Download the Universe, the science ebook review I started up with some colleagues nine months ago, continues to grow. Here’s the latest batch of reviews:
The Most Ingenious Book: How to Rediscover Micrographia My survey of the digital experiences of Robert Hooke’s 1665 masterpiece.
NASA’s 30 years of Shuttle Missions Is Both Dull and Compelling John Timmer explores NASA’s online history
The Long Quest to Catch a Poisoner Deborah Blum finds the science in a true-crime thriller.
A Medieval Bestiary: When a Book Breaks Your Heart Maggie Koerth-Baker has great hopes for an ebook from the British Library. Hopes are dashed.
Did You Like My Ebook? Don’t Lie! Maia Szalavitz reviews Sam Harris’s ebook on lying.
The Beautiful Planet Meets The Immortal Cassini I take a look at an elegant collection of NASA’s images of Saturn.
Death and Other Options: How To Think (Hopefully!) About Global Health Tom Levenson reviews a TED book on the medical future of our species
Deep Water: A Pretty Good TED Ebook (Really!) About Climate Change John Dupuis considers the strengths and weaknesses of an ebook on climate change.
Interplanetary Cuisine What do people eat in space? Veronique Greenwood tucks in.
The Science of Sports: An eBook Goes for the Gold, Gets A Bronze Jaime Green reviews an ebook from Scientific American on the Olympics. (Remember the Olympics? That creepy giant baby on opening night? Remember?)
Over at Download the Universe, we’re continuing to explore the growing world of science ebooks. Here’s the latest batch of reviews:
Going to Extremes: An Ebook About the Climate Forest and the Weather Trees Dan Fagin writes about what our weird weather these days can tell us about our warming future.
An overstuffed colon and a perfectly sized Kindle Single Seth Mnookin on Andy Borowitz’s very funny take on a horrendous bowel disorder. (Really!)
eBooks and the democratization of crackpottery John Timmer muses on the digital future of self-published pseudoscience.
Rudy Rucker Resurrects a Lost Classic of Psychedelia Steve Silberman writes an impassioned review about a forgotten tale of mind-altering drugs, now rescued from obscurity as an ebook.
Telegraphing What Technology Wants John Hawks takes a look at a digital retooling of a science book and wonders if ebooks will become the new Cliff Notes.
A Journey to the Island of Tree Kangaroos Matthew Power enjoys a good old-fashioned tale of jungles, exploration, and weird marsupials.
Can the wonders of the universe fit on an iPad?
Jennifer Ouellette Jaime Green reviews an app by physicist-celebrity Brian Cox.
The Frankenstein Universe: How The New York Public Library Blew Up the Ebook I review an enormous virtual museum exhibit about biotechnology’s founding allegory.
Wonders of Geology: Getting High On Mountains Veronique Greenwood enjoys what might once have been called a coffee-table book about our planet’s stunning surface.
Here’s a round-up of the latest pieces over at Download the Universe, the science ebook review.
How a Locked-in Woman Took Control of a Robot Arm You may have read in the news last month. Ed Yong admires an ebook that gets behind the headlines and tells the personal story of the paralyzed woman who made cybernetic history.
What the Moon is Really Made of Veronique Greenwood takes a lunar adventure with an ebook written by a team of geologists
Inside the Atavist: A conversation with Evan Ratliff The innovative ebook publisher the Atavist has just attracted investment from the likes of Eric Schmidt at Google. I Skyped the Atavist’s co-founder Evan Ratliff to talk about his experiences and plans for the future.
Science by Candlelight There are lots of fantastic free science ebooks waiting for you to read–historical works that are now in public domain. Deborah Blum looks at a delightful classic–Victorian chemist Michael Faraday’s meditation on the world in a candle flame.
At the Edge of Life Jude Isabella reviews an ebook about the science of near death experiences and ponders how science writers should cover such charged topics.
I Point To TED Talks and I Point to Kim Kardashian. That Is All. I read an ebook based on a TED talk. It was about videogames and pornography and how they’re destroying the world. I got fed up. I wrote a review. I feel better now.
Over at Download the Universe, we’ve added another crop of entertaining reviews about ebooks that you definitely should–or, in some cases, definitely should not–check out:
“When an Autism Diagnosis Comes as a Blessing”: Steve Silberman writes a powerful review about the reality of autism and a Kindle memoir about living with the condition.
“Meandering Mississippi: An early journalism iBook is all wet”: Seth Mnookin reads an account of last year’s Mississippi floods and wonders why newspapers are squandering the opportunities that ebooks are offering them.
“A Lost Explorer Returns: Todd Balf’s Farthest North: David Dobbs revels in a well-told story of an ill-fated scientific voyage across the Arctic.
“Leonardo: The First Great Science Ebook”: I take a look at a lavishly-produced ebook about Leonardo da Vinci’s forgotten work as a pioneer of anatomy. Staggeringly impressive.
“A Time Machine for the Face of Earth”: My review of a coffee-table-like ebook about how humans (and other forces) are changing the surface of the planet.
“Artificial Epidemics: You’re Not Sick, You’re Just Overdiagnosed”: Neuroscience blogger “Scicurious” is unimpressed with an ebook that claims that depression and prostate cancer are all in your head. (Confused? You should be.)
“Titanic: The e-Book Nobody Loved”: Jennifer Ouellette looks at one of the least successful Titanic anniversary tie-ins. Again, a wasted opportunity.
And, finally, Seth Mnookin, Annalee Newitz, Maia Szavalitz, and I engaged in a three-day roundtable discussion about ebooks: how people read them, how they get published, and the future of books:
Over at Download the Universe, we’ve posted a bunch of new reviews of science ebooks. We fell in love with some titles, we hated others, and we had a love-hate relationship with ebooks that were great in some ways and awful in others. When we started Download the Universe, we thought we were coming together to start something pretty straightforward: a book review dedicated to a neglected category of creations–namely, science ebooks. But ebooks are in such an early stage that our reviews often end up being contemplations of the form itself. In 10 years, I wonder if these questions will be sorted out, or if a new raft of questions will float in to take their place.
Here are the reviews we’ve published since I last posted an update on the Loom, in reverse order:
Monet’s Ultraviolet Eye My review of an app about color, and some thoughts on what ebook designers can learn from museum exhibits
A Disorganized Celebration of Skulls Brian Switek reviews an ebook about the box of bones on top of our spines
Blowing Windmills and Seeing the Future: Al Gore’s Our Choice Dan Fagin reviews Gore’s ebook about energy and climate
A Big Minimalism Win for eBooks: Robin Sloan’s Fish David Dobbs is pleasantly surprised by a very small ebook
Slog of the Dinosaurs Brian reviews a dinosaur ebook. You can guess what he thinks of it from the title
Look Up In The Sky! It’s A Book! It’s An App! It’s a Bat! I take a look at a children’s ebook about bats and consider the economics of calling your ebook and app. (With wise words from my 8-year-old daughter Veronica.)
Have I Got A Moon Rock For You… Tom Levenson reviews an ebook about the black market in extraterrestrial geology.
Steven Gilbert Really, Really Wants You to Know About Poison Deborah Blum reviews a self-published book by a toxicologist
I Heard the Sirens Scream: Laurie Garrett Takes on 9/11 & Anthrax Maia Szavalitz reviews a Pulitzer-prize-winning health journalist’s weighty e-tome about bioterrorism.
The Frozen Future of Nonfiction Our new editor Seth Mnookin reviews Why the Net Matters by neuroscientist David Eagleman
Dazzling Material, Lackluster Story Virginia Hughes is disappointed by an opulent ebook about gems
“Life on Earth”: the future of textbooks? John Hawks reviews E. O. Wilson’s ambitious iPad-only biology textbook and looks ahead to the future of academic publishing
Download the Universe, a new science ebook review, is now entering its third week of life. We’ve been publishing a string of new reviews since I last blogged about it. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, now is a great time to do so. Here are the latest:
Worlds Without End: Sean Carroll on Journey to the Exoplanets
One man and his superorganism: Ed Yong on Before the Swarm
Doomsday Deflected Tom Levenson on Planet Killers
SMILE: The Astonishing Destructive Power of Positive Thinking David Dobbs disembowels SMILE; The Astonishing Power of a Simple Act.
Much more to come!
Download the Universe, the new science ebook review that I and a group of other writers and scientists recently launched, is now entering its second week. I’ve written this week’s first review, of an ebook called Controlling Cancer, by evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald. Ewald argues that the best way to reduce the death rate from cancer is to treat it like an infectious disease–which, to a surprising extent, it really is. Check it out.
We’ve come to the end of the first week of Download the Universe, a science ebook review. Today’s review is from Maggie Koerth-Baker, the science editor of Boing-Boing and author of the forthcoming Before the Lights Go Out, a book about the future of energy. She reviews Into the Forbidden Zone by William Vollmann, in which the author recounts his journey into Japan’s post-tsunami hell. Maggie weaves in her own reflections on how hard it can be for us to judge the real risks we face from nature and from our own technology.
It’s been a great experience to see the idea for this project go from conference-hallway gabbing to actual publication. Here are the rest of this week’s offerings:
“A New Kind of Review for a New Kind of Book”–my introduction to the site and some thoughts about the history of science in books.
“A Cabinet of (Chemical) Curiosities”–Deborah Blum reviews The Elements, an iPad app about chemistry
“The State of the ebook, Early 2012″–John Timmer surveys the business and creative possibilities of ebooks today.
“Narrative and Neuroscience”–Annalee Newitz reviews Blindsight, an Atavist publication about a brain injury that sends a man into a different kind of existence.
Stay tuned (or rss’d)–there’s a lot more to come.