Greg Laden's Blog

Cheap Science Books

Two science books cheap (Kindle version, two bucks):

The Male Brain: A Breakthrough Understanding of How Men and Boys Think

Dr. Louann Brizendine, the founder of the first clinic in the country to study gender differences in brain, behavior, and hormones, turns her attention to the male brain, showing how, through every phase of life, the “male reality” is fundamentally different from the female one. Exploring the latest breakthroughs in male psychology and neurology with her trademark accessibility and candor, she reveals that the male brain:

-is a lean, mean, problem-solving machine. Faced with a personal problem, a man will use his analytical brain structures, not his emotional ones, to find a solution.
-thrives under competition, instinctively plays rough and is obsessed with rank and hierarchy.
-has an area for sexual pursuit that is 2.5 times larger than the female brain, consuming him with sexual fantasies about female body parts.
-experiences such a massive increase in testosterone at puberty that he perceive others’ faces to be more aggressive.

The Male Brain finally overturns the stereotypes. Impeccably researched and at the cutting edge of scientific knowledge, this is a book that every man, and especially every woman bedeviled by a man, will need to own.

I’m not endorsing this book, but if you are a student of sex differences you may want to have a look even if you hate it. But also see by the same author: The Female Brain

Unlocking the Past: How Archaeologists Are Rewriting Human History with Ancient DNA

In Unlocking the Past, Martin Jones, a leading expert at the forefront of bioarchaeology—the discipline that gave Michael Crichton the premise for Jurassic Park—explains how this pioneering science is rewriting human history and unlocking stories of the past that could never have been told before. For the first time, the building blocks of ancient life—DNA, proteins, and fats that have long been trapped in fossils and earth and rock—have become widely accessible to science. Working at the cutting edge of genetic and other molecular technologies, researchers have been probing the remains of these ancient biomolecules in human skeletons, sediments and fossilized plants, dinosaur bones, and insects trapped in amber. Their amazing discoveries have influenced the archaeological debate at almost every level and continue to reshape our understanding of the past.

Devising a molecular clock from a certain area of DNA, scientists were able to determine that all humans descend from one common female ancestor, dubbed “Mitochondrial Eve,” who lived around 150,000 years ago. From molecules recovered from grinding stones and potsherds, they reconstructed ancient diets and posited when such practices as dairying and boiling water for cooking began. They have reconstituted the beer left in the burial chamber of pharaohs and know what the Iceman, the 5,000-year-old hunter found in the Alps in the early nineties, ate before his last journey. Conveying both the excitement of innovative research and the sometimes bruising rough-and-tumble of scientific debate, Jones has written a work of profound importance. Unlocking the Past is science at its most engaging.