Elon Musk is a complicated man. Reactions to the entrepreneur run the gamut of fear, frustration, admiration and loyalty. His intrepid entrepreneurial spirit helped him revolutionize multiple industries, but his successes did not come without a cost. Charting Musk’s path from childhood to his early startups to his now-booming businesses, Ashlee Vance’s portrait of Musk gives us the major factors that have contributed to the making of Musk.
Continue reading for key insights from Elon Musk.
For many, Einstein’s renown as a scientist has obscured other aspects of his life and thought. The World As I See It is a collection of essays, lectures, and letters Einstein wrote in the 1920s and 30s on topics as diverse as politics, culture, education, and spirituality. These essays shed new light on one of the greatest minds the world has known by showing his deep concern and love for life and humanity.
Read on for key insights from The World as I See It.
5 Minute Read
The late NYU professor Neil Postman examines the cultural shift from the printed word to electronic media as the preferred form of communication. More than another ‘TV will rot your brain’ diatribe, Amusing Ourselves to Death delves into how we perceive and consume information, formulate thoughts and arguments, and construct beliefs based on the technology we use. This classic cautionary tale points out what we are unknowingly sacrificing on the altar of entertainment. Not for the faint of heart.
Read on for key insights from Amusing Ourselves to Death.
It’s hard to imagine that Google was once a humble start-up company like so many others. As of 2015, it was a multinational company of 65,000 employees, raking in over $75 billion dollars in annual revenue, and it’s only grown since! They’ve expanded from a rudimentary search engine to developing mobile devices and laptops, operating systems, and visionary projects like driverless cars and smart contact lenses. It was an arduous trek to the top, but from the struggles emerged lessons about navigating an increasingly technological world. How Google Works is a distillation of some of the key principles and practices that helped Google achieve its success.
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7 Minute Read
The self-help shelves at bookstores and libraries are teeming with titles about how to successfully do x, y and z. This book is less about “how to” and more about “when to.” Daniel Pink’s When is the synthesis of over 700 studies from fields as diverse as biology, neuroscience, anthropology, economics and social psychology. His aim is to show that timing in life is not an art, but a science. Pink’s book is full of fascinating facts and practical suggestions for when it is best to take action.
Read on for key insights from When.
We’ve all looked up into the night sky and pondered the vast expanse beyond, been humbled in the presence of the ocean or mountains or the stars, and wondered about our place in this universe. Carl Sagan’s classic book Cosmos looks at some of history’s seminal scientists who have changed the way we see our world. Their discoveries have fueled exploration, at first intercontinental, now interplanetary, and, perhaps, someday, interstellar. Sagan’s book stands as an enthusiastic acknowledgement of the most curious and adventuresome species on the planet, and a warning about their growing carelessness.
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Why are we here? What is reality? Why is there something instead of nothing? Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow team up to champion science as humanity’s best hope for answering questions about our existence and the existence of our universe.
Read on for key insights from The Grand Design.
7 Minute Read
Many presume that because science is able to explain how nature works, it is also able to explain its origins. However, as Michael Behe explains, “ . . . understanding how something works is not the same as understanding how it came to be.” What modern science has learned is that biological systems at the molecular level are so complex that all attempts to explain their origins have been futile. Although Darwin’s mechanisms might explain many things, they do not explain molecular life. By diving into the details of modern scientific research, Behe tells the story of how biochemistry is challenging evolutionary theory.
Read on for key insights from Darwin’s Black Box.
11 Minute Read
Most of us believe we are in control of the decisions we make and the picture of the world we form. Leonard Mlodinow argues that recent research in the field of neuroscience has shown this to be a myth. In Subliminal, Mlodinow demonstrates the enormous influence that our unconscious brain exerts over our everyday affairs.
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The USA Memory Championship is an annual competition held in New York since the early 90s. There are several events, including name-face recall, memorizing long numerical sequences, and remembering the order of shuffled decks of cards. Joshua Foer attended the competition as a reporter one year and a competitor the next. This book details Foer’s unexpected immersion into the world of memory in the intervening year. Through extensive research, interviews on the topics, and training with “mental athletes”, he came to realize anyone can drastically improve their memory, and proved it by winning the USA Memory Championship after only a year of concerted effort.
Read on for key insights from Moonwalking with Einstein.
5 Minute Read
What happens when a scholar presents new evidence that threatens the foundations of a popular narrative? Ideally, those who hold to the established explanation examine the evidence presented, raise counterpoints if they have any and a discussion ensues. There are other times, however, when people come after the scholar instead of the idea. Psychologist Michael Bailey was one such scholar whose name and reputation got dragged through the mud after presenting a controversial thesis about sexual minorities. Scholar and activist Alice Dreger got caught in a crossfire when she showed the smear campaign to be motivated by ideology rather than facts. Galileo’s Middle Finger is a glimpse into Dreger’s world of activism and scholarship, the particulars of the Bailey smear, and how activists and academics handle controversies.
Read on for key insights from Galileo’s Middle Finger.
What are the limits of endurance? And is it the body or the mind that sets those limits? In Endure, athlete and scientist Alex Hutchinson travels the globe and interviews hundreds of sports scientists, coaches, and athletes to explore how the brain and body work together to set limits on our endurance—and how those limits can be broken.
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Science has never been more popular. This is reflected in the news, where cosmic discoveries are making headlines on a regular basis, but it’s also seen in our culture. Many of today’s most popular TV shows and movies are either based on a scientific premise, or feature scientists as main characters. There is a particular field of science, however, that invariably receives more attention than any other: astrophysics. We are naturally drawn to this field because it deals with some of our biggest questions about how the universe works, and what our place is within it. If you have an interest in learning more about the cosmos, but you’re short on time, this book was written for you.
Read on for key insights from Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.
In our more honest moments, most of us would have to acknowledge that we are overly attached to our technological devices. It turns out that what we gain in convenience, efficiency, and autonomy, we lose in freedom and deeply meaningful relationships. We would like to believe that we are the masters of our tools, but, increasingly, technologies are being designed to reverse this relationship, to make us hopelessly attached to our devices.
Read on for key insights from Irresistible.
Stephen Hawking is a world-renowned physicist, cosmologist and a professor at Cambridge University. He’s also an outspoken atheist. In his recent bestseller, The Grand Design, Hawking asserts that science has supplanted God as the explanation for the universe. This short book by John Lennox is primarily a rebuttal to that claim. A mathematician and scientist himself, Lennox contends that science is not at odds with religious belief. In fact, he argues that our increasing knowledge of the universe has made belief in God more rational, not less.
Read on for key insights from God and Stephen Hawking.
For most people, the octopus is a slimy monster out of a nautical nightmare. They might appreciate the octopus’ bizarreness from the other side of the glass at an aquarium but would shudder at the thought of touching them, or worse, letting suction-covered tentacles wrap around their arm. Sy Montgomery made it her mission to break down these plexiglass barriers by traveling the world, befriending these misunderstood creatures, and showing intimate portraits of individual octopus personalities, intelligence, even tenderness.
Read on for key insights from The Soul of an Octopus.
What if humanity’s extinction doesn’t come about through climate change, a nuclear holocaust, or a virulent pathogen for which we have no cure? What if an Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) takeover is more than just a good sci-fi premise? Author and journalist James Barrat was a technophile and optimistic about AI’s potential to serve humanity—until he dug a little deeper and discovered a far more chilling (and likely) future.
Read on for key insights from Our Final Invention.
Over the course of earth’s history, there have been five cataclysmic events that have radically altered—or ended—life for the planet’s inhabitants. Author and journalist Elizabeth Kolbert argues that humanity’s growing influence over climate and ecosystems is ushering in a sixth catastrophe that large swaths of plants and animals—including humans—may not survive.
Read on for key insights from The Sixth Extinction.
Psychedelic drugs—and the fear thereof—have shaped culture, politics, and economics with a surprising magnitude. After half a century of being confined to the underground, these substances are making a comeback. Best-selling author and journalist Michael Pollan delves into the mushrooming world of psychedelic research, uncovering the history and surprising benefits of LSD and psilocybin through research, interviews, and some first-hand exposure.
Read on for key insights from How to Change Your Mind.
Evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins argues that religious belief has done more harm than good for the world; and that we don’t need God to be good—which is great news, Dawkins assures his reader, because God’s existence is about as likely as that of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Read on for key insights from The God Delusion.
The new century has been a dizzying spectacle so far, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Harari assesses humanity’s current predicament, discussing everything from AI and social media to evolving religions and updated forms of justice and government. This book raises questions and makes suggestions about how humanity might continue to find its way forward.
Read on for key insights from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.
Mark Miodownik’s keen interest in materials science began when he was stabbed in the back on a train platform in London as teenager. He saw the weapon at the police station and was bewildered that it could gracefully slice through 5 layers of cloth and then his epidermis and dermis. Since then, he has studied everyday materials that hide in plain sight. They not only comprise the modern world in which we live, but shape the culture and values we hold dear.
Read on for key insights from Stuff Matters.
by Michio Kaku
Planet earth is overdue for another catastrophe. It may not occur for thousands or even millions of years, but there have been five mass extinction moments in earth’s history, and another is inevitable. Whether it’s man-made or natural, terrestrial or from the deep reaches of space, we must pursue alternative living situations beyond earth while there’s still time. Theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku shows us where things stand with space exploration and the hurdles that humans must clear to become a multiplanetary species.
Read on for key insights from The Future of Humanity.