The titles in this booklist are just a selection of the titles available for loan from the RNIB National Library Talking Book Service.
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The canon: A whirligig tour of the beautiful basics of science. 2008. Read by Laurence Bouvard, 14 hours 20 minutes. TB 16111.
A cultured person, Natalie Angier argues, should know about the classic ideas of physics and evolutionary biology as well as the classic works of Beethoven and Picasso. How was the Earth formed? How big is an atom? What
IS a quantum leap? Drawing on conversations with hundreds of the world's leading scientists, Angier takes us on an informative tour of this neglected canon. TB 16111.
Understanding the present: science and the soul of modern man. 1992. Read by David Banks, 11 hours 45 minutes. TB 9729.
In this exploration of the human condition, the central role of science in shaping our lives and beliefs is revealed. The health fads, environmentalism, mass communications and the politics of today are analysed and explained as the outcome of science's assault on our view of ourselves and the universe. Can chaos theory, quantum mechanics and other 20th century scientific developments really be regarded as a way out of the dead end of classical science, or are they themselves just another spiritual dead end? Science made us, science broke us; it is now time to make some repairs. TB 9729.
Was the mysterious 30-megaton blast that flattened a Siberian forest in 1908 actually caused by a small black hole? Does matter drawn into a black hole reappear out the 'other side' as anti-matter, a sort of mirror-image of the universe as we know it? Could black holes explain the 'Big Bang'? Does their existence raise the possibility that matter can move faster than the speed of light? The noted scientist and science fiction author explores the exciting implications of black holes, taking the reader on an engaging tour from the atom's innermost core to the outermost reaches of the universe. TB 17121.
The first Eden: the Mediterranean world and man. 1987. Read by Duncan Carse, 5 hours 37 minutes. TB 6956.
A history of the Mediterranean world from the dramatic creation of the sea when the Atlantic flooded across the barrier of land connecting Morocco and Gibraltar and plunged over a cliff 50 times the height of Niagara. The transformation of man in this rich region from hunter-gather to a settled form of existence was the beginning of civilisation and so began the process that was to transform the whole area. TB 6956.
Life on Earth: a natural history. 1979. Read by Malcolm Ruthven, 10 hours 25 minutes. TB 4369.
Based on the TV series, this book is a history of life on this planet over the last 3,500 million years - told, as far is as possible, in terms of plants and animals alive today. TB 4369.
Electric universe: how electricity switched on the modern world. 2006. Read by William Roberts, 6 hours 43 minutes. TB 15412.
For centuries, electricity was viewed as little more than a curious property of certain substances that sparked when rubbed. Then, in the 1790s, Alessandro Volta began the scientific investigation that ignited an explosion of knowledge and invention, transforming our world. The force that once seemed inconsequential was revealed to be responsible for everything from the structure of the atom to the functioning of our brains. Bodanis weaves tales of romance, divine inspiration and fraud through lucid accounts of scientific breakthrough to show us the history of electricity. TB 15412.
On giant's shoulders: great scientists and their discoveries from Archimedes to DNA. 1998. Read by David Graham, 9 hours 17 minutes. TB 11838.
The text elucidates the milestones in the history of science, focusing on twelve individuals and their extraordinary breakthroughs, ranging from the foundation of hydrostatics in the 3rd century BC to the discovery of DNA's structure in the 20th century. The text also illuminates the issues with which scientists are wrestling today, poised on their forerunners' shoulders to carry scientific enquiry into the next millennium. TB 11838.
The ascent of man. 1973. Read by Alvar Lidell, 11 hours 4 minutes. TB 2670.
The book of the television series which traced our rise, both as a species and as moulders of our own environment and future and covered the history of science and its widest terms. TB 2670.
A short history of nearly everything. 2004. Read by Jeff Harding, 20 hours 17 minutes. TB 14060.
This book is Bryson's quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. Bill Bryson's challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry and particle physics, and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. It's not so much about what we know, as about how we know what we know. How do we know what is in the centre of the Earth, or what a black hole is, or where the continents were 600 million years ago? How did anyone ever figure these things out? Contains strong language. TB 14060.
As easy as Pi: stuff about numbers that isn't (just) maths. 2009. Read by Tom Lawrence, 3 hours 33 minutes. TB 17207.
This book is written for those who love numbers - and those who don't. It uncovers a great deal of lore and intriguing information, including: snippets of fascinating numerical facts; myths and mysticism in the world of numbers; numbers in language and used as slang; pop-culture trivia; and, useful mathematical rules to remember (and some that it would be easier to forget). TB 17207.
The dinosaur hunters: a true story of scientific rivalry and the discovery of the prehistoric world. 2000. Read by Louise Fryer, 11 hours 17 minutes. TB 12656.
The text tells the story of the bitter feud between Gideon Mantell, who uncovered giant bones in a Sussex quarry and became obsessed with the ancient past and Richard Owen, patronised by royalty, the Prime Minister and the aristocracy, who scooped the credit for the discovery of the dinosaurs. Their struggle was to create a new science that would change man's perception of his place in the universe. TB 12656.
About the size of it. 2008. Read by Christian Rodska, 2 hours 56 minutes. TB 16752.
Why does the size of a space shuttle's fuel tanks have more to do with a horse's rump than rocket science? Is there a correlation between the humble pint and the capacity of the human bladder? And why is an old Wellington boot as important an instrument of spacial awareness as was ever invented? This book is a history of traditional weights and measures that will make you look at your everyday world in a completely different way. TB 16752.
Bones of contention: the archaeopteryx scandals. 2002. Read by David Banks, 9 hours 43 minutes. TB 13404.
Since its discovery the Archaeopteryx - half bird, half reptile - has caused more trouble than any other scientific icon. It has been used not just to support dozens of different views on evolution but to start feuds, destroy reputations, further personal ambition and promote nationalism. This book investigates the life and times of Archaeopteryx and also at the chaotic scientific world into which it emerged. TB 13404.
Clark, Ronald W
The survival of Charles Darwin: a biography of a man and an idea. 1985. Read by John Richmond, 20 hours 15 minutes. TB 5655.
An account of Darwin's personal life and work with a description of how ideas on evolution have developed during the last century and a half in a final section entitled "survival of the fittest". TB 5655.
The story of the poor girl from Poland who worked her way to the Paris Sorbonne, and became the brilliant physicist who, with her husband, discovered radium. TB 1615.
The origin of species. 1998. Read by Gordon Dulieu, 19 hours 54 minutes. TB 16432.
Darwin's theory of natural selection issued a profound challenge to orthodox thought and belief: no being or species has been specially created; all are locked into a pitiless struggle for existence, with extinction looming for those not fit enough for the task. This text reveals the almost unthinkably complex mutual interdependencies between animal and plant life, climate and physical environment, and by implication, the human world. TB 16432.
The essential Darwin. 1987. Read by Duncan Carse, 13 hours 7 minutes. TB 6711.
Charles Darwin was unusual in that he was a scientist who wrote for the general reader and this selection contains passages from his nine most important books. From the "Origin", his explanation of natural selection and his summary of the case for evolution; from "The Descent of Man", human intelligence and morality, and his theory of sex differences; and from "Coral Reefs", the wholly original and still accepted theory of the origin of coral atolls. TB 6711.
The selfish gene. 2006. Read by Gordon Dulieu, 17 hours 21 minutes. TB 15690.
Professor Dawkins articulates a gene's eye view of evolution - a view giving centre stage to these persistent units of information, and in which organisms can be seen as vehicles for their replication. This work not only brought the insights of Neo-Darwinism to a wide audience, but galvanized the biology community, generating much debate and stimulating whole new areas of research. TB 15690.
The blind watchmaker. 2006. Read by Richard Derrington, 17 hours 43 minutes. TB 16155.
Offers an accessible introduction to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. A controversial book, which demonstrates that evolution by natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind, yet essentially non-random process discovered by Darwin - is the only answer to the biggest question of all: why do we exist? TB 16155.
A devil's chaplain: selected essays. 2003. Read by Nigel Graham, 12 hours 20 minutes. TB 13306.
The text includes a large output of articles, lectures, individual chapters and reviews from Richard Dawkins, demonstrating the breadth of his interests and the challenging nature of his trenchantly held views. The text is divided into the following sections: science and sensibility; light will be thrown; the infected mind; they told me, Heraclitus; even the ranks of Tuscany; there is all Africa and her prodigies in us; a prayer for my daughter. TB 13306.
Weather. 1990. Read by Christopher Scott, 3 hours 39 minutes. TB 8880.
Weather is both awe-inspiring and inescapable. Affecting what we wear and how we feel, "Weather" explains air masses, fronts, winds, precipitation etc., and concludes with a chapter on forecasting. TB 8880.
Feynman, Richard P
"Surely you're joking, Mr Feynman!": adventures of a curious character. 1985. Read by Joe Dunlop, 14 hours 8 minutes. TB 6367.
Richard Feynman is one of the world's greatest physicists. He is also a man who has fallen into adventure. He is perhaps the only person to have been judged both mentally defective by a United States Army psychiatrist and worthy of the Nobel Prize by the Swedish Academy. TB 6367.
Weather watch. 1981. Read by Kate Binchy, 1 hour 29 minutes. TB 12934.
The atmosphere, air on the move, temperature, clouds and water, all these and more form the background on how "weather" happens. TB 12934.
Bad science. 2009. Read by Adrian Grove, 13 hours 14 minutes. TB 16965.
Dr Ben Goldacre is the author of the 'Bad Science' column in the Guardian and his book is about all the 'bad science' we are constantly bombarded with in the media and in advertising. At a time when science is used to prove everything and nothing, everyone has their own 'bad science' moments - from the useless pie-chart on the back of cereal packets to the use of the word 'visibly' in cosmetics ads. This book will help people to quantify their instincts - that a lot of the so-called 'science' which appears in the media and in advertising is just wrong or misleading. TB 16965.
The bone museum: travels in the lost worlds of dinosaurs and birds. 2000. Read by Bernard Boland, 11 hours 22 minutes. TB 18227.
Wayne Grady, the science editor of Equinox, and Phil Currie, a Canadian palaeontologist, travel to Patagonia, China, and the Alberta Badlands. Living in tents, experiencing rain, mud, windstorms, disagreements, and the ultimate glimpse of bone, they try to find conclusive evidence in an ongoing debate: did dinosaurs go extinct, or evolve into birds of the modern world? TB 18227.
Harkness, Deborah E
The jewel house: Elizabethan London and the scientific revolution. 2007. Read by Liza Ross, 14 hours 8 minutes. TB 16007.
The book examines six particularly fascinating episodes of scientific inquiry and dispute in sixteenth-century London, bringing to life the individuals involved and the challenges they faced. These men and women experimented and invented, argued and competed, waged wars in the press, and struggled to understand the complexities of the natural world. Together their stories illuminate the blind alleys and surprising twists and turns taken as medieval philosophy gave way to the empirical, experimental culture that became a hallmark of the Scientific Revolution. TB 16007.
Hawking, S W
The universe in a nutshell. 2001. Read by Simon Prebble, 3 hours 29 minutes. TB 18052.
"A brief history of time" introduced the fascinating world of theoretical physics to readers all over the world. Now, Hawking turns to the major breakthroughs that have occurred in the years since the release of his first book. He brings to us the cutting edge of theoretical physics, where truth is often stranger than fiction, and explains in layman's terms the principles that control our universe. TB 18052.
Hawking, S W
A briefer history of time. 2005. Read by Eric Davies, 4 hours 23 minutes. TB 18051.
A Briefer History of Time expands on the great subjects of the original. Purely technical concepts, such as the mathematics of chaotic boundary conditions, are gone. Conversely, subjects of wide interest have now been given entire chapters of their own, including relativity, curved space, and quantum theory. TB 18051.
Hawking, S W
A brief history of time: from the big bang to black holes. 1988. Read by Simon Vance, 5 hours 50 minutes. TB 7854.
This book explores the outer reaches of our knowledge of astrophysics and the nature of time and the universe. The result is a revelation: a book that not only serves as an introduction to today's most important theories on the cosmos but affords a unique opportunity to experience one of the most imaginative and influential thinkers of our age. TB 7854.
The age of wonder: how the Romantic generation discovered the beauty and terror of science. 2009. Read by Mark Elstob, 24 hours 5 minutes. TB 16830.
The book opens with Joseph Banks, botanist on Captain Cook's first Endeavour voyage, stepping onto a Tahitian beach in 1769, hoping to discover Paradise. Banks introduces us to the two scientific figures that dominate the book: astronomer William Herschel and chemist Humphry Davy. Herschel's tireless dedication to the stars, assisted (and perhaps rivalled) by his comet-finding sister Caroline, changed forever the public conception of the solar system, the Milky Way galaxy and the meaning of the universe itself. Davy first shocked the scientific community with his near-suicidal gas experiments in Bristol, then went on to save thousands of lives with his Safety Lamp and established British chemistry as the leading professional science in Europe. Contains strong language. TB 16830.
The intelligent universe. 1983. Read by Gordon Dulieu, 7 hours 19 minutes. TB 5070.
The author enters the creation and evolution debate with a fundamental challenge, examines the current theories and lassoes a number of sacred cows. He presents a startling new perspective on the past, present and future of the Universe. TB 5070.
The small world of Fred Hoyle: an autobiography. 1986. Read by Christopher Saul, 6 hours 53 minutes. TB 6493.
More of a personal memoir than a record of his outstanding achievements as a physicist, astronomer and writer of bestselling science fiction,the author shows how the foundations of his career were laid in the close-knit community of a small village in the West Riding of Yorkshire and at Cambridge in the years preceding the outbreak of the Second World War. TB 6493.
Memories. 1970. Read by Eric Gillett, 12 hours 15 minutes. TB 1233.
Born into one of the most gifted families of the age, and having achieved fame half a century ago, the 80-year-old biologist reveals for the first time his innermost thoughts on science and life. TB 1233.
Memories. Vol. 2. 1973. Read by David Dunhill, 9 hours 41 minutes. TB 2310.
The author takes up his story with his appointment as the first Director-General of UNESCO and writes of his travels, the people he encountered and his various adventures. TB 2310.
The man who knew too much: the strange and inventive life of Robert Hooke, 1635-1703. 2003. Read by Jon Cartwright, 19 hours 47 minutes. TB 17463.
This book shows us Hooke the prolific inventor, the mechanic, the astronomer, the anatomist, the pioneer of geology, meteorology and microscopy, the precursor of Lavoisier and Darwin. It also gives us Hooke the architect of Bedlam and the Monument, the supervisor of London's rebuilding after the Great Fire, the watchmaker, the consumer of prodigious quantities of medicines and purgatives, the candid diarist, the lover, the hoarder of money and secrets, the coffee house conversationalist. TB 17463.
An investigation into the work of Dr. Paul Kammerer. Austrian experimental biologist, who maintained that acquired characteristics could be inherited. TB 1830.
Turned out nice: how the British Isles will change as the world heats up. 2010. Read by Keith Hill, 9 hours 12 minutes. TB 17928.
Kohn looks closely at six landscapes and one city in Britain and Ireland to show how our world will have altered over the course of the century. These islands will, compared with the parched Mediterranean lands, let alone a devastated Africa, be fairly benign places to live. But we will have paid a terrible price for our relative good fortune. TB 17928.
Mapping the deep: the extraordinary story of ocean science. 2000. Read by Garrick Hagon, 12 hours 18 minutes. TB 14203.
This book is a state-of-the-ocean report on the sea and its science. After amazing you with how little you know of the ocean, the author draws readers into a compelling narrative of oceanographers past and present - scientists, pioneers, maverick thinkers, deep-water divers and submersible pilots. TB 14203.
An appeal to reason. 2009. Read by Stephen Thorne, 3 hours 50 minutes. TB 17020.
Lawson carefully and succinctly examines all aspects of the global warming issue - the science, the economics, the politics and the ethics - concluding that conventional wisdom on the subject is deeply flawed. He asserts that, even if the majority view of the science is correct, the proposed solution to the problem would be more damaging than the threat it has been designed to avert - and, in any case is, for very good reasons, not politically attainable. Insightful, brilliantly reasoned and thoroughly researched, this is a much-needed corrective to the barrage of hype and spin surrounding a subject that affects every one of us. TB 17020.
100 discoveries : the greatest breakthroughs in history. 2009. Read by Bob Rollett, 17 hours 52 minutes. TB 17236.
100 Discoveries presents in chronological order the greatest 100 breakthroughs in science and technology, medicine, exploration and the major areas of human endeavour of the past 10,000 years, from the development of agriculture in 10,000BC to the discovery of genomics and the unravelling and manipulation of genes in living things. TB 17236.
The author wonders what manner of men dedicate their lives to the journey to the moon, and follows Apollo 11 through its preparations, blast-off, moon landing, and triumphant return to earth. TB 1384.
The Oppenheimer hearing. 1971. Read by John Richmond, 14 hours 6 minutes. TB 3389.
Robert Oppenheimer, who directed the building of the atom bomb during the Second World War, found himself in 1953 suspended as a security risk and charged with being in close association with the communists. TB 3389.
Bang! the complete history of the universe. 2007. Read by Raymond Sawyer, 7 hours 43 minutes. TB 16127.
Rock legend and experienced amateur astronomer Brian May joins the legendary expert Sir Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott to tell the story of the Universe from the moment time and space came into existence at the Big Bang, through to the infinite future and the ultimate fate that awaits us. TB 16127.
The planets. 1999. Read by Michael Latimer, 8 hours 30 minutes. TB 12244.
This book chronicles our planetary travels, explains the creation and evolution of each planet and tells how our understanding of the Solar System has developed from the first stargazers in ancient times to Galileo and up to the present. TB 12244.
Medawar, Peter Brian,
Memoir of a thinking radish: an autobiography. 1986. Read by Andrew Sachs, 7 hours 15 minutes. TB 6437.
The self-deprecating image of man, a cross between Pascal's "thinking reed" and Falstaff's "forked radish", is the reason given by the author for thus entitling his own story. He claims no more distinction than as a member of the human race but as a member of the Royal Society at 34, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1960 and Order of Merit in 1981 it becomes an account of some very impressive people. TB 6437.
Eighty not out. 2003. Read by Raymond Sawyer, 10 hours 33 minutes. TB 13972.
Throughout his distinguished career, Patrick Moore has done more to raise the profile of astronomy among the British public than any other figure in the scientific world. As the presenter of 'The Sky at Night' on BBC television for over 45 years he was honoured with an OBE in 1968 and a CBD in 1988. In 2001 he was knighted 'for services to the popularisation of science and to broadcasting'. Educated at Cambridge University, Patrick's early research was concentrated on mapping the moon. In 1959 the Russians used his charts to correlate the first Lunik 3 pictures of the far side of the satellite and he was also involved in the lunar mapping carried out prior to the NASA Apollo missions. This is his autobiography. Contains strong language. TB 13972.
The naked ape: a zoologist's study of the human animal. 1967. Read by John Richmond, 9 hours 15 minutes. TB 438.
A zoologist's study of man, and the whole range of human activities, gesture and emotions. Unsuitable for family reading. TB 438.
Nature via nurture: genes, experience and what makes us human. 2004. Read by Barry Graves, 14 hours 52 minutes. TB 15210.
This science writer looks at one of the most contentious debates in science: are people's qualities determined by their genes (nature) or by their environment (nurture)? He recounts the hundred year debate over nature versus nurture, suggesting that it might best be replaced by a new image of nature and nurture working in tandem. He argues that genes are designed to take their cues from nurture and that nurture is also dependent on genetic makeup. TB 15210.
Declaration of a heretic. 1985. Read by Crawford Logan, 3 hours 58 minutes. TB 6118.
The two great scientific discoveries of this century - atomic power and double helix - have increased our understanding of the basic truths of life and there has been much discussion as to how these new powers should be used. Yet it is considered heresy to suggest that they should not be used at all. The author challenges this and suggests that it is only one of several views of progress and one whose built in flaws and limitations are becoming increasingly apparent. TB 6118.
Your inner fish: a journey into the 3.5 billion year history of the human body. 2008. Read by Kenneth Jay, 7 hours 37 minutes. TB 15927.
"Your Inner Fish" tells the extraordinary history of the human body. Why do we look the way we do? When did we first evolve the features that we have? Why are we still able to do all the different things we do? And, finally, why do we fall ill in the way that we do? Neil Shubin draws on the latest genetic research and his huge experience as an expeditionary palaeontologist to show the incredible impact the 3.5 billion year history of life has had on our bodies. It turns out that many of our most distinctive features evolved when we were still swimming in the oceans. Shubin takes readers on a fascinating, unexpected journey and allows us to discover the deep connection to nature in our own bodies. TB 15927.
Galileo is seen as one of the greatest scientists ever, but little is known of his illegitimate daughter, Virginia. As a nun, she wrote 120 letters to her father from 1623 to her death from exposure and malnutrition ten years later. This text investigates the father-daughter relationship. TB 15434.
Traveller's guide to the solar system. 2006. Read by David Thorpe, 6 hours 57 minutes. TB 15694.
You want to go to Mars? This book tells you exactly how long it will take you to get there, what essentials you should pack, and the tourist highlights you should explore when you get there. The Solar System is packed with exotic tourist destinations: you can visit the historic Apollo 11 landing site and have your photo taken with Neil Armstrong's footprint; discover giant volcanoes, breathtaking mountains, frozen lava rivers, and the decayed remains of early Soviet space probes. TB 15694.
Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre
Man's place in nature. 1956. Read by Gabriel Woolf, 3 hours 54 minutes. TB 3328.
The author's concept of man within the structure of the cosmos, the part he has played historically and in what direction he must continue to evolve. TB 3328.
The map that changed the world. 2005. Read by Simon Winchester, 9 hours 23 minutes. TB 15077.
In the summer of 1815 an extraordinary hand-painted map was published in London. It presented England and Wales in a beguiling and unfamiliar mixture of lines and patches - the product of one man's obsession with rocks, a passion that sustained him while the rest of his life slid into ruin. This first geological map of anywhere in the world was made by William Smith. It was not until 1829 that his genius was realised. This is an extraordinary tale of the father of modern geology. TB 15077.
Krakatoa: the day the world exploded. 2003. Read by Simon Winchester, 11 hours 35 minutes. TB 13642.
The author focuses on one of the most cataclysmic events of modern history: the volcanic eruption, in 1883, of the South East Asian island of Krakatoa, which resulted in the deaths of 36,000 people and sent shock-waves around the world. Winchester veers between eyewitness accounts by survivors and the limited scientific measurements of the time in an attempt to describe the indescribable. TB 13642.