Anatomies: The Human Body, Its Parts and the Stories They Tell
- Hugh Aldersey-Williams
How comfortable are we with our corporeal selves? Hugh Aldersey-Williams, whose best-seller on the periodic table eulogized the elements, here turns a cultivated eye to the body eclectic, limbs, liver, lungs and all. He roves from Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp (1632) — with its intent crowd of medics round a pallid corpse — to his own observations of cadavers and their nested organs, so distinct in hue, density and texture. A seething melange of science and culture follows: the iconic status of the nose, the shapeliness of kidneys, extreme longevity and much more.
Constant Touch: A Global History of the Mobile Phone
- Jon Agar
In this update to his 2003 history of the mobile phone, science and technology historian Jon Agar reassesses the ever-evolving nature of this multitasking machine clamped to the ears of billions. Agar reports on the developments with characteristically clear precision. His four-part chronicle deconstructs a typical mobile phone; traces its genesis and evolution, touching on regional differences; dives into the cultures embracing it, from phone-hacking journalists to African farmers; and, weaving in Apple's part in the story, ends with a bang at the smartphone.
Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love
Glenn Geher and Scott Barry Kaufman. Oxford University Press 320 pp. $27.95 (2013)
Human courtship is as convoluted as the human mind. In generating and maintaining relationships we can be master tacticians, deploying everything from humour and compassion to bling and 'bad boy' displays. It is this nexus of intelligence and mating that psychologists Glenn Geher and Scott Barry Kaufman explore in this lively, copiously researched treatise on the roles of factors from creativity to biases and emotional intelligence.
Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age
- Susan Crawford
The United States may be a pioneer of digitization but, says Susan Crawford, it has lost its early lead in broadband pricing and speed — and, in turn, Internet access. In her history-cum-analysis, telecommunications policy specialist Crawford avers that many US citizens pay significantly more than their counterparts elsewhere; and whereas more than half of South Korean households have fast fibre lines, the US figure is just 7%. With monopolies running US cable companies, it is time, she argues, for government regulation.
Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People
Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. Delacorte 272 pp. $27 (2013)
Unconscious biases that guide behaviour act like retinal blindspots — even blindsight, in which people with brain damage can grab an object without consciously seeing it. So say psychologists Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, arguing that such quirks can trump ethical intent owing to adaptations that may have been evolutionarily advantageous. Starting with perceptual mistakes based on habits of thought (mindbugs), they cover psychological self-trickery in depth.
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Books in brief. Nature 494, 33 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/494033a