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Life Sciences (Yale-NUS College): Must Read And Watch
'A murder of crows', 'a charm of goldfinches', 'an ostentation of peacocks': collective nouns for British birds have existed since at least the mid fifteenth century. They are thought to originate in texts about hunting, but have since evolved into evocative, witty and literary expressions, each striving to capture the very essence of the animal they describe. Some are portentous - 'a conspiracy of ravens' perfectly evokes this sinister bird - others convey sound, such as 'a murmuration of starlings' or 'a chattering of choughs'.
The author has added new material on some of the principal figures involved, particularly Rosalind Franklin. Also included are a new Forward and an Afterword which sketches the further development of molecular biology into the era of recombinant DNA.
Elastic thinking: an ability we all possess. Leonard Mlodinow takes us on a revelatory exploration of how elasticity works, from the findings of cutting-edge neuroscience to those who have used elastic thinking to succeed. He reveals how to test your brain power and flex your thinking.
Siddhartha Mukherjee has a written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.
The year 2001 marked the moment when scientists first read the 3 billion letters of DNA that make up the human genome. This breakthrough begged questions such as What have we learned about evolution? How has it changed the way we practice medicine, grow crops, and breed livestock?
Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humour is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light -- less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.
We are doomed to repeat history if we fail to learn from it, but how are we affected by the forces that are invisible to us? In The Invisible History of the Human Race Christine Kenneally draws on cutting-edge research to reveal how both historical artefacts and DNA tell us where we come from and where we may be going. While some books explore our genetic inheritance and popular television shows celebrate ancestry, this is the first book to explore how everything from DNA to emotions to names and the stories that form our lives are all part of our human legacy.
This is one the first and most important books about 18th century Malaysia and covers a wide array of topics from Malaysian culture and history to nature and wildlife. It is essential reading for anyone interested in Malaysia. A century and a half after it was first published, this book remains one of the great classics of natural history and travel--perhaps the greatest.
Humans are extraordinary creatures, with the unique ability among animals to imitate and so copy from one another ideas, habits, skills, behaviours, inventions, songs, and stories. These are all memes, a term first coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976 in his book The Selfish Gene. Memes, like genes,are replicators, and this enthralling book is an investigation of whether this link between genes and memes can lead to important discoveries about the nature of the inner self.
A critically important and startling look at the harmful effects of overusing antibiotics, from the field's leading expert. Tracing one scientist's journey toward understanding the crucial importance of the microbiome, this revolutionary book will take readers to the forefront of trail-blazing research while revealing the damage that overuse of antibiotics is doing to our health: contributing to the rise of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. In Missing Microbes, Dr. Martin Blaser invites us into the wilds of the human microbiome where for hundreds of thousands of years bacterial and human cells have existed in a peaceful symbiosis that is responsible for the health and equilibrium of our body.
Why do living things and physical phenomena take the form they do? D'Arcy Thompson's classic On Growth and Form looks at the way things grow and the shapes they take. Analysing biological processes in their mathematical and physical aspects, this historic work, first published in 1917, has also become renowned for the sheer poetry of its descriptions.
Dinosaurs, however toothy, did not rule the earth--and neither do humans. But what were and are the true potentates of our planet? Insects, says Scott Richard Shaw -- millions and millions of insect species.
As relevant and influential today as when it was first published, The Selfish Gene has become a classic exposition of evolutionary thought. Professor Dawkins articulates a gene's eye view of evolution - a view giving centre stage to these persistent units of information, and in which organisms can be seen as vehicles for their replication. This imaginative, powerful, and stylistically brilliant work not only brought the insights of Neo-Darwinism to a wide audience, but galvanised the biology community, generating much debate and stimulating whole new areas of research.
In his latest, thrilling foray into the future, a great inventor and futurist envisions an event--the "singularity"--in which technological change becomes so rapid and so profound that human bodies and brains will merge with machines.
A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes. Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Ten Thousand Birds provides a thoroughly engaging and authoritative history of modern ornithology, tracing how the study of birds has been shaped by a succession of visionary and often-controversial personalities, and by the unique social and scientific contexts in which these extraordinary individuals worked. This beautifully illustrated book opens in the middle of the nineteenth century when ornithology was a museum-based discipline focused almost exclusively on the anatomy, taxonomy, and classification of dead birds. It describes how in the early 1900s pioneering individuals such as Erwin Stresemann, Ernst Mayr, and Julian Huxley recognized the importance of studying live birds in the field, and how this shift thrust ornithology into the mainstream of the biological sciences.
"Evolution is one of the most powerful and important ideas ever developed in the history of science. Every question it raises leads to new answers, new discoveries, and new smarter questions. The science of evolution is as expansive as nature itself."
From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe’s iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have an enormous, dedicated following, as do his deeply researched answers to his fans’ strangest questions.
In Your Brain Is a Time Machine, leading neuroscientist Dean Buonomano embarks on an "immensely engaging" exploration of how time works inside the brain (Barbara Kiser, Nature). The human brain, he argues, is a complex system that not only tells time, but creates it; it constructs our sense of chronological movement and enables "mental time travel"--simulations of future and past events. These functions are essential not only to our daily lives but to the evolution of the human race: without the ability to anticipate the future, mankind would never have crafted tools or invented agriculture.
"Dinosaurs didn't die out when an asteroid hit Earth 66 million years ago. Get ready to unthink what you thought you knew and journey into the deep, dark depths of the Jurassic. The discovery of the first feathered dinosaur in China in 1996 sent shock waves through the palaeontological world."
On August 9, 2010, 33 teams from 21 countries were dispatched to search for the lost frogs identified by Conservation International. Robin Moore was responsible for spearheading the search and coordinating the teams, and in this book he tells the story of the expedition - its highs and lows, discoveries and failures, and the campaign's ongoing work.
September 1st, 2014 marked the centenary of one of the best-documented extinctions in history - the demise of the Passenger Pigeon. From being the commonest bird on the planet 50 years earlier, the species became extinct on that fateful day, with the death in Cincinnati Zoo of Martha - the last of her kind. This book tells the tale of the Passenger Pigeon, and of Martha, and of author Mark Avery's journey in search of them.
"What can we learn from the genes of our closest evolutionary relatives? Neanderthal Man tells the story of geneticist Svante Pääbo's mission to answer that question, beginning with the study of DNA in Egyptian mummies in the early 1980s and culminating in his sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2009. From Pääbo, we learn how Neanderthal genes offer a unique window into the lives of our hominin relatives and may hold the key to unlocking the mystery of why humans survived while Neanderthals went extinct."
"Plants are truly remarkable: even with all our modern technological prowess they still feed, clothe and shelter us, help transport us and can intoxicate and cure us. Helen and William Bynum are expert guides to the rich histories, significance and uses of over 80 key plants in 69 entries, revealing our relationship with them, both utilitarian and aesthetic, and their multiple benefits and cultural associations. Organized thematically, eight sections cover all aspects of our interaction with plants starting with those crops that were fundamental to the development of cultures and civilisations, and those that enliven our diet beyond the basics, such as saffron and chilli peppers."
"Explores the roles of both genetics and training in athletic success, arguing that both are equally necessary components of athletic achievement while considering such topics as race, gender, and genetic testing."
"What is transhumanism? Simply put, it is a movement whose aim is to use technology to fundamentally change the human condition, to improve our bodies and minds to the point where we become something other, and better, than the animals we are. It's a philosophy that, depending on how you look at it, can seem hopeful, or terrifying, or absurd."
"Recounts the decades-long saga of the New Jersey seaside town plagued by childhood cancers caused by air and water pollution due to the indiscriminate dumping of toxic chemicals. One of New Jersey's seemingly innumerable quiet seaside towns, Toms River became the unlikely setting for a decades-long drama that culminated in 2001 with one of the largest legal settlements in the annals of toxic dumping. A town that would rather have been known for its Little League World Series champions ended up making history for an entirely different reason: a notorious cluster of childhood cancers scientifically linked to local air and water pollution."
"A ... first-person account of the discoveries that brought to light the early fossil record of whales. As evidenced in the record, whales evolved from herbivorous forest-dwelling ancestors that resembled tiny deer to carnivorous monsters stalking lakes and rivers and to serpentlike denizens of the coast. Thewissen reports on his discoveries in the wilds of India and Pakistan, weaving a narrative that reveals the day-to-day adventures of fossil collection, enriching it with local flavors from South Asian culture and society."
"Welcome to Subirdia presents a surprising discovery: the suburbs of many large cities support incredible biological diversity. Populations and communities of a great variety of birds, as well as other creatures, are adapting to the conditions of our increasingly developed world. In this optimistic book, wildlife science professor John Marzluff reveals how our own actions affect the birds and animals that live in our cities and towns, and he provides ten specific strategies everyone can use to make human environments friendlier for our natural neighbors."
"A definitive guide to every aspect of bird life. From the evolution of birds to each significant element of bird life, you'll discover an introduction to the 32 orders, and a detailed account and concise fact panel for every one of the 195 families."