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

There are books for different tastes

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

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

- Bernardo, Luís Miguel. On the Causes of Portuguese Scientific Delay. A historical tour. UMinho Publisher.

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

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

A veritable geology encyclopedia by the esteemed dean of Portuguese science popularizers.

– Cobb, Mathew. 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 gives us, in the end, an overview of current problems.

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

Following his book The Brain. Upon discovering who we are (in the same publisher), the author, an American neuroscientist, explains better, in this book, which has a preface by me, the way our most precious organ works.

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

The American physicist, specialist in superstring theory and author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, both from Gradiva, provides us in this book with his “unified” view of the world.

– Haskell, David George, The Songs of the Trees. Story about the great networks of nature. Gradual.

The author, an American biologist born in the United Kingdom, author of another book about the forest, which has won him several awards, speaks in this book, also awarded, in a sometimes poetic tone, of our deep connection with 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 has affected science is well known: just think of Lysenko. But there are more black stories from that time. With selection and introduction by the physicist Rui Borges, texts by a little-known Russian scientist, born in 1883, who resisted attacks on “bourgeois science” and who, arrested and executed in 1936, were among Stalin's first victims, are presented.

– 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 Introduction to Comic Book Economics in the same publisher, 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. About 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 the fact that they have an X chromosome instead of a Y makes them stronger. To be read by both women and men...

– Nurse, Paul. What is life? Understand 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 brief work, the phenomenon of life in a very pedagogical way: being so different, what is it that do living beings, of which we are a part, have in common?

– Rees, Martin. About the Future. Perspectives for Humanity. Unrest.

Sir Martin Rees, the English Astronomer Royal, former President of the Royal Society and author of Towards 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 hover over the Earth and about the power and limits of science.

– Roveli, Carlo, Anaximander of Miletus or the birth of scientific thought. Issues 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, whom he considers the founder of science, and talks about 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 Construction in Portugal, Ink from China.

From the pen of many authors, there are four volumes that, taken together, provide a vast and varied overview of the history of science in Portugal. It will definitely be a reference work. In the last volume, David Marçal and I wrote a text on scientific culture throughout the XNUMXth century.

Happy reading!


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