March Book Display: Earth and Beyond

The book display for March explores the search for life outside of Earth, as well as the strangeness of life on our planet.

NASA recently discovered seven Earth-like planets, 40 light-years away. While a long distance for us, it is, cosmically, only a hop, skip, and jump away. As our technology improves and our science advances, we continue to discover more and more planets outside our solar system. And with each new discovery, we wonder whether they could be life on those distant worlds and how we can get to those worlds. Closer to home, Curiosity, the Mars rover, is on the search for evidence of alien life on the Red Planet. How would the discovery of life outside Earth change your perspective?

However, we can stay on our blue dot to explore high strangeness and alien worlds. In our oceans is the largest creature to ever exist: the blue whale, a mammal species known for its intelligence, unique language, and development of culture. Cephalopods (squids, octopuses, and cuttlefishes) have unique, identifying personalities.  We cannot forget the oddness of all the creatures: the poisonous, egg-laying mammal, the platypus.

Take some time to read about the odd and wonderful life on our planet. Consider the possibility of alien life and our continued, scientific search for worlds outside our own. And if you desire, read about alien abductions and UFOs.


The Last Unicorn

by William DeBuys

Call QL737.U53 D434 2015

“In 1992, in a remote mountain range, a team of scientists discovered the remains of an unusual animal with beautiful long horns. It turned out to be a living species new to western science — a saola, the first large land mammal discovered in 50 years. Rare then and rarer now, no westerner had glimpsed a live saola before Pulitzer Prize finalist and nature writer William deBuys and conservation biologist William Robichaud set off to search for it in the wilds of central Laos. The team endured a punishing trek, up and down whitewater rivers and through mountainous terrain ribboned with the snare lines of armed poachers. In the tradition of Bruce Chatwin, Colin Thubron, and Peter Matthiessen, THE LAST UNICORN is deBuys’s look deep into one of the world’s most remote places. As in the pursuit of the unicorn, the journey ultimately becomes a quest for the essence of wildness in nature, and an encounter with beauty”


Beyond the Stars: Our Origins and the Search for Life in The Universe

by Paolo Saraceno

Call GQ982 .S2713 2012

“What is the origin of the universe? Are we alone in the Universe? Using clear and plain language, the author explores these two interesting scientific-philosophical themes with a broad range of studies, including astronomy, cosmology, chemistry, biology, geology and planet science.The first part discusses the origins of everything, from the Big Bang to humankind. It follows the long course of evolution — from original matter to the formation of more complex structures, from the furthest galaxies to the nearest stars, from planets to organic molecules, from the first and most elementary forms of life through to the reptiles, the dinosaurs and the advent of man.The second part traces the history of the Earth and evaluates the risks of extinction in the future as predicted by scientists. Is the Earth the only habitable planet in the Universe? This question initiates the discussion on the importance of the Earth’s position in the solar system and the significance of our geologically alive planet.The final part is dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial beings with identifiable life forms. It also describes attempts for searching, from the past to the near future.This remarkable book provides the best answers we have to the epic questions about us and our place in the universe.”


Superman: Red Son
by Mark Millar

Call GN Mil

“Strange visitor from another world who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands … and who, as the champion of the common worker, fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, Socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact.

In this Elseworlds tale, a familiar rocketship crash-lands on Earth carrying an infant who will one day become the most powerful being on the planet. But his ship doesn’t land in America. He is not raised in Smallville, Kansas. Instead, he makes his new home on a collective in the Soviet Union!”


The Myth and Mystery of UFOs

by Thomas E. Bullard

Call TL789 .B75 2010

When United Airlines workers reported a UFO at O’Hare Airport in November 2006, it was met with the typical denials and hush-up that usually accompany such sightings. But when a related story broke the record for hits at the Chicago Tribune’s website, it was clear that such unexplained objects continued to occupy the minds of fascinated readers. Why, wonders Thomas Bullard, don’t such persistent sightings command more urgent attention from scientists, scholars, and mainstream journalists?
The answer, in part, lies in Bullard’s wide-ranging magisterial survey of the mysterious, frustrating, and ever-evolving phenomenon that refuses to go away and our collective efforts to understand it. In his trailblazing book, Bullard views those efforts through the lens of mythmaking, discovering what UFO accounts tell us about ourselves, our beliefs, and the possibility of visitors from beyond.


Armada

by Ernst Cline

Call FIC Cli

“Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?”


The Secret Lives of Bats: My Adventures with the World’s Most Misunderstood Mammals

by Merlin Tuttle

Call QL737.C5 T896 2015

“From menacing moonshiners and armed bandits to charging elephants and man-eating tigers, Merlin Tuttle has stopped at nothing to find and protect bats on every continent they inhabit. Enamored of bats ever since discovering a colony in a cave as a boy, Tuttle saw how effective photography could be in persuading people not to fear bats, and he has spent his career traveling the world to document them. Few people realize how sophisticated and intelligent bats are. Tuttle shares research showing that frog-eating bats can identify frogs by their calls, that vampire bats have a social order similar to that of primates, and that bats have remarkable memories. Bats also provide enormous benefits by eating crop pests, pollinating plants, and carrying seeds needed for reforestation. They save farmers billions of dollars annually and are essential to a healthy planet. Sharing highlights from a lifetime of adventure and discovery, Tuttle takes us to the frontiers of bat research and conservation and forever changes the way we see these poorly understood yet fascinating creatures.”


Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times

by Jacques Vallee

Call TL789.3 .V354 2010

“In the past century, individuals, newspapers, and military agencies have recorded thousands of UFO incidents, giving rise to much speculation about flying saucers, visitors from other planets, and alien abductions. Yet the extraterrestrial phenomenon did not begin in the present era. Far from it. The authors of Wonders in the Sky reveal a thread of vividly rendered-and sometimes strikingly similar- reports of mysterious aerial phenomena from antiquity through the modern age. These accounts often share definite physical features- such as the heat felt and described by witnesses-that have not changed much over the centuries. Indeed, such similarities between ancient and modern sightings are the rule rather than the exception.

In Wonders in the Sky, respected researchers Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck examine more than 500 selected reports of sightings from biblical-age antiquity through the year 1879-the point at which the Industrial Revolution deeply changed the nature of human society, and the skies began to open to airplanes, dirigibles, rockets, and other opportunities for misinterpretation represented by military prototypes. Using vivid and engaging case studies, and more than seventy-five illustrations, they reveal that unidentified flying objects have had a major impact not only on popular culture but on our history, on our religion, and on the models of the world humanity has formed from deepest antiquity.”


The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins

by Hal Whitehead, Luke Rendell

Call QL737 .C4 W47 2015

“In the songs and bubble feeding of humpback whales; in young killer whales learning to knock a seal from an ice floe in the same way their mother does; and in the use of sea sponges by the dolphins of Shark Bay, Australia, to protect their beaks while foraging for fish, we find clear examples of the transmission of information among cetaceans. Just as human cultures pass on languages and turns of phrase, tastes in food (and in how it is acquired), and modes of dress, could whales and dolphins have developed a culture of their very own?

Unequivocally: yes. In The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins, cetacean biologists Hal Whitehead, who has spent much of his life on the ocean trying to understand whales, and Luke Rendell, whose research focuses on the evolution of social learning, open an astounding porthole onto the fascinating culture beneath the waves. As Whitehead and Rendell show, cetacean culture and its transmission are shaped by a blend of adaptations, innate sociality, and the unique environment in which whales and dolphins live: a watery world in which a hundred-and-fifty-ton blue whale can move with utter grace, and where the vertical expanse is as vital, and almost as vast, as the horizontal.”


Life Beyond Earth: The Search for Habitable Worlds in the Universe

by Athena Coustenis and Thérèse Encrenaz

Call QB54 .C686 2013

“What is life and where can it exist? What searches are being made to identify conditions for life on other worlds? If extraterrestrial inhabited worlds are found, how can we explore them? In this book, two leading astrophysicists provide an engaging account of where we stand in our quest for habitable environments, in the Solar System and beyond. Starting from basic concepts, the narrative builds scientifically, including more in-depth material as boxed additions to the main text. The authors recount fascinating recent discoveries from space missions and observations using ground-based telescopes, of possible life-related artefacts in Martian meteorites, extrasolar planets, and subsurface oceans on Europa, Titan and Enceladus. They also provide a forward look to future missions. This is an exciting, informative read for anyone interested in the search for habitable and inhabited planets, and an excellent primer for students in astrobiology, habitability, planetary science and astronomy.”


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