years. The contributors include: John Sulston, who led the British side of the Human Genome Project and who offers his views on whether we can ever end disease; Susan Greenfield, Oxford University professor of pharmacology, who describes what she thinks is a thought; John Barrow, Cambridge professor of mathematical sciences, who tells us what is time; and American psychologist David Buss, who suggests why we fall in and out of love. Their answers are each put into context by more general commentaries discussing the differing views of other leading contemporary scientists and looking at how people have tackled the question in the past. The result is a breathtaking tour of scientific thought through the ages and a peek at some of the most cutting-edge and controversial research today. Packed with fascinating insights, it shows how science is investigating problems that affect us all on a large scale and suggests that we are closer to finding solutions to some of life's big questions than we might think.

Wonderful Life

Stephen Jay Gould (Author)

High in the Canadian Rockies is a small limestone quarry formed 530 million years ago. Called the Burgess Shale, it holds the remains of an ancient sea where dozens of strange creatures lived - a forgotten corner of evolution preserved in incredible detail. In this book Stephen Jay Gould explores what the Burgess Shale might tell us about evolution and the nature of history.

The Darwinian theory of evolution is a well-known, well-explored area. But there is one aspect of human life which this theory of evolution fails to account for: chance. Using the brilliantly preserved fossil fauna of the Burgess Shale as his case study, Gould argues that chance was in fact one of the decisive factors in the evolution of life on this planet, and that, with a flip of coin, everything could have been very different indeed.

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