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Spark Your Curiosity with These STEM Reads

by  | November 7

Books help us better understand ourselves and the world around us. Science, in particular, gives us the opportunity to see our world in a different light, sometimes in ways that are even stranger than science fiction and fantasy. In honor of National STEM Day, here are six science-oriented reads that will fuel your imagination as well as spark your curiosity to learn more.

The Greatest Story Ever Told--So Far

The Greatest Story Ever Told--So Far

by Lawrence M. Krauss

The universe is a massive place that is growing and expanding outward, and everything works together to create reality as we know it. But this has always left one big, unanswered question: Why are we here? In The Greatest Story Ever Told—So Far, theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss lays out the unseen forces that regulate the cosmos, from the microscopic to the massive. It is through this detailed history of the strange truth about what is real, that the author seeks to help readers understand why life exists in the universe, and the place we hold in its ever-shifting design. A fantastic read into the theory behind astrophysics, and for anyone just curious to understand what it means to exist in reality.

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Into the Gray Zone

Into the Gray Zone

by Adrian Owen

The mind is a powerful thing, but do you know how powerful? Neuroscientists are constantly at work, trying to understand the massive amount of neural connections present in the brain and how it processes information from various inputs. Dr. Adrian Owen is one such researcher, and he focuses on what happens to the mind when a person enters a vegetative state. Into the Gray Zone details a number of cases and finds that simply because a person appears to be brain dead doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t gathering and processing information from the outside world. These patients, caught in the “gray zone,” present a challenge to traditionally

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Midnight in Chernobyl

Midnight in Chernobyl

by Adam Higginbotham

After HBO’s massive hit Chernobyl, it’s hard not to want to learn more about how just a few simple mistakes could lead to the annihilation of all life. Adam Higginbotham meshes science with politics and human experience in his detailed, meticulous account of the events of April 26, 1986. Midnight in Chernobyl pulls from hours of interviews, memoirs, documents, and first-hand accounts to detail that singular nuclear disaster in Russia and how each decision helped or hurt thousands of innocent bystanders. Whether you’re still yearning to know more after a long HBO binge or you’re just curious about how nuclear power has the capacity to change our world (and not always for the better), this book will keep you up all night with all it has to offer.

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She Has Her Mother’s Laugh

She Has Her Mother’s Laugh

by Carl Zimmer

Lots of stories deal with the idea of legacy, what we pass down to the next generation culturally, traditionally, and through our family histories. But in reality, we also pass down a lot through our genetics, and now that at-home genetic testing is easier than ever, people are learning exactly where they came from. But how did this fascination with genetics begin? And how far beyond the family tree does heredity go? With She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, science journalist Carl Zimmer crafts a nuanced, thoughtful journey through the history of human genetics as a field of study, and explains what we know today and what researchers are currently working to understand.

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The Tangled Tree

The Tangled Tree

by David Quammen

We often think of our genetic material as something that is inherited from our parents, but scientists have found that, in truth, roughly eight percent of the human genome arrives not through traditional inheritance but rather through viruses. This movement of genes is called horizontal gene transfer, and it plays a bigger role than you might guess in the evolution of multiple species. In The Tangled Tree, journalist David Quammen engagingly explores the biggest breakthroughs in our understanding of this biological phenomenon, discusses the researchers who discovered them, and presents to the reader a more complex family tree than you might ever have imagined.

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The Science of Rick and Morty

The Science of Rick and Morty

by Matt Brady

If you’re like me, you’ve heard one too many physics puns to believe that scientists lack humor. So when you’re looking for an educational science read with a little levity, learn about the basics of biology, chemistry, and physics with the show Rick and Morty…and this handy guide by Matt Brady, of course. From particle physics to time travel to human augmentation, The Science of Rick and Morty looks at what’s possible (and probable) as explored in the hit animated show and in a way that every fan will be able to grasp. No guarantees that you’ll be able to make your own Butter Robot, though.

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com