Book cover of Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by Juli Berwald
Biological Sciences

Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

Jellyfish have been swimming in our oceans for well over half a billion years, longer than any other animal that lives on the planet. They make a venom so toxic it can kill a human in three minutes. Their sting—microscopic spears that pierce with five million times the acceleration of gravity—is the fastest known motion in the animal kingdom. Made of roughly 95 percent water, some jellies are barely perceptible virtuosos of disguise, while others glow with a luminescence that has revolutionized biotechnology. Yet until recently, jellyfish were largely ignored by science, and they remain among the most poorly understood of ocean dwellers. […Learn More]

Book cover of Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith
Biological Sciences

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

Philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith dons a wet suit and journeys into the depths of consciousness in Other Minds

Although mammals and birds are widely regarded as the smartest creatures on earth, it has lately become clear that a very distant branch of the tree of life has also sprouted higher intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus. In captivity, octopuses have been known to identify individual human keepers, raid neighboring tanks for food, turn off lightbulbs by spouting jets of water, plug drains, and make daring escapes. […Learn More]

Asia

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

Far more than a history of the Silk Roads, this book is truly a revelatory new history of the world, promising to destabilize notions of where we come from and where we are headed next. From the Middle East and its political instability to China and its economic rise, the vast region stretching eastward from the Balkans across the steppe and South Asia has been thrust into the global spotlight in recent years. Frankopan teaches us that to understand what is at stake for the cities and nations built on these intricate trade routes, we must first understand their astounding pasts. […Learn More]

Biological Sciences

A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution

A trailblazing biologist grapples with her role in the biggest scientific discovery of our era: a cheap, easy way of rewriting genetic code, with nearly limitless promise and peril.

Not since the atomic bomb has a technology so alarmed its inventors that they warned the world about its use. Not, that is, until the spring of 2015, when biologist Jennifer Doudna called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the new gene-editing tool CRISPR—a revolutionary new technology that she helped create—to make heritable changes in human embryos. […Learn More]

Book cover of
History

The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World

A visionary exploration of the life and times of Joseph Conrad, his turbulent age of globalization and our own, from one of the most exciting young historians writing today

Migration, terrorism, the tensions between global capitalism and nationalism, and a communications revolution: these forces shaped Joseph Conrad’s destiny at the dawn of the twentieth century. In this brilliant new interpretation of one of the great voices in modern literature, Maya Jasanoff reveals Conrad as a prophet of globalization. […Learn More]

Book cover of Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis by Jared Diamond
Politics & Government

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

In his international bestsellers Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse, Jared Diamond transformed our understanding of what makes civilizations rise and fall. Now, in his third book in this monumental trilogy, he reveals how successful nations recover from crises while adopting selective changes — a coping mechanism more commonly associated with individuals recovering from personal crises. […Learn More]

Politics & Social Science

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods. […Learn More]