Science Books As Gifts, The History Of String Cheese, Celebrities Who Behave Badly

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In recent weeks, a slew of celebrities have been accused of engaging in sexual misconduct. We talk to a psychologist about how we let reports of bad behavior affect our view of people we admire, and their work. We also hear about which science books will make great gifts this holiday season. Plus, we learn about the history of string cheese.

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  • Got A Science Lover In Your Life? They'll Love These 3 Books

    As we enter the holiday gift-giving season, there’s one gift that’ll never go out of style: knowledge.

    For those in your life with an insatiable curiosity, treat them to a science book this year. From astronomy to zoology, there’s no shortage of cool stuff happening all across the scientific world. And it’s a great time to buy a science book, because 2017 has been a particularly good year for science writing, according to one writer.

    “This has been a year of tremendous discovery and innovation in a number of fields, and we’re starting to see that turn up in books written about those innovations,” said Gemma Tarlach, senior editor at Discover Magazine. The magazine recently published its list of some of the year’s best science books for holiday giving.

    While hundreds of science books are published each year, Tarlach said the ones that really make the cut are the ones that manage to be both informative and entertaining.

    “It’s really great when a book comes along on a topic that’s of interest, that is written so anyone can pick it up, start reading, learn stuff and enjoy doing it,” she said.

    With that criteria in mind, here are three suggestions for the science and book lover in your life.

    The Planet Factory: Exoplanets And The Search For A Second Earth

    2017 was a banner year for exoplanets, with huge discoveries coming left and right all year long. That’s bumped up the number of confirmed exoplanets to 3,700, and certainly many more await discovery.

    For scientists and astronomers, finding these exoplanets is a huge deal. But what do these discoveries really mean, and why should we care?

    Written by astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker, “The Planet Factory” tackles these questions in an approachable way, and explores our chances of finding a so-called “second Earth” out there.

    “Tasker does a really fun job of breaking it down, explaining everything,” Tarlach said. “You’ll be an expert if you read the book, and the best thing about it is that you’ll enjoy reading the book. It’s fun, it’s lively, it’s engaging, and I think it’s a great read.”

    The Animals Among Us: How Pets Make Us Human

    To say that we, as humans, love our dogs and cats would be an understatement. In fact, the most recent National Pet Owners Survey from the American Pet Products Association suggests that 68 percent of American households own a pet.

    Pet ownership is nothing new. After all, we’ve been domesticating animals for thousands of years. But over time, the role of pets has largely changed. While domesticated animals in the past often “worked” for their humans, such as being a guard dog or a mouse catcher, pets are now mainly kept solely for companionship.

    Written by anthrozoologist John Bradshaw, “The Animals Among Us” takes a deeper dive into our unique relationship with animals.

    “(Bradshaw) really takes a lot of information out there, from a lot of different perspectives,” Tarlach said. “There’s some anthropology, there’s some archeology, there’s a lot of neuroscience. Like, what actually happens to your brain when you are snuggling with a warm puppy?”

    Tarlach also praised Bradshaw’s writing, and his ability to break down complex ideas and theories for science fans and animal lovers alike.

    “He delivers often very dense scientific material in a beautifully accessible way, where you feel like you’re just reading a really good novel,” she said.

    The Electric Pickle: 50 Experiments From The Periodic Table, From Aluminum To Zinc

    If you ever wanted to build a flamethrower powered by cornstarch, well, you’re in luck.

    “The Electric Pickle,” written by Joey Green, is a collection of family friendly science experiments that can be done around the house. Or, in the case of the flamethrower, the backyard.

    “This is a very fun book for the whole family,” Tarlach said. “What I love about it is that the materials are probably sitting in your house right now. You don’t have to go out and buy a fancy kit or anything.”

    Other experiments include conducting electricity with a pickle (thus the name of the book), and checking out what fluoride does to an eggshell.

    The book also includes scientific facts and explanations about how each experiment works.

    “It’s very lively, it’s very fun, and I think it’ll really interest kids in a hands-on kind of way,” Tarlach said.

  • Science Book Gift Guide

    Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are all around the corner. Gemma Tarlach from Discover Magazine shares her top science books to give to the lifelong learners in your life this holiday season.

  • The History Of String Cheese Pioneers In Wisconsin

    We learn about the history of string cheese pioneers in Wisconsin: Baker Cheese.

  • How Do We Cope With The Bad Actions Of People We Admire?

    The list of men accused of sexual harassment and assault is growing daily, and they come from industries as diverse as movies and TV to the media, to sports and politics. It can be very upsetting to find out that someone whose work you admired is capable of those kinds of actions.

    We talk with a social psychologist about how our opinion of a person influences how we perceive accusations, and we look at whether we can, or should, separate people’s behavior from their art or work.

    Is there a particular person who you admire who has committed sexual harassment or assault? How are you dealing with the news? Do you think you’ve processed news about perpetrators differently depending on how you felt about them before the news came out?

    Let us know by emailing

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    Tweet: @centraltimewpr


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Episode Credits

  • Judith Siers-Poisson Host
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Gemma Tarlach Guest
  • Dan Higgins Guest
  • Regan Gurung Guest

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