Big Ideas Reading Group Bookshelf 2022

This is the January 2022 ballot for our next round of reading. the next round of reading. By February 15, please send Chris Boyd your completed ballot.

Below are the nominations listed alphabetically, neglecting “The”, with descriptions. We had 5 carryover nominations from last election and 30 new nominations for a total of 35 nominations, four more than last election. It is nice to have even more great options. Thanks for all your nominations!

I would like to take the top 12 for our new list and have 5 carryovers, giving all books a little better chance. The book list includes page counts and publication dates at the bottom of each listing. The ballot is below the book list with directions. Please fill it out, cut and paste to email, and send to me by February 15. Please mail ballots to me directly only, and not to the group.

The Book List

Being You: A New Science of Consciousness, by Anil Seth

Anil Seth's quest to understand the biological basis of conscious experience is one of the most exciting contributions to twenty-first-century science. Anil Seth is both a leading expert on the neuroscience of consciousness and one of most prominent spokespeople for this relatively new field of science. His radical argument is that we do not perceive the world as it objectively is, but rather that we are prediction machines, constantly inventing our world and correcting our mistakes by the microsecond, and that we can now observe the biological mechanisms in the brain that accomplish this process of consciousness. Pub 2021 pages 352

The Brain:The Story of You, by David Eagleman

In the course of his investigations, Eagleman guides us through the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, facial expressions, genocide, brain surgery, gut feelings, robotics, and the search for immortality. Strap in for a whistle-stop tour into the inner cosmos. In the infinitely dense tangle of billions of brain cells and their trillions of connections, something emerges that you might not have expected to see in there: you. This is the story of how your life shapes your brain, and how your brain shapes your life. Pub 2015 pages 218

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race, by Walter Isaacson

The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code. Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Hmmm…Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids? After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is an “enthralling detective story” (Oprah Daily) that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species. Pub 2022 pages 476

Debt: The First 5,000 Years, by David Graeber

Before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors—which lives on in full force to this day. The author shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Renaissance Italy to Imperial China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right. Pub 2014 pages 399

The Deficit Myth, by Stephanie Kelton

Kelton busts through the myths that prevent us from taking action: that the federal government should budget like a household, that deficits will harm the next generation, crowd out private investment, and undermine long-term growth, and that entitlements are propelling us toward a grave fiscal crisis. Modern Monetary Theory, MMT, as Kelton shows, shifts the terrain from narrow budgetary questions to one of broader economic and social benefits. With its important new ways of understanding money, taxes, and the critical role of deficit spending, MMT redefines how to responsibly use our resources so that we can maximize our potential as a society. MMT gives us the power to imagine a new politics and a new economy and move from a narrative of scarcity to one of opportunity. Pub 2021 pages 352

The Demon Haunted World:Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan

How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives if we don’t understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience and the testable hypotheses of science? Sagan argues that scientific thinking is critical not only to the pursuit of truth but to the very well-being of our democratic institutions. He examines and authoritatively debunks such celebrated fallacies of the past as witchcraft, faith healing, demons, and UFOs. And yet, disturbingly, in today's so-called information age, pseudoscience is burgeoning with stories of alien abduction, channeling past lives, and communal hallucinations commanding growing attention and respect. As Sagan demonstrates with lucid eloquence, the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong turn but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms. Pub 2011 pages 434

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, by Steven Pinker

In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing. Pub 2018 pages 454

The Exponential Age: How Accelerating Technology is Transforming Business, Politics and Society, by Azeem Azhar

Azeem Azhar offers a revelatory new model for understanding how technology is evolving so fast, and why it fundamentally alters the world. He roots his analysis in the idea of an “exponential gap” in which technological developments rapidly outpace our society’s ability to catch up. With stunning clarity of vision, he delves into how the exponential gap is a near-inevitable consequence of the rise of AI, automation, and other exponential technologies, like renewable energy, 3D printing, and synthetic biology, which loom over the horizon. And he offers a set of policy solutions that can prevent the growing exponential gap from fragmenting, weakening, or even destroying our societies. The result is a wholly new way to think about technology, one that will transform our understanding of the economy, politics, and the future. Pub 2021 pages 403

Free Speech and A Liberal Education: A Plea for Intellectual Diversity and Talent, by Donald Downs

Drawing on his extensive research, teaching, and practical experience as a free speech and academic freedom leader at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and nation-wide, Donald A. Downs portrays the university as an “intellectual polis” in which free and honest academic discourse should pervade the campus. His unique approach addresses the experiential, empirical, strategic, and philosophical dimensions at stake. It dissects the nature, extent, and causes of the speech suppression that exists, emphasizing the need for intellectual diversity and how repression often coexists with counter-forces that need to be energized and mobilized in what Downs portrays as the “embattled” status of academic free speech. Pub 2020 pages 250

The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth, by Michio Kaku

We are entering a new Golden Age of space exploration. With irrepressible enthusiasm and a deep understanding of the cutting-edge research in space travel, World-renowned physicist and futurist Dr. Michio Kaku presents a compelling vision of how humanity may develop a sustainable civilization in outer space. He reveals the developments in robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology that may allow us to terraform and build habitable cities on Mars and beyond. He then journeys out of our solar system and discusses how new technologies such as nanoships, laser sails, and fusion rockets may actually make interstellar travel a possibility. We travel beyond our galaxy, and even beyond our universe, as Kaku investigates some of the hottest topics in science today, including warp drive, wormholes, hyperspace, parallel universes, and the multiverse. Ultimately, he shows us how humans may someday achieve a form of immortality and be able to leave our bodies entirely, laser porting to new havens in space. Pub 2018 pages 368

Governing the Commons by Elinor Ostrom

The governance of natural resources used by many individuals in common is an issue of increasing concern to policy analysts. Both state control and privatization of resources have been advocated, but neither the state nor the market have been uniformly successful in solving common pool resource problems. After critiquing the foundations of policy analysis as applied to natural resources, Elinor Ostrom here provides a unique body of empirical data to explore conditions under which common pool resource problems have been satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily solved. Dr Ostrom uses institutional analysis to explore different ways - both successful and unsuccessful - of governing the commons. In contrast to the proposition of the 'tragedy of the commons' argument, common pool problems sometimes are solved by voluntary organizations rather than by a coercive state. Among the cases considered are communal tenure in meadows and forests, irrigation communities and other water rights, and fisheries. Pub 2015 pages 298

Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution, by Carlo Rovelli

The quantum world Rovelli describes is as beautiful as it is unnerving. Helgoland is a treeless island in the North Sea where the twenty-three-year-old Werner Heisenberg made the crucial breakthrough for the creation of quantum mechanics, setting off a century of scientific revolution. Full of alarming ideas (ghost waves, distant objects that seem to be magically connected, cats that appear both dead and alive), quantum physics has led to countless discoveries and technological advancements. Today our understanding of the world is based on this theory, yet it is still profoundly mysterious. Rovelli argues that its most unsettling contradictions can be explained by seeing the world as fundamentally made of relationships rather than substances. We and everything around us exist only in our interactions with one another. This bold idea suggests new directions for thinking about the structure of reality and even the nature of consciousness. Pub 2021 pages 252

How Physics Makes Us Free, by J.T. Ismael

Can it really be that everything you have done and everything you ever will do is determined by facts that were in place long before you were born? If you want to get behind the façade, past the bare statement of determinism, and really try to understand what physics is telling us in its own terms, read this book. What does it mean to make a decision, and what does it mean to say that our actions are determined? What are laws of nature? What are causes? Ismael provides a deeply informed account of what physics tells us about ourselves. The result is a vision that is abstract, alien, illuminating, and-Ismael argues-affirmative of most of what we all believe about our own freedom. Written in a jargon-free style, How Physics Makes Us Free provides an accessible and innovative take on a central question of human. Pub 2019 pages 290

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Discoveries We Need, by Bill Gates

Gates not only explains why we need to work toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gasses, but also details what we need to do to achieve this profoundly important goal. He gives us a clear-eyed description of the challenges we face. Drawing on his understanding of innovation and what it takes to get new ideas into the market, he describes the areas in which technology is already helping to reduce emissions, where and how the current technology can be made to function more effectively, where breakthrough technologies are needed, and who is working on these essential innovations. Finally, he lays out a concrete, practical plan for achieving the goal of zero emissions—suggesting not only policies that governments should adopt, but what we as individuals can do to keep our government, our employers, and ourselves accountable in this crucial enterprise. Pub 2021 pages 256

Human Cultures through the Scientific Lens: Essays in Evolutionary Cognitive Anthropology, by Pascal Boyer

Boyer promotes the perspective of 'integrated' social science, in which social science questions are addressed in a deliberately eclectic manner, combining results and models from evolutionary biology, experimental psychology, economics, anthropology and history. It thus constitutes a welcome contribution to a gradually emerging approach to social science based on E. O. Wilson's concept of 'consilience'. Boyer spans a wide range of topics, from an examination of ritual behavior, integrating neuroscience, ethology and anthropology to explain why humans engage in ritual actions (both cultural and individual), to the motivation of conflicts between groups. As such, the collection gives readers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the applications of an evolutionary paradigm in the social sciences. Pub 2021 pages 292

The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann, by Ananyo Bhattacharya

The smartphones in our pockets and computers like brains. The vagaries of game theory and evolutionary biology. Nuclear weapons and self-replicating spacecrafts. All bear the fingerprints of one remarkable, yet largely overlooked, man: John von Neumann. Taking us on an astonishing journey, Ananyo Bhattacharya explores how a combination of genius and unique historical circumstance allowed a single man to sweep through a stunningly diverse array of fields, sparking revolutions wherever he went. The Man from the Future is an insightful and thrilling intellectual biography of the visionary thinker who shaped our century. Pub 2022 pages 368

The Myth of Artificial Intelligence:Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do, by Eric J. Larson

Erik J. Larson is a computer scientist and tech entrepreneur. The founder of two DARPA-funded AI startups, he is currently working on core issues in natural language processing and machine learning. Many futurists insist that AI will soon achieve human levels of intelligence. The Myth of Artificial Intelligence argues that such claims are just that: myths. We are not on the path to developing truly intelligent machines. We don’t even know where that path might be. AI researchers and enthusiasts have equated the reasoning approaches of AI with those of human intelligence. Even cutting-edge AI looks nothing like human intelligence. Modern AI is based on inductive reasoning: computers make statistical correlations to determine which answer is likely to be right, allowing software to, say, detect a particular face in an image. But human reasoning is entirely different. Humans do not correlate data sets; we make conjectures sensitive to context—the best guess, given our observations and what we already know about the world. We haven’t a clue how to program this kind of reasoning, known as abduction. Larson argues that all AI hype is bad science and bad for science. Pub 2021-pgs 304

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment, by Daniel Kahneman

Noise: variability in judgments that should be identical. In Noise, Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein show the detrimental effects of noise in many fields, including medicine, law, economic forecasting, forensic science, bail, child protection, strategy, performance reviews, and personnel selection. Wherever there is judgment, there is noise. Yet, most of the time, individuals and organizations alike are unaware of it. They neglect noise. With a few simple remedies, people can reduce both noise and bias, and so make far better decisions. Packed with original ideas, and offering the same kinds of research-based insights that made Thinking, Fast and Slow and Nudge groundbreaking New York Times bestsellers, Noise explains how and why humans are so susceptible to noise in judgment—and what we can do about it. Pub 2021 pages 378

Order of Time, by Carlo Rovelli

We think of time as uniform and universal, moving steadily from past to future, measured by clocks. Rovelli tears down assumptions about time one by one, revealing a strange universe where at the most fundamental level time disappears. He explains how the theory of quantum gravity attempts to understand and give meaning to the resulting extreme landscape of this timeless world. Weaving together ideas from philosophy, science and literature, he suggests that our perception of the flow of time depends on our perspective, better understood starting from the structure of our brain and emotions than from the physical universe. Pub 2018 pages 256

Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity, by Carlo Rovelli

What are the elementary ingredients of the world? Do time and space exist? And what exactly is reality? In elegant and accessible prose, theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli leads us on a wondrous journey from Democritus to Einstein, from Michael Faraday to gravitational waves, and from classical physics to his own work in quantum gravity. As he shows us how the idea of reality has evolved over time, Rovelli offers deeper explanations of the theories he introduced so concisely in Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. Rovelli invites us to imagine a marvelous world where space breaks up into tiny grains, time disappears at the smallest scales, and black holes area waiting to explode—a vast universe still largely undiscovered. Pub 2018 pages 288

The Road to Conscious Machines: The Story of AI, by Michael Wooldridge

The ultimate dream of AI is to build machines that are like us: conscious and self-aware. While this remains a remote possibility, rapid progress in AI is already transforming our world. Yet the public debate is still largely centered on unlikely prospects, from sentient machines to dystopian robot takeovers. In this lively and clear-headed guide, Michael Wooldridge challenges the prevailing narrative, revealing how the hype distracts us from both the more immediate risks that this technology poses - from algorithmic bias to fake news - and the true life-changing potential of the field. The Road to Conscious Machines elucidates the discoveries of AI's greatest pioneers from Alan Turing to Demis Hassabis, and what today's researchers actually think and do. Pub 2021 pages 416

Science Fictions: Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth, by Stuart Richie

Stuart Ritchie’s own work challenging an infamous psychology experiment helped spark what is now widely known as the “replication crisis,” the realization that supposed scientific truths are often just plain wrong. Now, he reveals the very human biases, misunderstandings, and deceptions that undermine the scientific endeavor: from contamination in science labs to the secret vaults of failed studies that nobody gets to see; from outright cheating with fake data to the more common, but still ruinous, temptation to exaggerate mediocre results for a shot at scientific fame. Science Fictions a defense of the scientific method against the pressures and perverse incentives that lead scientists to bend the rules. By illustrating the many ways that scientists go wrong, Ritchie gives us the knowledge we need to spot dubious research and points the way to reforms that could make science trustworthy once again. Pub 2021 pages 368

The Science and Technology of Growing Young: An Insider's Guide to the Breakthroughs that Will Dramatically Extend Our Lifespan ... and What You Can Do Right Now, by Sergey Young

Industry investor and insider Sergey Young demystifies the longevity landscape, cutting through the hype and showing readers what they can do now to live better for longer, and offering a look into the exciting possibilities that await us. By viewing aging as a condition that can be cured, we can dramatically revolutionize the field of longevity and make it accessible for everyone. Join Sergey as he gathers insights from world-leading health entrepreneurs, scientists, doctors, and inventors, providing a comprehensive look into the future of longevity in the near and far horizons. Pub 2021 pages 272

A Series of Fortunate Events: Chance and the Making of the Planet, Life, and You, by Sean B. Carroll (the biologist, not the physicist Carroll)

A Series of Fortunate Events tells the story of the awesome power of chance and how it is the surprising source of all the beauty and diversity in the living world. Like every other species, we humans are here by accident. But it is shocking just how many things―any of which might never have occurred―had to happen in certain ways for any of us to exist. From an extremely improbable asteroid impact, to the wild gyrations of the Ice Age, to invisible accidents in our parents' gonads, we are all here through an astonishing series of fortunate events. And chance continues to reign every day over the razor-thin line between our life and death. A Series of Fortunate Events is an irresistibly entertaining and thought-provoking account of one of the most important but least appreciated facts of life. Pub 2020 pages 224

Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy and Everything Else, by Jordan Ellenberg

If you're like most people, geometry is a sterile and dimly remembered exercise you gladly left behind in the dust of ninth grade, along with your braces and active romantic interest in pop singers. If you recall any of it, it's plodding through a series of miniscule steps only to prove some fact about triangles that was obvious to you in the first place. That's not geometry. Okay, it is geometry, but only a tiny part, which has as much to do with geometry in all its flush modern richness as conjugating a verb has to do with a great novel. Shape reveals the geometry underneath some of the most important scientific, political, and philosophical problems we face. Geometry asks: Where are things? Which things are near each other? How can you get from one thing to another thing? Those are important questions. The word "geometry"comes from the Greek for "measuring the world." If anything, that's an undersell. Geometry doesn't just measure the world—it explains it. Shape shows us how. Pub 2021 pages 422

Six Impossible Things: The Mystery of the Quantum World, by John Gribbin.

In this concise and engaging book, astrophysicist John Gribbin offers an overview of six of the leading interpretations of quantum mechanics. Gribbin presents Copenhagen, Pilot-Wave, Many Worlds, Decoherence, Ensemble, and Timeless Transactional Interpretations. All of these interpretations are crazy, Gribbin warns, and some are more crazy than others—but in the quantum world, being more crazy does not necessarily mean more wrong. Pub 2019 pages 104

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen GreenBlatt

On the Nature of Things, had been almost entirely lost to history for more than a thousand years. It was a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functions without the aid of gods, that religious fear is damaging to human life, that pleasure and virtue are not opposites but intertwined, and that matter is made up of very small material particles in eternal motion, randomly colliding and swerving in new directions. Its return to circulation changed the course of history. The poem’s vision would shape the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein, and—in the hands of Thomas Jefferson—leave its trace on the Declaration of Independence. From the gardens of the ancient philosophers to the dark chambers of monastic scriptoria during the Middle Ages to the cynical, competitive court of a corrupt and dangerous pope, Greenblatt brings Poggio Bracciolini search and discovery to life in a way that deepens our understanding of the world we live in now. Pub 2012 pages 356

System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot, by Rob Reich

System Error exposes the root of our current predicament: how big tech’s relentless focus on optimization is driving a future that reinforces discrimination, erodes privacy, displaces workers, and pollutes the information we get. This optimization mindset substitutes what companies care about for the values that we as a democratic society might choose to prioritize. Well-intentioned optimizers fail to measure all that is meaningful and, when their creative disruptions achieve great scale, they impose their values upon the rest of us. Troubled by the values that permeate the university’s student body and its culture, three Stanford professors worked together to chart a new path forward, creating a popular course to transform how tomorrow’s technologists approach their profession. Now, as the dominance of big tech becomes an explosive societal conundrum, they share their provocative insights and concrete solutions to help everyone understand what is happening, what is at stake, and what we can do to control technology instead of letting it control us. Pub 2021 pages 352

Think Again, by Adam Grant

Adam Grant makes it one of his guiding principles to argue like he's right but listen like he's wrong. He investigates how we can embrace the joy of being wrong, bring nuance to charged conversations, and build schools, workplaces, and communities of lifelong learners. Think Again reveals that we don't have to believe everything we think or internalize everything we feel. It's an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility, humility, and curiosity over foolish consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom. Pub 2021 pages 320

This Book Will Blow Your Mind, by New Scientist

From quantum weirdness to freaky cosmology (like white holes - which spew out matter instead of sucking it in), New Scientist takes you on an epic journey to the furthest extremes of science, to the things you never thought possible. Why is part of the universe missing (and how scientists finally found it) How time might also flow backwards How human head transplants might be possible (in the very near future) Whether the universe is a hologram And why we are all zombies Filled with counterintuitive stories and factoids you can't wait to share, as well as lots of did-you-knows and plenty of how-did-we-ever-not-knows, this book will blow your mind - and then put it back together again. Pub 2018 pages 336

This Way to the Universe: A Theoretical Physicist's Journey to the Edge of Reality, by Michael Dine

This Way to the Universe is a celebration of the astounding, ongoing scientific investigations that have revealed the nature of reality at its smallest, at its largest, and at the scale of our daily lives. The enigmas that Professor Michael Dine discusses are like landmarks on a fantastic journey to the edge of the universe. Asked where to find out about the Big Bang, Dark Matter, the Higgs boson particle—the long cutting edge of physics right now—Dine had no single book he could recommend. This is his accessible, authoritative, and up-to-date answer. With almost no equations, there is no better author to take you on this amazing odyssey. Pub 2022 pages 352

A Thousand Brains A New Theory of Intelligence, by Jeff Hawkins and Richard Dawkins.

A bestselling author, neuroscientist, and computer engineer unveils a theory of intelligence that will revolutionize our understanding of the brain and the future of AI. For all of neuroscience's advances, we've made little progress on its biggest question: How do simple cells in the brain create intelligence? Jeff Hawkins and his team discovered that the brain uses maplike structures to build a model of the world-not just one model, but hundreds of thousands of models of everything we know. This discovery allows Hawkins to answer important questions about how we perceive the world, why we have a sense of self, and the origin of high-level thought. A Thousand Brains heralds a revolution in the understanding of intelligence. It is a big-think book, in every sense of the word. Pub 2021 pages 263

Under a White Sky, by Kolbert

Elizabeth Kolbert takes a hard look at the new world we are creating. One way to look at human civilization, says Kolbert, is as a ten-thousand-year exercise in defying nature. In The Sixth Extinction, she explored the ways in which our capacity for destruction has reshaped the natural world. Now she examines how the very sorts of interventions that have imperiled our planet are increasingly seen as the only hope for its salvation. Along the way, she meets biologists who are trying to preserve the world’s rarest fish, which lives in a single tiny pool in the middle of the Mojave; engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland; Australian researchers who are trying to develop a “super coral” that can survive on a hotter globe; and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth. By turns inspiring, terrifying, and darkly comic, Under a White Sky is an utterly original examination of the challenges we face. Pub 2021 pages 256

Useful Delusions: The Power and Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain, by Shankar Vedantam and Bill Mesler

Self-deception does terrible harm to us, to our communities, and to the planet. But if it is so bad for us, why is it ubiquitous? The authors argue that, paradoxically, self-deception can also play a vital role in our success and well-being. The lies we tell ourselves sustain our daily interactions with friends, lovers, and coworkers. They can explain why some people live longer than others, why some couples remain in love and others don’t, why some nations hold together while others splinter. Filled with powerful personal stories and drawing on new insights in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy, Useful Delusions offers a fascinating tour of what it really means to be human. Pub 2021 pages 264

What Is Life?: Five Great Ideas in Biology, by Paul Nurse

What is Life? is a shared journey of discovery; step-by-step Nurse illuminates five great ideas that underpin biology―the Cell, the Gene, Evolution by Natural Selection, Life as Chemistry, and Life as Information. He introduces the scientists who made the most important advances, and, using his personal experiences in and out of the lab, he shares with us the challenges, the lucky breaks, and the thrilling eureka moments of discovery. Nurse writes with delight at life’s richness and with a sense of the urgent role of biology in our time. To survive the challenges that face us all today―climate change, pandemic, loss of biodiversity and food security―it is vital that we all understand what life is. Pub 2021 pages 160

Ballot

We use the Borda system of voting. This means you give your favorite book, in this case, 35 points, your second favorite 34, your third 33, ... your least favorite 1. All books are assigned a number from 35 to 1, favorite to least favorite.

For new members, common mistakes:

When there are this many books one simple method I use is to select the top three, assign them 35, 34, 33. Take the next top three and then assign numbers 31, 30, 29, take the next three, etc. It is sort of a double filter that simplifies. You may have your own methods. There are only approximately 3 x 10^35 ways to sort these. So tree trimming simplifiers help. Any questions? Email me.

Please enclose your numbers in the brackets, then cut, paste and email to me. I hope to get all ballots back by February 15.

[ ] BeingYou [ ] The Brain [ ] The Code Breaker [ ] Debt: 1st 5K years [ ] The Deficit Myth [ ] The Demon Haunted World [ ] Enlightenment Now [ ] The Exponential Age [ ] Free Speech [ ] The Future of Humanity [ ] Governing the Commons [ ] Helgoland [ ] How Physics Makes Us Free [ ] How To Avoid A Climate Disaster [ ] Human Cultures Through the Scientific Lens [ ] The Man from the Future [ ] The Myth of Artificial Intelligence [ ] Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment [ ] The Order of Time [ ] Reality is Not What It Seems [ ] The Road to Consciousness [ ] Science Fictions [ ] The Science and Technology of Growing Young [ ] A Series of Fortunate Events [ ] Shape-The Hidden Geometry [ ] Six Impossible Things [ ] The Swerve [ ] System Error [ ] Think Again [ ] This Book Will Blow Your Mind [ ] This Way to the Universe [ ] A Thousand Brains [ ] Under a White Sky [ ] Useful Delusions [ ] What is Life?

The 2021 Bookshelf

The 2020 Bookshelf

The 2019 Bookshelf

The 2018 Bookshelf

The 2017 Bookshelf

The 2016 Bookshelf

The 2015 Bookshelf

The 2014 Bookshelf

The 2013 Bookshelf