Chelsea Green Publishing

Mind, Life and Universe

eBook: 9781603580373
Pub. Date August 15, 2007

Mind, Life and Universe

Conversations with Great Scientists of Our Time

Edited by Lynn Margulis and Eduardo Punset
Foreword by David Suzuki

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
August 15, 2007

$24.95 $19.96

Nearly forty of the world's most esteemed scientists discuss the big questions that drive their illustrious careers. Co-editor Eduardo Punset—one of Spain's most loved personages for his popularization of the sciences—interviews an impressive collection of characters drawing out the seldom seen personalities of the world's most important men and woman of science. In Mind, Life and Universe they describe in their own words the most important and fascinating aspects of their research. Frank and often irreverent, these interviews will keep even the most casual reader of science books rapt for hours.

Can brain science explain feelings of happiness and despair? Is it true that chimpanzees are just like us when it comes to sexual innuendo? Is there any hard evidence that life exists anywhere other than on the Earth? Through Punset's skillful questioning, readers will meet one scientist who is passionate about the genetic control of everything and another who spends her every waking hour making sure African ecosystems stay intact. The men and women assembled here by Lynn Margulis and Eduardo Punset will provide a source of endless interest.

In captivating conversations with such science luminaries as Jane Goodall, James E. Lovelock, Oliver Sachs, and E. O. Wilson, Punset reveals a hidden world of intellectual interests, verve, and humor. Science enthusiasts and general readers alike will devour Mind, Life and Universe, breathless and enchanted by its truths.


"Science and technology affect every facet of our lives, yet the content of science often seems remote and arcane. In first-hand, candid interviews, Mind, Life, and Universe not only explores the cutting-edge content of science, but it also reminds us, as beautifully as any book I know, that the pursuit of science is an intensely human endeavor."--Robert Hazen, Carnegie Institution and George Mason University

"A marvelous collection of fascinating interviews with 37 renowned scientists—from physicists Sheldon Glashow and Lisa Randall to ethologist Jane Goodall to evolutionary biologists Richard Dawkins, Stephen J. Gould, and Edward O. Wilson. Wide-ranging topics include extra dimensions, time travel, the nature of psychopaths, the evolutionary basis for the concept of human beauty, and evolution and purpose. Mind, Life, and Universe is a splendid introduction to the thoughts of some of the greatest and most interesting scientific minds in the world today."--Professor James W. Walker, Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

"This book gives a fascinating overview of current research on life and its origins, man, and the cosmos from many different levels of perspective—the 'cosmic zoom' or 'powers of ten' shifting of perspective made famous by Philip Morrison. I learned much that was new to me about cells, about aging, about the human brain and language, and about the Earth as a whole system. Just as important, I unlearned much that is widely believed but not true about all those areas of research, not least about entropy and thermodynamics, yet in very readable, conversational prose. A stimulating read!"--Dr. James Strick, Dept. of Earth and Environment, and Chair, Program in Science, Technology and Society, Franklin and Marshall College

"In this smorgasbord of science, Eduardo Punset (the Bill Moyers of Spanish TV) lets us sample the central ideas of dozens of prominent scientists he has interviewed over the years. The payoff from such a buffet is being introduced to new fascinating minds . . . dishes that make me want to taste more."--Charles Lineweaver, Planetary Science Institute, Australian National University

"It is wonderful to hear these scientists respond in their own voice to such interesting questions. A book full of nuggets of wisdom."--David Baltimore, Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine (1975) and President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

"What a delight it is to eavesdrop on conversations with so many agile, inventive, piquantly-original minds. That the interviewers are farsighted and wide-ranging themselves enriches the dialogues. A profound and timely book."--Diane Ackerman, author of The Zookeeper's Wife

To understand what sets humans apart from other creatures, look at their dreams. So argues evolutionary psychologist Nicholas Humphrey as he probes the distinctive cognitive balance that humans maintain through nightly adventures in dreamland. But other scientists approach the puzzles of human life from different perspectives, now rapidly expanding in genetics, neurophysiology, biochemistry, and quantum physics. What curious nonspecialist, then, could resist a volume bringing together all of these perspectives? Originating in 36 interviews conducted by Spanish television personality Eduardo Punset, the conversations collected here provide a capacious survey of cutting-edge science. Judicious editing helps readers recognize the themes linking these wide-ranging reflections. Again and again it is the paradox of human identity that commands attention. Naturalist Jane Goodall, for instance, ponders the disturbing similarities between aggressive chimpanzees and war-prone humans. Meanwhile, biochemist Sydney Brenner muses on how humans have converted cultural evolution into the new engine driving species change. And physicist Eugene Chudnovsky contemplates a future in which human inventiveness may create half-human, half-computer cyborgs. Rich food for speculation!

0000-00-00 Bryce Christensen


Worms Eat My Garbage

Worms Eat My Garbage

By Mary Appelhof

A new edition of the definitive guide to vermicomposting--a process using redworms to recycle human food waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer for plants. Author Mary Appelhof provides complete illustrated instructions on setting up and maintaining small-scale worm composting systems. Internationally recognized as an authority on vermicomposting, Appelhof has worked with worms for over three decades. Topics include: bin types, worm species, reproduction, care and feeding of worms, harvesting, and how to make the finished product of potting soil.

Available in: Paperback

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Worms Eat My Garbage

Mary Appelhof, Mary Frances Fenton

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Sowing Seeds in the Desert

Sowing Seeds in the Desert

By Masanobu Fukuoka

The earth is in great peril, due to the corporatization of agriculture, the rising climate crisis, and the ever-increasing levels of global poverty, starvation, and desertification on a massive scale. This present condition of global trauma is not "natural," but a result of humanity's destructive actions. And, according to Masanobu Fukuoka, it is reversible. We need to change not only our methods of earth stewardship, but also the very way we think about the relationship between human beings and nature.

Fukuoka grew up on a farm on the island of Shikoku in Japan. As a young man he worked as a customs inspector for plants going into and out of the country. This was in the 1930s when science seemed poised to create a new world of abundance and leisure, when people fully believed they could improve upon nature by applying scientific methods and thereby reap untold rewards. While working there, Fukuoka had an insight that changed his life forever. He returned to his home village and applied this insight to developing a revolutionary new way of farming that he believed would be of great benefit to society. This method, which he called "natural farming," involved working with, not in opposition to, nature.

Fukuoka's inspiring and internationally best-selling book, The One-Straw Revolution was first published in English in 1978. In this book, Fukuoka described his philosophy of natural farming and why he came to farm the way he did. One-Straw was a huge success in the West, and spoke directly to the growing movement of organic farmers and activists seeking a new way of life. For years after its publication, Fukuoka traveled around the world spreading his teachings and developing a devoted following of farmers seeking to get closer to the truth of nature.

Sowing Seeds in the Desert, a summation of those years of travel and research, is Fukuoka's last major work-and perhaps his most important. Fukuoka spent years working with people and organizations in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States, to prove that you could, indeed, grow food and regenerate forests with very little irrigation in the most desolate of places. Only by greening the desert, he said, would the world ever achieve true food security.

This revolutionary book presents Fukuoka's plan to rehabilitate the deserts of the world using natural farming, including practical solutions for feeding a growing human population, rehabilitating damaged landscapes, reversing the spread of desertification, and providing a deep understanding of the relationship between human beings and nature. Fukuoka's message comes right at the time when people around the world seem to have lost their frame of reference, and offers us a way forward.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Sowing Seeds in the Desert

Masanobu Fukuoka, Larry Korn

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Holy Shit

Holy Shit

By Gene Logsdon

In his insightful new book, Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, contrary farmer Gene Logsdon provides the inside story of manure-our greatest, yet most misunderstood, natural resource. He begins by lamenting a modern society that not only throws away both animal and human manure-worth billions of dollars in fertilizer value-but that spends a staggering amount of money to do so. This wastefulness makes even less sense as the supply of mined or chemically synthesized fertilizers dwindles and their cost skyrockets. In fact, he argues, if we do not learn how to turn our manures into fertilizer to keep food production in line with increasing population, our civilization, like so many that went before it, will inevitably decline.

With his trademark humor, his years of experience writing about both farming and waste management, and his uncanny eye for the small but important details, Logsdon artfully describes how to manage farm manure, pet manure and human manure to make fertilizer and humus. He covers the field, so to speak, discussing topics like:

  • How to select the right pitchfork for the job and use it correctly
  • How to operate a small manure spreader
  • How to build a barn manure pack with farm animal manure
  • How to compost cat and dog waste
  • How to recycle toilet water for irrigation purposes, and
  • How to get rid ourselves of our irrational paranoia about feces and urine.

Gene Logsdon does not mince words. This fresh, fascinating and entertaining look at an earthy, but absolutely crucial subject, is a small gem and is destined to become a classic of our agricultural literature.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Holy Shit

Gene Logsdon, Brooke Budner

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The New Net Zero

The New Net Zero

By Bill Maclay

The new threshold for green building is not just low energy, it’s net-zero energy. In The New Net Zero, sustainable architect Bill Maclay charts the path for designers and builders interested in exploring green design’s new frontier net-zero-energy structures that produce as much energy as they consume and are carbon neutral.

 In a nation where traditional buildings use roughly 40 percent of the total fossil energy, the interest in net-zero building is growing enormously–among both designers interested in addressing climate change and consumers interested in energy efficiency and long-term savings. Maclay, an award-winning net-zero designer whose buildings have achieved high-performance goals at affordable costs, makes the case for a net-zero future; explains net-zero building metrics, integrated design practices, and renewable energy options; and shares his lessons learned on net-zero teambuilding.

Designers and builders will find a wealth of state-of-the-art information on such considerations as air, water, and vapor barriers; embodied energy; residential and commercial net-zero standards; monitoring and commissioning; insulation options; costs; and more.

The comprehensive overview is accompanied by several case studies, which include institutional buildings, commercial projects, and residences.  Both new-building and renovation projects are covered in detail. 

The New Net Zero is geared toward professionals exploring net-zero design, but also suitable for nonprofessionals seeking ideas and strategies on net-zero options that are beautiful and renewably powered.

Available in: Hardcover

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The New Net Zero

Bill Maclay

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