Friday, May 16, 2014

A selection of new books in the RU Library

What is chemistry? by Peter Atkins. Oxford, United Kingdom : Oxford University Press, 2013. excellent primer on chemistry. The reader will not receive a degree in chemistry but should gain a fairly comprehensive background on the subject. To many people, chemistry has an "unhappy reputation," and Atkins aims to dispel the concept. He illuminates the good points and covers the downsides, largely due to misapplications of chemistry and technology. (Choice Reviews)

Petersen, Jens H., The kingdom of fungi / Jens H. Petersen. Princeton University Press, 2012.
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2013
"An instant classic. . . . The book's 800+ photographs accomplish a singular feat: they display the diagnostic features of a particular species--gill attachment or lack thereof, apothecial hairs, etc.--without sacrificing esthetics. . . . The text is remarkable, too. It describes the ecology and biology of fungi, where fungi grow, and human interactions with fungi."--Lawrence Millman, Boston Mycological Club Bulletin

Bauman, Zygmunt, .Does the richness of the few benefit us all? Cambridge, UK : Polity Press, 2013.
It is commonly assumed that the best way to help the poor out of their misery is to allow the rich to get richer, that if the rich pay less taxes then all the rest of us will be better off, and that in the final analysis the richness of the few benefits us all. And yet these commonly held beliefs are flatly contradicted by our daily experience, an abundance of research findings and, indeed, logic. Such bizarre discrepancy between hard facts and popular opinions makes one pause and ask: why are these opinions so widespread and resistant to accumulated and fast-growing evidence to the contrary?

The Princeton guide to evolution / Jonathan B. Losos, Harvard University, editor in chief. Princeton ; Oxford : Princeton University Press, 2014.
This comprehensive reference covers an enormous breadth of information on the major subjects and key concepts in evolutionary biology. Seven sections cover the major topics in evolution: “Phylogenetics and the History of Life”; “Natural Selection and Adaptation”; “Evolutionary Processes”; “Genes, Genomes, and Phenotypes”; “Speciation and Macroevolution”; “Evolution of Behavior, Society, and Humans”; and “Evolution and Modern Society.” Each section begins with a concise introduction and is then further divided into scholarly articles ranging from 5 to 12 pages in length. These signed articles discuss the fossil record, natural selection, experimental populations, gene duplication, various behaviors in both animals and humans, and more. Notably, each article includes an outline, a glossary section specific to that topic, and a bibliography. There are black-and-white line drawings, tables, and charts scattered throughout and a section of six color plates. The list of international contributors consists of leading evolutionary biologists from a variety of academic institutions. This dense and scholarly title is appropriate for most academic libraries serving upper-level science programs. --Rebecca Vnuk (Booklist)

Love and math : the heart of hidden reality / Edward Frenkel.New York : Basic Books, 2013.
U.C. Berkley mathematician Frenkel reveals the joy of pure intellectual discovery in this autobiographical story of determination, passion, and the Langlands program—a sort of Grand Unified Field Theory of mathematics. As a teenager Frenkel was converted from math hater to eager theorist by a mathematical friend of the family, enough to pursue it despite his struggles against an unapologetically anti-Semitic Soviet educational system. Frenkel writes casually of climbing over the fence to sit in on advanced classes at Moscow State University, a top school that didn&'t accept Jews. With the help of mentors, he worked hard and eventually found his way to Harvard and the freedom to focus on his research. Frenkel balances autobiographical narrative with enthusiastic discussions of his own work on the Langlands program, a web of algebraic conjectures named after a Canadian mathematician that is noted for its usefulness in organizing seemingly chaotic data into regular patterns full of symmetry and harmony, and its applications to quantum theory. While the math can be heavy going, Frenkel&'s gusto will draw readers into his own quest, pursuing the deepest realities of mathematics as if it were a giant jigsaw puzzle, in which no one knows what the final image is going to look like. (Publishers Weekly)

Our once and future planet : restoring the world in the climate change century / Paddy Woodworth.Chicago ; London : he University of Chicago Press, 2013.
“Woodworth gives a stirring portrait of the hardworking environmentalists who are trying to restore landscapes to their former, untouched glory, but he also captures the dark side of the enterprise: it sometimes requires the brutal destruction of very large numbers of invasive species to make room for long-departed native ones. Restoration is also basically guesswork, Woodworth notes, because most of us have never actually experienced nature at its most pristine. Ultimately, he ends up wondering whether we can ever hope to restore ‘degraded ecosystems, and our own damaged relationship to the environment.’”
(Scientific American)
 "Outstanding: Paddy Woodworth has opened a broad and major window to the world of ecosystem restoration and its restoration biologists, for those of us who do it, know it, and the public who needs it.  He does this by actually taking the time to meet the practitioners, users and evaluators of restoration projects and their aftermaths, and cast a reporter's unjaundiced commentary about them. Woodworth understands, documents, and dissects the mandatory integration of the restoration project with its users, its producers and its likely future fate. He does this not by counting how many species of birds or trees are present or absent, but through unveiling the normal synergies—and antagonisms—that exist among any array of humans focused on a particular 'solution' to a biologically destructive assault on the wild world. The single largest problem with restoration, and Woodworth knows and portrays this problem very well, is persuading some significant portion of society to stop the assault that generated the need for restoration, let nature take possession again of the site and its processes, and stimulate the next generation to allow the continuity of that non-human possession. Sure, this is the world through Woodworth’s glasses, but that is what writing is all about . . . marvelous prose."     (Daniel Janzen, University of Pennsylvania)

Africa's moment/ Jean-Michel Severino &Olivier Ray. Cambridge ; Malden, MA : Polity Press, c2011.
"A wake-up call. Its message is simple: look out world, here comes Africa." (Wall Street Journal)
"Clearly conceived, cleanly structured, tightly written and lucidly expressed. A highly readable text."
(European Voice)
"Their optimistic analysis of the continent and its inhabitants should be read by all who are interested in looking at Africa with a fresh and different perspective." (African Security Review)
"A significant book for those interested in questions of economic and cultural change." (The Age)
"Africa's Moment has the great value of underlining that Africa's future is indeed in the hands of Africans." (South World)
"A timely and positive assessment of Africa's prospects founded upon deep understanding and a distinctive perspective." (Paul Collier, University of Oxford)
"The West is wedded to a retrograde vision of Africa's past and know nothing of its present, even less of its  future. This unprecedented book forces revision of that outlook by addressing a world, just a few decades from now, where one in four human beings will be African." (Keith Hart, University of London)

Waste : a handbook for management / edited by Trevor Letcher, Daniel Vallero, Netherlands : Elsevier/Academic Press, c2011.
Gives the broadest, most complete coverage of waste in our society. The book examines a wide range of waste streams, including: Household waste (compostable material, paper, glass, textiles, household chemicals, plastic, water, and e-waste) ;  Industrial waste (metals, building materials, tires, medical, batteries, hazardous mining, and nuclear); Societal waste  (ocean, military, and space); The future of landfills and incinerators .  Covering all the issues related to waste in one volume helps lead to comparisons, synergistic solutions, and a more informed society. In addition, the book offers the best ways of managing waste problems through recycling, incineration, landfill and other processes. (Trevor Letcher is an ex-Rhodes academic).

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