#MammothMonday: How Does the Science of De-Extinction Work?

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Happy #MammothMonday! Today, Beth Shapiro clarifies the science of de-extinction. As she explains, if scientists possess a tiny bit of living tissue from a species that has gone extinct recently, they can bring back that animal through traditional means. However, if the species has been extinct for millions of years and there is no living tissue, the process of bringing the animal back to life is far more difficult. Beth had a terrific piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education recently that offers much more info, and geneticists have been sounding off on the discussion as well. Check out today’s original video:

Read about de-extinction, in How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-extinction. Preview Chapter 1.

#MammothMonday: Could We Bring Back the Passenger Pigeon?

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Just days ago, scientists were finally successful in sequencing the full mammoth genome. Beth Shapiro, author of How to Clone a Mammoth offered commentary on this exciting and ethically controversial achievement. According to the BBC News, “A US team is already attempting to study the animals’ characteristics by inserting mammoth genes into elephant stem cells.”

For today’s #MammothMonday, Beth Shapiro expresses her doubts and concerns about bringing back the passenger pigeon, pointing out the unique difficulties involved in cloning a bird. Learn more about Shapiro’s reasoning in the video below.

Be sure to pick up a copy of How to Clone a Mammoth. You can read Chapter 1, here. Interested in learning more about passenger pigeons? Check out The Passenger Pigeon by Errol Fuller. Read the Introduction.

Beth Shapiro at Kepler’s

Shapiro at Kelper's

Beth Shapiro, author of How to Clone a Mammoth, has begun her book tour across the US and the UK. Last Thursday, April 16, Beth had a wonderful event at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, CA, where she gave an overview of her intriguing book and fielded questions from the audience. We are featuring content related to How to Clone a Mammoth every Monday on our blog as part of our #MammothMonday series. Be sure to read the first chapter and pick up a copy of the book.

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#MammothMonday: Can We Clone a Mammoth?

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In today’s #MammothMonday post, Beth Shapiro addresses a frequently asked question, “Can we clone a mammoth, if so when is it going to happen?”  In answering, Shapiro brings up a crucial point: What is the audience willing to consider a mammoth? Find out her answer and learn more about How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction in this video:

Be sure to read Chapter 1.

#MammothMonday: What to Bring Back?

How to Clone a Mammoth

Welcome to another #MammothMonday. Beth Shapiro, author of How to Clone a Mammoth, was recently called by Brian Switek of National Geographic, “the perfect guide to the ongoing discussion about de-extinction.” Today, she continues in that role, answering the question, “What to Bring Back?” In this fascinating video, Beth discusses the thinking behind the decision to bring back a large mammal as opposed to passenger pigeons.

What do you think about the debate around cloning mammoths?

Katherine Freese, author of “The Cosmic Cocktail,” at the Royal Astronomical Society

Freese RAS talk

Katherine Freese speaking at the Royal Astronomical Society

Only 5 percent of all matter and energy in the cosmos (think plants, animals, planets, the air we breathe) is made up of ordinary atoms. The rest is known as dark matter—it cannot be seen with telescopes, and its precise identity remains unknown. The Cosmic Cocktail is the inside story of the epic quest to identify dark matter and learn what the universe is made of, told by one of today’s foremost pioneers in the study of dark matter, acclaimed theoretical physicist Katherine Freese. Neil deGrasse Tyson calls the book “a gripping first person account of her life as a cosmologist…Part memoir, part tutorial, part social commentary.” It’s the perfect detective story for science geeks.

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Post-event drinks at the Royal Astronomical Society

This week, Katherine Freese is in the UK talking about her research and the book. On April 8, she gave a talk at the Royal Astronomical Society and then recorded The Forum on the BBC World Service, which was presented by science journalist Quentin Cooper and will be broadcast and available to listen to online later this month.

Freese and Quinton Cooper

Freese and Quentin Cooper

Don’t miss Freese’s upcoming speaking engagements: On April 15th, Freese and PUP author Jacqueline Mitton will be participating in Edinburgh International Science Festival and on April 16th Freese will be speaking at Blackwell’s in Oxford. Freese will be a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on April 17th. On May 26th, she will be speaking at Hay Festival, a philosophy and music festival in Hay-on-Wye, (one of the biggest literary festivals in the UK, which was described by Bill Clinton in 2001 as “The Woodstock of the mind”).

Freese recording The Forum at BBC

Freese recording at BBC Broadcasting House

 

Behind the scenes of the “How to Clone a Mammoth” trailer

Shapiro Image for blog 4.1.15We recently shared the terrific new trailer for How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction. Today’s Mammoth Monday showcases its creation from idea to final product. Peter Durand, the wonderfully innovative director at Alphachimp, wrote a fascinating article for their blog describing the process.

In the fall of 2014, I ran into Beth and her mammoth bones again…I was fortunate enough to scribe for both her National Academies of Science public presentation, part of the Distinctive Voices lecture series. Once again, Beth’s presentation, her personality, and her message were a hit…After her presentation, we looked at the resulting image, and I did not even have to pitch her…we both had the same idea: “We totally have to animate this!”

Read the article and view the images that inspired the process here.

Presenting the New Trailer for Beth Shapiro’s “How to Clone a Mammoth”

Should we clone extinct animals? Evolutionary biologist and “ancient DNA” researcher Beth Shapiro’s highly anticipated How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction takes apart an idea that not so long ago seemed more fiction than science. Now, several teams of researchers are working to reconstruct the mammoth genome. How to Clone a Mammoth is making its debut with an array of coverage, including a feature in yesterday’s Sunday Times. From the article:

What excites some scientists, and disturbs others, is that the genome could one day become a template to recreate real mammoths — or something like them.
In her new book, How To Clone a Mammoth, Beth Shapiro of the University of California, an expert on ancient DNA, said: “If we really want to bring mammoths back to life, then we’re in luck, as far as DNA preservation goes. Some mammoths lived in places where their bones and carcasses were buried in permafrost, like being stuck in a freezer for 30,000-plus years.
“It’s in pretty shoddy condition, so hard to piece together, but if we sort through these tiny pieces, finding where they fit along the elephant genome, then we can slowly build a lot of the mammoth genome.”

We are delighted to share the book’s wonderful new trailer:

 

Donald E. Canfield and Gillen D’Arcy Wood to be honored at annual conference of the American Meteorological Society

On January 7th and 8th in Phoenix, Arizona, authors Donald E. Canfield and Gillen D’Arcy were recognized by the Atmospheric Science Librarians International (ASLI) for their books Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History and Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World, respectively.

Canfield’s account of the history and importance of oxygen won him the 2014 ASLI Choice Award and will be recognized as “a well-documented, accessible, and interesting history of this vital substance.” Wood received an honorable mention for this year’s Choice Award in History. Tambora, will be acknowledged as “a book that makes this extreme event newly accessible through connecting literature, social history, and science.” More general information on the awards can be found, here.

Congratulations to Donald E. Canfield and Gillen D’Arcy Wood!

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Oxygen:
A Four Billion Year History
Donald E. Canfield

 

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Tambora:
The Eruption That Changed the World
Gillen D’Arcy Wood

Tim Verstynen, author of Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep does Google Talk

Tim Verstynen, co-author, along with Bradley Voytek, of Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?: A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain recently participated in an hour-long Talks at Google event (video below).

There are two versions of the video, one in color, and one in black and white for an added spooky affect! Although Halloween came and went with no zombie apocalypse, Verstynen discusses his book and what can be gained in the field of neuroscience by studying zombie brains.

 


 

 

 

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Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?
A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain
Timothy Verstynen & Bradley Voytek 


 

 

Wizards, Aliens, and Starships and Einstein and the Quantum named Top 10 Physics Books of 2014 by Physics Today magazine

Charles L. Adler’s Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction and A. Douglas Stone’s Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian were each named to Physics World‘s 2014 “Top 10 Books of the Year” list. The ten books on the list “are all well written, novel and scientifically interesting for a physics audience.”

On their blog, Physics World writes of Wizards, Aliens, and Starships,

“Books about the science of science fiction aren’t uncommon, but it’s rare to see the subject treated with as much flair and rigour as it is here. Throughout this book, author Charles Adler uses ‘Fermi problems’ – challenging exercises in reasoning and back-of-the-envelope calculation – to evaluate the plausibility of various concepts from SF and fantasy. It’s an approach that should endear his book to physicist readers, and it’s particularly pleasing to see the world of fantasy (not just “hard” science fiction) get some scientific scrutiny.”

Further praise was given to Einstein and the Quantum:

“Sparkling writing and crystal-clear physics make this account of Einstein’s quantum work stand out on the overcrowded shelf of books devoted to the world’s most famous physicist. Unlike many other Einstein authors, A. Douglas Stone is neither a cosmologist nor a historian. Instead, he’s a solid-state physicist, and the parts of Einstein’s work that most intrigue him concern thermodynamics and the behaviour of quantum ideal gases, rather than well-known gedankenexperiments about beams of light on trains. Reading about this other side of Einstein is a real (and unexpected) pleasure.”

According to Physics World, “2014 has been a fantastic year for science books, and for physics books in particular,” and the same can be said for all our PUP titles!

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Wizards, Aliens, and Starships:
Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction
Charles L. Adler 

 

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Einstein and the Quantum:
The Quest of the Valiant Swabian
A. Douglas Stone

The Warbler Guide, winner of a 2014 National Outdoor Book Award in Nature Guidebooks

warblerTom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, authors of The Warbler Guide, received high praise for their book from the National Outdoor Book Awards. The guide covers 56 species of Warblers and features over 1,000 color photos and is a must have for Warbler watching enthusiasts. The review committee had the following to say of The Warbler Guide:

“This visually striking guide is a birders’ bonanza. It is encyclopedic in coverage and incorporates an array of tools to help identify North America’s 56 warbler species. Open it up and straight away you’ll find several handy ‘quick finders’ which picture each bird in one of several observational aspects: face profile, side view, 45-degree perspective and underside views. That’s just a start. The bulk of the guide describes each bird in elaborate detail, including habitat keys, feeding styles, extensive sonograms, migration patterns, and photos, lots of photos, of each species seen from every possible viewing angle. Pore over this book in the winter and you’ll be armed and ready for springtime’s annual flood of warblers.”

For a list of the other 2014 Winners of the National Outdoors Book Awards, click here.

Congratulations to Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle!