Spring titles pay tribute to the legacies of departed trailblazers and bring news of the ever-expanding human understanding of the greater universe, the laws of physics, and human consciousness itself.
Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects
Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson. Simon Schuster, July 2 (hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-982112-87-5)
Seeking to puncture homo sapiens’ delusions of uniqueness, ecologist Sverdrup-Thygeson emphasizes how dependent humans are on the activities of much-derided insects.
Cosmos: Possible Worlds
Ann Druyan. National Geographic, Feb. 19 (hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-4262-1908-5)
Druyan celebrates her late husband, astrophysicist Carl Sagan, with a sequel to his 1980 bestseller, Cosmos. Neil deGrasse Tyson—today’s Sagan—contributes a foreword.
Dante and the Early Astronomer: Science, Adventure, and a Victorian Woman Who Opened the Heavens
Tracy Daugherty. Yale Univ., Apr. 23 (hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-300-23989-8)
Literary biographer Daugherty switches focus to profile British astronomer Mary Acworth Evershed (1867–1949), a pre–Hidden Figures female pioneer of space science.
Eating the Sun: Small Musings on a Vast Universe
Ella Frances Sanders. Penguin, Apr. 16 (hardcover, $17, ISBN 978-0-14-313316-2)
With this tour through natural phenomena, the bestselling author of Lost in Translation has created another gem, according to PW’s starred review, which praised Sanders’s “lyrical prose and whimsical color illustrations.”
Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales
Oliver Sacks. Knopf, Apr. 23 (hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-451-49289-0)
This book marks the final essay collection from Sacks, who helped bring mysteries of the human mind to a wide audience before his death in 2015.
Lights On: Exploring the Mystery of Consciousness
Annaka Harris. Harper, June 4 (hardcover, $22.99, ISBN 978-0-06-290671-7)
Harris’s survey of perspectives on human consciousness from a variety of experts promises to challenge accepted wisdom regarding free will and selfhood.
Mama’s Last Hug: Animal and Human Emotions
Frans de Waal. Norton, Mar. 5 (hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-63506-5)
As a primatologist with expertise in chimpanzees and bonobos, de Waal is ideally equipped to argue for the similarity between humans’ emotions and those of other animals.
The Moon: A History for the Future
Oliver Morton. Economist, June 4 (hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-5417-7432-2)
Morton marks Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary by showing that the moon belongs not just to the past but also to the future of human space travel—as a stepping stone to further exploration.
The Trouble with Gravity: Solving the Mystery Beneath Our Feet
Richard Panek. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 9 (hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-544-52674-7)
Science writer Panek discusses recent strides made toward finally cracking a long-standing cold case of physics.
The Uninhabitable Earth: What Climate Change Means
David Wallace-Wells. Crown/Duggan, May 7 (hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-525-57670-9)
Laying out worst-case scenarios related to the impacts of climate change, Wallace-Wells, deputy editor of New York magazine, aims not to depress but to rouse readers to action—a task that is only more urgent following heightened projections for climate change.
Europe: A Natural History by Tim Flannery (Feb. 5, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8021-2916-1). The scientist and conservationist traces Europe’s ecological history, beginning 100 million years ago during the continent’s initial formation, describing the flourishing and disappearance of various species—the woolly rhino, the cave bear, the giant elk—and the immense impact of homo sapiens.
Chasing the Moon: The People, the Politics, and the Promise That Launched America into the Space Age by Robert L. Stone and Alan Andres (June 4, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-5247-9812-3). This companion to the PBS series profiles visionary figures, including Frank Borman, Poppy Northcutt, and Wernher von Braun, who took part in the project of landing a man on the moon.
The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall by Mark W. Moffett (Feb. 12, hardcover, $32, ISBN 978-0-465-05568-5). Drawing on psychology, sociology, and anthropology, biologist Moffett gives his own account of how humans evolved from living in small communities to building vastly complex civilizations.
Origins: The Insidious Return of Race Science by Angela Saini (June 11, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-8070-7691-0) traces, in disturbing detail, the persistence of the ostensibly scientific but factually unfounded belief in biologically based racial differences, a school of thought believed defeated along with Nazism in WWII, only to reemerge decades later.
Clearing the Air: The Beginning and the End of Air Pollution by Tim Smedley (June 4, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4729-5331-5). A journalist specializing in sustainability issues sets out to explain what air pollution is and where it comes from, while interviewing the scientists and policymakers trying to counter it, and people who have been adversely affected by it.
The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of the Voyager Golden Record by Jonathan Scott (May 21, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4729-5613-2). NASA’s Voyager probe, launched in 1977, includes a vinyl record intended to represent humanity to aliens. Scott describes how a team led by Carl Sagan created the record, which included music, scientific figures, and a message of peace from President Jimmy Carter.
Why Chimpanzees Can’t Learn Language and Only Humans Can by Herbert S. Terrace (July 16, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-231-17110-6). Behavioral psychologist Terrace revisits a experiment he organized in the 1970s—to have a young ape, “Nim Chimpsky,” taught American Sign Language—to offer a view of the origins of language that challenges the theories of Nim’s namesake.
When the Earth Had Two Moons by Erik Asphaug (July 2, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-265792-3). A planetary geologist examines the process of planet formation and the origins of life, revealing that, curiously, the solar system’s planets and other bodies are not particularly similar, and attempts to discover why.
Ten Women Who Changed Science and the World: Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, and Biology by Catherine Whitlock and Rhodri Evans (June 11, trade paper, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-63576-610-3) offers profiles of Marie Curie—the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in science—three other female Nobel Prize winners, and six more women who overcame discrimination to make far-reaching intellectual breakthroughs.
The Book of Humans: 4 Billion Years, 20,000 Genes, and the New Story of How We Became Us by Adam Rutherford (Mar. 19, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-61519-531-2) explores how humans became the creatures they are today, and what does, and doesn’t, separate them from other species.
Supernavigators: The Astounding New Science of How Animals Find Their Way by David Barrie (Apr. 30, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-61519-537-4) introduces readers to the cutting-edge science of animal navigation, which aims to discover the diverse means through which various creatures—butterflies, birds, crustaceans, fish, reptiles, and even people—find their way.
The Mission of a Lifetime: Lessons from the Men Who Went to the Moon by Basil Hero (Apr. 2, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-1-5387-4851-0). The 12 surviving Apollo astronauts—all now in their 90s—share lessons gleaned from their experiences. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
The Weather Machine: A Journey Inside the Forecast by Andrew Blum (June 25, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-4434-3859-9). In this tour of the world of weather forecasting, journalist Blum visits remote weather stations, watches a new satellite blast off, and learns about an ambitious project to model the entire atmosphere, with its tens of thousands of shifting variables, in a supercomputer.
Emperors of the Deep: The Ocean’s Most Mysterious, Most Misunderstood, and Most Important Guardians
by William McKeever (June 25, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-288032-1). A conservationist and documentarian seeks to shift the common view of sharks, from the fearsome monsters of Jaws to evolutionary marvels essential to the environment.
Paternity: The Elusive Quest for the Father by Nara B. Milanich (June 10, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-674-98068-6) recounts human attempts to trace paternity, which for most of history appeared fundamentally uncertain, through the 1920s, when scientific advances seemed to solve the mystery once and for all, and up to the present, as new questions are raised.
Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben (Apr. 16, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-250-17826-8) follows up 1989’s The End of Nature, one of the first books on climate change for general readers, to warn that technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics threaten the variety of human experience.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear by Bryce Andrews (Apr. 16, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-328-97245-3) tells the story of a grizzly bear named Millie as a window onto the shrinking wild spaces of the American West.
Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives by Mark Miodownik (Feb. 19, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-544-85019-4). Set over the course of a London–San Francisco flight, this primer to fluids from the author of Stuff Matters depicts liquids as fascinating substances essential to life. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
Horizon by Barry Lopez (Mar. 19, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-394-58582-6). The National Book Award–winning author of Arctic Dreams recounts traveling to Western Oregon, the High Arctic, the Galápagos, the Kenyan desert, Botany Bay in Australia, and the Antarctic ice shelves. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
Earth-Shattering: Violent Supernovas, Galactic Explosions, Biological Mayhem, Nuclear Meltdowns, and Other Hazards to Life in Our Universe by Bob Berman (Feb. 19, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-51135-3). Astronomy writer Berman explores such violent cosmic events as exploding galaxies, supernovas, hypernovas, gamma ray bursts, and the explosive birth of the moon.
Genesis: The Deep Origin of Societies by Edward O. Wilson (Mar. 19, hardcover, $23.95, ISBN 978-1-63149-554-3). The Pulitzer Prize winner and Harvard evolutionary biologist outlines a theory for the formation of human society, referring to the evolution of nonhuman species—including naked mole rats and sponge-dwelling shrimp—to make his case.
Einstein’s Wife: The Real Story of Mileva Einstein-Maric by Allen Esterson and David C. Cassidy (Mar. 19, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-262-03961-1). Drawing on historical research, Esterson and Cassidy examine the question to what degree Mileva Einstein-Maric contributed to, or was even partially responsible for, the work of her famous husband, Albert Einstein.
The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science from Denial, Fraud, and Pseudoscience by Lee McIntyre (May 7, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-262-03983-3) addresses attacks on empiricism by arguing that what distinguishes science from its intellectual rivals is “the scientific attitude”—caring about evidence and being willing to change theories on the basis of new evidence.
How to Know the Birds: The Art and Adventure of Birding by Ted Floyd (Mar. 12, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4262-2003-6) aims to help nature lovers improve their bird-watching skills with brief profiles of 200 North American species. The text is accompanied by dozens of Floyd’s pencil sketches.
The Workshop and the World: What Ten Thinkers Can Teach Us About Science and Authority by Robert P. Crease (Mar. 26, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-393-29243-5). Science historian Crease looks at 10 great thinkers and their effect on public perceptions of science, in the context of widespread present-day antiscience rhetoric.
Elemental: How the Periodic Table Can Now Explain (Nearly) Everything by Tim James (Mar. 26, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-4683-1702-2). Chemist and science educator James traces the periodic table from its beginnings in ancient Greece to June 2016, when four new elements—nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson—were identified.
Making Eden: How Plants Transformed a Barren Planet by David Beerling (June 1, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-19-879830-9) examines the essential function of plants in regulating ecosystems and climate, and discusses the implications for food security and climate change in light of threats to plant biodiversity posed by global warming.
This View of Life: Completing the Darwinian Revolution by David Sloan Wilson (Feb. 26, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-101-87020-4). Applying Darwin’s theories to human society, evolutionary biologist Wilson seeks to overcome the stigma of the 19th century’s inhumane “social Darwinism” and proposes that an evolutionary understanding of social institutions could be a force for good.
Coders: The Making of a New Art and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson (Mar. 26, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-7352-2056-0). Tech writer Thompson examines computer programmers through an anthropological lens, as a group of people who make up today’s most powerful tribe, to both good and bad ends.
Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution: The Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum by Lee Smolin (Apr. 9, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-59420-619-1). A physicist shares a new view of quantum theory, arguing that if its lingering questions are ever to be answered, scientists must go beyond quantum mechanics to a coherent, atomic-scale description of the world.
The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild by Thomas D. Seeley (May 14, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-16676-6). Amid an alarming dip in managed honey bee populations, Seeley shares new information about how these insects behave and survive in the wild, in order to discover how domesticated honey bees might be saved.
No Shadow of a Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse That Confirmed Einstein’s Theory of Relativity by Daniel Kennefick (Apr. 30, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-18386-2) marks the centenary of scientific expeditions made to Brazil and Africa to test Einstein’s theory of general relativity, addressing persistent questions about the methodology used.
Escape from Earth: The Secret History of How We Reached Space by Fraser MacDonald (June 25, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-61039-871-8). This biography from science historian MacDonald reveals how Frank Malina, founder of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and builder of the first rocket launched into outer space, was written out of official history because he was a Communist.
The Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey into Greenland’s Buried Past and Our Perilous Future by Jon Gertner (June 4, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-8129-9662-3) reconstructs the arduous, and now increasingly urgent, expeditions made to Greenland’s ice sheet over the past 150 years, in quest of the climate-science secrets it might hold.
Skeleton Keys: The Secret Life of Bone by Brian Switek (Mar. 5, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-399-18490-1) looks at bone in both scientific and cultural terms, as an adaptable and resilient building material that is as deeply embedded within human culture as it is within the human body.
Fire in the Sky: Cosmic Collisions, Killer Asteroids, and the Race to Defend Earth by Gordon L. Dillow (June 4, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-5011-8774-2). Combining history, pop science, and journalism, Dillow discusses past instances of asteroids hitting Earth—such as the one that formed the Colorado Plateau’s mile-wide, 50,000 year-old Meteor Crater—and current attempts to prepare for any future catastrophes.
One Giant Leap: The Untold Story of How We Flew to the Moon by Charles Fishman (June 11, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-5011-0629-3). The bestselling author of The Wal-Mart Effect profiles the people responsible for fulfilling President Kennedy’s 1961 mandate to land a man on the moon by 1970—a formidably brief window of time.
Apollo’s Legacy: The Space Race in Perspective by Roger D. Launius (May 14, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-58834-649-0). Space historian Launius examines the Apollo space program in terms of its enduring impact and legacy, while also looking at key moments from the program’s history.
Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity by Jamie Metzl (Apr. 23, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-7009-4). With genetic technology quickly progressing in sophistication, futurist Metzl looks at the possibilities and dangers of an era in which humans can easily rewrite their own DNA.
Univ. of Pittsburgh
The Life and Legend of James Watt: Collaboration, Natural Philosophy, and the Improvement of the Steam Engine by David Philip Miller (May 7, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-0-8229-4558-1) offers a contemporary interpretation of the significance of engineer James Watt (1736–1819), a crucial contributor to the development of the steam engine.
The Deep History of Ourselves: How Ancient Microbes Became Conscious Brains by Joseph LeDoux (Apr. 2, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-7352-2383-7). Extracting insights from natural history, neuroscientist LeDoux argues that the evolution of the earliest organisms can shed a revelatory light on human behavior.