Advance Copy: Backstories on books by NASW members

Mark Wolverton: Burning the Sky

In the late 1950s, during the Cold War, the U.S. secretly conducted high-altitude atomic bomb tests, aiming to create a radiation shield to block incoming warheads. New York Times reporters pierced the veil of secrecy, raising safety and moral concerns relevant today, Mark Wolverton relates in Burning the Sky: Operation Argus and the Untold Story of the Cold War Nuclear Tests in Outer Space.

Jason Goldman: Wild LA

In Los Angeles, the La Brea Tar Pits hold millions of Ice Ace fossils, bobcats roam urban parks, and the world’s northernmost resident sea turtle population swims in the San Gabriel River. In Wild LA: Explore the Amazing Nature In and Around Los Angeles, NASW member Jason G. Goldman and colleagues provide an informative guide to these and other attractions, with photos, maps, and directions.

Rod Pyle: Space 2.0

SpaceX sent a Crew Dragon spacecraft with cargo to the International Space Station this month. A planned Crew Dragon trip to ISS later this year will put two NASA astronauts in space for the first time since 2011. In SPACE 2.0: How Private Spaceflight, a Resurgent NASA, and International Partners are Creating a New Space Age, Rod Pyle conveys the excitement of the next era of space exploration.

Christie Aschwanden: Good to Go

Once seen as rest between workouts, recovery today is deemed an active extension of training. Techniques, foods, drinks, and other products that promise to speed recovery abound. Some help; some don’t or even may cause harm. In Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery, Christie Aschwanden helps readers distinguish substance from hype.

Cover: Minecraft Survival

Linda Zajac, Unofficial Guides to Minecraft Survival & Minecraft Mods

How does a writer research a book on the computer game Minecraft for elementary school-age children? By playing it–a lot, Linda Zajac reports. In The Unofficial Guide to Minecraft Survival, she provides tips to help users stay alive in the game, and in The Unofficial Guide to Minecraft Mods, she explains how users can vary their gaming experience. Both books include STEM and coding sidebars.

Steven Nadis: Shape of a Life

Harvard geometer, Fields medalist, and McArthur Award recipient Shing-Tung Yau grew up in poverty in China and Hong Kong. A teacher’s recommendation enabled him to pursue doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley. In The Shape of a Life: One Mathematician’s Search for the Universe’s Hidden Geometry, Yau and NASW member Steven Nadis tell Yau’s engaging story and explore his work.

Dennis Meredith, Mythicals

In Dennis Meredith’s latest scifi thriller, Mythicals, fantasy beings from other universes live among humans, disguised in high-tech flesh suits. When the fairies, angels, elves, and other Mythicals discover the native species, i.e., humans, are ruining their planet’s ecology, they mobilize to halt the destruction. A human freelance technology journalist learns their plans, and then....

Jeff Hecht, Lasers, Death Rays, Quest for Ultimate Weapon

From Zeus’ thunderbolts to sci-fi fiction, films, and comics, death rays rouse public interest. The Pentagon has explored the potential of the laser, invented in the late 1950s, to shoot down ballistic missiles and achieve other military aims. That involved many alluring but ultimately false starts, Jeff Hecht reports in Lasers, Death Rays, and the Long, Strange Quest for the Ultimate Weapon.

Cover: Forensic Science

Patricia Barnes-Svarney and Thomas E. Svarney, Forensic Science Answer Book

What comprises evidence at a crime scene? What do forensic entomologists do? Forensic scientists face a profusion of daunting tasks, some as rare as determining the effects of a poison dart filled with ricin or tea containing active radionucleotide polonium-210. In The Handy Forensic Science Answer Book, Patricia Barnes-Svarney and Thomas Svarney reveal the field’s mysteries.