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Great Science Reads: What our Scientists are Reading

We asked our scientists to share the great science reads they’ve perused recently.  Here’s what they’ve been reading:

Open book with Highlighter and Glasses on top of it

Letters to a Young Scientist by E.O. Wilson

Edward Wilson's book "Letters To A Young Scientist"

Steve Garrity: E.O. Wilson is a leader in the science of biology. This book is a simple read. What I like most about it is that it very effectively conveys Dr. Wilson’s passion for science. His thoughts on what it takes to be a successful scientist resonated with me the most.  In describing what it takes to be a successful scientist, E.O. Wilson says that being a genius, having a high IQ, and possessing mathematical fluency are all not enough. Instead, he says that success comes from hard work and finding joy in the processes of discovery. Dr. Wilson gets specific and says that the real key to success is the ability to rapidly perform numerous experiments. “Disturb nature,” he says, “and see if she reveals a secret.” Often she doesn’t, but performing rapid, and often sloppy, experiments increases the odds of discovering something new.

Out of the Scientist’s Garden by Richard Stirzaker

Picture of the cover of "Out Of The Scientist's Garden- A Story Of Water And Food"

Lauren Crawford: “Richard Stirzaker is a scientist out of Australia committed to finding tools to make farming easier and more productive in third world countries.  I love how he talks about what happens when he uses water from his washing machine on his garden and the unanticipated effects: what does the detergent do to the fertilizers and the soil properties?  It’s a scientific view of how a garden works.”

Introduction to Water in California by David Carle

The cover of the book "Introduction To Water In California" by David Carle

Chris Lund: “This is a great introduction to California’s water resources, from where the water comes from to how it is used….particularly relevant today given California’s ongoing drought and the hard choices California faces as a result.”

The Drunkard’s Walk:  How Randomness Rules our Lives, by Leonard Mlodinow

A picture of the cover of the book "The Drunkard's Walk- How Randomness Rules Our Lives" by Leonard Mlodinow

Paolo Castiglione:  “The Drunkard’s Walk’s beginning quote perfectly reflects the author’s thesis: “In God we trust. All others bring data!”. I enjoyed the author’s discussion on how the past century was strongly influenced by ideologies, in contrast to the present one, where data seems to shape people’s actions and beliefs.”

Chapter 13 of An Introduction to Environmental Biophysics, by Gaylon Campbell

A picture of the cover of the book "An Introduction To Environmental Biophysics" by Gaylon S. Campbell and John M. Norman

Colin Campbell:  “Because of teaching Environmental Biophysics class, all my focus has been on reading An Introduction to Environmental Biophysics.  And, although I’ve read it too many times to count, I finally had a chance to study the human energy balance chapter (13) in depth, which was amazing.  The way humans interact with our environment is something we deal with at every moment of every day; often not giving it much thought. In this chapter, we are reminded of the people of Tierra del Fuego (Fuegians) who were able to survive in an environment where temperatures approached 0 C daily, wearing no more than a loincloth. Using the principles of environmental biophysics and the equations developed in the chapter, we concluded that the Fuegian metabolic rate had to continuously run near the maximum of a typical human today. The food requirements to maintain that metabolic rate would be somewhere between the equivalent of 17 and 30 hamburgers per day (their diet was high in seal fat).  You can read more about the Fuegians here.”

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