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

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

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

Science Shelf Blog, Year End 2017

My standard opening disclaimer: Due to the shrinking freelance book review market, my opportunities to publish full-length reviews of science titles in major metropolitan newspapers are now few and far between. Because I do not want to leave that territory completely, I have decided to develop a blog that publishes short reviews of science books … Read more

Introducing the Science Shelf Blog

Due to the shrinking freelance book review market, my opportunities to publish full-length reviews of science titles in major metropolitan newspapers are now few and far between. Because I do not want to leave that territory completely, I have decided to develop a blog that publishes short reviews of science books that I receive as … Read more

Review of Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik

Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 272 pages, $26.00, July 2014) Reviewed by Dr. Fred Bortz Discover more book reviews at The Science Shelf This review is the copyrighted property of Alfred B. Bortz. Individuals may print single copies for their own use. For … Read more

Nobel Laureates Debate the Future of Nuclear Power

At a Nobel Forum in December 2013, several past laureates discussed the future of nuclear power. Their conclusions were far from unanimous. All agreed that nuclear power is the only current technology capable of replacing fossil-fuel plants on a large enough scale to mitigate the risk of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions. But … Read more