Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

New books

Your guide to new science books

Star-Craving Mad

Fred Watson, Allen and Unwin, $24.99
Subtitled "Tales from a Travelling Astronomer", this book explores the lengths that astronomical enthusiasts will go to learn about the cosmos, or just get a particularly good view of a nebula. Watson is the 2006 winner of the Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science, and probably Australia’s best-known astronomer. He has also had an asteroid named after him, was part of the vote where Pluto lost its planetary status, and has a keen eye for science’s colourful characters.

Zombie Tits, Astronaut Fish and Other Weird Animals

Becky Crew, New South Publishing, $24.99
Evolution has thrown up a series of animals as bizarre as anything from the minds of JK Rowling or Terry Pratchett. Some of them, such as the mantis shrimp capable of punching through bullet-proof glass, have featured in Australasian Science before (August 2008, p.10). However, in Zombie Tits, Astronaut Fish and Other Weird Animals, science blogger Becky Cole provides a round-up of many more.

LyreBird! A True Story

Jackie Kerin and Peter Gouldthorpe, Museum Victoria, $16.95
In 1930 a widowed flower farmer, Edith, was befriended by a lyrebird she named James. He visited her almost daily and delighted in showing off his skills as a mimic, not only of other birds but also cats, dogs, human speech and wood being chopped. James became known as “the miracle of the Dandenongs”.

This story, including illustrations, has been turned into an educational book introducing children to this extraordinary species.

What Is This Thing Called Science?

Alan Chalmers, University of Queensland Publishing, $26.95
For generations of students studying the philosophy of science, What Is This Thing Called Science? has been the introduction to debates about the nature of science and how it is really done. Alan Chalmers has a 40-year association with the University of Sydney, and established the History and Philosophy of Science department there. His revised and expanded fourth edition considers how theories of science have advanced along with the profession itself.

Essential Bushfire Safety Tips 3rd Edition

Joan Webster OAM, CSIRO Publishing, $29.95
After this year’s bushfire season, many people may realise they need a bushfire plan. Incorporating what has been learned from the 2009 Black Saturday fires, Joan Webster has updated her guide to what is and isn’t safe in response to bushfire threats. Webster makes clear that many people who were well-prepared managed to save their homes, even when the media reported that “nothing cold be done” and a range of new information on protective house design, furnishing and shelters is now available.