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Staff blog

Non-Fic Picks: New Science Reads

This week’s #FridayReads feature a few new titles from our science section.

Bugged: The Insects Who Rule the World and the People Obsessed with Them by David MacNeal

Did you know that insects make up 75 percent of the animal kingdom? How about the 1.4 billion bugs for every human on the planet?  That’s a lot of bugs!  For over 400 million years, insects have had a significant impact on Earth’s ecology, and in Bugged, fringe journalist David MacNeal provides a detailed account on our creepy, crawly pests and allies.  Travel to Brazil where lab-raised mosquitos are released into the rainforest; meet people in Japan care for their beloved pet beetles; and go to Greece where traditional beekeeping dates back thousands of years.  MacNeal also introduces readers to an array of bug lovers including breeders, exterminators, and black market traders while examining the cultural and commercial roles insects play in our lives.  This engaging entomological read definitely sheds light on the little things in life.

Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution by Jonathan B. Losos

The world won’t be what it is today without evolution and natural selection, but where do we go from here?  In Improbable Destinies, evolutionary biologist Jonathan Losos tries to answer this with his experimental findings, biological breakthroughs, and forward thinking predictions.  For example, in experimenting with guppies, fruit flies, bacteria, foxes, field mice, and the Caribbean’s anole lizards, Losos illustrates how a tiny change in evolution can lead to big differences.  By studying how animals and plants change and progress, Losos hopes scientific findings will help us better protect our ecosystems, secure our food supply, and better arm us in fighting viruses and bacteria.  Are we the product of a fluke?  We may never know, but Losos shows that we can harness biology to work in our favor.

Wolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatures by Ben Mezrich

Can extinct, prehistoric animals be resurrected into the modern world?  It sounds like Jurassic Park, but there’s a group of scientist who are trying to do just this.  They are trying to bring back the Wolly Mammoth, a creature that has been extinct for three thousand years.  Under the leadership of Dr. George Church, the world’s top geneticist, a group of scientists are working on splicing the DNA sequence of a Wolly Mammoth obtained from a specimen found in the Arctic Circle with the DNA of the modern elephant.  Because of this, geneticists are no longer reading DNA, they’re writing it, and investigative writer Ben Mezrich delves into hot topics like gene synthesis, stem cell research, and longevity science.  From the Siberian frozen tundra to the genetic labs of Harvard University, Wolly offers hope that if we can reverse extinct, we can prevent extinction, including our own.        



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