Intriguing new titles celebrating women in physics and forensics
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe
By Lisa Randall
In her brilliant and thought provoking new book, particle physicist Lisa Randall delves into a fascinating new scientific theory, connecting one of science’s greatest questions—What killed the dinosaurs?—to one of the most complex celestial elements in our universe: dark matter. Unlike most objects in space, dark matter does not emit or absorb light. Yet this force, Randall claims, could possess the ability to dislodge a comet from orbit and turn the dinosaurs into Jurassic rubble. The greatest strength of Randall’s book is that it lacks any overly academic jargon and is reasonably easy to understand. Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs illustrates brilliantly that there is so much left to be discovered about ourselves and the universe that we call home.
Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime
By Val McDermid
Prolific Brit mystery writer Val McDermid shows crack journalism skills in this tour of the amazing science behind crime-solving. Ranging from an ancient Chinese coroner’s handbook to the Assad regime’s mass graves in contemporary Syria, her absorbing book covers a gamut of history, geography, techniques, and disciplines. She focuses largely on female investigators, like anthropological bone maven Sue Black, fire and arson authority Niamh Nic Daeid, and facial reconstruction expert Caroline Wilkinson—effectively luring young women toward the field. Armchair Clarice Starlings raised on Sherlock, CSI, and Dexter, will devour every maggot mosh pit and bloody fingerprint. McDermid, who found many of her real-life protagonists through research for her fiction, has herself the mind of an investigator, bringing laser-like curiosity, grisly humor, and consistent compassion to each stomach-churning scenario she describes.
Radioactive! How Irène Curie & Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World
By Winifred Conkling
(Algonquin Young Readers)
Determination! Wartime peril! Nuclear fission! With a great sense of storytelling, author Winifred Conkling introduces two physicists whose major discoveries also brought about more equality and anti-war awareness in the sciences. Irène Curie—whose mother Marie was the mother of modern physics—excelled in science despite her deliciously abrupt personality. And Lise Meitner, 20 years Curie’s senior, made her own way when women were not part of Austria’s University system. Their lives unfold amid dramatic wartime smuggling of people and equipment, illnesses, professional competition and betrayals, Nobel prizes, anti-war activism, and cameos by other great scientific minds. Though written for an audience 12 and up, Radioactive! addresses serious topics like the advent of chemical and atomic warfare and the Nazi rise to power, and leaves biography buffs wanting to know more in the best way.
By: Princess Weekes, Meredith Counts, and Fran Willing
This article originally appeared in the December/January print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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