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Science Books

June 23, 2005

Twin Tracks: The Unexpected Origins of the Modern World
James Burke (2005)
ISBN: 074325810X

James Burke, author of The Pinball Effect and The Day the Universe Changed, offers a dynamic view of history in this ingeniously devised and challenging book. Burke demonstrates the subjectivity of history by presenting two different threads of historical consequence and the surprising permutations that evolve. With separate narratives running on opposite pages, the book is in effect a slide-rule of historical events that can run backwards or forwards. When the tracks eventually collide the connections that result can be anything from the lens-grinding lathe leading to hairdressing, or the debut of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro contributing to the development of the Gulf War stealth fighter jet. Like tossing a stone into the pool of humanity, Burke allows the reader to see that contemporary events always have a source, no matter how odd or unrelated. A smart, humorous and mercifully irreverent book that will kick-start the imagination.

Nanotechnology: A Gentle Introduction to the Next Big Idea
Mark Ratner, Daniel Ratner (2002)
ISBN: 0131014005

Nanotechnology is the hot area in science currently, and its grip on the public's imagination shows no signs of abating. Nanotechnology: A Gentle Introduction to the Next Big Idea is your chance to get to grips with this extraordinary field of science, and the authors, Mark and Daniel Ratner, have the sort of backgrounds that will make this a necessary addition to any bookshelf. Winner of the 2001 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, Mark Ratner is the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor in Chemistry at Northwestern University. Daniel Ratner is an engineer and tech entrepreneur, who was recently awarded the prestigious "30 Under 30" entrepreneurs' award by Philly Tech magazine. The book, true to its name, offers a relatively math free account of nanotechnology's beginnings and the conceptual theories needed to understand this remarkable technology. From biomedicine, DNA computing and "smart materials" to nano-enhanced tennis balls, nanotechnology is set to affect our lives in profound and fundamental ways. Many thought provoking ethical discussions addressing the consequences of nanotechnology on society are included in the text. Nanotechnology is dubbed to be the next 'industrial revolution', so the business minded will find the authors' optimistic account of nanotechnology's future applications fascinating. We are also treated to an insider's view of the nanotechnology marketplace and associated investment opportunities, with predictions that by 2015, "nanotechnology could be a $1 trillion industry."

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