Find out which science books for your vacation

Professor Carlos Fiolhais suggests 10 books (actually there are 11…) to read in these more relaxed times

The holidays are always a good time to read. And science books also have a place in this summer time.

I have chosen ten science books that have recently come out in Portuguese, having ordered them alphabetically by the author's surname.

1-BELT, Mario, The Great Adventure. Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral on the first air crossing of the South Atlantic, Book Workshop.

This year marks the centenary of this aviation feat, which was the crossing of the Atlantic undertaken by pilot Sacadura Cabral and navigator Gago Coutinho. This book by a historian who is also an aviator (and who was curator of the Air Museum) describes the adventure, providing ample iconography.

2- CRAWFORD, Paul, The Universe, From the Big Bang to Black Holes, Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation

The cosmologist and retired professor at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon and one of the first Portuguese cosmologists leaves, in this short and cheap essay by the Foundation, a description of the structure and scale of the Universe. Topics yet to be clarified are addressed, such as dark matter and dark energy, in addition to black holes, of which we already know more.

3- GATES, Bill, How to prevent the next pandemic, Reading Ideas.

The billionaire who founded Microsoft and a charitable foundation that bears his name, after a book on climate change (How to avoid a climate disaster?), wrote a book on what we learned from the current COVID-19 pandemic so we can apply on future occasions. Yes, most likely there will be new pandeias.

4—MANCUSO, Stefano. The Plant of the World. Adventures of Plants People, Parchment.

The professor of Plant Neurophysiology at the University of Florence is the author of a controversial theory about the sensitivity of plants. That he has a knack for writing for the general public was already known from titles such as The Nation of Plants and The Plant Revolution. In this new title, with beautiful drawings by the author, he intertwines human history with the history of plants.

5- ORLANDO, Ludovico, The Fossil DNA. A time travel machine, War & Peace.

The author, a French scientist specializing in Paleogenetics, who directs the Center for Anthropology and Genetics in Toulouse after working in Denmark, tells how it was possible to sequence Neanderthals and other hominids, in addition to a whole variety of ancient living beings, such as domestic animals and plants. Today genomics does wonders for deciphering our past.

6- PAGE, Lyman. The Little Book of Cosmology, Gradiva.

A professor of astrophysics at Princeton University, a university that has distinguished itself for producing Nobel laureates, an expert in detecting and analyzing the oldest images of the Cosmos, provides a very up-to-date summary of the origins of it all. For those who want to know more and are in a hurry to find out…

7- PRINGLE, Heather. The Nazi Delusion. Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust. Between superstition, science and terror, House of Letters.

A Canadian journalist specializing in science gives, in this work of almost 600 pages, a description of what pseudoscience was like in Germany in the time of Hitler. The alleged superiority of the Aryan race has led to theories and experiments without any scientific basis. How was this dark drift from science possible?

8- ROVELLI, Carlo. The Dizzying Abyss. A dive into the ideas of Quantum Physics, Objective.

The Italian professor of Theoretical Physics who surprised the world with Seven Brief Lessons in Physics and who later continued to stimulate our brain with books like Anaximander of Miletus and What if time didn't exist? tells us here what quantum physics is, based on the story of the discovery of matrix mechanics by the young Werner Heisenberg on the island of Heligoland, in northern Germany.

9- SOBRAL, David, What is our place in the Universe? Planet.

The Portuguese astrophysicist who is a professor at the University of Lancaster, in the United Kingdom, and who discovered a brilliant galaxy at the ends of the Universe which he named CR-7 (CR for Cosmos Redshift) makes a brilliant incursion into astronomy here, from from his already rich personal experience. A talented publicist is revealed here in a book.

10- TYSON, Neil deGrasse, STRAUSS, Michael A., and GOTT, J. Richard, A Brief Visit to the Universe, Editions 70

The first author, a great American science popularizer (author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry) joined two professors from Princeton University to teach an Introduction to Astronomy course. The course gave a large book, of which this is a layman's summary, as it does not contain formulas. The first few chapters are easier.

And, as an extra, I recommend the amazing comic book The bomb by the screenwriters Alcante and Bollée and by the designer Rodier, who has just left Gradiva. It's the story of the first atomic bomb like never before.

Happy reading!