Tag Archives: nature

Modoc – Ralph Helfer

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Modoc
True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived
Ralph Helfer

Genre: Nature

Price: $8.99

Publish Date: October 13, 2009

Publisher: HarperCollins e-books

Seller: HarperCollins


Spanning several decades and three continents, Modoc is one of the most amazing true animal stories ever told. Raised together in a small German circus town, a boy and an elephant formed a bond that would last their entire lives, and would be tested time and again; through a near-fatal shipwreck in the Indian Ocean, an apprenticeship with the legendary Mahout elephant trainers in the Indian teak forests, and their eventual rise to circus stardom in 1940s New York City. Modoc is a captivating true story of loyalty, friendship, and high adventure, to be treasured by animal lovers everywhere.

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Modoc – Ralph Helfer

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Algorithms to Live By – Brian Christian & Tom Griffiths

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Algorithms to Live By

The Computer Science of Human Decisions

Brian Christian & Tom Griffiths

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: April 19, 2016

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC


A fascinating exploration of how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives, helping to solve common decision-making problems and illuminate the workings of the human mind All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not: computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their version of such problems for decades. And the solutions they've found have much to teach us. In a dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, acclaimed author Brian Christian (who holds degrees in computer science, philosophy, and poetry, and works at the intersection of all three) and Tom Griffiths (a UC Berkeley professor of cognitive science and psychology) show how the simple, precise algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. They explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices and how best to connect with others. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one's inbox to understanding the workings of human memory, Algorithms to Live By transforms the wisdom of computer science into strategies for human living.

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Algorithms to Live By – Brian Christian & Tom Griffiths

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Megafire – Michael Kodas

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Megafire

The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame

Michael Kodas

Genre: Nature

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: August 22, 2017

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company


A brilliant exploration of the rising phenomenon of megafires—forest fires of alarming scale, intensity, and devastation—that explains the science of what is causing them and captures the danger and heroism of those who fight them In Megafire, a world-renowned journalist and forest fire expert travels to the most dangerous and remote wildernesses, as well as to the backyards of people faced with these environmental disasters, to look at the heart of this phenomenon and witness firsthand the heroic efforts of the firefighters and scientists racing against time to stop it—or at least to tame these deadly flames. From Colorado to California, China to Canada, the narrative hopscotches the globe and takes readers to the frontlines of the battle both on the ground and in the air, and in the laboratories, universities, and federal agencies where this issue rages on. Through this prism of perspectives, Kodas zeroes in on a handful of the most terrifying and tumultuous of these environmental disasters in recent years—the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona that took the lives of nineteen elite “hotshot” firefighters, the Waldo Canyon Fire that overwhelmed the city of Colorado Springs—and more in a page-turning narrative that puts a face on the brave people at the heart of this issue. Megafire describes the profound impact of these fires around the earth and will change the way we think about the environment and the essential precariousness of our world.  

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Megafire – Michael Kodas

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

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My Parrots – Dr. Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji

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My Parrots
Significant Spiritual Experiences
Dr. Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji

Genre: Nature

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: May 26, 2013

Publisher: Datta Yoga Center

Seller: Datta Yoga Center


In this photo-studded narrative, Swamiji regales us with his intimate and entertaining spiritual experiences with his pet parrots at the newly inaugurated aviary, Shuka Vana, located at his ashram in Mysore, India. Readers will be awe struck by his invaluable insights about parrots both in their physical and esoteric aspects. Sage and seer, His Holiness Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji, the Founder of Avadhoota Datta Peetham, Mysore, India, is recognized far and wide for his extraordinary vision and compassionate heart. In this silver jubilee year of his worldwide Concerts of Music for Healing and Meditation, he has published his authoritative research compendium, Raga Ragini Nada Yoga, which reveals the secret behind the curative powers of his music, both vocal, and instrumental.  Swamiji has zeroed in on the particularly soothing and healing effects of birds and their sounds on humans. Parrots have capabilities not only for mimicking human speech and songs, but, he believes are perhaps the source of man’s initial foray into areas of communication. Swamiji declares, based on ancient Indian texts, that parrots have the ability to convey essential nourishment to departed human souls. He shares with us hitherto unknown significant facts about parrots according to Numerology, Astrology, Musicology, and Yoga. Swamiji blows the siren that birds are vital to the existence of the human race and that their alarmingly diminishing numbers in recent times do not bode well. He urges the halting of needless deforestation and pollution of the atmosphere. He appeals for a better informed, sensitive, reverential, and friendly treatment of the avian species. 

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My Parrots – Dr. Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji

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Upstream – Langdon Cook

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Upstream

Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table

Langdon Cook

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: May 30, 2017

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


From the award-winning author of The Mushroom Hunters comes the story of an iconic fish, perhaps the last great wild food: salmon. For some, a salmon evokes the distant wild, thrashing in the jaws of a hungry grizzly bear on TV. For others, it’s the catch of the day on a restaurant menu, or a deep red fillet at the market. For others still, it’s the jolt of adrenaline on a successful fishing trip. Our fascination with these superlative fish is as old as humanity itself. Long a source of sustenance among native peoples, salmon is now more popular than ever. Fish hatcheries and farms serve modern appetites with a domesticated “product”—while wild runs of salmon dwindle across the globe. How has this once-abundant resource reached this point, and what can we do to safeguard wild populations for future generations? Langdon Cook goes in search of the salmon in Upstream, his timely and in-depth look at how these beloved fish have nourished humankind through the ages and why their destiny is so closely tied to our own. Cook journeys up and down salmon country, from the glacial rivers of Alaska to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest to California’s drought-stricken Central Valley and a wealth of places in between. Reporting from remote coastlines and busy city streets, he follows today’s commercial pipeline from fisherman’s net to corporate seafood vendor to boutique marketplace. At stake is nothing less than an ancient livelihood. But salmon are more than food. They are game fish, wildlife spectacle, sacred totem, and inspiration—and their fate is largely in our hands. Cook introduces us to tribal fishermen handing down an age-old tradition, sport anglers seeking adventure and a renewed connection to the wild, and scientists and activists working tirelessly to restore salmon runs. In sharing their stories, Cook covers all sides of the debate: the legacy of overfishing and industrial development; the conflicts between fishermen, environmentalists, and Native Americans; the modern proliferation of fish hatcheries and farms; and the longstanding battle lines of science versus politics, wilderness versus civilization. This firsthand account—reminiscent of the work of John McPhee and Mark Kurlansky—is filled with the keen insights and observations of the best narrative writing. Cook offers an absorbing portrait of a remarkable fish and the many obstacles it faces, while taking readers on a fast-paced fishing trip through salmon country. Upstream is an essential look at the intersection of man, food, and nature. Praise for Upstream “Invigorating . . . Mr. Cook is a congenial and intrepid companion, happily hiking into hinterlands and snorkeling in headwaters. Along the way we learn about filleting techniques, native cooking methods and self-pollinating almond trees, and his continual curiosity ensures that the narrative unfurls gradually, like a long spey cast. . . . With a pedigree that includes Mark Kurlansky, John McPhee and Roderick Haig-Brown, Mr. Cook’s style is suitably fluent, an occasional phrase flashing like a flank in the current. . . . For all its rehearsal of the perils and vicissitudes facing Pacific salmon, Upstream remains a celebration.” — The Wall Street Journal “Passionate . . . Cook deftly conveys his love of nature, the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and the delectable eating provided by fresh caught wild salmon.” — Library Journal “Insightful . . . this work is a great place to learn what needs to done—and an entertaining view on the positive and negative connections humans have with the natural environment.” — Publishers Weekly

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Upstream – Langdon Cook

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Nebraska’s Keystone XL decision won’t hinge on Thursday’s 210,000-gallon spill.

Nearly two months after Hurricane Maria, public health researchers in Puerto Rico are limited by the same lack of power, clean water, and infrastructure they are there to study.

Puerto Rico–born José Cordero is one such scientist. In the journal Nature, he describes leading a team through the devastated landscape to collect data on how drinking water contamination affects pregnant women. The scientists have to hurry to finish their work everyday, before night falls across the largely powerless island. Limited telephone access makes it difficult to get in touch with subjects.

Cordero’s project started six years ago to focus on water pollution and pre-term births, but this year’s hurricane has changed both the focus and the level of difficulty of the work. Other researchers have been hampered by hospitals that can’t administer routine tests and hurricane-damaged equipment, making it difficult to collect data on how air and water pollution are affecting health.

Still, Cordero’s team has managed to contact several hundred woman and collect samples of groundwater and tap water from homes near flooded Superfund sites. As he told Nature: “The kind of work we’re doing … has to be done now, because a few years from now, it’s too late.”

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Nebraska’s Keystone XL decision won’t hinge on Thursday’s 210,000-gallon spill.

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The U.N. climate talks have a gender gap. Women plan to fix it.

Nearly two months after Hurricane Maria, public health researchers in Puerto Rico are limited by the same lack of power, clean water, and infrastructure they are there to study.

Puerto Rico–born José Cordero is one such scientist. In the journal Nature, he describes leading a team through the devastated landscape to collect data on how drinking water contamination affects pregnant women. The scientists have to hurry to finish their work everyday, before night falls across the largely powerless island. Limited telephone access makes it difficult to get in touch with subjects.

Cordero’s project started six years ago to focus on water pollution and pre-term births, but this year’s hurricane has changed both the focus and the level of difficulty of the work. Other researchers have been hampered by hospitals that can’t administer routine tests and hurricane-damaged equipment, making it difficult to collect data on how air and water pollution are affecting health.

Still, Cordero’s team has managed to contact several hundred woman and collect samples of groundwater and tap water from homes near flooded Superfund sites. As he told Nature: “The kind of work we’re doing … has to be done now, because a few years from now, it’s too late.”

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The U.N. climate talks have a gender gap. Women plan to fix it.

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Geoengineering’s unintended consequences: Hurricanes and food shortages

This story was originally published by Wired and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Every country on Earth, save for cough one, has banded together to cut emissions and stop the runaway heating of our only home. That’s nearly 200 countries working to keep the global average temperature from climbing 2 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

Phenomenal. But what if cooperation and emissions reduction aren’t enough? Projections show that even if all those countries hit their Paris Agreement emissions pledges, the world will still get too warm too fast, plunging us into climate chaos. So, if we can’t stop what we’ve set in motion, what if we could just cool the planet off by making it more reflective — more like a disco ball than a baseball?

Actually, we could. It’s called solar geoengineering. Scientists could release materials into the stratosphere that reflect sunlight back into space, kind of like slapping giant sunglasses on Earth. You could theoretically do this with giant space mirrors, but that would require a mountain of R&D and money and materials. More likely, scientists might be able to steal a strategy from Earth itself. When volcanoes erupt, they spew sulfur high in the sky, where the gas turns into an aerosol that blocks sunlight. If scientists added sulfur to the stratosphere manually, that could reflect light away from Earth and help humanity reach its climate goals.

It’s not that simple, though: The massive Tambora eruption of 1815 cooled the Earth so much that Europe suffered the “year without summer,” leading to extreme food shortages. And in a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature, researchers examine a bunch of other ways a blast of sulfur could do more harm than good.

Specifically, the group looked at how sulfur seeding could impact storms in the North Atlantic. They built models showing what would happen if they were to inject sulfur dioxide into the lower stratosphere above either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, at a rate of 5 million metric tons per year. Sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) is not itself reflective, but up there it reacts with water, picking up oxygen molecules to become sulfate aerosol (SO4) — now that’s reflective. Block out some of the sun, and you block out some of the solar energy.

Now, the Earth’s hemispheres aren’t just divided by a thick line on your globe; they’re actually well-divided by what is essentially a giant updraft. That tends to keep materials like, say, sulfate aerosol, stuck in a given hemisphere. “It goes up and it goes more to the one side where you injected it,” says Simone Tilmes, who studies geoengineering at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and was not involved in the study.

This wall of wind gives you some measure of control. If you were to inject SO2 into the Northern Hemisphere, the models show, you would reduce storm activity in the North Atlantic — probably because the injection would put the tropical jet stream on a collision course with the Atlantic hurricane main development region. Wind shear like that weakens storms as they grow. But inject gas into the Southern Hemisphere and the stream shifts north, increasing storms.

Which all jibes with historical data. In 1912, the Katmai eruption in Alaska spewed 30 cubic kilometers of ash and debris into the atmosphere. What followed was the historical record’s only year without hurricanes.

The potentially good news is that models like these make solar geoengineering a bit more predictable than a volcano eruption. The bad news is not everyone would win. Solar geoengineering in the north would cut precipitation in the semi-arid Sahel in north-central Africa.

What we’re looking at, then, isn’t just a strategy with environmental implications, but humanitarian ones as well. Think about current conflicts over water supplies, especially in the developing world. Now scale that up into conflict over the weather itself. It’s not hard to imagine one part of the world deciding to geoengineer for more water and another part of the world suffering for it. “I therefore think that solar geoengineering is currently too risky to be utilized due to the enormous political friction that it may cause,” says lead author Anthony Jones of the University of Exeter.

What researchers need is way more science, more models, more data, way more of whatever you can get to understand these processes. And they’ll need international guidelines for a technology that could nourish some regions and devastate others — individual nations can’t just make unilateral climate decisions that have global repercussions. “There’s a lot we don’t know and a lot of differences in models,” says Tilmes. “The answer is we really have to look at it more.”

Really, it’s hard to imagine a conundrum of bigger scale. For now, we’ll just have to do what we can with baseball Earth. But perhaps one day we’ll be forced to start building a disco ball, one little mirror at a time.

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Geoengineering’s unintended consequences: Hurricanes and food shortages

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The Feds are leaving Puerto Rico — and offering to take Maria survivors with them.

Kathleen Hartnett White, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, stammered through her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

When Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, a Democrat, asked if she believes climate change is real, she wavered but settled on the right answer: “I am uncertain. No, I’m not. I jumped ahead. Climate change is of course real.”

That’s a surprise. Hartnett White, a former chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, has a long history of challenging climate science and promoting fossil fuels. Notably, she has said that carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant.

But that’s not to say she’s made peace with established science. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, quizzed Hartnett White over how much excess heat in the atmosphere is absorbed by oceans. “I believe there are differences of opinions on that,” she said, “that there’s not one right answer.” For the record, the number is about 90 percent.

Then things got bizarre. Appearing frustrated with equivocating answers, Whitehouse pressed her on basic laws of nature, like whether heat makes water expand. “I do not have any kind of expertise or even much layman study of the ocean dynamics and the climate-change issues,” she said.

Watch below, if you dare:

After the hearing, Whitehouse tweeted, “I don’t even know where to begin … she outright rejects basic science.”

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The Feds are leaving Puerto Rico — and offering to take Maria survivors with them.

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