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The Sciences

What to Read in March

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Meathooked: The History and science of our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat

By Marta Zaraska

Do you suffer from “meat hunger?” You’re not alone. Science writer Zaraska traces our affinity for animal flesh from the first species evolved to have a mouth (enabling it to eat other species — and its own) to superslick advertisements that make you crave bacon. Don’t worry, vegans, there’s something here for you, too: Zaraska suggests carnivory among humans may be rooted more in culture and myth than actual physiological need. Thought-provoking and enjoyable, it’s a book you can really, ah, sink your teeth into.

Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight before NASABy Amy Shira Teitel

Blogger and embedded NASA reporter Teitel opens her gripping history of leaving the planet (or trying to) with a bang — literally. She recounts the fatal lab accident that claimed early rocketry pioneer Max Valier in 1930 with an anecdote full of technical minutiae but taut with drama. It encapsulates Teitel’s approach to the topic: an enthusiastic dive into detail that’s accessible even to those of us happy to keep both feet firmly on the ground.

What Should a Clever Moose Eat? Natural History, Ecology and

the North Woods

By John Pastor

Even if you’ve never been to the North Woods — the broad swath of continent stretching from the Canadian Maritime Provinces to the far shores of Lake Superior — you will come to appreciate it through ecologist Pastor. With an eye for fine detail and the gentle explication of a born teacher, Pastor crafts a rich biography of one of North America’s most beautiful and diverse ecosystems, from the geology of its foundations to the birds in its skies.

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Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your BrainBy R. Douglas Fields

National Institutes of Health neuroscientist Fields examines the triggers and pathways that can turn anyone into a killer — or a self-sacrificing hero — in the blink of an eye.

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Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over BodyBy Jo Marchant

Each year Americans spend about $34 billion on alternative medicine, much of which fails to hold up under scientific scrutiny. But what if science was missing the point? With doctorates in genetics and microbiology, Marchant is no fringe thinker advocating quackery. Instead, with admitted skepticism, she explores a growing field of research into the mind’s largely untapped power to heal the body.

The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human ImaginationBy Richard Mabey

The latest tome from prolific nature writer Mabey tells the story of our relationship with plants — as food and medicine, as symbols and fashion statements — through fascinating vignettes of different species from the green kingdom.

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