Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution [EPUB]
15 April 2018, 16:10
2018 | EPUB | 6.5 MB
- Carrion crows in the Japanese city of Sendai have learned to use passing traffic to crack nuts.
- Lizards in Puerto Rico are evolving feet that better grip surfaces like concrete.
- Europe’s urban blackbirds sing at a higher pitch than their rural cousins, to be heardover the din of traffic.
How is this happening?
Menno Schilthuizen is one of a growing number of “urban ecologists” studying how our manmade environments are accelerating and changing the evolution of the animals and plants around us. In Darwin Comes to Town, he takes us around the world for an up-close look at just how stunningly flexible and swift-moving natural selection can be.
With human populations growing, we’re having an increasing impact on global ecosystems, and nowhere do these impacts overlap as much as they do in cities. The urban environment is about as extreme as it gets, and the wild animals and plants that live side-by-side with us need to adapt to a whole suite of challenging conditions: they must manage in the city’s hotter climate (the “urban heat island”); they need to be able to live either in the semidesert of the tall, rocky, and cavernous structures we call buildings or in the pocket-like oases of city parks (which pose their own dangers, including smog and free-rangingdogs and cats); traffic causes continuous noise, a mist of fine dust particles, and barriers to movement for any animal that cannot fly or burrow; food sources are mainly human-derived. And yet, as Schilthuizen shows, the wildlife sharing these spaces with us is not just surviving, but evolving ways of thriving.
Darwin Comes toTown draws on eye-popping examples of adaptation to share a stunning vision of urban evolution in which humans and wildlife co-exist in a unique harmony. It reveals that evolution can happen far more rapidly than Darwin dreamed, while providing a glimmer of hope that our race toward over population might not take the rest of nature down with us.
Dinner with Darwin: Food, Drink, and Evolution [EPUB]
15 April 2018, 16:09
2017 | EPUB | 2.14MB
What do eggs, flour, and milk have in common? They form the basis of waffles, of course, but these staples of breakfast bounty also share an evolutionary function: eggs, seeds (from which we derive flour by grinding), and milk have each evolved to nourish offspring. Indeed, ponder the genesis of your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you’ll soon realize that everything we eat and drink has an evolutionary history. In Dinner with Darwin, join Jonathan Silvertown for a multicourse meal of evolutionary gastronomy, a tantalizing tour of human taste that helps us to understand the origins of our diets and the foods that have been central to them for millennia—from spices to spirits.
A delectable concoction of coevolution and cookery, gut microbiomes and microherbs, and both the chicken and its egg, Dinner with Darwin reveals that our shopping lists, recipe cards, and restaurant menus don’t just contain the ingredients for culinary delight. They also tell a fascinating story about natural selection and its influence on our plates—and palates. Digging deeper, Silvertown’s repast includes entrées into GMOs and hybrids, and looks at the science of our sensory interactions with foods and cooking—the sights, aromas, and tastes we experience in our kitchens and dining rooms. As is the wont of any true chef, Silvertown packs his menu with eclectic components, dishing on everything from Charles Darwin’s intestinal maladies to taste bud anatomy and turducken.
Our evolutionary relationship with food and drink stretches from the days of cooking cave dwellers to contemporary crêperies and beyond, and Dinner with Darwin serves up scintillating insight into the entire, awesome span. This feast of soup, science, and human society is one to savor. With a wit as dry as a fine pinot noir and a cache of evolutionary knowledge as vast as the most discerning connoisseur’s wine cellar, Silvertown whets our appetites—and leaves us hungry for more.
Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style, 2nd Edition [EPUB]
10 April 2018, 16:36
2018 | EPUB | 1.45MB
When Randy Olson first described his life-changing encounter with an acting teacher in Don’t Be Such a Scientist, it seemed like the world of science was on the cusp of gaining new respect in the public eye. Through his writing, speaking, and films, Olson challenged scientists to toss out jargon in favor of a more human approach, bringing Hollywood lessons to the scientific community. Yet today, in everything from government funding cuts to climate change denial, science is under attack. And while communicating science is more crucial than ever, the scientific community still struggles to connect with everyday people.
The time is right for a new edition of Olson’s revolutionary work. In Don’t Be Such a Scientist, Second Edition, Olson renews his call for communication that stays true to the facts while tapping into something more primordial, more irrational, and ultimately more human. In more than 50 pages of new material, Olson brings his pioneering message to this new age, providing tools for speaking out in anti-science era and squaring off against members of the scientific establishment who resist needed change.
Don’t Be Such a Scientist, Second Edition is a cutting and irreverent manual to making your voice heard in an age of attacks on science. Invaluable for anyone looking to break out of the boxes of academia or research, Olson’s writing will inspire readers to “make science human”—and to enjoy the ride along the way.