3rd April - A Very Short introduction to...Materials
The study of materials is a major field of research that supports and drives innovation in technology. Using modern scientific techniques, materials scientists and engineers explore and manipulate materials, and create new ones with remarkable strength and extraordinary optical and electrical properties. In this Very Short Introduction..., Christopher Hall from The University of Edinburgh looks at a wide range of materials, from steel, wood, and rubber, to gold, silicone, and graphene, describing how they are used, how their properties arise from their internal structure, and the useful and novel things that are made from them.
4th April - A Very Short introduction to...Perception
Perception is one of the oldest and most deeply investigated topics in the field of psychology, and also raises some profound philosophical questions. It is concerned with how we use the information reaching our senses to guide and control our behaviour and to create our particular, subjective experiences of the surrounding world. Experimental psychologist Brian J. Rogers analyses the psychological and philosophical aspects of perception, and argues that what we see is not what we perceive. He investigates recent insights gained from the use of imaging techniques, and the attempts to model perceptual processes in AI systems.
5th April - A Very Short Introduction to...Water
Water dominates the surface of Earth and is vital to life on our planet. It is a remarkable liquid which shows anomalous behaviour. In this Very Short Introduction…, John Finney, Emeritus Professor of Physics at University College London, introduces the science of water, and explores how the structure of water molecules gives rise to its physical and chemical properties.
Considering water in all three of its states as ice and steam as well as liquid, Finney explains the great importance of an understanding of its structure and behaviour to a range of fields including chemistry, astrophysics, and earth and environmental sciences. He describes the role of water in biology, and ends with a discussion of the outstanding controversies concerning water, and some of the ‘magical' properties which have been claimed for it.
6th April - A Very Short introduction to...the Immune System
The immune system is central to human health and the focus of much medical research. Growing understanding of this crucial system in the body has led to major breakthroughs in medicine. Paul Klenerman – a specialist in infectious diseases – describes the immune system, and how it works in health and disease. He discusses some of the more recent advances in harnessing the immune system for immunotherapies, for example in the treatment of cancers.
9th April - A Very Short introduction to...Oceans
Oceans are hugely important – as a source of food and mineral wealth, as homes for a vast variety of wildlife, and for the role they play in climate regulation. Here, sedimentologist and oceanographer Dorrik Stow explores everything about oceans, and reveals why the new knowledge gained of the ocean-Earth systems and their interaction with the human environment is vital to our understanding of how we can preserve them.
10th April - A Very Short Introduction to... Cancer
Cancer is a problem that touches virtually everyone either directly or indirectly. As one of the biggest killers in the Western world it is feared by many people. In this Very Short Introduction..., Nick James, founder of the CancerHelp UK website, examines the trends and treatment of cancer, looking at efforts to develop treatments, research into cures, and the future of cancer care.
11 April - A Very Short Introduction to... Blood
Blood is vital to most animals. In mammals it transports oxygen and food, carries away waste, and contains the white cells that attack invading microbes. Playing a central role in life, it has had profound cultural and historical significance and plays an important role in religious ritual. Blood was one of the four humours in early Western medicine and is still probably the major diagnostic tool in the doctor's armoury.
In this Very Short Introduction..., biochemist Prof Chris Cooper analyses the components of blood, explains blood groups, and looks at transfusions, blood tests, and blood-borne diseases. He considers what the future may hold, including the possibility of making artificial blood and producing blood from stem cells in the laboratory.
12th April - A Very Short Introduction to... Mammals
Tom Kemp discusses the great diversity of mammalian species, and looks at how their very disparate characteristics, physiologies and behaviours are all largely driven by one uniting factor: warm-bloodedness. Describing the wonderful adaptations that mammals evolved to suit their varied modes of life, he also looks at the mainly tree-living primates that culminated ultimately in Homo sapiens or humans.
13th April - A Very Short introduction to...Measurement
Measurement is a fundamental concept that underpins almost every aspect of the modern world. It is central to the sciences, social sciences, medicine, and economics, but also affects everyday life. We measure everything – from the distance of far-off galaxies to the temperature of the air, levels of risk, political majorities, taxes, blood pressure, IQ, and weight. In this Very Short Introduction, David Hand explains the history and mathematics of measurement, and the main approaches and challenges involved across disciplines, policy and our lives.
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