sjmccreary's science reads
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Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes.
This gets into the genographic project research, and proposes the theory that all native Europeans are decended from a very few prehistoric women. (Sykes is British). He spends most of the book describing how the theory came about, and how he proceeded to "prove" it. No math or chemistry required. Turns out, Europe has only 7 "mothers", and worldwide, there are only a couple of dozen. I have recommend this book to everyone I've mentioned it to.
ChefMD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine by John LaPuma
This book falls under the medical sciences heading in the Dewey decimal system as "promotion of health". Close enough for me - I'm counting it. This is written by the same guy who did the food & diet stuff in the popular "You" books. For a "big" book, it is really quite short for reading cover to cover. It talks about the things in food that are good for you, the things that are bad for you, provides a list of about 50 powerhouse foods, an 8-week program for changing your diet and eating habits, a short recipe section, and then (my favorite part) a section that lists quite a few medical problems (including diabetes, diverticulitis, high cholesterol, etc) and provides lists of foods that can help prevent or relieve that condition and another list of foods to avoid that will aggrevate the condition. Tons of easily accessible information for anyone interested in understanding better how our diet can influence our health.
The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook by James A Duke
This is another in the medical science heading, as "pharmacology". I'm going to count this one, too, as I did the last one, since I seem to be light in the science reading this summer. I think the touchstone for the title might be wrong, the subtitle should be "the comprehensive referece to the best herbs for healing". This is really just a listing of nearly 200 different herbs from around the world which have medicinal properties. The author lists them alphabetically by common name (but includes a cross-index by medical condition), briefly describes the plant, lists the therapeutic uses supported by science and the folk remedies that aren't, discusses the reasons why the plant may be effective and compares the plant to commercially available pharmaceuticals, provides an interesting safety rating (more or less risky than a cup of coffee), and offers dosage suggestions and lots of warnings about drug interactions. Surprisingly, many medicinal herbs are just as effective as synthetic pharmaceuticals, or even more so, often with fewer side effects. Many medicinal herbs are not approved by the FDA, but are commonly available in Europe. Germany seems to the be most progressive in the use of medicinal herbs among western nations. Fascinating.
Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery by David Attenborough
I'm not reading much hard science this year, so I'm again counting something just because it is in a dewey decimal science category. This one is in #508 Natural History, in the Natural Science and Mathmatics category. It more closely resembles an art book than science. It is an introduction to 5 different artists who are well-knon for their drawings and paintings of plants and animals mostly in the 17th and 18th centuries, when scientific exploration and study was quite popular. A beautiful book to look at, pretty dull for reading, and dispite being classified as natural science, there really isn't any scientific discussion at all in the book.
This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J Levitin
Written by a neuroscientist who began life as a music recording engineer. He provides a short explanation of music theory in each chapter, then progresses into the scientific evidence of how that aspect of music is processed by the brain. Both scientific and musical concepts are explained very well. Recommended.
I guess I was thinking the same thing - even though the challenge said 6 books in 2009, I am justifying my failure by saying that it hasn't been an entire year yet, so I've still got some time!