Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

New books

New books published this month

Australian Lizards: A Natural History

Steven K. Wilson, CSIRO Publishing, $49.95

Australia has more than 700 species of lizard. The discovery that most are venomous, some are more intelligent than previously recognised and at least one species has a truly remarkable system of sex selection (AS, Jan/Feb 2011, p. 7) provide plenty of reason to read up on their behaviour, habitat and reproduction, bolstered by 400 colour photographs.

Australia’s Greatest Inventions and Innovations

Christopher Cheng and Linsay Knight, Random House, $24.95

Produced in conjunction with the Powerhouse Museum, this book is for everyone who has heard that Australians are really inventive but can’t think of examples beyond the stump jump plow and the Hills hoist. Adults will be reminded of many of the inventions they have forgotten, or feel a new sense of national pride. Children may be inspired that they, too, will have an opportunity to invent something that will change the world.

Shifting Sands

John McAneney, Createspace, $15.00
Shifting Sands is a work of fiction but this account of murder and corporate intrigue in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands draws on the author’s experiences of the commercialisation of scientific research and the insurance industry’s response to natural disasters.

John McAneney is the Director of Risk Frontiers, an independent research centre at Macquarie University that studies and prices natural catastrophe risk for the insurance industry (see pp.25–28). The book is available from

The Jewel on the Mountaintop

Claus Madsen, Wiley-VCH, $75.00

Europe to the Stars

Govert Schilling and Lars Lindberg Christensen, Wiley-VCH, $50.00

The European Southern Observatory is turning 50, and two books have been released to celebrate the half-century of the centre that has transformed our knowledge of the southern skies. The Jewel on the Mountaintop is an authoritative 500-page account of the ESO’s history and achievements. Europe to the Stars is more of a coffee table book with much less text but plenty of stunning photographs and comes with a DVD.

Eucalypts: A Celebration

John Wrigley and Murray Fagg, Allen & Unwin, $39.99

Eucalyptus trees not only dominate many of Australia’s ecosystems but have become our most successful biological export, flourishing in low rainfall environments around the world. The authors of Australian Native Plants and former colleagues at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, John Wrigley and Murray Fagg, have combined to pay tribute to this remarkable genus.