What we're about

This is a popular-science book club where we meet monthly to discuss a non-fiction science book. We meet at 7PM on the last Wednesday of the month, at the Panera at Bowie Town Center. Members aren't obliged to attend every meeting; you can choose to read only those books that appeal to you.

Some books we've already read include:

"Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus", by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy.

Mary Roach's "Packing For Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void"

"A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing", by Lawrence M. Krauss.

Deborah Blum's "The Poisoner's Handbook"

Sam Kean's "The Disappearing Spoon"

You can also join our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/621255141548238/ .

Upcoming events (5)

Movie Discussion: LIGO

Online event

The thrilling inside story of National Geographic’s top “Discovery of the Decade,” the discovery of gravitational waves from deep space, which opened up the 95% of the universe that has been dark to our existing observatories and space telescopes. It’s the violent “warped side” of the universe predicted by Einstein — colliding black holes and crashing neutron stars — but never seen before. A thousand rebel scientists around the world risked their careers on a 50-year, $1 billion search. The discovery earned the documentary’s three principal characters (including Kip Thorne, executive producer of Interstellar), the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. 82 minutes long; available for free on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/397284387 . Thanks to Alicia for selecting this film! We're probably going to continue selecting movies from the DC Environmental Film Festival, https://dceff.org/ .

“Slime: How Algae Created Us. Plague Us, & Just Might Save Us”, Ruth Kassinger

(Paperback edition available June 9th 2020) Publisher's summary: Say “algae” and most people think of pond scum. What they don’t know is that without algae, none of us would exist. There are as many algae on Earth as stars in the universe, and they have been essential to life on our planet for eons. Algae created the Earth we know today, with its oxygen-rich atmosphere, abundant oceans, and coral reefs. Crude oil is made of dead algae, and algae are the ancestors of all plants. Today, seaweed production is a multi-billion dollar industry, with algae hard at work to make your sushi, chocolate milk, beer, paint, toothpaste, shampoo and so much more. In Slime we’ll meet the algae innovators working toward a sustainable future: from seaweed farmers in South Korea, to scientists using it to clean the dead zones in our waterways, to the entrepreneurs fighting to bring algae fuel and plastics to market. With a multitude of lively, surprising science and history, Ruth Kassinger takes readers on an around-the-world, behind-the-scenes, and into-the-kitchen tour. Whether you thought algae was just the gunk in your fish tank or you eat seaweed with your oatmeal, Slime will delight and amaze with its stories of the good, the bad, and the up-and-coming.

“Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe”, S Strogatz

(Paperback edition due April 14th 2020) Publisher's summary: Without calculus, we wouldn’t have cell phones, TV, GPS, or ultrasound. We wouldn’t have unraveled DNA or discovered Neptune or figured out how to put 5,000 songs in your pocket. Though many of us were scared away from this essential, engrossing subject in high school and college, Steven Strogatz’s brilliantly creative, down‑to‑earth history shows that calculus is not about complexity; it’s about simplicity. It harnesses an unreal number—infinity—to tackle real‑world problems, breaking them down into easier ones and then reassembling the answers into solutions that feel miraculous. Infinite Powers recounts how calculus tantalized and thrilled its inventors, starting with its first glimmers in ancient Greece and bringing us right up to the discovery of gravitational waves (a phenomenon predicted by calculus). Strogatz reveals how this form of math rose to the challenges of each age: how to determine the area of a circle with only sand and a stick; how to explain why Mars goes “backwards” sometimes; how to make electricity with magnets; how to ensure your rocket doesn’t miss the moon; how to turn the tide in the fight against AIDS. As Strogatz proves, calculus is truly the language of the universe. By unveiling the principles of that language, Infinite Powers makes us marvel at the world anew.

"The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control”, Walter Mischel

Publisher's summary: Renowned psychologist Walter Mischel, designer of the famous Marshmallow Test, explains what self-control is and how to master it. A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life? The world's leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life, predicting higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, a healthier lifestyle and a greater sense of self-worth. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught? In The Marshmallow Test, Mischel explains how self-control can be mastered and applied to challenges in everyday life - from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way you think about who we are and what we can be.

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