“Why is Sex Fun? is the best book on the subject I've read. This lively exploration of our sexual heritage offers fascinating reading for anyone curious about why lovers do what they do.”
— Diane Ackerman, author of
“I am so jealous of Jared Diamond, for he writes with such an elegant simplicity! Here, he takes a loot at the endlessly fascinating topic of human sexuality His convincing arguments should persuade xm that there are very special reasons why we evolved to use sex for recreation as well as for procreatim whereas most other mammals are denied that pleasure…. It is a great little book, by one of the worlds foremost biological philosophers.”
— Roger Shohl, Professor of Physiology Monash University Australia
“Once again Jared Diamond provides us with answers to questions we may never have stopped to ask, but wish we had. In this long essay Diamond explains that recreational sex, while not unique to humans, is a rare behavior in the animal world. Above all, we learn, sexual activity divorced fron procreation is not only part of what it is to be human, but the very crux of our evolutionary success.”
— Bettyaxn Kevles, author of
Many plants are highly poisonous when ingested, this is common knowledge. It is remarkable, however, that simply certain plants can also be a serious health hazard. Stinging Nettles are rather harmless in this respect, but there are much more dangerous contact-poisonous plants in many parts of the world, especially in the tropics. They can cause severe pain, rashes, blisters or leave scars. Some trees are reported to be so powerful that even raindrops falling from them can irritate the skin. Other plant species can cause blindness through the smoke of burning wood or from rubbing the eyes after touching the leaves.
This document gives a concise overview of those contact-poisonous plants that may be of interest for travellers. The first part briefly introduces the active principles, effects, treatment and geographical distribution. The second part lists about 35 important plant species and describes them in detail.
Information about this interesting subject is usually scattered across many different sources, like scientific works about dermatology or botany, regional field guides, travel literature, or magazines. The rare scientific literature on the subject usually lists thousands of plant species and describes in medical detail the effects on workers who were exposed to the same species for years. Only a small number of those plants is dangerous after an occasional contact, however, which means that information relevant for travellers is hidden amid lots of other data. Available information has been selected and densified to be presented here.
Latest update: 2 October 2006.
From Publishers Weekly
The author examines genetics, its benefits and its potential dangers.
From Library Journal
Witty and erudite, but a little unfocused, this title is as much about anthropology and (pre) history as genetics. Jones has produced a thought-provoking and free-wheeling book for the nonspecialist that touches on the genetics of languages, the role of sexual reproduction in genetic mutations, the evolution of farming, and the relationship of surnames to gene pools in various populations. The wide variety of topics considered is refreshing, as is the worldwide focus, but readers looking for a quick overview of genetics should look elsewhere (e.g., Robert Pollack, Signs of Life: The Language of DNA, LJ 1/94). Periodically, the author interjects purely speculative comments, but in general the lessons and conclusions of this book are complex and suitably low-key, given the rapid pace of change in molecular biology today and the difficulty of foreseeing all the future implications of these changes. Not an absolutely essential purchase, but an interesting one.
Jones is sensitive to the social issues raised by genetics, yet his interest reaches beyond contemporary social issues to the human past, to what genetics can and cannot tell us about our evolution and patterns of social development. He interleaves a broad knowledge of biology with considerations of cultural, demographic and — as his title indicates — linguistic history. Jones's book is at once instructive and captivating.
Trenchant, witty and enlightening… Jones's literate and wide-ranging book is an essential sightseer's guide to our own genetic terrain.
This brilliant and witty book… is highly literate, and Jones goes a long way to bridging the deepening chasm between the two cultures. Not to know how genes affect us is to ignore a central factor in our lives.
Brilliant, shattering, mind-jolting, is a searching, probing nook—a cosmic journey of the mind—that goes deeply into the problem of self and self-consciousness as anything written in our time. From verbalizing chimpanzees to scientific speculations involving machines with souls, from the mesmerizing, maze-like fiction of Borges to the tantalizing, dreamlike fiction of Lem and Princess Ineffable, her circuits glowing read and gold, opens the mind to the Black Box of fantasy, to the windfalls of reflection, to new dimensions of exciting possibilities.
In this mind-expanding book, scientific pioneer Marvin Minsky continues his groundbreaking research, offering a fascinating new model for how our minds work. He argues persuasively that emotions, intuitions, and feelings are not distinct things, but different ways of thinking.
By examining these different forms of mind activity, Minsky says, we can explain why our thought sometimes takes the form of carefully reasoned analysis and at other times turns to emotion. He shows how our minds progress from simple, instinctive kinds of thought to more complex forms, such as consciousness or self-awareness. And he argues that because we tend to see our thinking as fragmented, we fail to appreciate what powerful thinkers we really are. Indeed, says Minsky, if thinking can be understood as the step-by-step process that it is, then we can build machines—artificial intelligences—that not only can assist with our thinking by thinking as we do but have the potential to be as conscious as we are.
Eloquently written, is an intriguing look into a future where more powerful artificial intelligences await.
The New York Times–bestselling author of The Compass of Pleasure examines how our sense of touch is interconnected with our emotions
Dual-function receptors in our skin make mint feel cool and chili peppers hot. Without the brain’s dedicated centers for emotional touch, an orgasm would feel more like a sneeze—convulsive, but not especially nice. From skin to nerves to brain, the organization of our body’s touch circuits is a complex and often counterintuitive system that affects everything from our social interactions to our general health and development.
In Touch, neuroscientist and bestselling author David J. Linden explores this critical interface between our bodies and the outside world, between ourselves and others. Along the way, he answers such questions as: Why do women have more refined detection with their fingertips than men? Is there a biological basis for the use of acupuncture to relieve pain? How do drugs like Ecstasy heighten and motivate sensual touch? Why can’t we tickle ourselves? Linking biology and behavioral science, Touch offers an entertaining and enlightening answer to how we feel in every sense of the word.
Genre: Mystery and thrillers
A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic “hot” virus. tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their “crashes” into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.
This book describes events between 1967 and 1993. The incubation period of the viruses in this book is less than twenty-four days. No one who suffered from any of the viruses or who was in contact with anyone suffering from them can catch or spread the viruses outside of the incubation period. None of the living people referred to in this book suffer from a contagious disease. The viruses cannot survive independently for more than ten days unless the viruses are preserved and frozen with special procedures and laboratory equipment. Thus none of the locations in Reston or the Washington, D.C. area described in this book is infective or dangerous.
“The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place.”
A book to be read for pleasure as well as a practical identification guide, introduces a world of teeming life where the sea meets the land. A new generation of readers is discovering why Rachel Carson’s books have become cornerstones of the environmental and conservation movements. New introduction by Sue Hubbell.
Stepping effortlessly from myth to cutting-edge science, gives a brilliant narrative account of our genetic code and the captivating people whose bodies have revealed it—a French convent girl who found herself changing sex at puberty; children who, echoing Homer’s Cyclops, are born with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads; a village of long-lived Croatian dwarves; one family, whose bodies were entirely covered with hair, was kept at the Burmese royal court for four generations and gave Darwin one of his keenest insights into heredity. This elegant, humane, and engaging book “captures what we know of the development of what makes us human” ().
The challenge of studying evolution is that the history of life is buried in the past—we can’t witness the dramatic events that shaped the adaptations we see today. But biorobotics expert John Long has found an ingenious way to overcome this problem: he creates robots that look and behave like extinct animals, subjects them to evolutionary pressures, lets them compete for mates and resources, and mutates their ‘genes’. In short, he lets robots play the game of life.
In Darwin’s Devices, Long tells the story of these evolving biorobots—how they came to be, and what they can teach us about the biology of living and extinct species. Evolving biorobots can replicate creatures that disappeared from the earth long ago, showing us in real time what happens in the face of unexpected environmental challenges. Biomechanically correct models of backbones functioning as part of an autonomous robot, for example, can help us understand why the first vertebrates evolved them.
But the most impressive feature of these robots, as Long shows, is their ability to illustrate the power of evolution to solve difficult technological challenges autonomously—without human input regarding what a workable solution might be. Even a simple robot can create complex behavior, often learning or evolving greater intelligence than humans could possibly program. This remarkable idea could forever alter the face of engineering, design, and even warfare.
An amazing tour through the workings of a fertile mind, Darwin’s Devices will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about evolution, robot intelligence, and life itself.
Drawing comparisons to the most eloquent science writing of our day, three eminent psychiatrists tackle the difficult task of reconciling what artists and thinkers have known for thousands of years about the human heart with what has only recently been learned about the primitive functions of the human brain. The result is an original, lucid, at times moving account of the complexities of love and its essential role in human well-being.
A General Theory of Love draws on the latest scientific research to demonstrate that our nervous systems are not self-contained: from earliest childhood, our brains actually link with those of the people close to us, in a silent rhythm that alters the very structure of our brains, establishes life-long emotional patterns, and makes us, in large part, who we are. Explaining how relationships function, how parents shape their child’s developing self, how psychotherapy really works, and how our society dangerously flouts essential emotional laws, this is a work of rare passion and eloquence that will forever change the way you think about human intimacy.
Imagine a world where parasites control the minds of their hosts, sending them to their destruction.
Imagine a world where parasites are masters of chemical warfare and camouflage, able to cloak themselves with their hosts’ own molecules.
Imagine a world where parasites steer the course of evolution, where the majority of species are parasites.
WELCOME TO EARTH.
For centuries, parasites have lived in nightmares, horror stories, and in the darkest shadows of science. Yet these creatures are among the world’s most successful and sophisticated organisms. In , Carl Zimmer deftly balances the scientific and the disgusting as he takes readers on a fantastic voyage. Traveling from the steamy jungles of Costa Rica to the fetid parasite haven of southern Sudan, Zimmer graphically brings to life how parasites can change DNA, rewire the brain, make men more distrustful and women more outgoing, and turn hosts into the living dead.
This thorough, gracefully written book brings parasites out into the open and uncovers what they can teach us about the most fundamental survival tactics in the universe.
This remarkable book presents a rich and up-to-date view of evolution that explores the far-reaching implications of Darwin’s theory and emphasizes the power, significance, and relevance of evolution to our lives today. After all, we ourselves are the product of evolution, and we can tackle many of our gravest challenges––from lethal resurgence of antibiotic-resistant diseases to the wave of extinctions that looms before us––with a sound understanding of the science.
As Diane Ackerman writes in her brilliant new book, , “our relationship with nature has changed… radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad. Our new epoch is laced with invention. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable.”
Ackerman is justly celebrated for her unique insight into the natural world and our place in it. In this landmark book, she confronts the unprecedented reality that one prodigiously intelligent and meddlesome creature, , is now the dominant force shaping the future of planet Earth.
Humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” We tinker with nature at every opportunity; we garden the planet with our preferred species of plants and animals, many of them invasive; and we have even altered the climate, threatening our own extinction. Yet we reckon with our own destructive capabilities in extraordinary acts of hope-filled creativity: we collect the DNA of vanishing species in a “frozen ark,” equip orangutans with iPads, and create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. With her distinctive gift for making scientific discovery intelligible to the layperson, Ackerman takes us on an exhilarating journey through our new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating—perhaps saving—our future and that of our fellow creatures.
A beguiling, optimistic engagement with the changes affecting every part of our lives, is a wise and beautiful book that will astound, delight, and inform intelligent life for a long time to come.
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