1. NeuroScience Fiction: From “2001: A Space Odyssey” to “Inception,” How Neuroscience Is Transforming Sci-Fi into Reality—While Challenging Our Beliefs About the Mind, Machines, and What Makes us Human by Rodrigo Quian Quiroga
Overview: What if science fiction stopped being fiction?
Developments in neuroscience are turning sci-fi scenarios into reality, and causing us to revisit some of the philosophical questions we have been asking ourselves for centuries.
Science fiction often takes its inspiration from the latest science . . . and our oldest questions. After all, the two are inextricably linked. At a time when advances in artificial intelligence are genuinely leading us closer to a computer that thinks like a human, we can’t help but wonder: What makes a person a person?
Countless writers and filmmakers have created futuristic scenarios to explore this issue and others like it. But these scenarios may not be so futuristic after all.
In the movie Inception, a group of conspirators implants false memories; in Until the End of the World, a mad scientist is able to read dreams; in 2001: A Space Odyssey, a supercomputer feels and thinks like a person. And in recent years, the achievements described in leading scientific journals have included some that might sound familiar: implanting memories using optogenetics, reading the mind during sleep thanks to advanced decoding algorithms, and creating a computer that uses deep neural networks to surpass the abilities of human thought.
2. Mind Kind: Your Child’s Mental Health by Joanna North
Overview: In Mind Kind: Your Child’s Mental Health, acclaimed psychotherapist Dr Joanna North gives a unique insight into the world of children’s mental health; one that focuses on kindness and values. Dr North presents clear, research-based strategies which she has developed over 30 years of working with children, adults and families.
In supporting children towards positive mental health and well-being, this book emphasises the importance of understanding their emotions in a variety of situations. Chapters are devoted to behaviour management; helping children through difficult times; and developing a ‘Mind Kind approach’ to mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression. Family break-ups, divorce and step-parenting; and eating disorders and their link to mental health receive special attention.
Dr North also addresses common parental misunderstandings about mental health and provides advice for interpreting behavioural signals in children and the most effective ways to help. Her focus is on resolving children’s struggles through kindness and clear comprehension of what they are going through. She appreciates that every child’s emotional needs are unique and gives parents and carers the tools to adapt.
3. Every Day I Write the Book: Notes on Style by Amitava Kumar
Overview: Amitava Kumar’s Every Day I Write the Book is for academic writers what Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life and Stephen King’s On Writing are for creative writers. Alongside Kumar’s interviews with an array of scholars whose distinct writing offers inspiring examples for students and academics alike, the book’s pages are full of practical advice about everything from how to write criticism to making use of a kitchen timer. Communication, engagement, honesty: these are the aims and sources of good writing. Storytelling, attention to organization, solid work habits: these are its tools. Kumar’s own voice is present in his essays about the writing process and in his perceptive and witty observations on the academic world. A writing manual as well as a manifesto, Every Day I Write the Book will interest and guide aspiring writers everywhere.
4. Nikola Tesla on His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power by Leland I. Anderson
Overview: In this recently discovered transcript of a three day interview conducted in 1916, Nikola Tesla, using words and graphic illustrations, provides a step by step description of his remarkable accomplishments in the area of radio frequency engineering. In a style uniquely his own, Tesla carefully traces his work – from the first high frequency alternators constructed at his New York City Grand Street laboratory and their associated tuned circuits through the establishment of his huge broadcasting facility, the Wardenclyffe Plant, at Shoreham, Long Island. Among the variety of topics discussed are: high frequency alternators, experiments with wireless telegraphy and telephony, mechanical and electrical oscillators, the Colorado experiments, theory and technique of energy transmission, the Long Island plant, and arrangements for receiving. Seldom, in technical research, has such a treasure of descriptive commentary and historical documentation been discovered. The previously untold story found within the pages of this remarkable book has been described by the prominent Tesla researcher James Corum as a “veritable Rosetta stone” for tracing the technical thoughts of one of our most distinguished engineering scientists. Includes 61 photos and 42 line-art illustrations, many never before published.
5. The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe by Stephen Hawking
Overview: With a title inspired as much by Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker series as Einstein, The Theory of Everything delivers almost as much as it promises. Transcribed from Stephen Hawking’s Cambridge Lectures, the slim volume may not present a single theory unifying gravity with the other fundamental forces, but it does carefully explain the state of late 20th-century physics with the great scientist’s characteristic humility and charm. Explicitly shunning math, Hawking explains the fruits of 100 years of heavy thinking with metaphors that are simple but never condescending–he compares the settling of the newborn universe into symmetry to the formation of ice crystals in a glass of water, for example. While he explores his own work (especially when speaking about black holes), he also discusses the important milestones achieved by others like Richard Feynman. Though occasionally an impenetrably obscure phrase does slip by, the reader will find the bulk of the text enlightening and engaging. The material, from the nature of time to the possibility that the universe has no beginning or end, is rich and deep and inevitably ignites metaphysical thinking. After all, Hawking is famous for his “we would know the mind of God” remark, which ends the final lecture herein.