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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.

Charles Graeber: The Breakthrough

Skeptical reporters usually avoid the word “breakthrough,” but Charles Graeber deems it the right word for the Nobel Prize-winning scientific discoveries he describes in The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer. More than 3000 clinical trials of immunotherapeutic drugs for cancer are in process. “Even oncologists, a cautious bunch,” he writes, “are using the C word: cure.