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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011

by Mary Roach Tim Folger

The Best American Series® First, Best, and Best-Selling The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume's series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected--and most popular--of its kind. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011 includes Atul Gawande, Jonathan Franzen, Deborah Blum, Malcolm Gladwell, Oliver Sacks, Jon Mooallem, Jon Cohen, Luke Dittrich, and others

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

by Mary Roach

"Rich in dexterous innuendo, laugh-out-loud humor and illuminating fact. It's compulsively readable." --Los Angeles Times Book Review In ?Bonk, ?the best-selling author of Stiff turns her outrageous curiosity and insight on the most alluring scientific subject of all: sex. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Why doesn't Viagra help women-or, for that matter, pandas? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Mary Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm-two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth-can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to make the bedroom a more satisfying place.

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

by Mary Roach

grunt * n. informal a low-ranking soldier At a converted movie studio amputee actors help prepare army medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds, while at the base for anti-terror operations in East Africa diarrhoea threatens national security. Beyond weapons and strategy, this is about the other side of war - how to tackle the challenging adversaries of panic, exhaustion, heat and noise. From maggot debridement therapy to the slightly tricky ethics of testicular transplants, Roach takes us on a rollicking ride full of insights that fascinate as much as they disgust. Not one to shrink away from the gritty details, she samples caffeinated meat, sniffs archival World War II stink bombs, dodges enemy fire with the Marine Corps' paintball team and stays up all night with the sleep-deprived crew of a nuclear submarine. Revealing answers to questions you'd never even think to ask, Grunt is the inside guide to the memorable, maddening and brilliant science that seeks to keep human beings intact, awake, sane, uninfected and uninfested on the battlefield.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

by Mary Roach

"America's funniest science writer" (Washington Post) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn't the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of-or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach at our side, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists-who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts. Like all of Roach's books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.

Inside Animal Minds: The New Science of Animal Intelligence

by Mary Roach Virginia Morell

Virginia Morell provides an overview of the science of animal intelligence. She introduces you to an African gray parrot named Alex, a bonobo named Kanzi, and a border collie named Betsy. Each of these animals tells us something interesting about the way they perceive and manipulate their world. The article also looks at what scientists are learning about the intelligence of dolphins and crows, beyond mere communication. Mary Roach takes us to the savannahs of Senegal to meet a group of 34 chimpanzees, whose behavior and social structures have given scientists some important clues about the nature of their communication and intelligence. Peter Miller looks at the collective behavior of ants, bees, and other insects for what they can tell us about social organization and how sometimes intelligence lies outside of the individual brain. This article served as the basis for his book, The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make Us Better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done.

My Planet

by Mary Roach

From acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach comes the complete collection of her "My Planet" articles published in Reader's Digest. She was a hit columnist in the magazine, and this book features the articles she wrote in that time. Insightful and hilarious, Mary explores the ins and outs of the modern world: marriage, friends, family, food, technology, customer service, dental floss, and ants--she leaves no element of the American experience unchecked for its inherent paradoxes, pleasures, and foibles.On Cleanliness: Ed has crud vision, and I don't. I don't notice filth. Ed sees it everywhere. I am reasonably convinced that Ed can actually see bacteria. . . . He confessed he didn't like me using his bathrobe because I'd wear it while sitting on the toilet."It's not like it goes in the water," I protested, though if you counted the sash as part of the robe, this wasn't strictly true. On the Internet: The Internet is a boon for hypochondriacs like me. Right now, for instance, I'm feeling a shooting pain on the side of my neck. A Web search produces five matches, the first three for a condition called Arnold-Chiari Malformation.While my husband, Ed, reads over my shoulder, I recite symptoms from the list. "'General clumsiness' and 'general imbalance,'" I say, as though announcing arrivals at the Marine Corps Ball. "'Difficulty driving,' 'lack of taste,' 'difficulty feeling feet on ground.'""Those aren't symptoms," says Ed. "Those are your character flaws." On Fashion: My husband recently made me try on a bikini. A bikini is not so much a garment as a cloth-based reminder that your parts have been migrating all these years. My waist, I realized that day in the dressing ro

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

by Mary Roach

"America's funniest science writer" (Washington Post) returns to explore the irresistibly strange universe of life without gravity in this New York Times bestseller. Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can't walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it's possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA's new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife

by Mary Roach

The best-selling author of ?Stiff ?and ?Bonk? trains her considerable wit and curiosity on the human soul. "What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that's that--the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my lap-top?" In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

by Mary Roach

"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year....Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting."--Entertainment Weekly Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers--some willingly, some unwittingly--have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

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