Strange Glow

Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation by Timothy J. Jorgensen

QC 475 .J67 2016

“More than ever before, radiation is a part of our modern daily lives. We own radiation-emitting phones, regularly get diagnostic x-rays, such as mammograms, and submit to full-body security scans at airports. We worry and debate about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the safety of nuclear power plants. But how much do we really know about radiation? And what are its actual dangers? An accessible blend of narrative history and science, Strange Glow describes mankind’s extraordinary, thorny relationship with radiation, including the hard-won lessons of how radiation helps and harms our health. Timothy Jorgensen explores how our knowledge of and experiences with radiation in the last century can lead us to smarter personal decisions about radiation exposures today.

Jorgensen introduces key figures in the story of radiation – from Wilhelm Roentgen, the discoverer of x-rays, and pioneering radioactivity researchers Marie and Pierre Curie, to Thomas Edison and the victims of the recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. Tracing the most important events in the evolution of radiation, Jorgensen explains exactly what radiation is, how it produces certain health consequences, and how we can protect ourselves from harm. He also considers a range of practical scenarios such as the risks of radon in our basements, radiation levels in the fish we eat, questions about cell-phone use, and radiation’s link to cancer. Jorgensen empowers us to make informed choices while offering a clearer understanding of broader societal issues.

Investigating radiation’s benefits and risks, Strange Glow takes a remarkable look at how, for better or worse, radiation has transformed our society.”
– publisher description

Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep

Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep by Michael Schulman

PN 2287 .S78 S34 2016

A portrait of a woman, an era, and a profession: the first thoroughly researched biography of Meryl Streep that explores her beginnings as a young woman of the 1970s grappling with love, feminism, and her astonishing talent.

“When they called my name,” Meryl Streep said in her 2012 Oscar speech, “I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Ohhh, no. Oh, come on – why? Her. Again.‘” By now, it’s hard to remember a time when her name wasn’t synonymous with the title Greatest Living Actress. but who was she before she was the “Iron Lady” of acting? How did she learn to do what she does? What happens when we look at her again, not as a celebrated diva but as a limpid twenty-something burning with talent and ambition?

In 1975, Meryl Streep was a promising young graduate of the Yale School of Drama, just finding her place in the New York theater scene. She rode her bicycle everywhere, kept a diary, napped before performances, and stayed out late “talking about acting with actors in actors’ bars.” Yet Meryl stood apart from her peers. In her first season in New York, she appeared in back-to-back Broadway plays, headlined Shakespeare in the Park, and earned a Tony Award nomination. One thing she knew she would never be: a movie star.

Her Again is an intimate look at the artistic coming-of-age of the greatest actress of her generation, from the homecoming float at her suburban New Jersey high school through her discovery of the stage at Vassar College and the Yale School of Drama to her star-making roles in The Deer Hunter, Manhattan, and Kramer vs. KramerNew Yorker contributor Michael Schulman charts her heady rise to stardom on the New York stage, her passionate, tragically short-lived love affair with fellow actor John Cazale, and her evolution as a young woman of the 1970s wrestling with changing ideas of feminism, marriage, love, and sacrifice.

Featuring eight pages of arresting black-and-white photos, some never before seen, this captivating story reveals a gifted young woman coming into her extraordinary talents at a time of immense transformation, offering a rare glimpse into the life of the actress long before she became an icon.”
– publisher description

Stamped from the Beginning

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

E 185.61 .K358 2016

“Americans like to insist that we are living in a postracial, color-blind society. In fact, racist thought is alive and well; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, racist ideas in this country have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.

In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the lives of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brillian scholar W. E. B. Du Bois to legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America.

As Kendi provocatively illustrates, racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation’s racial inequities in everything from wealth to health. While racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much-needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them – and in the process, gives us reason to hope.”
– publisher description

Evolution: The Whole Story

Evolution: The Whole Story edited by Steve Parker

QH 367 .E8667 2015

“The origin of humans fascinates us all. This comprehensive book traces that extraordinary journey spanning 4 billion years, from the emergence of living bacteria to the rise of the varied species that coexist today, including humans.

Evolution: The Whole Story is an in-depth account of how each of the major groups of living organisms evolved. Beginning with the origins of life – the first fossils and single-celled organisms, then early invertebrates, plants, arthropods, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs and finally, mammals and humans – each chapter presents thematic essays on particular subgroups.

Fascinating photographic features investigate organisms in detail with reference to the ways in which their anatomy suited their environment, the factors that necessitated adaptation – or caused their demise – and their evolutionary legacies. Extinct species are analyzed with reference to pivotal fossil specimens, reassembled skeletons and reconstructions, while living species are compared to their ancestors. Evolution: The Whole Story ends with examples of de-extinction projects and impending extinctions.

Learn about the giant spiders that inhabited the seas until 250 million years ago, the sharks that have changed little in 400 million years, the carnivorous dinosaurs that roamed during the Cretaceous period, the terror birds that gave rise to ostriches, and the complex evolution of the horse. Helpful cladograms clarify relationships between each animal group and its members.

Profiles of theorists, fossil-hunters, paleontologists and geneticists that contributed to the unraveling of the evolutionary story place important discoveries in historical context.

Our understanding of evolution has a profound effect on our appreciation of the natural world. The plants and animals alive today account for one percent of the species that have ever lived. This book will enable you to understand why and how the other 99 percent perished. Evolution: The Whole Story equips you with everything you need to know about the development and survival of life on Earth.”
– publisher description

Every Song Ever

Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty by Ben Ratliff

ML 3838 .R29 2016

“What does it mean to listen in the digital era? Today, new technologies make it possible to roam instantly and experimentally across musical languages and generations, from Detroit techno to jam bands to baroque opera – or to dive deeper into the set of tastes that we already have. Either way, we can listen to nearly everything, at any time. The possibilities in this new age of listening overturn old assumptions about what it means to properly appreciate music – to be an “educated” listener.

In Every Song Ever, the veteran New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff reimagines the very idea of music appreciation for our times. As familiar subdivisions like “rock” and “jazz” matter less and less and music’s accessible past becomes longer and broader, listeners can put aside the intentions of composers and musicians and engage music afresh, on their own terms. Ratliff isolates signal musical traits – such as repetition, speed, and virtuosity – and traces them across wildly diverse recordings to reveal unexpected connections. When we listen for slowness, for instance, we may detect surprising affinities between the drone metal of Sunn O))), the mixtape manipulations of DJ Screw, Sarah Vaughan singing “Lover Man,” and the final works of Shostakovich. And if we listen for closeness, we might notice how the tight harmonies of bluegrass vocals illuminated the virtuosic synchrony of John Coltrane’s quartet. Ratliff also goes in search of “the perfect moment”; considers what it means to hear emotion by sampling the complex sadness that powers the music of Nick Drake and Slayer; and examines the meaning of certain common behaviors, such as the impulse to document and possess the entire performance history of the Grateful Dead.

Encompassing the sounds of five continents and several centuries, Ratliff’s book is an artful work of criticism and a lesson in open-mindedness. It is a definitive field guide to our radically altered musical habitat.”
– publisher description

The Importance of Being Little

The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups by Erika Christakis

LB 1140.35 .P37 C47 2016

“To a four-year-old watching bulldozers at a construction site or chasing butterflies in flight, the world is awash with promise. Little children come into the world hardwired to learn in virtually any setting and about any matter. Yet in today’s preschool and kindergarten classrooms learning has been reduced to scripted lessons and suspect metrics that too often undervalue a child’s intelligence while overtaxing the child’s growing brain. These mismatched expectations wreak havoc on the family: parents fear that if they choose the “wrong” program, their child won’t get into the “right” college. But Yale early childhood expert Erika Christakis says our fears are wildly misplaced. Our anxiety about our children’s futures has reached a fever pitch at a time when, ironically, science gives us more certainty than ever before that young children are exceptionally strong thinkers.

In her pathbreaking book, Christakis explains what it’s like to be a young child in America today, in a world designed by and for adults, where we have confused schooling with learning. She offers nuanced, real-life solutions to real-life issues that move past the usual prescriptions for fewer tests, more play. She looks at children’s use of language, their artistic expressions, the way their imaginations grow, and how they build deep emotional bonds to stretch the boundaries of their small worlds. Rather than clutter their worlds with more and more stuff, sometimes our wisest course is to learn how to get out of their way.

Christakis’s message is energizing and reassuring: young children are inherently powerful, and they (and their parents) will flourish if we can revitalize the early learning environment. Her bold and pragmatic challenge to the conventional wisdom peels back the mystery of childhood, revealing a place that’s rich with possibility.”
– publisher description

Rise of the Rocket Girls

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt

TL 862 .J48 H65 2016

“During World War II, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate jet velocities and plot missile trajectories, they recruited an elite group of young women – known as human computers – who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design and helped bring about America’s first ballistic missiles.

But they were never interested in developing weapons – their hearts lay in the dream of space exploration. So when JPL became part of a new agency called NASA, the computers worked on the first probes to the moon, Venus, Mars, and beyond. Later, as digital computers largely replaced human ones, JPL was unique in training and retaining its brilliant pool of women. They became the first computer programmers and engineers, and through their efforts, we launched the ships that showed us the contours of our solar system.

For the first time, Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women who charted a course not only for the future of space exploration but also for the prospects of female scientists. Based on extensive research and interviews with the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science, illuminating both where we’ve been and the far reaches of space to which we’re heading.”
– publisher escription