Book Review | Aroused : The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything by Randi Hutter Epstein

aroused cover.jpgI went into this book thinking that it might explain to me why certain people are attracted to each other, but that was not what it was about. Instead, Aroused consists of gathered scientific anecdotes and topical research on various hormones and their effects on humans. Each of the book’s chapters focuses on a different piece of the hormonal puzzle. This table of contents provides a clearer picture: 1. The fat bride 2. Hormones … as we may call them 3. Pickled brains 4. Killer hormones 5. The virile vasectomy 6. Soul mates in sex hormones 7. Making gender 8. Growing up 9. Measuring the immeasurable 10. Growing pains 11. Hotheads : the mysteries of menopause 12. Testosterone endopreneurs 13. Oxytocin : that lovin’ feeling 14. Transitioning 15. Insatiable : the hypothalamus and obesity. While a reader may still have questions, rest assured, Epstein will address them all.

This text is written for all audiences. While many of the topics covered are complex and scientific, Epstein has written about them in an approachable way, even for someone with little or no scientific background knowledge. By choosing interesting individual anecdotes to focus on, she draws the reader into each of the hormonal topics. Chapters are of reasonable length, making the book easy to pick up and put down. The reader is sure to gain new knowledge, while also finding herself laughing aloud from time to time. Check out this informative and entertaining read from a library near you.

*Fans of Aroused, may be interested in the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.


Book Review | Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson

endure cover.jpgEndure pulls together research that has been done on endurance in search of the answer to what keeps man going. Incorporating examples from various sports and research perspectives, Hutchinson addresses multiple parts of the endurance equation from fuel and thirst to oxygen, muscles, the brain and beyond. Whether ice climbing Denali, summiting Everest, deep sea diving, cycling the Hour, crossing the Arctic or striving for a sub 2-hour marathon, people press the limits of endurance. While Hutchinson had hoped to provide an answer for what allows someone to exceed the boundaries, his book shows there are still many moving parts to the equation.

This book serves as an excellent introduction to the topic of endurance. It is well written and organized, providing a summary of vast amounts of research that have been done in a very accessible manner. Anecdotes and scientific findings are interwoven in a way that allows the text to flow seamlessly. Section and chapter breaks are of appropriate length for the book to easily be picked up and put down. Highly recommended for those interested in endurance sport and the limitations of the human body. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Exhibition Review | A Land Beyond the Stars – Museo Galileo

Previously authored for and published by Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) Multimedia and Technology Reviews in February 2017.

Waldseemüller’s 1507 world map compiled geographical knowledge from Spanish and Portuguese ocean voyages. This map forms the basis for the virtual exhibition A Land Beyond the Stars, hosted by Museo Galileo of Florence, Italy in collaboration with the Library of Congress, with support from Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.

landbeyondthestars 2Even the comprehensive site map does not fully prepare the visitor for everything that is presented within this resource. Digitized maps, nautical charts, illuminated texts, and videos are all utilized to convey information in this digital exhibition. Each of the exhibit’s twelve sections could be an individual room within a museum, but the method and reach would be entirely different than its virtuality allows for, especially since the only known surviving copy of Waldseemüller’s map is currently on display at the Library of Congress. Designed for a wide audience, this website ultimately succeeds at making content accessible to any interested party, and would be of benefit to school aged students as well as scholarly researchers.

landbeyondthestars 5Digital reproductions are of impressive quality. Videos clips are all of short, reasonable lengths and can be digested with ease. Should the viewer prefer, a “Read text” option provides a full text transcript of each video. Within the “Interactive Exploration” section, translations of all text appearing on Waldseemüller’s map are given in full and divided by content type. Further, the content of the map has been broken down categorically, allowing for users wishing to engage with a particular type of geographical feature to do so.

A Land Beyond the Stars is well-produced and functions effectively. Though viewable on a mobile device, some navigation is more challenging as the viewing screen size is decreased. Developers have added full screen options, but a larger monitor will allow for the best interaction with this resource. Navigation is intuitive, using a left hand link menu, and the site map mentioned above allows for more direct access points. However, with information disseminated through various media within the site, it is at times unclear what the viewer may expect with each click, be it a video, data superimposed on the map, or another medium.

landbeyondthestars 1The stated aim of the project is “to serve as an experimental model for a new digital library concept.” While the utilized approach may serve as the basis for creating a digital library with specialized content, this particular platform was reminiscent of a HyperCard presentation from the 1990’s, albeit more technologically advanced. The ways in which the user can interact with the content are limited, making the presentation of a vast amount of well-curated historical information seem slightly flat. The exhibit is self-contained without offering links to external content, except within the “Digital Library” (bibliography) section. Unfortunately, as there is no search function, the exhibit must be accessed using the navigation menu and sitemap. Tagging or a search function would be useful to some users. However, because so much information is included, the current delivery method serves as a moderate guide for users who may not have the best idea where to find what they are seeking.

Using established technology, this exhibition is enhanced with multimedia and clearly its public visibility is greatly increased. The exhibit is certainly victorious in its efforts “to allow wider public to appreciate content contained in the map and to decipher structure and graphic symbols,” and has managed to curate content in a manner appropriate for all ages.

Book Review | Wolf Haven by Brenda Peterson & Annie Marie Musselman

wolf haven cover.jpegPartially funded by a Getty Images grant, Wolf Haven : Sanctuary and the Future of Wolves in North America‘s collaboration between photographer Annie Marie Musselman and writer Brenda Peterson yields an informative and striking book about the history and ongoing battle of North America’s endangered wolves and offers readers a comprehensive introduction to Washington’s Wolf Haven sanctuary. In addition to being a lovely coffee table photo book, scientific and political backstory are woven in to help readers understand the hot topics of the wolves endangerment and conservation efforts. Individual wolves from the sanctuary are also introduced, some with more troubled pasts than others.

Overall, this book is very well done and would be palatable to a wide range of audience. The writing is clear and easy to follow without being overly scientific or poetic. This said, a few sentences are slightly embellished and a tad flowery. Most of the photos are truly gorgeous and appropriately captioned with only a few exceptions. Wolf Haven would serve as a great introduction to anyone looking to find out more regarding the story of endangered wolves in North America. Photography fans will also not be disappointed with this gem. Check it out from a library near you.

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the authors/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | 100 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario by Chris Earley and Tracy C. Read

img_0335For those interested in exploring nature, be it conservation areas for flora and fauna, hiking, camping, biking, canoeing or cross county skiing, this book offers a wealth of information about places worth visiting in Ontario. Divided into geographical sections, Earley and Read give a brief history of the hot spots and their highlights. Photographs from each place are included along with general spot information about dates open and applicable activities. As the book says, it will appeal to “birders, botanists, wildlife lovers, rock hounds and naturalists”.

100 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario serves as a great introduction for parties interested in visiting wild Ontario. From seeing the Northern Lights to exploring caves or finding rare species, the authors spell out where to go and when. It would work well as a starting point for trip planning purposes or for Ontarians interested in better exploring their own province. The included photographs are very helpful to get an idea of what one might see in the named hot spot, but in some places photo quality is a bit lacking on enlargements. The book offers a wealth of information, and would be best digested in small chunks or as reference material, though it is very clearly written for all audiences. Helpful area maps are included, but the whole of Ontario with all hot spots is not. Check it out from a library near youI received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Pictorials | Photo 003: maple whirligigs


maple seeds. they’re heavy and sticky when they melt. they copter down, hence the whirligig name. a craft in grade school. something people try to prevent from growing. 2016.

Science Café | “The Science of Beer Making” with Jeff Gill

Tallgrass growlerLast night I was fortunate enough to attend a rather packed Science Café presentation at the Aggieville Radina’s Coffeehouse and Roastery on “The Science of Beer Making”. Presenter Jeff Gill is a K-State alum and the founder of Manhattan’s own Tallgrass Brewing Company. As he explained the science behind brewing and the steps involved in creating a top-notch craft beer, samples of Ethos IPA and a yet un-canned coffee stout were passed around the room while questions and answers flowed freely. The audience included students, professors and community members who all seemed to enjoy the talk. Science topics included saccharification and fermentation, information about hops, talk of yeast strains and mutations, and of course product testing. Handouts included additional information for participants to take home – one in particular a color wheel detailing flavors and possible causes. Additional events are being held at Tallgrass Brewing later this week. Tallgrass currently distributes to 13 states from North Dakota to Mississippi and their Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Cream Stout was listed in The 11 Best Beers of the Midwest by Men’s Health Magazine.

manhattan science cafe logoScience Café was started in an effort to provide accessible and engaging conversation on a range of science topics and is sponsored by Kansas Citizens for Science and Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society. Next semester’s presentations will begin with the topic of Influenza and additional upcoming talks will be listed on their webpage. For additional information see Science Cafe’s National Webpage and the page for the Kansas State Chapter of Sigma Xi.