Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

New books

Your guide to new science books

Earth Masters: Playing God with the Climate

Clive Hamilton, Allen and Unwin, $24.99
If the nations of the world will not take the hard decisions to prevent catastrophic climate change, is there another option? Can we engineer the planet to keep it cool, whether by fertilising the oceans, filling the sky with aerosols or blocking some of the sun’s light? Prof Clive Hamilton considers the options and the risks involve if something goes wrong.

David Rivett: Fighter for Australian Science

Rohan Rivett, CSIRO Publishing, free download from csiro.au
Sir David Rivett headed CSIR, the predecessor of CSIRO, from 1927 to 1945 before serving for 4 years as chairman. As such he played as large a role as anyone in the development of Australia’s scientific champion. In 1961 Nature said that “Rivett and his colleagues contrived, in a country woefully weak in research, to create an atmosphere in which it could flourish”. His biography sheds light on the challenges he faced to achieve this task.

The Owl that Fell from the Sky

Brian Gill, AWA Press, $35.00
Natural history museums are a storehouse of items of immense scientific value, but are often insufficiently filed for proper use. Subtitled Stories of a Museum Curator, Brian Gill reveals some of the remarkable specimens he has encountered, from a tortoise given away by Captain Cook to the travels of the largest known moa egg and the unusual method of arrival of an Australian banjo frog.

What The Frack? Everything You Need to Know about Coal Seam Gas

Paddy Manning, New South, $14.99
Is fracking of coal seam gas the key to an energy future that is cleaner than coal and safer than nuclear, or the path to destruction of some of our best agricultural land, with fugitive emissions thrown in for good measure? Paddy Manning explores one of Australia’s newest and most controversial industries.

Mateship With Birds

A.H. Chisholm, Scribe, $24.95
“What are the bird-lovers of Australia going to do about this matter of vanishing parrots? Surely it is a subject worthy of the closest attention of all good Australians.” So wrote A.H. Chisholm. As the language suggests, he was writing in the early years of the 20th century yet the problem remains. Chisholm, who published C.J. Dennis’ The Sentimental Bloke, photographed birds as well as wrote about them. Lacking modern telephoto lenses he was still able to produce images that speak of the personality of Australian birds as well as their plumage.

Scribe has re-released Chisholm’s work with a foreword by Sean Dooley of Birds Australia explaining its relevance today.