British Science Week is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths, taking place between 11-20 March 2022. To celebrate, join in the conversation, and keep abreast of the latest in science, delve into our reading list. It contains five of our latest books on evolutionary biology, the magic of mathematics, artificial intelligence, and more.
1. The Parrot in the Mirror: How evolving to be like birds made us human
How similar are your choices, behaviours, and lifestyle to those of a parrot?
Discover how many of our defining human traits are far more similar to birds than to our fellow mammals in The Parrot in the Mirror, by Antone Martinho-Truswell. From our lifespans to our intelligence, our relationships and our language, we can learn a great deal about ourselves by thinking of the human species as “the bird without feathers.” In this insightful read, learn more about how parrots, specifically, are our biological mirror image; an evolutionary parallel to ourselves. And how they are the only species to share one particular human trait: spite.
To learn more about how, much like humans, the senses of animals are key to their survival, discover Secret Worlds: The extraordinary senses of animals, by Martin Stevens.
2. Mind Shift: How culture transformed the human brain
The mental capacities of the human mind far outstrip those of other animals. Our imaginations and creativity have produced art, music, and literature; built bridges and cathedrals; enabled us to probe distant galaxies, and to ponder the meaning of our existence. What makes the human brain unique, and able to generate such a rich mental life? In this book, John Parrington draws on the latest research on the human brain to show how it differs strikingly from those of other animals in its structure and function at a molecular and cellular level. And he argues that this “shift,” was driven by tool use, but especially by the development of one remarkable tool—language.
You can also read Parrington blog on what neuroscience can tell us about the mind of a serial killer, as well as listening to his podcast on culture and the human brain.
3. Colliding Worlds: How cosmic encounters shaped planets and life
In Colliding Worlds, Simone Marchi explores the key role that collisions in space have played in the formation and evolution of our solar system, the development of planets, and possibly even the origin of life on Earth. Analysing our latest understanding of the surfaces of Mars and Venus, gleaned from recent space missions, Marchi presents the dramatic story of cosmic collisions and their legacies. You can also read his blog’s on the Earth’s wild years and the creative destruction of cosmic encounters, as well as his response to Netflix’s “Don’t Look Up!” satire, Do Look Up! Could a comet really kill us all?
4. The Wonderful Book of Geometry: A mathematical story
How can we be sure that Pythagoras’s theorem is really true? Why is the “angle in a semicircle” always 90 degrees? And how can tangents help determine the speed of a bullet?
David Acheson takes the reader on a highly illustrated tour through the history of geometry, from ancient Greece to the present day. He emphasizes throughout elegant deduction and practical applications, and argues that geometry can offer the quickest route to the whole spirit of mathematics at its best. Along the way, we encounter the quirky and the unexpected, meet the great personalities involved, and uncover some of the loveliest surprises in mathematics.
5. Human-centered AI
Focusing not on the risks of AI, but on the opportunities it presents and how to capitalize on them, Ben Shneiderman puts forward 15 recommendations about how programmers, business leaders, educators, professionals, and policy makers can implement human-centered AI. Bridging the gap between ethical considerations and practical realities to make successful, reliable systems, Schneiderman provides a range of human-centered AI design metaphors to show ways to get beyond current limitations and see new design possibilities that empower people, giving humans control.
Read Human-centered AI.
As an added bonus, you can also read more on the topics of evolutionary biology, the magic of mathematics, and artificial intelligence with the Oxford Landmark Science series. Including “must-read” modern science and big ideas that have shaped the way we think, browse the series here:
You can also explore more titles via our extended reading list via Bookshop UK.