The Monkey Wrench Gang

How far should you go to do what is right? In The Monkey Wrench Gang, Edward Abbey posits that there are few limits to what should be done to protect the environment. Is he correct? What good can come from this attitude? What are the negative consequences of extremism? What are you willing to fight for in your life? Why are these things (or ideas) so important to you?

The Meaning of Human Existence

How did humanity originate and why does a species like ours exist on this planet? Do we have a special place, even a destiny in the universe? In this book that tackles life’s biggest questions, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward O. Wilson bridges science and philosophy to explore the epic journey of human evolution.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Imagine that you could help thousands of people by donating a small tissue sample from your own body. Would you do it? Would you be happy if someone took those cells from your body without your knowledge and made millions in profit? This is the story of Henrietta Lacks, a patient whose cells have swept the world of research and traveled even to outer space. A story so riveting that it has been recently adapted to film.

The Enigma of Reason

One great thing about arriving at university is the promise that you will not only have fun, you will gain wisdom. You’re promised that you will gain wisdom not only by learning facts, but by learning how to use your brain best, that is, by learning how to reason well. But what is it to reason? Is reasoning really so useful? Does the ability to reason make us special? Why didn’t other animals evolve the ability to reason in the way humans can reason? Why does everybody seem to stink at reasoning half the time? What is the real point of reasoning?

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

A wondrously romantic belief is that brilliant thinkers magically produce brilliant ideas: Einstein jostles his hair and relativity falls out. We can enjoy these fanciful visions of leaps of genius, but we should not be fooled into believing that they’re reality. Brilliant innovators are brilliant because they practice habits of thinking that inevitably carry them step by step to works of genius. No magic and no leaps are involved. Habits of effective thinking and creativity can be taught and learned.

Supernormal Stimuli

This book describes how a stimulus that evolved to elicit a particular functional response in animals (and people) can be artificially exaggerated or enhanced to create an especially powerful cue for eliciting behavior. The concept of a supernormal stimulus originated in research by the Nobel Prize-winning ethologists Niko Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz, studying sea gulls and other such creatures. Artificially enhanced biologically based stimuli are now used extensively in various consumer products, ranging from foods to cars and iPhones.

Strangers in their Own Land

This book is a timely investigation of the current highly polarized American political landscape. But more broadly it is about the difficult work of crossing cultural boundaries. The author’s analysis of her extended encounters with people whose experiences, feelings, and thus political views differ significantly from hers is both rigorous and thoughtful. In the process, she not only gives us profound insights into American society, she also challenges us to grasp the vital importance of mutual respect and understanding in all contexts.

Science Fiction by Scientists

Science Fiction by Scientists is a new venture into fiction for science publisher Springer-Verlag. Springer-Verlag recruited Mike Brotherton to be editor of this compilation. Mike is a PhD graduate of the UT Department of Astronomy, now professor of Astronomy at the University of Wyoming, and an accomplished writer of science fiction in his own right. He in turn solicited contributions from an interesting range of colleagues, professional scientists who write science fiction.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?