The Extreme Life of the Sea at the Commonwealth Club/WonderFest, San Francisco

Steve Palumbi, one of today’s leading marine scientists, takes us to the absolute limits of the aquatic world—into the icy arctic, toward boiling hydrothermal vents, and into the deepest undersea trenches—to show how marine life thrives against the odds. He helps us appreciate and understand the fastest and deepest, the hottest and oldest creatures of the oceans.

But such fragile ecosystems face new challenges: climate change and overfishing could pose the greatest threats yet to our planet’s tenacious marine life. Prof. Palumbi shares unforgettable stories of some of the most marvelous life forms on Earth, and reveals surprising lessons of how we humans can learn to adapt to climate change.

This lecture was recorded at the Commonwealth Club earlier this year. Steve and Tony’s book is The Extreme Life of the Sea. You can sample the prologue here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10178.pdf

Physics Today interviews Princeton physicist William Bialek on his path-breaking new text book BIOPHYSICS: Searching for Principles

Princeton University professor William Bialek, renowned for his research on the interactions of physics and biology, was interviewed for the February 2014 issue of Physics Toady about his groundbreaking new textbook BIOPHYSICS: Searching for Principles.

A sneak peak:
Physics Today: How does your approach to biophysics compare with others, and how is that approach reflected in the layout of your text?

Bialek: I think most previous textbooks have presented biophysics as a biological science, or perhaps as a cross-disciplinary amalgam. I have taken the view that there is a physics of biological systems and that this is to be understood in the same way that we talk about the physics of solids or the physics of the early universe. So this book tries to present biophysics as a branch of physics.The physics of biological systems is a very broad subject, and I have tried to capture as much of this breadth as I could: from the dynamics of single molecules to the collective behavior of populations of organisms….(continued)

Happy Darwin Day!

We’re celebrating with Steve Palumbi, co-author of The Extreme Life of the Sea.

In 1837 Charles Darwin first speculated that atolls, ring-shaped coral reefs that encircle lagoons, formed by growing around volcanic islands that eventually sunk. It took 100 years to prove Darwin’s theory of atoll formation correct. Why? Steve Palumbi explains in this video at his Stanford-based Microdocs site.

The Extreme Life of the Sea highlights other fascinating facts about these delicate yet enduring creatures.  Black corals, Steve and his co-author Anthony Palumbi explain in their chapter “The Oldest”, can be smashed to bits by the smallest waves yet have been known to live up to 4,600 years and are likely the oldest living organisms on the planet. Instead of becoming frail as they age like many other species, the longer black corals live the more likely they are to survive and reproduce.

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Photo by Steve Palumbi.

The book is just now shipping to stores, but we’ve made the book’s prologue available online to tide you over until you can get your hands on a copy.

UnSharkWeek kicks off

Steve and Tony Palumbi, co-authors of The Extreme Life of the Sea, kick off UnSharkWeek with this terrific op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

“Americans are obsessed with sharks,” write the Palumbis. “But why are we so fixated on sharks, when the oceans contain so many other fascinating, wild and intense species? Perhaps what we need is an Un-Shark Week to introduce Americans to some of the sea’s truly extreme animals, and help them over their shark obsession.”

Click through to learn about the creatures who can lay claim to the titles of The Fastest, The Most Ferocious, The Deadliest, and The Biggest.

And for more fun, check out the schedule of events: http://unsharkweek.tumblr.com/post/75299622457/the-agenda-for-unshark-week-feb-3-9

Join us from February 3 – 8 as we celebrate UnShark Week

What is UnShark Week, you ask?

A birthday held six months away from the real one, is an UnBirthday. So, for the thousands of ocean species that are just as interesting and sometimes more extreme than sharks, we propose the week of Feb 3-8, 2014 as UnSharkWeek.

UnSharkWeek will introduce fans of Shark Week to other extreme forms of life in the sea. There are all sorts of really cool things happening in the harshest environments on Earth, so join Steve Palumbi, one of the world’s leading marine biologists, as he celebrates some of the deepest, fastest, oldest, and just plain strangest creatures found in the ocean.

Follow along here: http://unsharkweek.tumblr.com/

For more information about The Extreme Life of the Sea by Steve and Anthony Palumbi or to read an excerpt from the book, please visit this web site: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10178.html

Jonathan Losos, editor-in-chief of the monumental new reference THE PRINCETON GUIDE TO EVOLUTION, on “What Darwin Got Wrong” in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Just in time for the publication of our comprehensive and authoritative new reference book THE PRINCETON GUIDE TO EVOLUTION, editor-in-chief Jonathan Losos published a terrific feature article in this week’s issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “What Darwin Got Wrong.”

From the article:
“I doubt it ever occurred to Darwin to observe evolution directly, even though he was a pioneering experiment in many other areas.  He was remarkably prescient in his views on topics like evolution by natural selection, the basics of how coral atolls form, and the role of earthworms in soil aeration, but in this particular cares–the speed of evolution–he was dead wrong.  And for more than a century, scientists followed his lead thinking that evolution occurs at a glacial pace, too slow to observe or to affect every day life.

But we now know that when natural selection is strong, evolutionary change can occur very rapidly.  Fast enough to observe in a few years–even within the duration of a typical research grant….”

The Extreme Life of the Sea by Stephen & Anthony Palumbi (#ExtremeLifeOTC)

This book officially publishes in March 2014 and will be available in three formats: Print, standard eBook, and enhanced eBook (featuring a dozen exclusive videos that are beautifully produced and informative).

For more about the book, please visit our web site: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10178.html

“The oceans are our most precious treasure, full of creatures and stories more fantastic than any science fiction. The Extreme Life of the Sea is a fascinating exploration of this vast mysterious universe. Wonderfully written, it will grab you from page one and carry you all the way through. A must-read for everyone.”–Philippe Cousteau

“This book brims with fascinating tales of life in the sea, told with freshness, wit, and verve. Simply wonderful.”–Callum Roberts, author of The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea

Maine Birding Field Notes-Update!

How To Be A Better BirderDerek Lovitch, author of How to Be a Better Birder and blogger for Maine Birding Field Notes, knows that as migration season continues, his feathered friends will be continuing south for the winter as the cold creeps up on all of us. While he’s always avidly posting on his Facebook page, he also recently posted to his blog to report some of his more recent findings, including a snowy owl!


Cape Neddick through Wells – Snowy Owl!

Jeannette and I birded from Cape Neddick through Wells on Tuesday, seeing a really pleasant variety of birds in the process in the calm before the storm. Delayed by a snowy start and somewhat slick roads (OK, not slick if didn’t drive like it was a dry race car track – 7 cars were off the road between Freeport and York, however) that backed up traffic (“Hey, there’s a car in the ditch, let me look!”), we didn’t reach the Nubble neighborhood until almost 9:00, but by then the snow had ended, the ceiling lifted a bit, and a very light wind made for decent  – albeit a bit raw – birding conditions.  Although we didn’t have anything earth-shattering, we did have a fair number of “good birds.”

Without a day off together in December (the store is open seven days a week from Thanksgiving to Christmas), our annual late November run through our usual route is the last time we focus on thickets and migrant traps in the hopes for lingering migrants and rare passerines.  Next time, waterbirds will be more of a focus.  And the limited number of non-resident passerines that we detected today (other than Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows, and a scattered few Yellow-rumped Warblers) confirms that – as did the impressive, and growing, quantity of waterbirds.

Three Carolina Wrens was the highlight of a thorough check of the Nubble neighborhood thickets, although we did have a group of about 40 Snow Buntings fly over.  45 Black Scoters, 13 Purple Sandpipers, 8 Great Cormorants, 6 Harlequin Ducks, etc at The Nubble were a sign of things to come along the shoreline.

Passerines were few and far between along Marginal Way and the adjacent neighborhood, but great numbers of waterfowl along the shoreline more than made up for it.  As with everywhere we looked at the ocean today, all three scoters were present in numbers, including a close and talkative group of about 100 Black Scoters.  Lots of Long-tailed Ducks, Common Eiders, and a total of 20 or 21 Harlequin Ducks were also present, along with a half-dozen Purple Sandpipers.

To read the rest of this post, click here!


And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, check out the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format including photos and real text from the guide
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos


Interview with Enrico Coen, Author of “Cells to Civilizations”

Enrico Coen, author of Cells to Civilizations: The Principles of Change That Shape Life, was recently shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books. In the following YouTube video, Coen is interviewed about his book, which is the first unified account of how life transforms itself–from the production of bacteria to the emergence of complex civilizations.


Enrico Coen is a plant molecular geneticist based at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, United Kingdom. He is the author of The Art of Genes, a fellow of the Royal Society, and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. His awards include the Linnean Gold Medal and the Royal Society Darwin Medal.


Check out our Cells to Civilizations Facebook Page for all of the latest news on this book.

William Bialek Wins the 2013 Swartz Prize

William Bialek, Winner of the 2013 Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has awarded the Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience to William Bialek, PhD, of Princeton University. The $25,000 prize, supported by The Swartz Foundation, recognizes an individual who has produced a significant cumulative contribution to theoretical models or computational methods in neuroscience. The award was presented during Neuroscience 2013, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

To read the full press release about the award, click here.

BiophysicsWilliam Bialek is the John Archibald Wheeler/Battelle Professor in Physics at Princeton University, where he is also a member of the multidisciplinary Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, and is Visiting Presidential Professor of Physics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the coauthor of Spikes: Exploring the Neural Code and the author of Biophysics: Searching for Principles.

Featuring numerous problems and exercises throughout, Biophysics emphasizes the unifying power of abstract physical principles to motivate new and novel experiments on biological systems.

  • Covers a range of biological phenomena from the physicist’s perspective
  • Features 200 problems
  • Draws on statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and related mathematical concepts
  • Includes an annotated bibliography and detailed appendixes
  • Forthcoming Instructor’s manual (available only to professors)

Migration Quiz Monday: The Swamp Question

After a short hiatus, we’re back with Migration Quiz Monday! Hope you don’t get too stumped by this birdcall, along with a couple distinguishing features. Have a guess? Comment below and check back later this week for the answer!


Audio Quiz: Swamp Question

carwre quiz fin

Click Here To Listen

This species is a very vocal singer, has many variations, and is often confused with other species, especially from the distance. This one Section song could be Common Yellowthroat, Kentucky Warbler or even Carolina Wren. Which is it?

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(click to enlarge)


And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, check out the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

Bird Behavior Round-Up

In case you’ve been feeling a bit peckish for some great bird books to read (after devouring The Warbler Guide, The Crossley ID Guide, and How to Be a Better Birder), we’ve put together another round-up of bird books just for you. While the other round-up focused on raptors (which can be found here), this one will be focusing on bird behavior and history. Enjoy!


Birdscapes
Birdscapes: Birds in Our Imagination and Experience

By: Jeremy Mynott

Birdscapes is a unique meditation on the variety of human responses to birds, from antiquity to today, and from casual observers to the globe-trotting “twitchers” who sometimes risk life, limb, and marriages simply to add new species to their “life lists.” Conversational, playful, and witty, Birdscapes gently leads us to reflect on large questions about our relation to birds and the natural world. It encourages birders to see their pursuits in a broader human context–and it shows nonbirders what they may be missing.

Life of Birds
The Life of Birds

By: David Attenborough

The Life of Birds is David Attenborough at his characteristic best: presenting the drama, beauty, and eccentricities of the natural world with unusual flair and intelligence. The renowned writer and filmmaker treks through rain forests and deserts, through city streets and isolated wilderness, to bring us an illuminating panorama of every aspect of birds’ lives–from their songs to their search for food, from their eggs and nests to their mastery of the air. Beautifully illustrated with more than a hundred color photographs, the book will delight and inform both bird lovers and any general reader with an interest in nature.

A Passion for Birds
A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon

By: Mark V. Barrow Jr.

In exploring how ornithologists struggled to forge a discipline and profession amidst an explosion of popular interest in natural history, A Passion for Birds provides the first book-length history of American ornithology from the death of John James Audubon to the Second World War. Recounting a colorful story based on the interactions among a wide variety of bird-lovers, this book will interest historians of science, environmental historians, ornithologists, birdwatchers, and anyone curious about the historical roots of today’s birding boom.

Physiological Adaptations for Breeding
Physiological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds

By:Tony D. Williams

Physiological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds is the most current and comprehensive account of research on avian reproduction. It develops two unique themes: the consideration of female avian reproductive physiology and ecology, and an emphasis on individual variation in life-history traits. Tony Williams investigates the physiological, metabolic, energetic, and hormonal mechanisms that underpin individual variation in the key female-specific reproductive traits and the trade-offs between these traits that determine variation in fitness.

All About Birds
All about Birds: A Short Illustrated History of Ornithology

By: Valérie Chansigaud

Colorful, musical, graceful, easily observed–birds have always fascinated amateur and professional naturalists alike. This richly illustrated book tells the fascinating story of ornithology from ancient times to the present. Filled throughout with paintings, drawings, photographs, and diagrams, many of them in brilliant color, All about Birds is a fast-paced chronological account of the personalities and milestones that have shaped this most popular of sciences. These key figures and events are also documented in a unique twenty-page illustrated color timeline at the end of the book.

The Atlas of Birds
The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation

By: Mike Unwin

The Atlas of Birds captures the breathtaking diversity of birds, and illuminates their conservation status around the world. Full-color maps show where birds are found, both by country and terrain, and reveal how an astounding variety of behavioral adaptations–from flight and feeding to nest building and song–have enabled them to thrive in virtually every habitat on Earth. Maps of individual journeys and global flyways chart the amazing phenomenon of bird migration, while bird classification is explained using maps for each order and many key families.

Avian Architecture
Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build

By: Peter Goodfellow

Birds are the most consistently inventive builders, and their nests set the bar for functional design in nature. Avian Architecture describes how birds design, engineer, and build their nests, deconstructing all types of nests found around the world using architectural blueprints and detailed descriptions of the construction processes and engineering techniques birds use. This spectacularly illustrated book features 300 full-color images and more than 35 case studies that profile key species worldwide.


Don’t forget to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering. Click on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.