Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos
by Paul Murdin. University of Chicago Press, 2009
Astronomer Paul Murdin traces the history of astronomical discoveries—from the shape of Earth to the cosmic microwave background to the origin of the elements. Pictured at the right is the N49 supernova remnant in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Supernovae play a key role in distributing the elements made in stars.

The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference
by Alan Boyle. Wiley, 2009
Science writer Alan Boyle chronicles the rise and fall of embattled Pluto—from its serendipitous discovery in 1930 to its hotly debated downgrade to nonplanet in 2006—and in so doing reveals just how intertwined science, politics and culture really are.

After the Ice: Life, Death and Geopolitics in the New Arctic
by Alun Anderson. Smithsonian, 2009
Ice is vanishing from the Arctic so fast that no one can keep up, asserts journalist Alun Anderson. Aiming to provide a big picture sketch of the region, he examines the science, politics and business of the Arctic and considers who stands to gain and lose from this transformation.

A Year on the Wing: Four Seasons in a Life with Birds
by Tim Dee. Free Press, 2009
In this lyrical memoir, radio producer and writer Tim Dee draws on 40 years of avian observation to compose an account of a year in the lives of birds. Along the way he explores humanity’s fascination with these creatures and their journeys on the wing.

This Will Change Everything: Ideas That Will Shape the Future
edited by John Brockman. Harper Perennial, 2009
John Brockman, literary agent and founder of the online science salon, has rounded up more than 150 luminaries to reflect on ideas that are poised to change the world in their lifetimes. Among the contributors are Nobel laureate physicist Frank Wilczek on the quantum world, biologist Paul Ewald on infectious disease and psychologist Sherry Turkle on robot companions.

Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells—Our Ride to the Renewable Future
by Amanda Little. Harper, 2009

The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution
by Carl Zimmer. Roberts & Company, 2009

Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America.
by Lee Alan Dugatkin. University of Chicago Press, 2009

Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed, and a Sustainable Future
by Saleem H. Ali. Yale University Press, 2009

Ambassadors from Earth: Pioneering  Explorations with Unmanned Spacecraft
by Jay Gallentine. University of Nebraska Press, 2009

Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild
by Michael Forsberg. University of Chicago Press, 2009

Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage
by Peter Forbes. Yale University Press, 2009

Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery
by Richard Hollingham. Thomas Dunne Book, 2009

Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs
by Michael Belfiore. Smithsonian, 2009

The Lives of the Brain: Human Evolution and the Organ of Mind
by John S. Allen. Belknap Press, 2009

Moving beyond Earth, a new permanent exhibition about spaceflight, opens November 19 at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Migrations of the Mind: Manuscripts from the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection. November 17, 2009–April 18, 2010, at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.