Celebrate Our “Pale Blue Dot” with these Captivating Books and Movies

From the frozen tundra in the north to the dry forests of the equator, Sir David Attenborough narrates a compelling view of the planet. In addition to exploring the wilderness with improved technology that has made it possible to capture further details, the series examines urban dwellings, focusing on animals that have adapted to city life.

A global study of Earth’s imperiled environment explores a wide range of ecological disasters and examines the role of scientists and the public in reversing environmental degradation, restoring despoiled areas, and protecting endangered species, habitats, and biodiversity.

Ben Rawlence’s The Treeline takes us along this critical frontier of our warming planet from Canada to Sweden to meet the scientists confronting huge geological changes. It is a journey of wonder at the mysterious workings of the forest upon which we rely for the air we breathe. The Treeline is a story of what might soon be the last forest left on earth.

Natterson-Horowitz employs fascinating case studies to present a revelatory understanding of what animals can teach us about the human body and mind. “Zoobiquity” is the term the authors have coined to refer to a new, species-spanning approach to health. Delving into evolution, anthropology, sociology, biology, veterinary science, and zoology, they break down the walls between disciplines, redefining the boundaries of medicine.

Thalassa was a paradise, home to one of the small colonies founded centuries before by robot Mother Ships when the Sun had gone nova and mankind had fled Earth. Its beauty and vast resources seduce its inhabitants into a feeling of perfection. But then the Magellan arrives, carrying with it one million refugees from the last mad days of earth. Paradise looks indeed lost. 

Where are we? Who are we? Are our emotions, our beliefs, and our hopes and dreams ultimately meaningless out there in the void? Does human purpose and meaning fit into a scientific worldview? In short chapters filled with intriguing historical anecdotes, personal asides, and rigorous exposition, readers learn the difference between how the world works at the quantum level, the cosmic level, and the human level–and then how each connects to the other.

Presently in Yellowstone there are almost 200 active research permits involving over 500 investigators, but only a small fraction of this scientific work is reported in the popular press. Knowing Yellowstone explains the general issues associated with the region and how science is done to understand those issues, and how the nature of the scientist’s work enables or limits future plans for managing the park.

Wilczek’s groundbreaking work in quantum physics was inspired by his intuition to look for a deeper order of beauty in nature. In fact, every major advance in his career came from this intuition: to assume that the universe embodies beautiful forms, forms whose hallmarks are symmetry–harmony, balance, proportion–and economy. There are other meanings of “beauty,” but this is the deep logic of the universe–and it is no accident that it is also at the heart of what we find aesthetically pleasing and inspiring.

In Underland, Macfarland takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind. Traveling through “deep time,” he moves from the birth of the universe to a post-human future, and from the underground fungal networks through which trees communicate to a deep-sunk “hiding place” where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come.

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