Book review – science

An imaginative depiction of Archaeopteryx, in the transitional phase between non-avian feathered dinosaurs and modern birds

We still live in the age of dinosaurs

12 May 2018 9:00 am

The age of dinosaurs is a perennial favourite on any time traveller’s wishlist. Even though we’re technically still in it…

For the man who has everything, only a space rocket will do

21 April 2018 9:00 am

Today’s VHNWI wants a PRSHLS. That’s Very High Net-Worth Individual and Partially Reuseable Super Heavy Lift System. Or, in the…

‘An inconceivable operation of the gigantic forces of nature’: a total solar eclipse sweeps across Indonesia in March 2016

Darkness visible – the wondrous power of eclipses

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Marek Kukula was surprised to find himself moved to tears when he first witnessed a solar eclipse

Before the 17th century, all carrots were red, white and yellow. Orange ones were a new species. Image: Rex Images

Anyone for apple pie - with orchard birdsong and a squirt of perfume?

22 April 2017 9:00 am

After reading Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating, you might, as I did, sit for a bit wondering what a…

A computer illustration of people in cryogenic pods

Who on earth wants to live forever with the people who want to live forever?

15 April 2017 8:00 am

Are you a deathist? A deathist is someone who accepts the fact of death, who thinks the ongoing massacre of…

Is there any such thing as nothing? In search of the cosmic void

11 March 2017 9:00 am

Nothing will come of nothing, said Lear, because he wasn’t familiar with quantum physics. According to our current best theories,…

Do Daniel C. Dennett's memes deserve to survive?

4 March 2017 9:00 am

The greatest of Bach’s 224 cantatas is BWV 109, ‘Ich glaube, lieber Herr, hilf meinem Unglauben’. Its subject — the…

There is life out there, insists the astrobiologist Jon Willis — though it won’t be turning up in flying saucers. There’ll be a meeting of microbes rather than a meeting of minds

Why are astronomers so desperate to believe in aliens?

10 December 2016 9:00 am

Why are astronomers so keen to believe in extraterrestrial life? Is it just a story they want to hear, wonders Tom Holland

Planet-hunters will always boldly go where no one has gone before

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Fifty years ago this summer, a new show appeared on American TV screens. These, the opening titles explained, were the…

Is there no such thing as new science?

30 July 2016 9:00 am

Rupert Sheldrake had it coming. In A New Science of Life (1981), he argued that animals and plants have inherited…

The lymphatic system of the human head, from a medical textbook of 1883

The enduring mystery of the human body

23 July 2016 9:00 am

It’s not unreasonable to expect that the anatomy syllabus for a medical degree should include breasts. Last year I performed…

Haemophilus influenzae, as seen using a Gram-stain technique

Dr Ali Khan’s guide to the new germ warfare

2 July 2016 9:00 am

Which disease are you most scared of catching: Ebola or influenza? Before I read this medical memoir, I would have…

The clock is ticking: women paint luminous dials in 1932

The Radium Girls — still glowing in their coffins

11 June 2016 9:00 am

On the morning of 15 October 1927, a dim, autumn day, a group of men foregathered at the Rosedale cemetery…

How Siddhartha Mukherjee gets it wrong on IQ, sexuality and epigenetics

28 May 2016 9:00 am

A clear, accurate, up-to-date pop science book on genetics would have been most welcome, says Stuart Ritchie. Sadly, this isn’t it

American nuclear weapons test at Bikini Atoll, July 1946

The frightening, fascinating, inspiring story of radiation

5 March 2016 9:00 am

About a century ago, scientists started meddling with an unfamiliar force of nature and the rest of us were terrified.…

The ZX81

When Britannia ruled the digital waves

27 February 2016 9:00 am

Everyone, we hear these days, must learn to code. Being able to program computers is the only way to be…

Matt Ridley manages to Pangloss over the nastier aspects of evolution

19 September 2015 8:00 am

Before I read this book, I wasn’t aware that I was a creationist. But Matt Ridley tells me I am,…

The Ant Nebula, located a mere 3,000–6,000 light years from Earth in the southern constellation Norma

Physicists have stranger ideas than the most preposterous Old Testament preacher

22 August 2015 9:00 am

The beliefs of physicists are infinitely kookier than anything in the Bible, says Alexander Masters

Henry Coxwell and James Glaisher in their balloon car, studying the moisture content of the atmosphere

The weather: a very British obsession

4 July 2015 9:00 am

As I got into a Brighton taxi this morning, my driver’s first words were ‘apparently it’ll clear in a couple…

White dwarfs and neutron stars — stepping-stones to the black hole

30 May 2015 9:00 am

The idea of black holes sounds so quintessentially modern and 20th-century that it may come as a surprise to learn…

Nautilus

The toughest, smartest, strangest creatures ever to evolve are nearing the end of their continental shelf life

23 May 2015 9:00 am

The rich, strange, finely balanced ecosystems of the oceans — on which our lives depend — are profoundly threatened, says Rose George

Incline your upper body slightly forward and place your feet on a low foot rest. Then all the angles are correct

Digesting all the facts — without getting bogged down

16 May 2015 9:00 am

Funnily enough, after my editor sent me these three books to read, my guts started playing up. Suddenly, food seemed…

The unentertaining fact is that resurrecting animals that died out 65 million years ago is likely to remain far beyond the bounds of possibility for a very long time to come

If we recreate the mammoth, it will be 99.999 per cent white elephant

16 May 2015 9:00 am

Years ago, in an ill-conceived attempt to break into natural history radio, I borrowed a nearly dead car from a…

Bigger mouths and longer legs—all the better to bite you with, and run away

Bigger, better bedbugs bite back with a vengeance

25 April 2015 9:00 am

‘Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite,’ my mother used to say when she tucked me in at…

Stuck at K: we know very little about vitamins except that they’re good for us (in small quantities)

21 March 2015 9:00 am

Before I read this book about vitamins, I thought I knew what it would be like. It would be vaguely…