Barwon Booksellers - Secondhand and Collectibles


  • 715 Planets & Counting: Books On Science

    27 March 2014 -

    It seems NASA’s planet hunting telescope, the Kepler probe, has been very busy since it was sent out into space in 2009. Just last month came the announcement of its discovery of not 1, not 3 or 12, but 715 new planets. A stat such as that certainly smashes our cute myopic world of years gone by. Remember the old gang: Earth, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Venus, Pluto. They seem a bit Enid Blyton now don’t they.


    Douglas Hudgins, an exoplanet scientist at NASA, described the 715-planets announcement as a significant leap towards the Kepler probe’s ultimate goal: "finding Earth 2.0."  So just when you were getting a bit ramped up about the next generation of your tablet or phone you may soon have a rather larger update to think about.


    Earth 2.0!!!!!


    What are those geeks thinking?


    To help you find out the answer to that question, and a quantum-boggle of others, we thought we’d furnish the walls of your own mind’s universe with some of the more compelling scientific/cosmological books currently on offer here at Barwon Booksellers. 


    As our regular customers would know the BB Science sections prawls like an interstellar gas cloud across the inside wall of the back section of the James St store. There are subsections on Mathematics, Anthropology, Evolution, Geology, Astronomy, Zoology, Ecology, Ornithology, Botany etc etc… but in keeping with this golden era of planet-hunting, and the other recent announcement that cosmologists have finally confirmed the existence of gravitational waves emanating from the Big Bang, this selection of titles has been selected to best prepare you all for that not-too-distant moment when our naturally earthcentric culture finally has the opportunity to check out what the folks on other planets are reading.


    Also included at the bottom of this newsletter are a couple of rosaceous Shelfies you have sent in over the last few weeks. Please keep them coming in and we’ll include a couple at the bottom of each newsletter from now on. Enjoy.


    The Bigger Bang – James E. Lidsey (Cambridge Hardback 2000 134 pages.) - $12

    Using down to earth analogies James Lidsey steers us deftly on a journey to the cutting edge of cosmology. This is an accessible guide to some of the most complex and profound ideas about the origin of our universe.


    The Discovery of Time – ed. Stuart McCready (Sourcebooks 2001 255 pages) - $12

    From our own internal body clock to the most advanced atomic timekeeping The Discovery Of Time is a colourfully illustrated collection investigating human understanding of our position in the universe. Includes essays by Harvard science curator Sara Schechner, Head of the Circadian Rhythms Lab Ralph Mistlberger, and the editor Stuart McCready himself. Essay topics include prehistoric timekeeping, alternative calendars, journeys into deep time and even psychological perceptions of time. A stimulating collection for those rushing to catch the bus.


    Instruments of Science: An Historical Encyclopedia - ed. Robert Bud & Deborah Jean Warner. (Science Museum London, Smithsonian Institute, in association with Garland Publishing. Hardback. 709 pages. 1998) - $75

    They say if you want to study vision you should study the eye. Likewise for the audio realm, study the ear. This fascinating work on the history of scientific instruments is the first reference book to address the great historical range of devices, laboratories and technology throughout the ages. Because many instruments are beautiful antique objects in their own right, the Encyclopedia is also an invaluable guide for collectors, dealers and curators. Richly illustrated, Instruments of Science is a key text for the personal scientific library. 


    Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves – James Le Fanu (Harper Press 1st Edition Hardback 2009 303 pages.) - $15

    According to medical writer and Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner James Le Fanu, we stand on the brink of a tectonic shift in our understanding of ourselves that will eclipse Darwin’s materialist evolutionary theory and reestablish the central premise of Western thinking that there is more than we can know. By studying the human genome project Le Fanu asserts that, despite expectations of the contrary, it is simply not possible to get from the monotonous sequence of genes along the Double Helix to the near infinite diversity of the living world. Very readable, thought provoking stuff.



    The Scientists: An Epic of Discovery – ed. Andrew Robinson (Thames & Hudson Hardback 2012 304 pages.) - $25

    Think of gravity, evolution by natural selection, relativity, radioactivity, the genetic code, the Big Bang, nuclear power, brain scanning and the internet. Behind all these scientific breakthroughs lie the personal stories of men and women with strong personalities and pioneering determination. Andrew Robinson’s sumptuous book explores 43 different scientists, from Copernicus to Turing, reproducing many of their own notes, drawings and diagrams, along with their letters that show a more intimate aspect of their discoveries. 


    Hidden Connections: A Science For Sustainable Living – Fritjof Capra (Harper Collins 2002 Ist Edition Hardback 272 pages.) - $20

    Physicist and systems theorist Fritjof Capra is heavy on ecoliteracy. Here he starts with the broad question ‘What are the defining characteristics of living systems?’ and goes on to thoroughly investigate thetechnological networks associated with global capitalism and how they will impact on the sustainability of earth communities in the coming century.


    Age of Wonder: How The Romantic Generation Discovered The Beauty and Terror Of Science – Richard Holmes (Harper Press Hardback 2008 554 pages) -$15

    Conceived as a ‘relay race of scientific stories’ The Age of Wonder proposes a radical vision of science before Darwin, exploring the earliest ideas of deep time and space, and the startling impact of discovery on poets such as Mary Shelley, Coleridge, Byron and Keats. Well written, original, and of intellectual significance.


    Are We Being Watched? The Search For Life In The Cosmos – Paul Murdin (Thames & Hudson Hardback 2013 224 pages) - $17.50

    Renowned astronomer Paul Murdin invites us to explore the extraordinary array of evidence we must consider to determine if there is life in the stars. Murdin makes cutting edge astronomical thinking accessible to anyone who has wondered whether there is life beyond earth. 


    The Blind Watchmaker – Richard Dawkins (1st Edition Hardback Longman 1986 332 pages) - $50

    Collectable first edition of Dawkin’s 1986 classic. The Blind Watchmaker identifies those aspects of evolution that people find hard to believe and removes the barrier to credibility one by one.


    Cosmic Imagery: Key Images In The History Of Science - John D. Barrow (The Bodley Head. Hardback 2008 608 pages) - $25

    Some images, like Robert Hooke’s first microscopic views of the natural world, or the stunning images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, were made possible by our new technical capabilities. Others, like the first graph, were breathtakingly simple but perennially useful. In Cosmic Imagery John D. Barrow traces the history of images in order to tell the story of modern science.