Technological innovation? Particle theory? Biomimetics? These weighty subjects are not just for experts. All published in 2010, these highly relatable reads explore places in the day-to-day where complex science is hard at work.
"The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science That Made Our World"
Gotham, 336 pages, $26
Using comic books and pulp science fiction, Kakalios, the author of "The Physics of Superheroes," explains the quantum mechanics at work in our daily lives.
"Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception"
By Charles Seife
Viking, 304 pages, $25.95
The author who brought us "Zero" leads this surprisingly humorous exploration into why so many of us are willing to believe positively preposterous things, and the cultural tendencies and confusions that lead to misinterpretation of the world around us.
"Bulletproof Feathers: How Science Uses Nature's Secrets to Design Cutting-Edge Technology"
Edited by Robert Allen
University of Chicago Press,
192 pages, $35
Sand dollars to help understand heating and cooling buildings? Mosquitoes to take the sting out of getting a shot? Gathering some of the great thinking of contemporary biomimetics — applying natural methods and systems to the study and design of engineering and technology — Allen creates a collection of entertaining and astonishing explanations of everyday innovations and improvements and the natural elements that helped guide the hands of their creators.
"How to Catch a Robot Rat: When Biology Inspires Innovation"
By Agnes Guillot and Jean-Arcady Meyer, translated by Susan Emanuel
MIT Press, 232 pages, $29.95
Guillot and Meyer illustrate the ways technology drew inspiration from nature, such as a cricket inspiring creators of the watch alarm bell, or the burdock flower inspiring Velcro's inventor. Through the study of "natural technology transfers" in this in-depth yet highly readable survey, the authors also point to sources for inspiration as technology advances.
"Virtual Words: Language on the Edge of Science and Technology"
By Jonathon Keats
Oxford University Press, 192 pages, $19.95
In this clever, no-nonsense essay collection, Wired magazine's "Jargon Watch" columnist Keats examines the relationship between emerging and evolving language and technological development.