Year-end roundup, books on technology and science history

As promised in my recent blog, I am returning with a few suggestions of recent science books that are suitable for gift-giving. I haven’t read all of these in detail, but they are published by reputable publishers and written by credible authors. This is the third of three postings, organized by subject area, this time … Read more

Year-end roundup, space and astronomy books

As promised in my recent blog, I am returning with a few suggestions of recent science books that are suitable for gift-giving. I haven’t read all of these in detail, but they are published by reputable publishers and written by credible authors. This is the second of three postings, organized by subject area, this time … Read more

Year-end gift ideas, books about Earth and life science and evolution

As promised in my last blog, I am returning with a few suggestions of recent science books that are suitable for gift-giving. I haven’t read these in detail, but they are published by reputable publishers and written by credible authors. This is the first of several postings, organized by subject area. In this case, we … Read more

Science Shelf reviews will return soon

For readers who appreciate my reviews of popular science books, I apologize for my long hiatus from posting. I had cataract surgery in August and had complications that have made reading books difficult. I have finally dealt with those complications to the point that I am beginning to catch up with a stack of books. … Read more

Epidemics, Meltdowns, and Climate Change — Books about Catastrophes, Disaster, and Existential Threats

As promised in last week’s blog, our spring roundup of science books continues with three books (or four, depending on how you count them) about catastrophes. It is a topic that is important in my own writing history. My third book Catastrophe! Great Engineering Failure–and Success (1995) was a Selector’s Choice on the National Science … Read more

Science Book Roundup, Spring 2018

The arrival of Spring 2018 in my area has been marked by an unusually large outburst of pollen. In the science book world, it has been marked by an outburst of varied, interesting titles. And that is certainly nothing to sneeze at. One of the perks of being a reviewer of long standing is the … Read more

Book Review: Chasing New Horizons

To preserve my objectivity, I have assiduously avoided reading other reviews of Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon. But I would bet euros to eclairs* that an online search would reveal at least one review that includes this sentence: “Alan Stern was born to write … Read more

Science Shelf Blog, Pi Day 2018 edition

At the Science Shelf, our favorite dessert is pi. So although it is a week past Pi Day 2018, we offer these recently released book treats to our readers (along with my picture in my Pi Day bowtie). I archive my book reviews at my Science Shelf website, so you may want to visit there … Read more

The Math of Groundhog’s Day: An Allegory

THE GREAT GROUNDHOG’S DAY CONSPIRACY By Fred Bortz ([email protected]) Many years ago in the Allegheny Mountain town of Punxsutawney PA, a secret committee met, led by Ima Merchant, the head of the local chamber of commerce. Town statistician C. P. Adderly and P. R. Mann, head of a local advertising firm, were also in attendance. … Read more

Science Shelf Blog, January 2018

These regular blog posts are for educated but non-expert readers who love science. For many years, I regularly sold freelance book reviews to major metropolitan newspapers. Over the past few years, the market for such reviews dried up, but I did not want to leave the field entirely. Fortunately, publishers still send me their catalogs … Read more