Advance Copy: Backstories on books by NASW members

William Grigg: A Perfectly Natural Murder

Remember the 1982 Tylenol poisonings? Bill Grigg does. He was the FDA's news director then. That experience sparked his novel focusing on intentional food poisoning, A Perfectly Natural Murder. Its hapless hero is a PIO for an insurance company whose dinner party was co-opted by a colleague with a dark secret. The hero's father, a medical reporter, helps move the investigation along.

Sidney Perkowitz: Physics: A Very Short Introduction

Physics governs the world we live in. It underlies everyday technology such as smartphones and medical imaging devices, and influences major societal concerns such as nuclear proliferation, energy use, and climate change. In "Physics: A Very Short Introduction," Sidney Perkowitz offers lay readers a guide to what physics covers, how physicists carry out research, and why this research matters.

Richard Maurer: Destination Moon

From Jules Verne’s novels in the 1860s to Disney’s “Man in Space” 1950s TV series that captivated Dwight Eisenhower among others, popular culture often presciently described space travel. In Destination Moon: The Remarkable and Improbable Voyage of Apollo 11, Richard Maurer focuses on six people plus co-workers who helped transform scifi into reality. Posters and photos round out the text.

Rod Pyle: Heroes of the Space Age

Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to travel to space. Software engineer Margaret Hamilton’s programs proved crucial to the success of Apollo 11’s July 20, 1969 moon landing. In Heroes of the Space Age: Incredible Stories of the Famous and Forgotten Men and Women Who Took Humanity to the Stars, Rod Pyle describes the lives and motivations of these and other space pioneers.

Kris Newby: BITTEN

Having experienced persistent effects of a tick bite, Kris Newby helped create the 2009 Lyme documentary, Under Our Skin. In 2013, she learned scientist Willy Burgdorfer, who had identified the Lyme disease-causing bacterium, attributed Lyme’s initial outbreak to a bioweapons release. Her book Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons explores that astonishing claim.

Antonia Malchik: A Walking Life

Our car-centric culture has been designing walking out of our lives for nearly a hundred years, Antonia Malchik asserts. Forgoing walking has eroded our sense of community, made us more anxious about time, cut us off from nature, and boosted obesity and air pollution, she says. In A Walking Life: Reclaiming Our Health and Our Freedom One Step at a Time, Malchik calls for a U-turn.

Sunny Bains: Explaining the Future

If you’re new to covering technology, where do you start? In Explaining the Future: How to Research, Analyze, and Report on Emerging Technologies, Sunny Bains tells what to ask, where to find answers, how to assess experts’ opinions, and how to organize and convey your conclusions. Bains is editorial director of the science news site Engineering Inspiration.

Rod Pyle: Interplanetary Robots

From the first images of Mars Mariner 4 sent back to earth in 1965 to those of Pluto New Horizons captured in its 2015 flyby, the solar system has proved “far less friendly and hospitable than we had hoped, but more fascinating than we could have imagined,” Rod Pyle writes. In Interplanetary Robots: True Stories of Space Exploration, Pyle recounts six decades of headline-making history.

Stephen Ornes: Math Art

A mathematician created 13 mathematical quilts providing visual representations of patterns in pi. A topologist worked out equations for inner and outer curves of seashells to sculpt shells from gypsum. A teacher crochets tangible models of the hyperbolic plane. In Math Art: Truth, Beauty, and Equations, Stephen Ornes explains the math and provides stunning examples of mathematical art.