Science on Ice: Four Polar Expeditions
by Chris Linder. University of Chicago Press, 2011

Frozen Planet: A World beyond Imagination
by Alastair Fothergill and Vanessa Berlowitz. Firefly Books, 2011

Armchair explorers can travel to the top and bottom of the earth with these coffee table books, each filled with glossy photos of the Arctic and Antarctica accompanied by narratives about the latest science from these regions. Science on Ice follows four groups of researchers who, among other projects, observe Adélie penguins, chart the floor of the Arctic Sea and trace the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet. Frozen Planet, a companion to a forthcoming BBC Earth documentary, focuses on wildlife and describes how plants and animals are adapting to climate change.

Consent of the Networked
by Rebecca MacKinnon. Basic Books, 2012

In this timely and important book, journalist and scholar Rebecca MacKinnon asks who, exactly, is in charge of the Internet. Her grand tour of the ways countries, corporations and citizens fight to restrict what can and cannot happen online exposes a number of tensions that underlie our connected world. China, for instance, pioneered the practice of holding Web companies responsible for the content that their users post, which delegates the job of thought police to private corporations. The idea has spread to democracies, including the U.S., where a bill now before Congress would effectively require Internet service providers to monitor the material going to individuals’ homes. No one elects these governors of the Net, but increasingly we’re all living under their control.

The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking
edited by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink and Erik van der Linden. Columbia University Press, 2012

Top food scientists at such companies as Mars and Kraft, as well as in academia, explain the chemical interactions behind everyday dishes like grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and hard-boiled eggs. They also explore broader questions: What, for instance, do we hear when we eat, and why are crunchy foods so pleasing? One essay addresses the organic food movement, reminding purists that some processed foods, such as enriched flour, have value for their added nutrients.

Design in Nature: How the Con­structal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization
by Adrian Bejan and J. Peder Zane. Doubleday, 2012

While listening to a speech in 1995, Duke University engineer Adrian Bejan hit on a unifying theory to explain the treelike shapes found in nature (lightning bolts, river deltas), as well as in man-made systems (corporate hierarchies): they facilitate movement. “The designs we see ... are not the result of chance,” he concludes. “They arise naturally, spontaneously, because they enhance access to flow in time.”


Geckos: Tails to Toepads. Museum of Science, Boston. Open until May 6.
Spend time with more than 60 species of these highly adaptable lizards, known for their night vision, camouflage, sticky feet and, in at least one case, hang-gliding abilities.

Science in the City. Exploratorium, San Francisco.
Tune in to this ongoing online media series, featuring videos about such subjects as pigeon science, cable cars, tattooing and battery corrosion.