Category Archives: Ultima

Merlin’s Tour of the Universe – Neil de Grasse Tyson

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Merlin’s Tour of the Universe

A Skywatcher’s Guide to Everything from Mars and Quasars to Comets, Planets,Blue Moons, and Werewolves

Neil de Grasse Tyson

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: July 14, 1997

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry comes a fascinating guide to the most popular questions about the universe. In Neil de Grasse Tyson's delightful tour of the galaxies, his fictional character Merlin responds to popular astronomy questions asked by adults and children alike. Merlin, a visitor from Planet Omniscia in the Andromeda Galaxy, has been friends with many of the most important scientific figures of the past, including da Vinci, Magellan, Doppler, Einstein, and Hubble—and he often recounts his conversations with these historical figures in his explanations. Merlin's illuminating answers feature a unique combination of wit and poetry along with serious science explained in refreshingly clear, reader-friendly language. Dear Merlin: Can a person cross our galaxy in a spaceship during one human lifespan? Merlin: In 1905, Merlin's good friend Albert Einstein introduced the "Special Theory of Relativity," which predicts that time will tick slower and slower the faster you travel. Were you to embark on such an adventure you could conceivably age as little as you wish, depending of course, on your exact speed. The problem arises when you return to Earth, which will have moved several hundred thousand years into the future and everyone will have forgotten about you. A timeless book for lovers of the universe by one of its greatest lights.

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Merlin’s Tour of the Universe – Neil de Grasse Tyson

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How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming – Mike Brown

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How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming

Mike Brown

Genre: Astronomy

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: December 7, 2010

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


The solar system most of us grew up with included nine planets, with Mercury closest to the sun and Pluto at the outer edge. Then, in 2005, astronomer Mike Brown made the discovery of a lifetime: a tenth planet, Eris, slightly bigger than Pluto. But instead of adding one more planet to our solar system, Brown’s find ignited a firestorm of controversy that culminated in the demotion of Pluto from real planet to the newly coined category of “dwarf” planet. Suddenly Brown was receiving hate mail from schoolchildren and being bombarded by TV reporters—all because of the discovery he had spent years searching for and a lifetime dreaming about. A heartfelt and personal journey filled with both humor and drama, How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming is the book for anyone, young or old, who has ever imagined exploring the universe—and who among us hasn’t?

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How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming – Mike Brown

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Patient H.M. – Luke Dittrich

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Patient H.M. – Luke Dittrich

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Radical Evolution – Joel Garreau

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Radical Evolution

The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies — and What It Means toBe Human

Joel Garreau

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: May 17, 2005

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


In Radical Evolution, bestselling author Joel Garreau, a reporter and editor for the Washington Post, shows us that we are at an inflection point in history. As you read this, we are engineering the next stage of human evolution. Through advances in genetic, robotic, information and nanotechnologies, we are altering our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities, our progeny–and perhaps our very souls. Taking us behind the scenes with today's foremost researchers and pioneers, Garreau reveals that the super powers of our comic-book heroes already exist, or are in development in hospitals, labs, and research facilities around the country — from the revved up reflexes and speed of Spider-Man and Superman, to the enhanced mental acuity and memory capabilities of an advanced species. Over the next fifteen years, Garreau makes clear, these enhancements will become part of our everyday lives. Where will they lead us? To heaven–where technology’s promise to make us smarter, vanquish illness and extend our lives is the answer to our prayers? Or will they lead us, as some argue, to hell — where unrestrained technology brings about the ultimate destruction of our entire species? With the help and insights of the gifted thinkers and scientists who are making what has previously been thought of as science fiction a reality, Garreau explores how these developments, in our lifetime, will affect everything from the way we date to the way we work, from how we think and act to how we fall in love. It is a book about what our world is becoming today, not fifty years out. As Garreau cautions, it is only by anticipating the future that we can hope to shape it. From the Hardcover edition.

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Radical Evolution – Joel Garreau

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4 Tips for Going Solar in 2018

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Solar energy production has skyrocketed in recent years in the United States. With more than 49 megawatts of installed solar capacity, there are now enough solar panels to power 9.5 million homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Are you interested in getting on the solar bandwagon? Ultimately, determining if it is financially savvy to go solar depends on numerous factors, including the cost of electricity in your area, the price and output of the solar system, and available solar energy incentives.

Is 2018 a good year for you to go solar? Here are some tips on making an informed decision.

Understand Your Local Net Metering Laws

Net metering laws require power companies to bank excess credits for solar electricity fed to the utility grid for later use by the homeowner. For example, let’s say your solar panels generated 10 kWh of excess electricity for the grid during a sunny day and then you consumed 10 kWh of electricity at night. Under net metering laws, you would neither owe money nor be reimbursed for this power, given that you provided as much power as you later consumed.

In 2015, 43 states had net metering laws. Now, only 38 states do. In some areas, solar homeowners are not rewarded at a retail rate for the excess power they supply. Find out what the laws are in your state to better understand the return on investment of your solar system. In some areas where net metering laws are changing, existing solar system owners are grandfathered in under the old system. If the new rules haven’t taken effect yet, you still might be able to get compensated under the old, higher rate.

Consider Solar Equipment Warranties

Solar product warranties vary among manufacturers, and they are an important consideration before installing a solar system. Equipment warranties can protect you, making solar a safer long-term investment. Ask your solar installer or conduct independent research to determine product warranties, as they can vary widely by manufacturer and product. Recently, some manufacturers have been setting themselves apart by offering exceptional warranties.

Solar panel warranties, in particular, are an important consideration, as they are typically the most expensive equipment in your solar system. Over time, even the best solar panels produce less energy due to product degradation. Although all solar panels are less effective at generating electricity over time, the degradation rate varies by the panel. Performance guarantees help ensure that solar electric panels are producing at a certain percentage of their original generation capacity after a given number of years.

Currently, many manufacturers guarantee 90 percent production for 10 years and 80 percent for 25 years. Some panel manufacturers set themselves apart by offering stronger warranties. SunPower, for example, leads the industry by offering a 92 percent performance guarantee for 25 years.

Most solar panel manufacturers also protect against defects. Many solar panels have a 10-year equipment warranty on the integrity of the panel. Now, SunEdison, Solaria and SunPower solar panels have a 25-year equipment warranty.

Shop around when installing a solar system to find the best price, warranties and solar equipment quality. UnderstandSolar is an excellent free service that links solar shoppers with top-rated solar installers in their area for personalized solar estimates, and EnergySage allows you to make apple-to-apple comparisons.

Take Advantage of the Federal Tax Credit and Solar Incentives

There is a federal tax credit in effect that reduces the total net cost of a solar system by 30 percent! A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal income taxes owed, so it is more valuable to the taxpayer than a tax write-off.

If you install a $10,000 solar system, you can qualify for a $3,000 tax credit. This solar incentive will start scaling down in 2020. Keep in mind that some states or municipalities offer incentives for using solar.

Start with Energy-Efficiency Improvements

Although this is not a new development in 2018, it is important to consider whenever someone is going solar. Before sizing your solar system, look for ways to cut your home electricity use. Refrigerators, lighting, electric water heaters and air-conditioners are common electricity hogs. In many cases, it is worthwhile to replace old appliances with high-efficiency models.

Also, explore if you have any vampire loads that suck power even when appliances or electronics are turned off. Home entertainment and office equipment often continuously drain power. Smart power strips are a great solution to stop energy vampires in their tracks.

Consider Solar Loans

As the solar energy industry matures, there are now more solar loan products available than ever before. Solar loans make the most financial sense when the amount you pay on the loan is less than your monthly utility savings. This means that the loan allows you to save money on your solar system from day 1. Make sure to take the loan fees and interest into consideration. A home equity line of credit is another option, and the interest is likely tax-deductible.

Ultimately, the decision to go solar is multifaceted. Many homeowners choose solar because they want to do their part to help stop climate change or to wean themselves off of fossil fuels. Now that the cost of solar has dropped so much, many install solar systems merely for the cost savings. In much of the U.S., 2018 is a good year to go solar.

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4 Tips for Going Solar in 2018

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Physics of the Future – Michio Kaku

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Physics of the Future
How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100
Michio Kaku

Genre: Physics

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: March 15, 2011

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


Imagine, if you can, the world in the year 2100. In Physics of the Future , Michio Kaku—the New York Times bestselling author of Physics of the Impossible —gives us a stunning, provocative, and exhilarating vision of the coming century based on interviews with over three hundred of the world’s top scientists who are already inventing the future in their labs. The result is the most authoritative and scientifically accurate description of the revolutionary developments taking place in medicine, computers, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, energy production, and astronautics. In all likelihood, by 2100 we will control computers via tiny brain sensors and, like magicians, move objects around with the power of our minds. Artificial intelligence will be dispersed throughout the environment, and Internet-enabled contact lenses will allow us to access the world’s information base or conjure up any image we desire in the blink of an eye. Meanwhile, cars will drive themselves using GPS, and if room-temperature superconductors are discovered, vehicles will effortlessly fly on a cushion of air, coasting on powerful magnetic fields and ushering in the age of magnetism. Using molecular medicine, scientists will be able to grow almost every organ of the body and cure genetic diseases. Millions of tiny DNA sensors and nanoparticles patrolling our blood cells will silently scan our bodies for the first sign of illness, while rapid advances in genetic research will enable us to slow down or maybe even reverse the aging process, allowing human life spans to increase dramatically. In space, radically new ships—needle-sized vessels using laser propulsion—could replace the expensive chemical rockets of today and perhaps visit nearby stars. Advances in nanotechnology may lead to the fabled space elevator, which would propel humans hundreds of miles above the earth’s atmosphere at the push of a button. But these astonishing revelations are only the tip of the iceberg . Kaku also discusses emotional robots, antimatter rockets, X-ray vision, and the ability to create new life-forms, and he considers the development of the world economy. He addresses the key questions: Who are the winner and losers of the future? Who will have jobs, and which nations will prosper? All the while, Kaku illuminates the rigorous scientific principles, examining the rate at which certain technologies are likely to mature, how far they can advance, and what their ultimate limitations and hazards are. Synthesizing a vast amount of information to construct an exciting look at the years leading up to 2100, Physics of the Future is a thrilling, wondrous ride through the next 100 years of breathtaking scientific revolution. From the Hardcover edition.

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Physics of the Future – Michio Kaku

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How to Defeat Your Own Clone – Kyle Kurpinski & Terry D. Johnson

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How to Defeat Your Own Clone

And Other Tips for Surviving the Biotech Revolution

Kyle Kurpinski & Terry D. Johnson

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: February 23, 2010

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


Send in the clones! On second thought, maybe not.   CAN IT READ MY MIND? WILL IT BE EVIL? HOW DO I STOP IT?   Find out the answers to these and other burning questions in this funny, informative, and ingenious book from two bioengineering experts who show you how to survive—and thrive—in a new age of truly weird science. For decades, science fiction has been alerting us to the wonders and perils of our biotech future—from the prospects of gene therapy to the pitfalls of biological warfare. Now that future looms before us. Don’t panic! This book is all you need to prepare for the new world that awaits us, providing indispensable cautionary advice on topics such as   • bioenhancements: They’re not just for cyborgs anymore. • DNA sequencing and fingerprinting: What’s scarier than the government having your DNA on file? Try having it posted on the Internet. • human cloning: Just like you, only stronger, smarter, and more attractive. In other words: more dangerous. Our future may be populated by designer babies, genetically enhanced supersoldiers, and one (or more!) of your genetic duplicates, but all is not lost. How to Defeat Your Own Clone is the ultimate survival guide to what lies ahead. Just remember the first rule of engagement: Don’t ever let your clone read this book! From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Whole Earth Discipline – Stewart Brand

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Whole Earth Discipline

Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, RestoredWildlands, and Geoengineering Are Necessary

Stewart Brand

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 15, 2009

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


An icon of the environmental movement outlines a provocative approach for reclaiming our planet According to Stewart Brand, a lifelong environmentalist who sees everything in terms of solvable design problems, three profound transformations are under way on Earth right now. Climate change is real and is pushing us toward managing the planet as a whole. Urbanization?half the world?s population now lives in cities, and eighty percent will by midcentury?is altering humanity?s land impact and wealth. And biotechnology is becoming the world?s dominant engineering tool. In light of these changes, Brand suggests that environmentalists are going to have to reverse some longheld opinions and embrace tools that they have traditionally distrusted. Only a radical rethinking of traditional green pieties will allow us to forestall the cataclysmic deterioration of the earth?s resources. Whole Earth Discipline shatters a number of myths and presents counterintuitive observations on why cities are actually greener than countryside, how nuclear power is the future of energy, and why genetic engineering is the key to crop and land management. With a combination of scientific rigor and passionate advocacy, Brand shows us exactly where the sources of our dilemmas lie and offers a bold and inventive set of policies and solutions for creating a more sustainable society. In the end, says Brand, the environmental movement must become newly responsive to fast-moving science and take up the tools and discipline of engineering. We have to learn how to manage the planet?s global-scale natural infrastructure with as light a touch as possible and as much intervention as necessary.

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Whole Earth Discipline – Stewart Brand

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Isaac Asimov’s Guide to Earth and Space – Isaac Asimov

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Isaac Asimov’s Guide to Earth and Space
Isaac Asimov

Genre: Physics

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: September 24, 1991

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


A thrilling nonfiction tour of the cosmos that brings the universe down to Earth, from one of the all-time masters of science fiction.   No one makes sense out of science like Isaac Asimov. Are you puzzled by pulsars? Baffled by black holes? Bewildered by the big bang? If so, here are succinct, crystal-clear answers to more than one hundred of the most significant questions about the essential nature of the universe—questions that have fired the imagination since the beginning of history.   Over the course of this fantastic voyage, the origins, the discoveries, and the stunning achievements of astronomy will unfold before your eyes. You will experience close encounters with giant planets, exploding stars, distant galaxies, and more. For anyone who has ever asked the ultimate questions, who has ever looked up at the sky and asked What in heaven is going on? , Isaac Asimov’s unique vision, skill, and authority will bring the big picture into focus.   “A fine introduction to modern astronomical theory.”— Library Journal

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Isaac Asimov’s Guide to Earth and Space – Isaac Asimov

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The GOP tax bill could cost us the next generation of climate scientists

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The GOP tax bill could cost us the next generation of climate scientists

By on Dec 8, 2017

Grad students around the country are protesting the so-called grad student tax. Of course they are! They stand to lose thousands of dollars. But even if you’re not an aspiring PhD, the tax is cause for concern: It could hurt scientific research, leaving us less capable of tackling climate change.

In the environmental sciences, like many STEM fields, universities offer graduate students a stipend and cover their tuition in return for teaching or conducting research. The House tax bill approved in November would start treating tuition as taxable income. The Senate version keeps tuition waivers tax-free, but it’s unclear whether the tax will be part of the the final bill that reconciles the two versions.

More than half of grad students make $20,000 or less a year, according to stats from the Department of Education. Paying an extra few thousand dollars in taxes could make grad school unaffordable for many, and economists say it would discourage people from seeking advanced degrees. Professors and grad students in the environmental sciences told me that the tax would decrease the diversity and number of students in their programs, and could ultimately devastate climate change research.

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“The worry is that if this passes — and then the other attacks on funding within the federal government for climate science — then we’re going to lose a generation of climate scientists,” LuAnne Thompson, professor of oceanography at the University of Washington (UW), said in an interview with Grist.

Graduate students are the muscle behind the research force, often making up the majority of researchers in a lab. They plan experiments, acquire data, and publish articles about the results.

“I feel like people are underestimating what it would mean for there to be fewer grad students,” says Natalie Lowell, a PhD student at UW’s School of Aquatics and Fishery Sciences. “It really is a direct correlation with how much less research there’s going to be.”

Lowell, who researches native shellfish species, says that she has to live fairly frugally to get by on her stipend. She lives in a basement apartment where squirrels “come out of the wall” and pee everywhere. In Seattle, where the tech boom has caused rent to skyrocket, this “absolute steal” costs $500 a month. She’s been saving up a couple thousand dollars a year, but she wouldn’t be able to do so under the tax. It would knock about $3,600 out of her bank account each year she’s in school.

For in-state students at UW, taxes would increase from roughly $2,700 to $4,200 a year, according to Matt Munoz, a graduate student studying public administration and policy at UW. Out-of-state students would be charged nearly $5,800.

The tax provision would be bad timing, since it could sabotage the efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion that were finally picking up speed at UW. Thompson, the oceanography professor, says that the extra cost could make it impossible for people with limited resources to participate in College of Environment graduate programs.

“The way we think about conservation science has really shifted” as it has become more inclusive, UW’s Lowell says. “[The tax] is the sort of thing that would just throw a wrench in that. Because who’s doing the research totally determines how you frame questions, how you make connections, how you treat your workers.”

By limiting who can participate in graduate research, the grad student tax could stifle scientific innovation, similar to Trump’s travel ban. It could also make education prohibitively expensive for many international students, potentially sending some of the world’s brightest minds to other countries.

Marysa Laguë, a student from Canada pursuing a PhD in atmospheric science at UW, pays taxes in both Canada and the United States. She told me that she always has the “fallback plan” of going back to her home country if staying in grad school in Seattle becomes too expensive. “I don’t want to have to do that,” she says. “I’m here for a reason. I wanted to be here.”

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The GOP tax bill could cost us the next generation of climate scientists

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