Science books for the Holidays

Science also has a place in this season.

This article was published at least 7 months ago. Content may be out of date

Holidays are always a good time for reading. And science books also have a place in this summer time. I have chosen ten science books that have recently come out in Portuguese and ordered them in alphabetical order of the author’s surname.

  1. CORREIA, Mário, A Grande Aventura. Gago Coutinho e Sacadura Cabral na primeira travessia aérea do Atlântico Sul, Oficina do Livro.
    This year marks the centenary of that feat of aviation that was the crossing of the Atlantic undertaken by the pilot Sacadura Cabral and the navigator Gago Coutinho. This book by a historian who is also an aviator (and was curator of the Air Museum) describes the adventure, providing ample iconography.
  2. CRAWFORD, Paulo, O Universo, Do Big Bang aos Buracos Negros, Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos
    cosmologist and retired professor of the Faculty of Science of the University of Lisbon and one of the first Portuguese cosmologists leaves, in this short and inexpensive Foundation essay, a description of the structure and scale of the universe. It deals with topics still to be clarified such as dark matter and dark energy, besides of course the black holes, about which we already know more.
  3. GATES, Bill, Como prevenir a próxima pandemia, Ideias de Ler.
    The multi-millionaire who founded Microsoft and a charitable foundation that bears his name, after a book on climate change (How to avoid a climate disaster?)
    , has written a book on what we have learnt from the current pandemic of COVID-19 so that we can apply it to future occasions. Yes, there will most likely be new pandemics.
  4. MANCUSO, Stefano. A Planta do Mundo. Aventuras de Plantas Pessoas, Pergaminho.
    The Professor of Plant Neurophysiology at the University of Florence is the author of a controversial theory on plant sensitivity. We already knew that he has a knack for writing for the general public with titles such as The Nation of Plants and The Revolution of Plants
    . In this new title, with beautiful drawings by the author, he interweaves human history with the history of plants.
  5. ORLANDO, Ludovico, O ADN Fóssil. Uma máquina para viajar no tempo, Guerra & Paz.
    The author, a French scientist specialising in Palaeogenetics, who heads the Centre for Anthropology and Genetics in Toulouse after working in Denmark, tells how it was possible to sequence Neanderthal Man and other hominids, in addition to a whole variety of ancient living things, such as domestic animals and plants. Today genomics is working wonders to decipher our past.
  6. PAGE, Lyman. O Pequeno Livro da Cosmologia, Gradiva.
    A professor of astrophysics at Princeton University, a university that has distinguished itself by producing Nobel Prizes, specializing in the detection and analysis of the oldest images of the Cosmos, provides a very up-to-date summary of the origins of everything. For those who want to know more and are in a hurry to find out…
  7. PRINGLE, Heather. O Delírio Nazi. Os académicos de Himmler e o Holocausto. Entre a superstição, a ciência e o terror,  Casa das Letras.
    A Canadian journalist specialising in science gives, in this almost 600 page book, a description of what pseudoscience was in Germany during Hitler’s time. The alleged superiority of the Aryan race led to theories and experiments without any scientific basis. How was this sinister drift of science possible?
  8. ROVELLI, Carlo. O Abismo Vertiginoso. Um mergulho nas ideias da Física Quântica,  Objectiva.
    The Italian professor of Theoretical Physics who surprised the world with Seven Brief Physics Lessons and who later continued to stimulate our brains with books like Anaximander of Miletus and What if time didn’t exist? tells us here what quantum physics is, based on the story of the discovery of matrix mechanics by the young Werner Heisenberg on the island of Heligoland, in northern Germany.
  9. SOBRAL, David, Qual é o nosso lugar no Universo? Planeta.
    The Portuguese astrophysicist and professor at Lancaster University, UK, who discovered a brilliant galaxy at the far end of the universe that he named CR-7 (CR for Cosmos Redshift) makes here a brilliant foray into astronomy, from his already rich personal experience. He reveals himself here in book form to be a gifted disseminator.
  10. TYSON, Neil deGrasse, STRAUSS, Michael A., e GOTT, J. Richard, Uma Breve Visita ao Universo, Edições 70
    first author, a great American science communicator (author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry) joined two professors from Princeton University to teach a course on Introduction to Astronomy. The course yielded a large book, of which this is a layman’s summary, since it contains no formulas. The first few chapters are easier.

And, as an extra, I recommend the amazing comic strip A Bomba by the scriptwriters Alcante and Bollée and the cartoonist Rodier, which has just come out on Gradiva. It’s the story of the first atomic bomb as you’ve never seen. Happy reading!

This article is published in o largo. under the project “Culture, Science and Technology in the Media” (Cultura, Ciência e Tecnologia na Imprensa), promoted by the Portuguese Press Association

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