Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

New books

By Stephen Luntz

Your guide to new science books this month.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Nature’s Compass: The Mystery of Animal Navigation
James L. Gould and Carol Grant Gould, Princeton University Press, $45.00

James Gould discovered how a honeybee’s dance guides other bees to newly discovered food. In Nature’s Compass, Gould and his wife, science writer Carol Grant Gould, reveal the ways that various animals manage astonishing journeys, finding their way across thousands of kilometres – often to places they have never been.

The Goulds show that animals use a range of tools to achieve these feats of navigation, and investigate why humans get lost without a map and compass.

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Floating Gold
Christopher Kemp, Harper Collins, $29.95

It sounds repulsive but ambergris, a by-product of the digestive system of sperm whales, sells for $20 per gram. It washes up on beaches, and is often confused for many other things. To those in the know, however, it is almost as valuable as gold – used in perfumes, medicines and aphrodisiacs.

People really do go to the ends of the Earth in search of this material, and Christopher Kemp follows them, investigating what it is made of, how sperm whales produce it, and what people will do to possess it.

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Taste Matters: Why We Like the Foods We Like
John Prescott, UNSW Press, $34.99...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.