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Where did we come from? Where are we going? Homo sapiens is the most successful, the most widespread and the most influential species ever to walk the Earth. In the blink of an evolutionary eye we have spread around the globe, taken control of Earth's biological and mineral resources, transformed the environment, discovered the secrets of the universe and travelled into space. Yet just 7 million years ago, we were just another species of great ape making a quiet living in the forests of East Africa. We do not know exactly what this ancestor was like, but it was no more likely than a chimpanzee or gorilla to sail across the ocean, write a symphony, invent a steam engine or ponder the meaning of existence. How did we get from there to here? Human Origins recounts the most astonishing evolutionary tale ever told. Discover how our ancestors made the first tentative steps towards becoming human, how we lost our fur but gained language, fire and tools, how we strode out of Africa, invented farming and cities and ultimately created modern civilisation - perhaps the only one of its kind in the universe. Meet your long-lost ancestors, the other humans who once shared the planet with us, and learn where the story might end. ABOUT THE SERIES New Scientist Instant Expert books are definitive and accessible entry points to the most important subjects in science; subjects that challenge, attract debate, invite controversy and engage the most enquiring minds. Designed for curious readers who want to know how things work and why, the Instant Expert series explores the topics that really matter and their impact on individuals, society, and the planet, translating the scientific complexities around us into language that's open to everyone, and putting new ideas and discoveries into perspective and context.
The New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and Indie Bound Bestseller
'Those who like to insist that blood is always thicker than water should read Inheritance, and let their own hearts slowly and gently expand.'-- The Observer
'All my life I had known there was a secret. What I hadn't known: the secret was me.'
In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. Everything she had believed about her identity was a lie.
Shapiro's parents had died when she was in her twenties. With only a handful of figures on a webpage, Shapiro sets out to discover the truth about herself and her history.
Inheritance is a genetic detective story; a memoir that reads like a thriller. It is a book about secrets -secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.
The Neuroscience of Expertise examines the ways in which the brain accommodates the incredible feats of experts. It builds on a tradition of cognitive research to explain how the processes of perception, attention, and memory come together to enable experts' outstanding performance. The text explains how the brain adapts to enable the complex cognitive machinery behind expertise, and provides a unifying framework to illuminate the seemingly unconnected performance of experts in different domains. Whether it is a radiologist who must spot a pathology in a split second, a chess grandmaster who finds the right path in a jungle of possible continuations, or a tennis professional who reacts impossibly quickly to return a serve, The Neuroscience of Expertise offers insight into the universal cognitive and neural mechanisms behind these achievements.
An illustrated exploration of colors and patterns in the animal kingdom, what they communicate, and how they function in the social life of animals. Are animals able to appreciate what humans refer to as "beauty"? The term scarcely ever appears nowadays in a scientific description of living things, but we humans may nonetheless find the colors, patterns, and songs of animals to be beautiful in apparently the same way that we see beauty in works of art. In Animal Beauty, Nobel Prize-winning biologist Christiane Nusslein-Volhard describes how the colors and patterns displayed by animals arise, what they communicate, and how they function in the social life of animals. Watercolor drawings illustrate these amazing instances of animal beauty. Darwin addressed the topic of ornament in his 1871 book The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, and did not hesitate to engage with criteria of beauty, convinced that animals experienced color and ornament as attractive and agreeable in the same way that we do, and that the role this played in mate choice pointed to a "sexual selection" distinct from natural selection. Nusslein-Volhard examines key examples of ornament and sexual selection in the animal kingdom and lays the groundwork for biological aesthetics. Noting that color patterns have not been a research priority-perhaps because they appeared to be nonessential luxuries rather than functional necessities-Nusslein-Volhard looks at recent scientific developments on the topic. In part because of Nusslein-Volhard's own research on the zebrafish, it is now possible to decipher the molecular genetic mechanisms that lead to production of colors in animal skin and its appendages and control its pattern and distribution.
Socially situated thought and behaviour are pervasive and vitally important in human society. The social brain has become a focus of study for researchers in the neurosciences, psychology, biology and other areas of behavioural science, and it is becoming increasingly clear that social behaviour is heavily dependent on shared representations. Any social activity, from a simple conversation to a well-drilled military exercise to an exquisitely perfected dance routine, involves information sharing between the brains of those involved. This volume comprises a collection of cutting-edge essays centred on the idea of shared representations, broadly defined. Featuring contributions from established world leaders in their fields and written in a simultaneously accessible and detailed style, this is an invaluable resource for established researchers and those who are new to the field.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE GOODREADS BEST SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY BOOK AWARD Motion sickness. Nightmares. Forgetting people's names. Why did I walk into this room?? For something supposedly so brilliant and evolutionarily advanced, the human brain is pretty messy, fallible and disorganised. In The Idiot Brain neuroscientist Dean Burnett celebrates the imperfections of the human brain in all their glory, and the impact of these quirks on our daily lives. Expertly researched and entertainingly written, this book is for anyone who has wondered why their brain seems to be sabotaging their life, and what on earth it is really up to.
Written by an international team of leading experts in neuroscience, this book presents an overview of some of the main schools of thought as well as current research trends in neuroscience. It focuses on neural top-down causation applied to hot topics like consciousness, emotions, the self and the will, action and behavior, neural networks, brains and society. A special feature of the book is pertinent presentations and lively discussions on the topic. The book provides the reader with invaluable information on what the latest research is in this field and will enable the reader to gain considerable amount of knowledge as well as hints for further enquiry. This is the first book on the topic of neuroscience and top-down causation, and is written at a level that will interest both academics and the general readers. The extensive and lively discussions included in the book offer the reader a clear idea of the research in this field, and what will emerge as the main trends.
Educational neuroscience is one of the most hotly debated areas of research and is often misrepresented with grand claims for what it means for teaching and learning. Is each side of the brain responsible for different types of mental activity? Can listening to Mozart improve long-term brain function? Can neuroscience help with reading, or student motivation? In this book, teacher, education consultant and researcher Jon Tibke fact-checks prevailing 'neuromyths' by shining a light on what scientific research is truly relevant for the classroom and exploring the current limits of our understanding. Evidence-informed and complemented by thought-provoking practical tasks, this book will challenge readers to think critically about the human body's most complex organ.
Conservation behavior assists the investigation of species endangerment associated with managing animals impacted by anthropogenic activities. It employs a theoretical framework that examines the mechanisms, development, function, and phylogeny of behavior variation in order to develop practical tools for preventing biodiversity loss and extinction. Developed from a symposium held at the International Congress on Conservation Biology in 2011, this is the first book to offer an in-depth, logical framework that identifies three vital areas for understanding conservation behavior: anthropogenic threats to wildlife, conservation and management protocols, and indicators of anthropogenic threats. Bridging the gap between behavioral ecology and conservation biology, this volume ascertains key links between the fields, explores the theoretical foundations of these linkages, and connects them to practical wildlife management tools and concise applicable advice. Adopting a clear and structured approach throughout, this book is a vital resource for graduate students, academic researchers, and wildlife managers.
From one of the world's leading authorities on animal behavior, the astonishing story of how the female brain drives the evolution of beauty in animals and humans Darwin developed the theory of sexual selection to explain why the animal world abounds in stunning beauty, from the brilliant colors of butterflies and fishes to the songs of birds and frogs. He argued that animals have "a taste for the beautiful" that drives their potential mates to evolve features that make them more sexually attractive and reproductively successful. But if Darwin explained why sexual beauty evolved in animals, he struggled to understand how. In A Taste for the Beautiful, Michael Ryan, one of the world's leading authorities on animal behavior, tells the remarkable story of how he and other scientists have taken up where Darwin left off and transformed our understanding of sexual selection, shedding new light on human behavior in the process. Drawing on cutting-edge work in neuroscience and evolutionary biology, as well as his own important studies of the tiny Tungara frog deep in the jungles of Panama, Ryan explores the key questions: Why do animals perceive certain traits as beautiful and others not? Do animals have an inherent sexual aesthetic and, if so, where is it rooted? Ryan argues that the answers to these questions lie in the brain--particularly of females, who act as biological puppeteers, spurring the development of beautiful traits in males. This theory of how sexual beauty evolves explains its astonishing diversity and provides new insights about how much our own perception of beauty resembles that of other animals. Vividly written and filled with fascinating stories, A Taste for the Beautiful will change how you think about beauty and attraction.
A revealing insider (TM)s account of the power "and limitations "of functional MRI The ability to read minds has long been a fascination of science fiction, but revolutionary new brain-imaging methods are bringing it closer to scientific reality. The New Mind Readers provides a compelling look at the origins, development, and future of these extraordinary tools, revealing how they are increasingly being used to decode our thoughts and experiences "and how this raises sometimes troubling questions about their application in domains such as marketing, politics, and the law. Russell Poldrack takes readers on a journey of scientific discovery, telling the stories of the visionaries behind these breakthroughs. Along the way, he gives an insider (TM)s perspective on what is perhaps the single most important technology in cognitive neuroscience today "functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, which is providing astonishing new insights into the contents and workings of the mind. He highlights both the amazing power and major limitations of these techniques and describes how applications outside the lab often exceed the bounds of responsible science. Poldrack also details the unique and sometimes disorienting experience of having his own brain scanned more than a hundred times as part of a landmark study of how human brain function changes over time. Written by one of the world (TM)s leading pioneers in the field, The New Mind Readers cuts through the hype and misperceptions surrounding these emerging new methods, offering needed perspective on what they can and cannot do "and demonstrating how they can provide new answers to age-old questions about the nature of consciousness and what it means to be human.
What every neuroscientist should know about the mathematical modeling of excitable cells. Combining empirical physiology and nonlinear dynamics, this text provides an introduction to the simulation and modeling of dynamic phenomena in cell biology and neuroscience. It introduces mathematical modeling techniques alongside cellular electrophysiology. Topics include membrane transport and diffusion, the biophysics of excitable membranes, the gating of voltage and ligand-gated ion channels, intracellular calcium signalling, and electrical bursting in neurons and other excitable cell types. It introduces mathematical modeling techniques such as ordinary differential equations, phase plane, and bifurcation analysis of single-compartment neuron models. With analytical and computational problem sets, this book is suitable for life sciences majors, in biology to neuroscience, with one year of calculus, as well as graduate students looking for a primer on membrane excitability and calcium signalling.
A powerful treatise that demonstrates the existence of altruism in nature, with surprising implications for human society Does altruism exist? Or is human nature entirely selfish? In this eloquent and accessible book, famed biologist David Sloan Wilson provides new answers to this age-old question based on the latest developments in evolutionary science. From an evolutionary viewpoint, Wilson argues, altruism is inextricably linked to the functional organization of groups. "Groups that work" undeniably exist in nature and human society, although special conditions are required for their evolution. Humans are one of the most groupish species on earth, in some ways comparable to social insect colonies and multi-cellular organisms. The case that altruism evolves in all social species is surprisingly simple to make. Yet the implications for human society are far from obvious. Some of the most venerable criteria for defining altruism aren't worth caring much about, any more than we care much whether we are paid by cash or check. Altruism defined in terms of thoughts and feelings is notably absent from religion, even though altruism defined in terms of action is notably present. The economic case for selfishness can be decisively rejected. The quality of everyday life depends critically on people who overtly care about the welfare of others. Yet, like any other adaptation, altruism can have pathological manifestations. Wilson concludes by showing how a social theory that goes beyond altruism by focusing on group function can help to improve the human condition.
A leading scientist describes his life, his gender transition, his scientific work, and his advocacy for gender equality in science. Ben Barres was known for his groundbreaking scientific work and for his groundbreaking advocacy for gender equality in science. In this book, completed shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer in December 2017, Barres (born in 1954) describes a life full of remarkable accomplishments-from his childhood as a precocious math and science whiz to his experiences as a female student at MIT in the 1970s to his female-to-male transition in his forties, to his scientific work and role as teacher and mentor at Stanford. Barres recounts his early life-his interest in science, first manifested as a fascination with the mad scientist in Superman; his academic successes; and his gender confusion. Barres felt even as a very young child that he was assigned the wrong gender. After years of being acutely uncomfortable in his own skin, Barres transitioned from female to male. He reports he felt nothing but relief on becoming his true self. He was proud to be a role model for transgender scientists. As an undergraduate at MIT, Barres experienced discrimination, but it was after transitioning that he realized how differently male and female scientists are treated. He became an advocate for gender equality in science, and later in life responded pointedly to Larry Summers's speculation that women were innately unsuited to be scientists. Privileged white men, Barres writes, "miss the basic point that in the face of negative stereotyping, talented women will not be recognized." At Stanford, Barres made important discoveries about glia, the most numerous cells in the brain, and he describes some of his work. "The most rewarding part of his job," however, was mentoring young scientists. That, and his advocacy for women and transgender scientists, ensures his legacy.
Why we learn the wrong things from narrative history, and how our love for stories is hard-wired. To understand something, you need to know its history. Right? Wrong, says Alex Rosenberg in How History Gets Things Wrong. Feeling especially well-informed after reading a book of popular history on the best-seller list? Don't. Narrative history is always, always wrong. It's not just incomplete or inaccurate but deeply wrong, as wrong as Ptolemaic astronomy. We no longer believe that the earth is the center of the universe. Why do we still believe in historical narrative? Our attachment to history as a vehicle for understanding has a long Darwinian pedigree and a genetic basis. Our love of stories is hard-wired. Neuroscience reveals that human evolution shaped a tool useful for survival into a defective theory of human nature. Stories historians tell, Rosenberg continues, are not only wrong but harmful. Israel and Palestine, for example, have dueling narratives of dispossession that prevent one side from compromising with the other. Henry Kissinger applied lessons drawn from the Congress of Vienna to American foreign policy with disastrous results. Human evolution improved primate mind reading-the ability to anticipate the behavior of others, whether predators, prey, or cooperators-to get us to the top of the African food chain. Now, however, this hard-wired capacity makes us think we can understand history-what the Kaiser was thinking in 1914, why Hitler declared war on the United States-by uncovering the narratives of what happened and why. In fact, Rosenberg argues, we will only understand history if we don't make it into a story.
The question of how and why organisms age has teased scientists for centuries. There are myriad competing theories, from the idea that aging is a simple wear and tear process, like the rusting of a car, to the belief that aging and death are genetically programmed and controlled. In fact, there is no clearly defined limit to life, and no single, predictable program playing itself out: different things are happening within and between tissues, and each system or organ accumulates damage at its own pace, according to the kind of insults imposed on it by daily living. Sometime before 2020, the number of people over sixty-five worldwide will, for the first time, be greater than the number of 0-4 year olds; and by 2050 there are likely to be 2.5 times as many older people in the world as toddlers. Sue Armstrong tells the story of society's quest to understand aging through the eyes of the scientists themselves, as well as through the "ordinary" people who exemplify the mysteries of ageing--from those who suffer from the premature aging condition, Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, to people still running marathons in their 80s. Borrowed Time will investigate such mind-boggling experiments as transfusing young blood into old rodents, and research into transplanting the first human head, among many others. It will explore where science is taking us and what issues are being raised from a psychological, philosophical and ethical perspective, through interviews with, and profiles of, key scientists in the field and the people who represent interesting and important aspects of aging.
This second edition of the renowned Cambridge Handbook of Creativity expands on the first edition with over two thirds new material reaching across psychology, business, entrepreneurship, education, and neuroscience. It introduces creativity scholarship by summarising its history, major theories and assessments, how creativity develops across the lifespan, and suggestions for improving creativity. It also illustrates cutting-edge work on genetics and the neuroscience of creativity, alongside creativity's potential for both benevolence and malevolence. The chapters cover the related areas of imagination, genius, play, and aesthetics and tackle questions about how cultural differences, one's physical environment, mood, and self-belief can impact creativity. The book then examines the impacts on creativity of behaviour by teachers, managers, and leaders in particular.
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. Science in the Soul is a kaleidoscopic argument for the power and glory of science: the wonder of scientific discovery; the practical necessity of scientific endeavour to society; and the importance of the scientific way of thinking - particularly in today's `post-truth' world. With an introduction and new commentary by the author in dialogue with himself across the years, the essays, journalism, lectures and letters gathered here range over subjects from evolution and Darwinian natural selection to the role of scientist as prophet, whether science is itself a religion, the probability of alien life in other worlds, and the beauties, cruelties and oddities of earthly life in this one. A sparkling showcase for his rapier wit, the clarity, precision and vigour he brings to an argument, the beauty of his prose, the depth of his feeling and his capacity for joy, Science in the Soul is further evidence of Richard Dawkins' status as one of science's all-time great communicators.
If reason is what makes us human, then why do we humans often behave so irrationally? Taking us from desert ants to Aristotle, cognitive psychologists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber explore how our 'flawed superpower' of reason works, how it doesn't, and how it evolved to help us develop as social beings. 'Original and provocative ... likely to have a big impact on our understanding of ourselves' Steven Pinker 'Brilliant, elegant and compelling ... turns reason's weaknesses into strengths, arguing that its supposed flaws are actually design features that work remarkably well ... A timely and necessary book' Julian Baggini, Financial Times 'Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber have solved one of the most important and longstanding puzzles in psychology' Jonathan Haidt 'Reason is more likely to confirm things that we want to be true, or which we already believe. So why does it exist? This book provides the answer' Alex Dean, Prospect
This book was developed to help students and researchers in the fields of economics, finance, law and other social science areas to understand and apply neuroscience. With the use of neuroscience technologies, it is now possible to understand how people make decisions in practice, using friendly and ecological experimental setups. The first half of the book studies the decision-making process and explains how the brain is organized. It presents the brain as a distributed processing system, shows how to record brain activities, and how to combine neurosciences and statistical tools to design experiments. In the last chapters, experiments on stock market decision, dilemma judgment, vote decision and understanding of media propaganda are described and discussed.
Willi Hennig (1913-76), founder of phylogenetic systematics, revolutionised our understanding of the relationships among species and their natural classification. An expert on Diptera and fossil insects, Hennig's ideas were applicable to all organisms. He wrote about the science of taxonomy or systematics, refining and promoting discussion of the precise meaning of the term 'relationship', the nature of systematic evidence, and how those matters impinge on a precise understanding of monophyly, paraphyly, and polyphyly. Hennig's contributions are relevant today and are a platform for the future. This book focuses on the intellectual aspects of Hennig's work and gives dimension to the future of the subject in relation to Hennig's foundational contributions to the field of phylogenetic systematics. Suitable for graduate students and academic researchers, this book will also appeal to philosophers and historians interested in the legacy of Willi Hennig.
Neuroscience, with its astounding new technologies, is uncovering the workings of the brain and with this perhaps the mind. The 'neuro' prefix spills out into every area of life, from neuroaesthetics to neuroeconomics, neurogastronomy and neuroeducation. With its promise to cure physical and social ills, government sees neuroscience as a tool to increase the 'mental capital' of the children of the deprived and workless. It sets aside intensifying poverty and inequality, instead claiming that basing children's rearing and education on brain science will transform both the child's and the nation's health and wealth. Leading critic of such neuropretensions, neuroscientist Steven Rose and sociologist of science Hilary Rose take a sceptical look at these claims and the science underlying them, sifting out the sensible from the snake oil. Examining the ways in which science is shaped by and shapes the political economy of neoliberalism, they argue that neuroscience on its own is not able to bear the weight of these hopes.
Thinking whimsically makes serious science accessible. That's a message that should be taken to heart by all readers who want to learn about evolution. Do Elephants Have Knees? invites readers into serious appreciation of Darwinian histories by deploying the playful thinking found in children's books. Charles R. Ault Jr. weds children's literature to recent research in paleontology and evolutionary biology. Inquiring into the origin of origins stories, Ault presents three portraits of Charles Darwin-curious child, twentysomething adventurer, and elderly worm scientist. Essays focusing on the origins of tetrapods, elephants, whales, and birds explain fundamental Darwinian concepts (natural selection, for example) with examples of fossil history and comparative anatomy.The imagery of the children's story offers a way to remember and recreate scientific discoveries. By juxtaposing Darwin's science with tales for children, Do Elephants Have Knees? underscores the importance of whimsical storytelling to the accomplishment of serious thinking. Charles Darwin mused about duck beaks and swimming bears as he imagined a pathway for the origin of baleen. A "bearduck" chimera may be a stretch, but the science linking not just cows but also whales to moose through shared ancestry has great merit. Teaching about shared ancestry may begin with attention to Bernard Wiseman's Morris the Moose. Morris believes that cows and deer are fine examples of moose because they all have four legs and things on their heads. No whale antlers are known, but fossils of four-legged whales are. By calling attention to surprising and serendipitous echoes between children's stories and challenging science, Ault demonstrates how playful thinking opens the doors to an understanding of evolutionary thought.
"When Darwin set sail at the end of 1831, it was only with a vague notion that all life forms, both present and extinct, were more strongly related than the Christian version of the world's creation purported them to be. During his five-year voyage of research and discovery on board HMS Beagle, and later from his home in Kent, he painstakingly collected a mass of evidence from across the planet - from Paraguay and the Galapagos Islands to Staffordshire and Scotland - building a compelling case for a theory that would change the world we live in - and the way we look at it - for ever. The foundation of evolutionary biology and natural selection - which prompted as huge a revolution in the fields of science and religion as Copernicus's heliocentric model of the universe and Newton's law of gravity, Darwin's On the Origin of Species is perhaps the most important book of scientific observation ever written."
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