Are you on vacation? Carlos Fiolhais recommends science books for the summer

Summer is reading time. As it is a good time to read any kind of literature, I am here to recommend, with brief comments, some science popularization books that have recently come out among us.

The order is alphabetical by the author’s last name.

Bernardo, Luis Miguel. On The Causes of Portuguese Scientific Delay. A historical digression. UMinho Publisher.

Book by a physicist and historian of science, presented by me recently in Braga, which dissects in detail the reasons for our lesser development. It is freely accessible on the Net.

Carvalho, AM Galopim, The Stones in Science and Culture. Anchor.

A true geology encyclopedia authored by the esteemed dean of Portuguese science disseminators.

– Cobb, Matthew. A History of the Brain. The past and future of neuroscience. Themes and Debates / Circle of Readers.

An essay, by an English psychologist and geneticist, on the history of our ideas about the brain, in which the author tells us fascinating episodes of neuroscience, and at the end gives us an overview of current problems.

– Eagleman, David. The Brain in Action. Behind the scenes of the ever-changing brain. Paper Moon.

Following on from his book The Brain. Discovering who we are (in the same publishing house), the author, an American neuroscientist, explains better, in this book, which has a foreword by me, how our most precious organ works.

– Greene, Brian, Until the End of Time. Man, the Universe and our search for the meaning of life. restlessness.

The American physicist specializing in superstring theory and author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, both published in Gradiva, gives us his “unified” view of the world in this book.

– Haskell, David George, Songs of the Trees. History about the great networks of nature. Grad.

The author, an American biologist born in the United Kingdom, author of another book on the forest, which has already won him several awards, speaks in this book, also awarded, in a sometimes poetic tone, about our deep connection to the world of trees. It has a preface by António Bagão Félix.

– Hesse, Boris, Einstein and Lenin in Moscow. Philosophical Polemics of Soviet Science, Parsifal.

The Stalinist terror that affected science is well known: just think of Lysenko. But there are more dark stories from that time. Selected and introduced by physicist Rui Borges, texts are presented by a little-known Russian scientist, born in 1883, who resisted attacks on “bourgeois science” and who, arrested and executed in 1936, was one of Stalin’s first victims.

– Klein, Grady and Bauman, Yoram, Introduction to Comic Book Calculus, Gradiva.

BD can be a light and fun way to learn or consolidate infinitesimal calculus. Of the authors, who had already published in the same publisher Introduction to the Economy in Comics, the first is a cartoonist and the second defines himself as the “first and only stand-up economist in the world.”

– Moalem, Sharon. The Better Half. On the genetic superiority of women. Themes and Debates / Circle of Readers

A Canadian doctor and writer writes about the difference between the human sexes in a book that is dedicated to “your better half”. We already knew that women on average live longer than men. But we learn that having an X rather than a Y chromosome makes them stronger. Reading by both women and men…

– Nurse, Paul. What is life? Understanding life in 5 lessons.

Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Prize in Medicine 2001, former president of the Royal Society and director of the Francis Crick Institut in London, presents, in a short work, the phenomenon of life in a very pedagogical way: being so different, what is it that do the living beings, of which we are a part, have in common?

– Rees, Martin. About the Future. Prospects for Humanity. restlessness.

Sir Martin Rees, the English astronomer royal, former president of the Royal Society and author of To infinity. Horizontes da Ciência (Gradiva), who has already visited Portugal at the invitation of the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation, talks about the threats that hang over the Earth and about the power and limits of science.

– Roveli, Carlo, Anaximander of Mileto or the birth of scientific thought. Editions 70.

The well-known Italian theoretical physicist, who in several books has tried to reveal the mysteries of time, speaks here of one of the first Greek philosophers, who he considers the founder of science, and discusses scientific thought. After Anaximander, we began to understand science without needing the gods.

– Simões, Ana and Diogo, Maria Paula (general eds.), Science, Technology and Medicine in the Construction of Portugal, Tinta da China.

From the pen of many authors, there are four volumes that, as a whole, provide a vast and varied overview of the history of science in Portugal. It will certainly be a reference work. David Marçal and I wrote, in the last volume, a text about scientific culture throughout the 20th century.

Happy readings!

Author: Carlos Fiolhais is Professor of Physics at the University of Coimbra

Leave a Comment