Biology, Science and Nature Books

Astronomy and Cosmology

Cosmology is the name given to a range of natural sciences, including both physics and astronomy that intends to provide an explanation for how the universe works as an integrated entity. Over the centuries, since the Pythagoreans in Greece during the 6th century BC considered the possibility that Earth was spherical, cosmology has come a long way and has integrated a variety of different fields of science.

Cosmology evolved from the observation of these Greeks who interpreted the natural laws of the heavenly bodies from which, eventually, the Ptolemaic model developed during the second century AD. Centuries later, during the 16th century, the Copernican system further developed the theories surrounding astronomy and cosmology – followed, in the 20th century, by the theories of special relativity and Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. Overall, however, the case for cosmology states that the laws of physics work the same everywhere and that there is homogeneity throughout the universe.

‘The Holographic Universe’, written by Michael Talbot, tells its story in two parts: the first part devotes 55 pages to discussing David Bohm’s holographic model of the universe – simplified into everyday language by Talbot. The second part of the book delves into events of the paranormal while, at the same time, attempting to rationalise the holographic model. Talbot introduces the reader to Karl Pribram as well as the philosophies of David Bohm.

Chemistry

Chemistry and biochemistry often go hand-in-hand, existing in parallel with other scientific disciplines such as dietetics [the science of food]. McCance and Widdowson, who produce ‘The Composition of Foods’ summarises food composition tables and updates much in the way of nutrition as a science. The foreword to the 6th edition has been written by Sir John Krebs while the actual volume itself provides an invaluable source of reference to dieticians and nutritionists the world over.

Meanwhile,’Principles of Biochemistry’ by Nelson D has been described as a ‘modern approach to biochemistry’. Personally, one of the best biochemistry books I have ever encountered was that written by Patterson – now, sadly, long since out of print. I attribute my successful pass in the biochemistry exams to the presence of Patterson which, by the time I had finished with it, was particularly dog-eared! Nelson D’s ‘Principles of Biochemistry’ really is the next best thing to Patterson and a worthy successor.

Earth Sciences and Geography

Earth sciences are a catch-all term covering a different range of natural sciences from those mentioned above. These relate to the study of the earth and how different parts of it are interlinked to produce that homogenous whole that is the classic feature of the scientific world. If you are interested in the world around you then you may be interested in a lovely book by Gavin Pretor-Pinney. This book ‘The Cloud Collector’s Handbook’ is full of charming pictures, below which you will find a short description of each cloud and space for you to record your own sightings. It certainly gives a new connotation to having your head in the clouds!

Education

If you think about it, there is all the difference in the world between someone who loves school and somebody who loves to learn: it doesn’t necessarily follow that, if you love to learn, then you must enjoy school. Education, however, is all about learning for the sheer pleasure of gaining new information. This learning may or may not be associated with school: it can even cover any subject. Evidence of this can be seen in Richard Dawkins’ book ‘The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution’.

Dawkins goes about educating his readers, explaining to them how fossils can be dated accurately, all about plate tectonics etc, before going into the details of how these may be linked with the global distribution of plants and animals and the effects changes in these physical elements can have on them. Dawkins, whilst making it clear that he is aware [and who could not be?] of the great debate on creation v evolution, doesn’t get drawn into the minutiae surrounding this eternal dispute.

Engineering and Technology

One book that I simply have to recommend is a fantastic book written by Jo Marchant. You will find it in our Science and Nature section under the heading of Engineering and Technology. The first thing to say is that this is not some dry and boring technical tome. This book relates the story behind a particularly ancient Greek artefact and what it took to decode its hidden mysteries. The book is called ‘Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World’s First Computer’. I wish Jo Marchant had found a more intriguing title for her book because this title really doesn’t do this book justice.

The book relates the story of the Antikythera Mechanism which has been shown to have amazing capabilities as an astronomical calculator: scientists believe its complexity was at least 1500 years before its time. The Antikythera Mechanism artifact is a good 2,000 years old and was found during a dive in 1901. Scientists have been attempting to unravel its secrets ever since. So, if it’s a true-life mystery you are interested, or a book that’s a bit different I would strongly recommend this well-written and interesting book of Jo Marchant’s.

There are innumerable other sub-genres to be found within our Science and Nature section, covering quite an array of subjects. If you are a fan of the border collie, Barbara Sykes writes a delightful treatise on ‘Understanding Border Collies’. This is an excellent book written by somebody who really does understand the intricacies that go to make up this breed of dog and is an absolute ‘must have’ for all the lovers of border collies out there. Changing from dogs to elephants, I would certainly recommend ‘The Elephant Whisperer: Learning about Life, Loyalty and Freedom from a Remarkable Herd of Elephants’ – it will really pull on your heartstrings then have you howling with laughter! Check out all the other options within this section – you will probably amaze yourself at the treasure trove of titles hidden within our web pages!

Colleges Fail to Turn Out Enough Computer and Information Technology Graduates

The computer and information technology field is one of today’s highest demand employment fields. The Federal Government projects an increase of 22% in the total number of jobs between now and 2020. The trend is expected to continue.

Industry experts say that private and public sector employers are searching for qualified people to work as web developers, security analysts, network administrators, computer support specialists and other specialized computer-related employment jobs.

College graduates with the skills and knowledge that are needed in information technology can have numerous job opportunities. The demand is widespread.

The fact remains, however, that colleges and universities in the United States are failing to prepare enough people to fill the vacancies. Evidence that employers are experiencing difficulty in finding qualified Americans to work in the computer-related occupations can be found in the continuing demand for H-1B visas for foreign workers.

The Brookings Institute reports that U.S. companies continue to face a shortage of available workers in the science and technology fields. Computer occupations remain among the job classifications for which H-1B visas are being sought. Brookings recommends that the Federal Government immediately adjust caps so that employment needs by region can be filled as soon as possible. The Institute further suggests that the fees charged to apply for H-1B visa applications be spent on programs that train U.S. workers in the high demand occupations that are currently being filled by workers from other countries.

Cisco, a major global networking company, confirms that the demand for qualified workers exceeds the supply. Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, vice president and general manager of Learning at Cisco, recently said in a Forbes magazine article, “Absolutely, there is a skills gap in I.T. It’s where the jobs will be in the future.”

William Kamela, senior director for education and the workforce at Microsoft’s Law and Corporate Affairs Office, said “Nationally, there are about 40,000 computer science graduates a year but the nation needs 122,000.” Kazmela adds, “Microsoft can’t find enough people to fill all its positions.”

The demand for information technology workers is high and the compensation for computer technology workers is above average. Modern society and economies are literally driven by computer technology. Hundreds of thousands of information specialists are needed to make it work.

A serious disconnect appears to exist among employment demand, educational institutions and students. One educational leader says, “The educational system in the U.S. has failed to address employment demand. School administrators talk a good game but ignore reality. Existing undergraduate curriculum tends to be too broad. Students have to take the responsibility and inform themselves about career opportunities. Most schools avoid doing so. An individual who obtains the information technology skills and knowledge that are in demand can recession proof his or her future. The sky is the limit.”

The facts confirm that the U.S. has a shortage of qualified information technology workers. The demand for such workers is strong. Industry leaders continue to complain that qualified workers are difficult to find. Universities and colleges are failing to fill the demand. The job opportunities in information technology are abundant.

Science Fair Project Ideas

Science is the study of the natural world. With subjects including Astronomy and Astrophysics, Biology, Botany, Chemistry, History of Geology, Mathematics, History of Physics, and Technology, it is a way to find out how nature works.

Science education consists of making observations, asking questions, and collecting information. This scientific method is practiced in order to make discoveries about the world.

In school where students are exposed to the contributions of natural philosophers and scientists to the history of science from many cultures spanning the ancient and modern times, they learn about the world we all live in and about themselves. They are encouraged to understand that adding new information and making discoveries, as well as correcting errors and misunderstandings are all part of the process of living on this planet. That’s how science works.

To determine whether students are influenced to become scientists (it’s human nature to ask questions and be aware of what surrounds you; science exercises are good starting vehicles for teachers to find out if their students are learning), it is important to let them understand the methods or processes of science through hands-on activities or laboratory work. That’s where science fair projects come in. These projects allow interactions between science and technology and society.

Please note that your science fair project must be about a topic that interests you. What have you always wondered or liked about that topic? Here are some subjects you can choose from.

1. Animals and Insects. What are the common classifications of the animal kingdom? What do they do and eat to survive and communicate? Common and different traits and characteristics of animals and insects. What happens when you enclose an animal or insect in a surrounding different from where it got used to?

2. Solar System: Earth, Sun, Stars and Other Heavenly Bodies. What are the planets and other bodies that orbit it? Characteristics and distances of the planets and other bodies. How does the color of a background affect its absorption of solar insolation? How do you prove life exists in the universe? How does solar energy work?

3. Food and Our Bodies. How humans look like? What do they eat? How do their bodies work? How people get food? What are the food in different places and customs? What are the food names? What is a food chain? What are eating disorders? On which food does fungus grow best? How do acids affect teeth? Can humans survive without water

4. Oceans, Rivers, and Streams. What are the different water bodies that cover the earth surface? What are the other living things and creatures that live under the sea? What are the minerals that can be found in the ocean? How important are these water bodies to our survival? How does the ocean influence the weather? Does the amount of water affect the size of the wave and other water movements? Where is the current of a stream the fastest? How polluted is our water? Will there ever come a time where water on Earth decrease in volume?

5. The Water Cycle. What is it? What are the causes of water cycle? How important is water cycle? What are the sources of water vapor? What are the factors that affect water cycle?

6. Plants, Photosynthesis and Gardening. What is photosynthesis? How does it work? How is it essential to life on earth? What kind of soil is best for water retention? What is the percentage of water in various fruits and vegetables? Does the type of water affect the growth of plants? Which plants and vegetables make the best dye? Can plants deprived of sunlight grow? Is soil necessary for plant growth?

7. Weather. What are the causes of weather? What are moisture, air pressure and air masses? How do changes in air pressure affect the weather? What is a weather forecast? Is there a relationship between phases of the moon and our weather? How does topography affect weather conditions? Are there alternative ways to prevent rain?

Though science may be broadly defined as the development of knowledge about the physical universe, it has so many entries and studies every individual can relate to, or at least there has to be some topic one will find interesting. And through science fair projects, each student is a given a renewed awareness on the importance of nature and its existence.