In a bumper crop of picks at the nexus of science and culture, we present our top 10 book reviews, top 10 blogposts — and the Books & Arts editor’s top 20 picks.


The launch of Spaceship Earth

Adam Rome revisits five prescient classics that first made sustainability a public issue in the 1960s and 1970s. 25 November 2015

Enchantress of abstraction

Richard Holmes re-examines the legacy of Ada Lovelace, mathematician and computer pioneer. 2 September 2015

The high road

Michael Grubb is both swept away and frustrated by Nicholas Stern’s argument for tackling climate change. 29 April 2015

Rediscovering the bush telegraph

Ian T. Baldwin assesses three books on the rich array of plant behaviours, from sensing to communication. 17 June 2015

Dawkins, redux

Nathaniel Comfort takes issue with the second instalment of the evolutionary biologist’s autobiography. 9 September 2015

Dominions of fizz 

David Katz applauds an analysis of the carbonated-drinks industry and public health. 30 September 2015

Telling the bees

John Burnside reflects on the role of art and myth in the health of the hive. 6 May 2015

Body of knowledge

As government education experts call for toddler literacy, and baby apps proliferate, are we losing sight of materials-based learning? Infant scientists and young explorers thrive in the open air and through free play, eager to grasp the world — literally. 15 July 2015

The continental conundrum

Ted Nield hails a biography of Alfred Wegener, who proposed the theory preceding plate tectonics. 7 October

Mathematical Wonderlands

As Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland approaches its 150th anniversary, Nature marks the moment with a scintillating collection of works by and about Lewis Carroll from its own archives, Macmillan and Scientific American . This celebration of Carroll as mathematical gamester and logic puzzler features delights such as selections from his 1885 volume of humorous maths problems, A Tangled Tale , and essays by the likes of mathematicians Martin Gardner, Francine Abeles and Warren Weaver, and literary scholar Gillian Beer.

A view from the bridge Oliver Sacks: an appreciation

Philip Ball remembers the neuroscientist, author and chemistry enthusiast. 2 September 2015

On the road with Star Men

Carolin Crawford on the documentary following four British astronomers as they reunite for a nostalgic US road trip. 1 September 2015

A book that changed my mind: The First Three Minutes

Ann Finkbeiner looks back at the volume that propelled her into a life of science writing. February 18 2015

Five ways of looking at a butterfly

Barbara Kiser reviews five superb books on Lepidoptera. 26 August 2015

The operatic Turing

Jo Baker listens in to a musical evocation of the brilliant mathematician and code-breaker. 10 June 2015

Hubble and the cosmic sublime in poetry

Barbara Kiser looks at the dance of poetry and astronomy on the 25th anniversary of the NASA telescope’s launch. 15 April 2015

Beyond the Antikythera mechanism

Jo Marchant tours an exhibition of ancient artefacts and the science unveiling new discoveries about them. 29 September 2015

 Suspended animation: Calder’s sculptural revolution 

Barbara Kiser spirals round a show on the engineer-sculptor’s experiments with materials, movement and noise. 27 November 2015

On reflection: the art and neuroscience of mirrors

Alison Abbott contemplates two Berlin shows on what reflective surfaces reveal about the depths of self. 24 November 2015

Sculpting deep time

Barbara Kiser examines the intimate relationship between art and deep time in sculpted stone. 8 July 2015


The top 20: a year of reading immersively

Our pick of the best science books of 2015 — on mega-dams, plant behaviour, the ‘strange alternate universe’ of maths and more. 16 December 2015