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The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)
by Katie Mack
From one of the most dynamic rising stars in astrophysics, an accessible and eye-opening look—in the bestselling tradition of Sean Carroll and Carlo Rovelli—at the five different ways the universe could end, and the mind-blowing lessons each scenario reveals about the most important concepts in physics.
We know the universe had a beginning. With the Big Bang, it went from a state of unimaginable density to an all-encompassing cosmic fireball to a simmering fluid of matter and energy, laying down the seeds for everything from dark matter to black holes to one rocky planet orbiting a star near the edge of a spiral galaxy that happened to develop life. But what happens at the end of the story? In billions of years, humanity could still exist in some unrecognizable form, venturing out to distant space, finding new homes and building new civilizations. But the death of the universe is final. What might such a cataclysm look like? And what does it mean for us?
Dr. Katie Mack has been contemplating these questions since she was eighteen, when her astronomy professor first informed her the universe could end at any moment, setting her on the path toward theoretical astrophysics. Now, with lively wit and humor, she unpacks them in The End of Everything, taking us on a mind-bending tour through each of the cosmos’ possible finales: the Big Crunch; the Heat Death; Vacuum Decay; the Big Rip; and the Bounce. In the tradition of Neil DeGrasse’s bestseller Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Mack guides us through major concepts in quantum mechanics, cosmology, string theory, and much more, in a wildly fun, surprisingly upbeat ride to the farthest reaches of everything we know.
In Underland, Robert Macfarlane delivers an epic exploration of the Earth’s underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself. Traveling through the dizzying expanse of geologic time—from prehistoric art in Norwegian sea caves, to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, to a deep-sunk "hiding place" where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come—Underland takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind.
Global in its geography and written with great lyricism, Underland speaks powerfully to our present moment. At once ancient and urgent, this is a book that will change the way you see the world.
The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World
by Patrik Svensson
Remarkably little is known about the European eel, Anguilla anguilla. So little, in fact, that scientists and philosophers have, for centuries, been obsessed with what has become known as the “eel question”: Where do eels come from? What are they? Are they fish or some other kind of creature altogether? Even today, in an age of advanced science, no one has ever seen eels mating or giving birth, and we still don’t understand what drives them, after living for decades in freshwater, to swim great distances back to the ocean at the end of their lives. They remain a mystery.
Drawing on a breadth of research about eels in literature, history, and modern marine biology, as well as his own experience fishing for eels with his father, Patrik Svensson writes a book about this unusual animal.
In The Book of Eels, we meet renowned historical thinkers, from Aristotle to Sigmund Freud to Rachel Carson, for whom the eel was a singular obsession. And we meet the scientists who spearheaded the search for the eel’s point of origin, including Danish marine biologist Johannes Schmidt, who led research efforts in the early twentieth century, catching thousands upon thousands of eels, in the hopes of proving their birthing grounds in the Sargasso Sea.
Blending memoir and nature writing, Svensson’s journey to understand the eel becomes an exploration of the human condition that delves into overarching issues about our roots and destiny, both as humans and as animals, and, ultimately, how to handle the biggest question of all: death.