What We Are Reading Today: SPARK by Timothy J. Jorgensen

What We Are Reading Today: SPARK by Timothy J. Jorgensen
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Updated 17 November 2021

What We Are Reading Today: SPARK by Timothy J. Jorgensen

What We Are Reading Today: SPARK by Timothy J. Jorgensen

When we think of electricity, we likely imagine the energy humming inside our home appliances or lighting up our electronic devices—or perhaps we envision the lightning-streaked clouds of a stormy sky. But electricity is more than an external source of power, heat, or illumination. Life at its essence is nothing if not electrical.

The story of how we came to understand electricity’s essential role in all life is rooted in our observations of its influences on the body—influences governed by the body’s central nervous system. Spark explains the science of electricity from this fresh, biological perspective. Through vivid tales of scientists and individuals—from Benjamin Franklin to Elon Musk—Timothy Jorgensen shows how our views of electricity and the nervous system evolved in tandem, and how progress in one area enabled advancements in the other.


What We Are Reading Today: Starry Messenger

What We Are Reading Today: Starry Messenger
Updated 06 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Starry Messenger

What We Are Reading Today: Starry Messenger

Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Bringing his cosmic perspective to civilization on Earth, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Starry Messenger” shines new light on the crucial fault lines of our time — war, politics, religion, truth, beauty, gender, and race — in a way that stimulates a deeper sense of unity for us all.

With crystalline prose, Tyson walks us through the scientific palette that sees and paints the world differently.

From insights on resolving global conflict to reminders of how precious it is to be alive, Tyson reveals, with warmth and eloquence, an array of brilliant and beautiful truths that apply to us all, informed and enlightened by knowledge of our place in the universe.


What We Are Reading Today: Becoming FDR

What We Are Reading Today: Becoming FDR
Updated 05 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Becoming FDR

What We Are Reading Today: Becoming FDR

Author: Jonathan Darman

Jonathan Darman’s Becoming FDR reveals how Franklin D. Roosevelt found his true self in his searing struggle with polio — emerging from illness with a strength and wisdom he would use to inspire the world.

Born in 1882 to a wealthy, influential family, he seemed destined for high office. Yet the young Roosevelt nonetheless lacked depth, empathy, and an ability to think strategically. Those qualities, so essential to his success as president, were skills he acquired during his seven-year journey through illness and recovery.

Tracing the evolution of the iconic president, Becoming FDR shows how adversity can lead to greatness, and to the power to remake the world.


What We Are Reading Today: Breathless

What We Are Reading Today: Breathless
Updated 04 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Breathless

What We Are Reading Today: Breathless

Author: David Quammen

Breathless is the story of SARS-CoV-2 and its fierce journey through the human population, as seen by the scientists who study its origin, its ever-changing nature, and its capacity to kill us.

Veteran science journalist David Quammen expertly shows how strange new viruses emerge from animals into humans as we disrupt wild ecosystems, and how those viruses adapt to their human hosts, sometimes causing global catastrophe.  He explains why this coronavirus will probably be a “forever virus,” destined to circulate among humans and bedevil us endlessly, in one variant form or another.

As scientists labor to catch it, comprehend it, and control it, with their high-tech tools and methods, the virus finds ways of escape.

In his compelling and terrifying new book, Quammen demonstrates just how much was known — and expected — by infectious disease scientists long before patrons of the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market fell ill in December 2019 with a pneumonia-like virus.

He focuses his informed attention on the unsung heroes who dare to wrestle with viruses, those strange entities he calls “the dark angels of evolution.”

 


What We Are Reading Today: Portuguese Merchants in the Manila Galleon System

What We Are Reading Today: Portuguese Merchants in the Manila Galleon System
Updated 02 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Portuguese Merchants in the Manila Galleon System

What We Are Reading Today: Portuguese Merchants in the Manila Galleon System

Author: Cuauhtaemoc Villamar

In this book, the writer examines the role of Portuguese merchants in the formation of the Manila Galleon as a system of trade founded at the end of the sixteenth century.

The rise of Manila as a crucial transhipment port was not a spontaneous incident. Instead, it came about through a complex combination of circumstances and interconnections that nurtured the establishment of the Manila Galleon system, a trading mechanism that lasted two and half centuries from 1565 until 1815.

The writer analyses the establishment of the regulatory framework of the trade across the Pacific Ocean as a whole setting that provided legality to the transactions, predictability to the transportation and security to the stakeholders, according to a review on goodreads.com

The writer looks both at the Spanish crown strategy in Asia, and the emergence of a network of Portuguese merchants located in Manila and active in the long-distance trade.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Eco-Types; Five Ways of Caring about the Environment

What We Are Reading Today: Eco-Types; Five Ways of Caring about the Environment
Updated 01 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Eco-Types; Five Ways of Caring about the Environment

What We Are Reading Today: Eco-Types; Five Ways of Caring about the Environment

Edited by Emily Huddart Kennedy

When we picture the ideal environmentalist, we likely have in mind someone who dedicates herself to reducing her own environmental footprint through individual choices about consumption—driving a fuel-efficient car, for example, or eating less meat, or refusing plastic straws.

This is a benchmark that many aspire to—and many others reject. In Eco-Types, Emily Huddart Kennedy shows that there is more than one way to care about the environment, outlining a spectrum of eco-social relationships that range from engagement to indifference.

Kennedy argues that when liberals feel they have a moral monopoly on environmental issues, polarization results. If we are serious about protecting the planet, we must acknowledge that we don’t all need to care about the environment in the same way.