Secrets of the whales
by Brian Skerry
Streaming on Disney + starting April 22nd
Although they are warm-blooded, air-breathing mammals descended from land animals, whales give birth, care for, and fully raise their young at sea. This comprehensive four-part series offers a fascinating look at these mysterious and fascinating sea creatures. The main message of the series, produced by James Cameron and narrated by Sigourney Weaver, is that whales are more than just marine animals: they have sophisticated communication, close families, and even culture. Photojournalist Skerry travels with various species of whales to capture their special hunting tricks, the idiosyncratic jargon broken into pods, and the heartbreaking grief they bear for their dead. Not only must these majestic animals face the harsh daily difficulties of life below, but they also rely on their uncanny cleverness to adapt to the changing conditions of the open oceans and the planet.
The code breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of Mankind
by Walter Isaacson
Simon & Schuster, 2021 (35 USD)
What began as an attempt to understand how bacteria protect themselves from viruses became one of the greatest scientific discoveries of our time: CRISPR, a technique for altering DNA. Biographer Isaacson tells the story behind the breakthrough and introduces one of the discoverers of CRISPR: the University of California, Berkeley, biochemist Jennifer Doudna. He describes a scientist who revels in the beauty of nature and who also owns a competitive streak that has helped her control the aggressive jockeying among researchers who want to capitalize on the results. Isaacson expertly explores the moral ambiguity of this new technology. “Finding out if and when we need to manipulate our genes,” he writes, “will be one of the most important questions of the 21st century.” – –Clara Moskowitz
Flash forward: An illustrated guide to possible (and not so possible) tomorrow
by Rose Eveleth
Abrams ComicArts, 2021 ($ 24.99)
In her popular podcast, writer and producer Eveleth explores the future of human (and nonhuman) life extrapolated from the latest science and technology. Here she adapts the concept to a new medium with the help of 12 versatile guest artists. Each section of the book contains a short comic set in a speculative future: a handheld shows the absolute truth, Venice is under the sea or a pill removes the need for sleep, among other things. Specific details such as B. Work shifts that extend into nerve-wracking weeks in a society where sleeping is optional make these vignettes both intriguing and unsettling. After that, Eveleth pulls the focus outwards and brings scientific research into the potential of the future. The comics add powerful depth to an otherwise abstract discussion. – –Sarah Lewin Frasier
countdown: How our modern world threatens sperm counts, changes male and female reproductive development, and endangers the future of humanity
by Shanna Swan with Stacey Colino.
Scribner, 2021 ($ 28)
The sperm count has decreased by over 50 percent in the last 50 years. In a 2017 meta-analysis for more than 40,000 people, the epidemiologist Swan and her colleagues documented a dramatic decline in Western men. Here she and the journalist Colino examine possible explanations – for example chemicals such as BPA and PCB, which were widespread in the 20th century. Your endocrine system disruption may be due to decreased sperm motility, decreased sperm concentration, and possibly earlier menstruation and higher miscarriage rates. What can be done about the effects on human reproduction is still open.