The Triumph of Seeds

How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History

Author: Thor Hanson

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN: 0465048722

Category: Nature

Page: 288

View: 6635

DOWNLOAD NOW »

"The genius of Hanson's fascinating, inspiring, and entertaining book stems from the fact that it is not about how all kinds of things grow from seeds; it is about the seeds themselves." --Mark Kurlansky, New York Times Book Review We live in a world of seeds. From our morning toast to the cotton in our clothes, they are quite literally the stuff and staff of life: supporting diets, economies, and civilizations around the globe. Just as the search for nutmeg and pepper drove the Age of Discovery, coffee beans fueled the Enlightenment and cottonseed sparked the Industrial Revolution. Seeds are fundamental objects of beauty, evolutionary wonders, and simple fascinations. Yet, despite their importance, seeds are often seen as commonplace, their extraordinary natural and human histories overlooked. Thanks to this stunning new book, they can be overlooked no more. This is a book of knowledge, adventure, and wonder, spun by an award-winning writer with both the charm of a fireside story-teller and the hard-won expertise of a field biologist. A fascinating scientific adventure, it is essential reading for anyone who loves to see a plant grow.

The Triumph of Seeds

How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History

Author: Thor Hanson

Publisher: Basic Civitas Books

ISBN: 0465055990

Category: Nature

Page: 304

View: 1750

DOWNLOAD NOW »

We live in a world of seeds. From our morning toast to the cotton in our clothes, they are quite literally the stuff and staff of life, supporting diets, economies, and civilizations around the globe. Just as the search for nutmeg and the humble peppercorn drove the Age of Discovery, so did coffee beans help fuel the Enlightenment, and cottonseed help spark the Industrial Revolution. And from the Fall of Rome to the Arab Spring, the fate of nations continues to hinge on the seeds of a Middle Eastern grass known as wheat. In nature and in culture, seeds are fundamental—objects of beauty, evolutionary wonder, and simple fascination. How many times has a child dropped the winged pip of a maple, marveling as it spirals its way down to the ground, or relished the way a gust of wind(or a stout breath) can send a dandelion’s feathery flotilla skyward? Yet despite their importance, seeds are often seen as a commonplace, their extraordinary natural and human histories overlooked. Thanks to Thor Hanson and this stunning new book, they can be overlooked no more. What makes The Triumph of Seeds remarkable is not just that it is informative, humane, hilarious, and even moving, just as what makes seeds remarkable is not simply their fundamental importance to life. In both cases, it is their sheer vitality and the delight that we can take in their existence—the opportunity to experience, as Hanson puts it, “the simple joy of seeing something beautiful, doing what it is meant to do.” Spanning the globe from the Raccoon Shack—Hanson’s backyard writing hideout-cum-laboratory—to the coffee shops of Seattle, from gardens and flower patches to the spice routes of Kerala, this is a book of knowledge, adventure, and wonder, spun by an award-winning writer with both the charm of a fireside story-teller and the hard-won expertise of a field biologist. A worthy heir to the grand tradition of Aldo Leopold and Bernd Heinrich, The Triumph of Seeds takes us on a fascinating scientific adventure through the wild and beautiful world of seeds. It is essential reading for anyone who loves to see a plant grow.

The Triumph of Seeds

How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History

Author: Thor Hanson

Publisher: Hachette UK

ISBN: 0465048722

Category: Nature

Page: 288

View: 732

DOWNLOAD NOW »

"The genius of Hanson's fascinating, inspiring, and entertaining book stems from the fact that it is not about how all kinds of things grow from seeds; it is about the seeds themselves." --Mark Kurlansky, New York Times Book Review We live in a world of seeds. From our morning toast to the cotton in our clothes, they are quite literally the stuff and staff of life: supporting diets, economies, and civilizations around the globe. Just as the search for nutmeg and pepper drove the Age of Discovery, coffee beans fueled the Enlightenment and cottonseed sparked the Industrial Revolution. Seeds are fundamental objects of beauty, evolutionary wonders, and simple fascinations. Yet, despite their importance, seeds are often seen as commonplace, their extraordinary natural and human histories overlooked. Thanks to this stunning new book, they can be overlooked no more. This is a book of knowledge, adventure, and wonder, spun by an award-winning writer with both the charm of a fireside story-teller and the hard-won expertise of a field biologist. A fascinating scientific adventure, it is essential reading for anyone who loves to see a plant grow.

Buzz

The Nature and Necessity of Bees

Author: Thor Hanson

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN: 0465098800

Category: Science

Page: 288

View: 1392

DOWNLOAD NOW »

From the award-winning author of The Triumph of Seeds and Feathers, a natural and cultural history of the buzzing wee beasties that make the world go round. Bees are like oxygen: ubiquitous, essential, and, for the most part, unseen. While we might overlook them, they lie at the heart of relationships that bind the human and natural worlds. In Buzz, the beloved Thor Hanson takes us on a journey that begins 125 million years ago, when a wasp first dared to feed pollen to its young. From honeybees and bumbles to lesser-known diggers, miners, leafcutters, and masons, bees have long been central to our harvests, our mythologies, and our very existence. They've given us sweetness and light, the beauty of flowers, and as much as a third of the foodstuffs we eat. And, alarmingly, they are at risk of disappearing. As informative and enchanting as the waggle dance of a honeybee, Buzz shows us why all bees are wonders to celebrate and protect. Read this book and you'll never overlook them again.

Feathers

The Evolution of a Natural Miracle

Author: Thor Hanson

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN: 0465023460

Category: Nature

Page: 352

View: 1624

DOWNLOAD NOW »

Feathers are an evolutionary marvel: aerodynamic, insulating, beguiling. They date back more than 100 million years. Yet their story has never been fully told. In Feathers, biologist Thor Hanson details a sweeping natural history, as feathers have been used to fly, protect, attract, and adorn through time and place. Applying the research of paleontologists, ornithologists, biologists, engineers, and even art historians, Hanson asks: What are feathers? How did they evolve? What do they mean to us? Engineers call feathers the most efficient insulating material ever discovered, and they are at the root of biology's most enduring debate. They silence the flight of owls and keep penguins dry below the ice. They have decorated queens, jesters, and priests. And they have inked documents from the Constitution to the novels of Jane Austen. Feathers is a captivating and beautiful exploration of this most enchanting object.

Hybrid

The History and Science of Plant Breeding

Author: Noel Kingsbury

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226437051

Category: Science

Page: 464

View: 1073

DOWNLOAD NOW »

Disheartened by the shrink-wrapped, Styrofoam-packed state of contemporary supermarket fruits and vegetables, many shoppers hark back to a more innocent time, to visions of succulent red tomatoes plucked straight from the vine, gleaming orange carrots pulled from loamy brown soil, swirling heads of green lettuce basking in the sun. With Hybrid, Noel Kingsbury reveals that even those imaginary perfect foods are themselves far from anything that could properly be called natural; rather, they represent the end of a millennia-long history of selective breeding and hybridization. Starting his story at the birth of agriculture, Kingsbury traces the history of human attempts to make plants more reliable, productive, and nutritious—a story that owes as much to accident and error as to innovation and experiment. Drawing on historical and scientific accounts, as well as a rich trove of anecdotes, Kingsbury shows how scientists, amateur breeders, and countless anonymous farmers and gardeners slowly caused the evolutionary pressures of nature to be supplanted by those of human needs—and thus led us from sparse wild grasses to succulent corn cobs, and from mealy, white wild carrots to the juicy vegetables we enjoy today. At the same time, Kingsbury reminds us that contemporary controversies over the Green Revolution and genetically modified crops are not new; plant breeding has always had a political dimension. A powerful reminder of the complicated and ever-evolving relationship between humans and the natural world, Hybrid will give readers a thoughtful new perspective on—and a renewed appreciation of—the cereal crops, vegetables, fruits, and flowers that are central to our way of life.

The Reason for Flowers

Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives

Author: Stephen Buchmann

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1476755531

Category: Gardening

Page: 352

View: 3391

DOWNLOAD NOW »

An exploration of the roles flowers play in the production of our foods, spices, medicines, and perfumes reveals their origins, myriad shapes, colors, textures and scents, bizarre sex lives, and how humans-- and the natural world-- relate and depend upon them.

An Orchard Invisible

A Natural History of Seeds

Author: Jonathan Silvertown

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226757803

Category: Science

Page: 224

View: 4065

DOWNLOAD NOW »

The story of seeds, in a nutshell, is a tale of evolution. From the tiny sesame that we sprinkle on our bagels to the forty-five-pound double coconut borne by the coco de mer tree, seeds are a perpetual reminder of the complexity and diversity of life on earth. With An Orchard Invisible, Jonathan Silvertown presents the oft-ignored seed with the natural history it deserves, one nearly as varied and surprising as the earth’s flora itself. Beginning with the evolution of the first seed plant from fernlike ancestors more than 360 million years ago, Silvertown carries his tale through epochs and around the globe. In a clear and engaging style, he delves into the science of seeds: How and why do some lie dormant for years on end? How did seeds evolve? The wide variety of uses that humans have developed for seeds of all sorts also receives a fascinating look, studded with examples, including foods, oils, perfumes, and pharmaceuticals. An able guide with an eye for the unusual, Silvertown is happy to take readers on unexpected—but always interesting—tangents, from Lyme disease to human color vision to the Salem witch trials. But he never lets us forget that the driving force behind the story of seeds—its theme, even—is evolution, with its irrepressible habit of stumbling upon new solutions to the challenges of life. "I have great faith in a seed," Thoreau wrote. "Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders." Written with a scientist’s knowledge and a gardener’s delight, An Orchard Invisible offers those wonders in a package that will be irresistible to science buffs and green thumbs alike.

Presidents’ Gardens

Author: Linda Holden Hoyt

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

ISBN: 0747814074

Category: Gardening

Page: 64

View: 866

DOWNLOAD NOW »

The White House is the most famous house in the world – yet its 18 acres of perfectly manicured grounds and magnificent gardens, much beloved by the Presidents and their families, are rarely seen by the public. This book is a horticultural celebration of all the Presidents' gardens, beginning with George Washington's beloved Mount Vernon and looking at the development of White House gardens over two centuries. Rare photographs perfectly illustrate highlights from the best of the presidential gardens, including Jackie Kennedy's Rose Garden, the Roosevelt wartime White House greenhouses and Michelle Obama's sustainability-inspired vegetable garden, which now produces food that is served to the First Family. The text is peppered with lively comments and useful tips from gardeners who contributed to White House beautification projects under many different Administrations.

The Breathless Zoo

Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing

Author: Rachel Poliquin

Publisher: Penn State Press

ISBN: 0271053720

Category: Nature

Page: 259

View: 5853

DOWNLOAD NOW »

"A cultural and poetic analysis of the art and science of taxidermy, from sixteenth-century cabinets of wonders to contemporary animal art"--Provided by publisher.

The Book of Seeds

A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World

Author: Paul Smith

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022636237X

Category: Science

Page: 656

View: 6790

DOWNLOAD NOW »

Seeds are nature’s consummate survivors. The next time you admire a field of waving green grassland or a stunning grove of acacia, stop to consider how it got that way—often against incredible odds. Seeds can survive freezing temperatures and drought. They can pass through our digestive systems without damage and weather a trip across the ocean, hitching a ride on marine debris. They can even endure complete desiccation, a feat taken to extraordinary lengths by the date palm, a seed from which was recovered from the palace of Herod the Great was germinated after some two thousand years. The Book of Seeds takes readers through six hundred of the world’s seed species, revealing their extraordinary beauty and rich diversity. Each page pairs a beautifully composed photo of a seed—life-size, and, in some cases, enlarged to display fine detail—with a short description, a map showing distribution, and information on conservation status. The whole spectrum of seeds is covered here. There are prolific species like corn and less widely distributed species, like the brilliant blue seeds of the traveler’s palm or the bird of paradise flower, aptly named for its distinctive orange coiffure. There are tiny seeds and seeds weighing up to forty pounds. And while seeds in all their shapes, sizes, and colors grant us sustenance, there are even some we would be wise to treat with caution, such as the rosary pea, whose seeds are considered more toxic than ricin. The essential guide to these complex plant creations, The Book of Seeds offers readers a rare, up-close look that will inspire scientists and nature lovers alike.

The Impenetrable Forest

Gorilla Years in Uganda

Author: Thor Hanson

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9780692275009

Category:

Page: 272

View: 622

DOWNLOAD NOW »

Lying in the remote hills of southwest Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest harbors elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys, and half the world's population of endangered mountain gorillas. For two years, Thor Hanson called that forest home, working with local guides and trackers to develop an ecotourism program for the newly-formed Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Thoroughly researched and beautifully told, Hanson's story blends natural history with cultural insight to place the forest and the gorillas in the context of modern Africa. The Impenetrable Forest offers a rare glimpse into the world of mountain gorillas, and the human cultures that surround them. A must-read for anyone interested in gorilla tracking, endangered species, or travel to Uganda.

The Food Explorer

The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats

Author: Daniel Stone

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 1101990589

Category: Botanists

Page: 416

View: 4320

DOWNLOAD NOW »

David Fairchild, a young botanist with an insatiable lust to explore and experience the world, set out in search of foods that would enrich the American farmer and enchant the American eater. Fairchild's finds weren't just limited to food: From Egypt he sent back a variety of cotton that revolutionised an industry, and via Japan he introduced the cherry blossom tree, forever brightening America's capital. Along the way, he was arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. Through him, America transformed into the most diverse food system ever created.

The Ghosts Of Evolution

Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, and Other Ecological Anachronisms

Author: Connie Barlow

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN: 9780786724895

Category: Science

Page: 352

View: 3900

DOWNLOAD NOW »

A new vision is sweeping through ecological science: The dense web of dependencies that makes up an ecosystem has gained an added dimension-the dimension of time. Every field, forest, and park is full of living organisms adapted for relationships with creatures that are now extinct. In a vivid narrative, Connie Barlow shows how the idea of "missing partners" in nature evolved from isolated, curious examples into an idea that is transforming how ecologists understand the entire flora and fauna of the Americas. This fascinating book will enrich the experience of any amateur naturalist, as well as teach us that the ripples of biodiversity loss around us are just the leading edge of what may well become perilous cascades of extinction.

The 100-Mile Diet

A Year of Local Eating

Author: Alisa Smith,J.B. MacKinnon

Publisher: Vintage Canada

ISBN: 0307371174

Category: Social Science

Page: 288

View: 1057

DOWNLOAD NOW »

The remarkable, amusing and inspiring adventures of a Canadian couple who make a year-long attempt to eat foods grown and produced within a 100-mile radius of their apartment. When Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon learned that the average ingredient in a North American meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate, they decided to launch a simple experiment to reconnect with the people and places that produced what they ate. For one year, they would only consume food that came from within a 100-mile radius of their Vancouver apartment. The 100-Mile Diet was born. The couple’s discoveries sometimes shook their resolve. It would be a year without sugar, Cheerios, olive oil, rice, Pizza Pops, beer, and much, much more. Yet local eating has turned out to be a life lesson in pleasures that are always close at hand. They met the revolutionary farmers and modern-day hunter-gatherers who are changing the way we think about food. They got personal with issues ranging from global economics to biodiversity. They called on the wisdom of grandmothers, and immersed themselves in the seasons. They discovered a host of new flavours, from gooseberry wine to sunchokes to turnip sandwiches, foods that they never would have guessed were on their doorstep. The 100-Mile Diet struck a deeper chord than anyone could have predicted, attracting media and grassroots interest that spanned the globe. The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating tells the full story, from the insights to the kitchen disasters, as the authors transform from megamart shoppers to self-sufficient urban pioneers. The 100-Mile Diet is a pathway home for anybody, anywhere. Call me naive, but I never knew that flour would be struck from our 100-Mile Diet. Wheat products are just so ubiquitous, “the staff of life,” that I had hazily imagined the stuff must be grown everywhere. But of course: I had never seen a field of wheat anywhere close to Vancouver, and my mental images of late-afternoon light falling on golden fields of grain were all from my childhood on the Canadian prairies. What I was able to find was Anita’s Organic Grain & Flour Mill, about 60 miles up the Fraser River valley. I called, and learned that Anita’s nearest grain suppliers were at least 800 miles away by road. She sounded sorry for me. Would it be a year until I tasted a pie? —From The 100-Mile Diet From the Hardcover edition.

The Plant Messiah

Adventures in Search of the World's Rarest Species

Author: Carlos Magdalena

Publisher: Doubleday

ISBN: 038554362X

Category: Nature

Page: 272

View: 1349

DOWNLOAD NOW »

An impassioned memoir of saving extraordinary plants on the brink of extinction, by a scientist who has been called a "codebreaker" (Telegraph) and "an inspiration" (Jane Goodall) Carlos Magdalena is not your average horticulturist. He's a man on a mission to save the world's most endangered plants. First captivated by the flora of his native Spain, he has travelled to the remotest parts of the globe in search of exotic species. Renowned for his pioneering work, he has committed his life to protecting plants from man-made ecological destruction and thieves hunting for wealthy collectors. In The Plant Messiah, Magdalena takes readers from the Amazon to the jungles of Mauritius to deep within the Australian Outback in search of the rare and the vulnerable. Back in the lab, we watch as he develops groundbreaking, left-field techniques for rescuing species from extinction, encouraging them to propagate and thrive once again. Along the way, he offers moving, heartfelt stories about the secrets contained within these incredible organisms. Passionate and absorbing, The Plant Messiah is a tribute to the diversity of life on our planet, and the importance of preserving it. *Featuring 16 pages of color photos*

Rubber Band Engineer

Build Slingshot Powered Rockets, Rubber Band Rifles, Unconventional Catapults, and More Guerrilla Gadgets from Household Hardware

Author: Lance Akiyama

Publisher: Rockport Publishers

ISBN: 1631591800

Category: Crafts & Hobbies

Page: 144

View: 6844

DOWNLOAD NOW »

"Whoa, that shot a lot farther than I thought it would!" Shooting far, flying high, and delivering way more exciting results than expected are the goals of the gadgets in this book. Discover unexpected ways to turn common materials into crafty contraptions that range from surprisingly simple to curiously complex. In vivid color photos, you'll be guided to create slingshot rockets, unique catapults, and even hydraulic-powered machines. Whether you build one or all 19 of these designs, you'll feel like an ingenious engineer when you're through. Best of all, you don't need to be an experienced tinkerer to make any of the projects within. All you need are household tools and materials, such as paper clips, pencils, paint stirrers, and ice pop sticks. Oh, and rubber bands. Lots of rubber bands. So grab your glue gun, pull out your pliers, track down your tape, and get started on the challenging, fun, and rewarding journey toward becoming a rubber band engineer.

The Book of Seeds

A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World

Author: Paul Smith

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022636237X

Category: Science

Page: 656

View: 899

DOWNLOAD NOW »

Seeds are nature’s consummate survivors. The next time you admire a field of waving green grassland or a stunning grove of acacia, stop to consider how it got that way—often against incredible odds. Seeds can survive freezing temperatures and drought. They can pass through our digestive systems without damage and weather a trip across the ocean, hitching a ride on marine debris. They can even endure complete desiccation, a feat taken to extraordinary lengths by the date palm, a seed from which was recovered from the palace of Herod the Great was germinated after some two thousand years. The Book of Seeds takes readers through six hundred of the world’s seed species, revealing their extraordinary beauty and rich diversity. Each page pairs a beautifully composed photo of a seed—life-size, and, in some cases, enlarged to display fine detail—with a short description, a map showing distribution, and information on conservation status. The whole spectrum of seeds is covered here. There are prolific species like corn and less widely distributed species, like the brilliant blue seeds of the traveler’s palm or the bird of paradise flower, aptly named for its distinctive orange coiffure. There are tiny seeds and seeds weighing up to forty pounds. And while seeds in all their shapes, sizes, and colors grant us sustenance, there are even some we would be wise to treat with caution, such as the rosary pea, whose seeds are considered more toxic than ricin. The essential guide to these complex plant creations, The Book of Seeds offers readers a rare, up-close look that will inspire scientists and nature lovers alike.