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Five books to celebrate British Science Week 2023

Five books to celebrate British Science Week 2023

British Science Week is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and math’s, taking place between 10-19 March 2023. 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 plant forensics, the magic of mathematics, women in science, and more.

1. Planting Clues: How Plants Solve Crimes

"Planting Clues: How Plants Solve Crimes" by David Gibson, published by Oxford University Press

Discover the extraordinary role of plants in modern forensics, from their use as evidence in the trials of high-profile murderers such as Ted Bundy to high value botanical trafficking and poaching.

In Planting Clues, David Gibson explores how plants can help to solve crimes, as well as how plant crimes are themselves solved. He discusses the botanical evidence that proved important in bringing a number of high-profile murderers such as Ian Huntley (the 2002 Soham Murders), and Bruno Hauptman (the 1932 Baby Lindbergh kidnapping) to trial, from leaf fragments and wood anatomy to pollen and spores. Throughout he traces the evolution of forensic botany, and shares the fascinating stories that advanced its progress.

Buy Planting Clues, How Plants Solve Crimes

Take a look at Gibson’s blog on Environmental DNA, as well as John Parrington’s (author of ‘Mind Shift’) blog on what neuroscience can tell us about the mind of a serial killer.

2. The Spirit of Mathematics: Algebra and all that

"The Spirit of Mathematics: Algebra and all that" by David Acheson, published by Oxford University Press

 What makes mathematics so special? Whether you have anxious memories of the subject from school, or solve quadratic equations for fun, David Acheson’s book will make you look at mathematics afresh.

Following on from his previous bestsellers, The Calculus Story and The Wonder Book of Geometry, here Acheson highlights the power of algebra, combining it with arithmetic and geometry to capture the spirit of mathematics. This short book encompasses an astonishing array of ideas and concepts, from number tricks and magic squares to infinite series and imaginary numbers. Acheson’s enthusiasm is infectious, and, as ever, a sense of quirkiness and fun pervades the book.

Buy The Spirit of Mathematics, Algebra and all that

To learn more, discover our Very Short Introductions series, including editions about GeometryAlgebraSymmetry, and Numbers.

3. Not Just for the Boys: Why We Need More Women in Science

"Not Just for the Boys: Why We Need More Women in Science" by Athene Donald, published by Oxford University Press

Why are girls discouraged from doing science? Why do so many promising women leave science in early and mid-career? Why do women not prosper in the scientific workforce?

Not Just For the Boys looks back at how society has historically excluded women from the scientific sphere and discourse, what progress has been made, and how more is still needed. Athene Donald, herself a distinguished physicist, explores societal expectations during both childhood and working life using evidence of the systemic disadvantages women operate under, from the developing science of how our brains are—and more importantly aren’t—gendered, to social science evidence around attitudes towards girls and women doing science.

Buy Not Just for the Boys, Why We Need More Women in Science

Make sure not to miss Athene Donald’s limited 4-part podcast series featuring Donald in conversation with fellow female scientists and allies about the issues women face in the scientific world. 

4. Distrust: Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science

"Distrust: Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science" by Gary Smith, published by Oxford University Press

Using a wide range of entertaining examples, this fascinating book examines the impacts of society’s growing distrust of science, and ultimately provides constructive suggestions for restoring the credibility of the scientific community.

This thought-provoking book argues that, ironically, science’s credibility is being undermined by tools created by scientists themselves. Scientific disinformation and damaging conspiracy theories are rife because of the internet that science created, the scientific demand for empirical evidence and statistical significance leads to data torturing and confirmation bias, and data mining is fueled by the technological advances in Big Data and the development of ever-increasingly powerful computers.

Buy Distrust, Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science

Check out Gary Smith’s previous titles, including: The Phantom Pattern ProblemThe 9 Pitfalls of Data Science, and The AI Delusion.

5. Sentience: The Invention of Consciousness

"Sentience: The Invention of Consciousness" by Nicholas Humphrey, published by Oxford University Press

What is consciousness and why has it evolved? Conscious sensations are essential to our idea of ourselves but is it only humans who feel this way? Do animals? Will future machines?

To answer these questions we need a scientific understanding of consciousness: what it is and why it has evolved. Nicholas Humphrey has been researching these issues for fifty years. In this extraordinary book, weaving together intellectual adventure, cutting-edge science, and his own breakthrough experiences, he tells the story of his quest to uncover the evolutionary history of consciousness: from his discovery of blindsight after brain damage in monkeys, to hanging out with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, to becoming a leading philosopher of mind. Out of this, he has come up with an explanation of conscious feeling—”phenomenal consciousness”—that he presents here in full for the first time.  

Buy Sentience, The Invention of Consciousness (UK Only)

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, here are a selection of titles from the series to get your started.

You can also explore more titles via our extended reading list via Bookshop UK.

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