What we're about

I am a software engineer with a background in Physics and interest in all the sciences to help make me a better writer and I would like to have extra motivation to read science-related books and discuss them outside of work. These wouldn't be textbooks, they would be more "popular science" that are educational and entertaining as well! Authors will include Richard Dawkins, Natalie Angier, E.O. Wilson, Carl Sagan, and Rachel Carson among others. There are many of these that have been on my "to-do" list for a long time.

Of course scientists, engineers and teachers of science would be great for this group, because we could talk about our jobs too. But anyone who is interested in science reading is welcome!! No prior science knowledge is necessary, I promise.

The books chosen for this group are 65% life science, sociology and environmental science books. Some books, such as by Bill Bryson and Carl Sagan, include some chemistry and/or physics, but we will not be reading many books that only pertain to physical science or mathematics. We will try to keep books of this nature to about 2 to 3 a year.

Upcoming events (4)

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate -

…Discoveries from a Secret World (2016) by Peter Wohlleben, 288 pages [Biology] • Paperback • Hardcover • Kindle • Audiobook • Library: https://fcplcat.fairfaxcounty.gov/search/title.aspx?ctx=1.1033.0.0.1&pos=1&cn=259543 Review “The matter-of-fact Mr. Wohlleben has delighted readers and talk-show audiences alike with the news — long known to biologists — that trees in the forest are social beings.” —Sally McGrane, The New York Times “This fascinating book will intrigue readers who love a walk through the woods.” —Publishers Weekly “If you read this book, I believe that forests will become magical places for you, too.” —Tim Flannery “In this spirited exploration, [Wohlleben] guarantees that readers will never look at these life forms in quite the same way again.” —Library Journal “A paradigm-smashing chronicle of joyous entanglement that will make you joyously acknowledge your own entanglement in the ancient and ever-new web of being.” —Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide “Soon after we begin to recognize trees for what they are — gigantic beings thriving against incredible odds for hundreds of years — we naturally come to ask, 'How do they do it?' This charming book tells how — not as a lecture, more like a warm conversation with a favorite friend.” —Hope Jahren, author of Lab Girl “A powerful reminder to slow down and tune into the language of nature.” —Rachel Sussman, author of The Oldest Living Things in the World “Charming, provocative, fascinating. In the tradition of Jean-Henri Fabre and other great naturalist story-tellers, Wohlleben relates imaginative, enthralling tales of ecology.” —David George Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen, Pulitzer finalist “Wohlleben’s book is at once romantic and scientific, beautifully articulating his personal relationship with the trees he has dedicated his life to. His view of the forest calls on us all to reevaluate our relationships with the plant world.” —Daniel Chamovitz, PhD, author of What a Plant Knows “With colorful and engaging descriptions of little-known phenomena in our natural world, Wohlleben helps readers appreciate the exciting processes at work in the forests around them.” —Dr. Richard Karban, University of California, Davis, author of Plant Sensing and Communication “You will never look at a tree the same way after reading Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees, which reveals the mind-boggling properties and behavior of these terrestrial giants. Read this electrifying book, then go out and hug a tree — with admiration and gratitude.” —David Suzuki About the Author Peter Wohlleben spent over twenty years working for the forestry commission in Germany before leaving to put his ideas of ecology into practice. He now runs an environmentally-friendly woodland in Germany, where he is working for the return of primeval forests. He is the author of numerous books about the natural world including The Hidden Life of Trees, The Inner Lives of Animals, and The Secret Wisdom of Nature, which together make up his bestselling The Mysteries of Nature Series. He has also written numerous books for children including Can You Hear the Trees Talking? and Peter and the Tree Children. Tim Flannery is a scientist, explorer and conservationist. He is a leading writer on climate change and his books include Atmosphere of Hope and The Weather Makers. Jane Billinghurst’s career has been in book publishing in the UK, the US, and Canada, as an editor, publisher, writer, and translator. She is the translator of the New York Times-bestseller The Hidden Life of Trees by German forester Peter Wohlleben. NOTE: This book was also mention during the Women's Summit conference on BFFs + Unlikely Partners – How Women Build Community (June 27, 2020). You can watch the full panel discussion here: https://youtu.be/2yxW2o0XiUA

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction (2015) by Philip E.…

…Tetlock, Dan Gardner, 352 pages [Mathematics] • Paperback • Hardcover • Kindle • Audiobook • Library: https://fcplcat.fairfaxcounty.gov/search/title.aspx?ctx=1.1033.0.0.1&pos=1&cn=248955 Review A New York Times Editors' Choice A Washington Post Bestseller A Hudson Booksellers Best Business Interest Book of 2015 Longlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award Winner of the Axiom Business Book Award in Business Theory (Gold Medal) “A top choice [for best book of 2015] among the world’s biggest names in finance and economics... Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer, Deutsche Bank Chief U.S. Economist Joe LaVorgna, and Citigroup Vice Chairman Peter Orszag were among those giving it a thumbs-up.” —Bloomberg Business “The material in Superforecasting is new, and includes a compendium of best practices for prediction… The accuracy that ordinary people regularly attained through their meticulous application did amaze me… [It offers] us all an opportunity to understand and react more intelligently to the confusing world around us.” —New York Times Book Review "Tetlock's thesis is that politics and human affairs are not inscrutable mysteries. Instead, they are a bit like weather forecasting, where short-term predictions are possible and reasonably accurate... The techniques and habits of mind set out in this book are a gift to anyone who has to think about what the future might bring. In other words, to everyone." —The Economist "Tetlock’s work is fascinating and important, and he and Gardner have written it up here with verve." —The Financial Times “Superforecasting is the most important scientific study I’ve ever read on prediction.” —Cass R. Sunstein, The Bloomberg View "Just as modern medicine began when a farsighted few began to collect data and keep track of outcomes, to trust objective 'scoring' over their own intuitions, it's time now for similar demands to be made of the experts who lead public opinion. It's time for evidence-based forecasting." —The Washington Post "Superforecasting, by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner, is one of the most interesting business and finance books published in 2015.” —John Kay, The Financial Times "One of Tetlock's key points is that these aren't innate skills: they can be both taught and learned... Tetlock's 'Ten Commandments For Aspiring Superforecasters' should probably have a place of honor in most business meeting rooms." —Forbes "In this captivating book, Tetlock argues that success is all about the approach: foresight is not a gift but rather a product of a particular way of thinking... In each chapter, the author augments his research with compelling interviews, anecdotes, and historical context, using accessible real-world examples to frame what could otherwise be dense subject matter. His writing is so engaging and his argument so tantalizing, readers will quickly be drawn into the challenge - in the appendix, the author provides a concise training manual to do just that. A must-read field guide for the intellectually curious." —Kirkus Reviews, starred "Tetlock and Gardner believe anyone can improve their forecasting ability by learning from the way they work. If that's true, people in business and finance who make an effort to do so have a lot to gain — and those who don't, much to lose." —The Financial Post "Superforecasting is a very good book. In fact it is essential reading — which I have never said in any of my previous MT reviews... It should be on every manager's and investor's reading list around the topics du jour of decision-making, prediction and behavioural economics." —Management Today "I've been hard on social science, even suggesting that 'social science' is an oxymoron. I noted, however, that social science has enormous potential, especially when it combines 'rigorous empiricism with a resistance to absolute answers.' The work of Philip Tetlock possesses these qualities." —Scientific American

Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong (2017) by Paul A. Offit, MD,…

…288 pages [Medicine] • Hardcover • Kindle • Audiobook • Library: https://fcplcat.fairfaxcounty.gov/search/title.aspx?ctx=1.1033.0.0.1&pos=8&cn=274420 Review "This is a much needed book — especially now."—NPR “After spending years compiling a list of 50 of the world’s worst inventions, [Offit] conducted his own sad version of March Madness to whittle it down to just a handful of finalists…all have proved to be disastrous for human health."—The Washington Post "A fascinating and sometimes shocking look at how science can sometimes lead to disaster." —Booklist "In warning the public of pseudoscientific danger, Offit urges the public to examine available data; beware of quick fixes, fads, and charismatic health gurus; and understand that every advance comes at a price." —Publishers Weekly "Another rousing, pull-no-punches piece from a physician set on educating the public about the fallibility of scientists." —Kirkus Reviews About the Author PAUL A. OFFIT is a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases and an expert on vaccines, immunology, and virology. He is the co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine that has been credited with saving hundreds of lives every day. Offit is the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology, professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He has been a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Offit is a board member of Every Child By Two and a founding board member of the Autism Science Foundation (ASF).

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (2016) by Frans de Waal, 352…

…pages [Biology] • Paperback • Hardcover • Kindle • Audiobook • Library: https://fcplcat.fairfaxcounty.gov/search/title.aspx?ctx=1.1033.0.0.1&pos=1&cn=259790 Review “The book is not only full of information and thought-provoking, it’s also a lot of fun to read.” - Nancy Szokan, Washington Post “Astonishing…has the makings of a classic―and is one fascinating read.” - People “Walks us through research revealing what a wide range of animal species are actually capable of…[I]t all deals a pretty fierce wallop to our sense of specialness.” - Jon Mooallem, New York Times Book Review “A thoughtful and easy read, packed with information stemming from detailed empirical research, and one of de Waal’s most comparative works that goes well beyond the world of nonhuman primates with whom he’s most familiar.” - Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today “A beautifully written and delightfully conceived popular science book, written by an eminent researcher who has dedicated his career to making the general public aware of just how smart animals are.” - Nicola Clayton, Science “If you are at all interested in what it is to be an animal, human or otherwise, you should read this book.” - The Guardian “This is a remarkable book by a remarkable scientist. Drawing on a growing body of research including his own, de Waal shows that animals, from elephants and chimpanzees to the lowly invertebrates, are not only smarter than we thought, but also engaged in forms of thought we have only begun to understand.” - Edward O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? will completely change your perceptions of the abilities of animals. This book takes the reader on a fascinating journey of discovery into the world of animal problem-solving.” - Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human “So, are we ‘smart enough to know how smart animals are’? The question will occur to you many times as you read Frans de Waal’s remarkable distillations of science in this astonishingly broad-spectrum book. I guarantee one thing: readers come away a lot smarter. As this book shows, we are here on Planet Earth with plenty of intelligent company.” - Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel About the Author Frans de Waal, author of Mama's Last Hug and Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?, is a professor of psychology at Emory University and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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