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Earth Sciences

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  1. 7.1 hrs • 7/8/2016 • Unabridged

    To geologists, rocks are beautiful, roadcuts are windowpanes, and the earth is alive-a work in progress. The cataclysmic movement that gives birth to mountains and oceans is ongoing and can still be seen at certain places on our planet. One of these is the Basin and Range region centered in Nevada and Utah. In this first book of a Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, the author crosses the spectacular Basin and Range with geology professor Kenneth Deffeyes in tow. McPhee draws on Deffeyes’ expertise to dazzle you with the vast perspective of geologic time and the fascinating history of vanished landscapes. The effect is guaranteed to expand your mind. McPhee’s enthusiasm is infectious, as he provides one of the best introductions to plate tectonics and the New Geology. His elegant style is more pleasing than ever with narrator Nelson Runger’s smooth, enthusiastic delivery. Runger mines the book’s rich veins of poetic prose and subtle humor-and the result is pure gold.

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  2. 12.5 hrs • 10/27/2015 • Unabridged

    In this brilliant exploration of our cosmic environment, renowned particle physicist and bestselling author of Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Lisa Randall uses her research into dark matter to illuminate the startling connections between the furthest reaches of space and life here on Earth. Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city descended from space to crash into Earth, creating a devastating cataclysm that killed off the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the other species on the planet. What was its origin? In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Lisa Randall proposes it was a comet that was dislodged from its orbit as the solar system passed through a disk of dark matter embedded in the Milky Way. In a sense, it might have been dark matter that killed the dinosaurs. Working through the background and consequences of this proposal, Randall shares with us the latest findings—established and speculative—regarding the nature and role of dark matter and the origin of the universe, our galaxy, our solar system, and life, along with the process by which scientists explore new concepts. In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Randall tells a breathtaking story that weaves together the history of the cosmos and our own history, illuminating the deep relationships that are critical to our world and the astonishing beauty inherent in the most familiar things.

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    Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs

    12.5 hrs • 10/27/15 • Unabridged
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  3. 4.3 hrs • 9/30/2015 • Unabridged

    Sitting on the beach on a sunny summer day, we enjoy the steady advance and retreat of the waves. In the water, enthusiastic waders jump and shriek with pleasure when a wave hits them. But where do these waves come from? How are they formed, and why do they break on the shore? In Waves Fredric Raichlen traces the evolution of waves, from their generation in the deep ocean to their effects on the coast. He explains in a way that is readily understandable to nonscientists both the science of waves themselves and the technology that can be used to protect us against their more extreme forms, including hurricanes and tsunamis. After offering a basic definition of waves and explaining the mechanics of wind-wave generation, Raichlen describes how waves travel, how they shoal (rise), how they break, and how they transform in other ways. He goes on to describe, among other things, the complicated sun-earth-moon combinations that create astronomical tides (the high and low tides that occur daily and predictably); the effects of waves on the beach, including rip currents and beach erosion, and on harbors and shipping; and the building of breakwaters to protect harbors and bays. He discusses hurricanes, storm surges, and hurricane-generated waves. He offers a brief history of tsunamis, including Sumatra’s in 2004 and Japan’s in 2011, and explains the mechanisms that generate them, including earthquakes, landslides, and volcanoes. Waves can be little ripples that lap peacefully at the shore or monstrous tsunamis that destroy everything in their paths. Describing the science underlying this astonishing variety, Waves offers a different kind of beach reading.

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    Waves by Fredric Raichlen
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  4. 9.6 hrs • 5/12/2015 • Unabridged

    In the tradition of Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm and Robert Kurson’s Shadow Divers comes a true and heartbreaking tale of courage, difficult decisions, and ultimate sacrifice. On the Burning Edge, by award-winning journalist and former wildland firefighter Kyle Dickman, is the definitive account of the Yarnell Hill Fire. On June 28, 2013, a single bolt of lightning sparked an inferno that devoured more than eight thousand acres in northern Arizona. Twenty elite firefighters—the Granite Mountain Hotshots—walked together into the blaze, tools in their hands and fire shelters on their hips. Only one of them walked out. Dickman brings to the story a professional firefighter’s understanding of how wildfires ignite, how they spread, and how they are fought. He understands hotshots and their culture: the pain and glory of a rough and vital job, the brotherly bonds born of dangerous work. Drawing on dozens of interviews with officials, families of the fallen, and the lone survivor, he describes in vivid detail what it’s like to stand inside a raging fire—and shows how the increased population and decreased water supply of the American West guarantee that many more young men will step into harm’s way in the coming years.

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    On the Burning Edge

    9.6 hrs • 5/12/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 11.7 hrs • 4/21/2015 • Unabridged

    A natural history of rain, told through a lyrical blend of science, cultural history, and human drama It is elemental, mysterious, precious, destructive. It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of all the world’s water. Yet this is the first audiobook to tell the story of rain. Cynthia Barnett’s Rain begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. It weaves together science—the true shape of a raindrop, the mysteries of colored rains—with the human story of our attempts to control rain, from ancient rain dances to the 2,203 miles of levees that attempt to straitjacket the Mississippi River. It offers a glimpse of our “founding forecaster,” Thomas Jefferson, who measured every drizzle long before modern meteorology. Two centuries later, rainy skies would help inspire Morrissey’s mopes and Kurt Cobain’s grunge. Rain is also a travelogue, taking readers to Scotland to tell the surprising story of the mackintosh raincoat, and to India, where villagers extract the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth and turn it into perfume. Now, after thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it; burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; mocking rain with irrigated agriculture and cities built in floodplains; even trying to blast rain out of the sky with mortars meant for war, humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. As climate change upends rainfall patterns and unleashes increasingly severe storms and drought, Barnett shows rain to be a unifying force in a fractured world. Too much and not nearly enough, rain is a conversation we share, and this is an audiobook for everyone who has ever experienced it.

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    Rain

    11.7 hrs • 4/21/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 7.2 hrs • 1/21/2015 • Unabridged

    Conventional wisdom has North America entering a new era of energy abundance thanks to shale gas. But has industry been honest? Cold, Hungry and in the Dark argues that declining productivity combined with increasing demand will trigger a crisis that will cause prices to skyrocket, damage the economy, and have a profound impact on the lives of nearly every North American. Relying on faulty science, bought-and-paid-for-white papers masquerading as independent research and “industry consultants,” the “shale promoters” have vastly overstated the viable supply of shale gas resources for their own financial gain. This startling exposé, written by an industry insider, suggests that the stakes involved in the Enron scandal might seem like lunch money in comparison to the bursting of the natural gas bubble. Exhaustively researched and rigorously documented, Cold, Hungry and in the Dark: Puts supply-and-demand trends under a microscopeProvides overwhelming evidence of the absurdity of the one hundred-year supply mythSuggests numerous ways to mitigate the upcoming natural gas price spike The mainstream media has told us that natural gas will be cheap and plentiful for decades, when nothing could be further from the truth. Forewarned is forearmed. Cold, Hungry and in the Dark is vital reading for anyone concerned about the inevitable economic impact of our uncertain energy future.

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    Cold, Hungry, and in the Dark

    Foreword by Art Berman
    7.2 hrs • 1/21/15 • Unabridged
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  7. 10.3 hrs • 4/1/2014 • Unabridged

    A deeply panoramic tour of the night, from its brightest spots to the darkest skies we have left. A starry night is one of nature’s most magical wonders. Yet in our artificially lit world, three-quarters of Americans’ eyes never switch to night vision and most of us no longer experience true darkness. In The End of Night, Paul Bogard restores our awareness of the spectacularly primal, wildly dark night sky and how it has influenced the human experience across everything from science to art. From Las Vegas’ Luxor Beam—the brightest single spot on this planet—to nights so starlit the sky looks like snow, Bogard blends nature, science, and history to shed light on the importance of darkness—what we’ve lost, what we still have, and what we might regain—and the simple ways we can reduce the brightness of our nights tonight.

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    The End of Night

    10.3 hrs • 4/1/14 • Unabridged
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  8. 8.8 hrs • 2/15/2014 • Unabridged

    The lives of millions will be changed after it breaks, and yet so few people understand it, or even realize it runs through their backyard. Dvorak reveals the San Andreas Fault’s fascinating history—and its volatile future. It is a prominent geological feature that is almost impossible to see unless you know where to look. Hundreds of thousands of people drive across it every day. The San Andreas Fault is everywhere—and primed for a colossal quake. For decades scientists have warned that such a sudden shifting of the earth’s crust is inevitable. In fact, it is a geologic necessity. The San Andreas Fault runs almost the entire length of California, from the redwood forest to the east edge of the Salton Sea. Along the way, it passes through two of the largest urban areas of the country—San Francisco and Los Angeles. Dozens of major highways and interstates cross it. Scores of housing developments have been planted over it. The words San Andreas are so familiar today that they have become synonymous with earthquake. Yet few people understand the San Andreas or the network of subsidiary faults it has spawned. Some run through Hollywood, others through Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. The Hayward Fault slices the football stadium at the University of California in half. Even among scientists, few appreciate that the San Andreas Fault is a transient, evolving system that, as seen today, is younger than the Grand Canyon and key to our understanding of earthquakes worldwide.

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    Earthquake Storms by John Dvorak

    Earthquake Storms

    8.8 hrs • 2/15/14 • Unabridged
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  9. 9.7 hrs • 11/25/2013 • Unabridged

    A famous naturalist and his photographer wife explore China in 1916, a medieval country torn apart by revolution, the Japanese military, and the onset of World War I. Their goal was to shoot, trap, collect, and photograph native animals for display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Traveling by mule train, they find themselves in conflict with the brutal treatment of Chinese women, the government, the elements, and a closed civilization controlled by the past. From exploring pitch-black bat caves, attempting to hunt and photograph the elusive Blue Tiger, and experiencing the Yen Ping rebellion first hand, this is an exhilarating husband and wife adventure, led by a man said to be the model for the fictitious film character, Indiana Jones.

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  10. 7.0 hrs • 10/21/2013 • Unabridged

    Natural disasters bedevil our planet, and each appears to be a unique event. Leading geologist Susan W. Kieffer shows how all disasters are connected. In 2011 there were fourteen natural calamities that each destroyed over a billion dollars’ worth of property in the United States alone. In 2012 Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast and major earthquakes struck in Italy, the Philippines, Iran, and Afghanistan. In the first half of 2013, the awful drumbeat continued—a monster supertornado struck Moore, Oklahoma; a powerful earthquake shook Sichuan, China; a cyclone ravaged Queensland, Australia; massive floods inundated Jakarta; and the most destructive wildfire ever engulfed a large part of Colorado. Despite these events, we still behave as if natural disasters are outliers. Why else would we continue to build new communities near active volcanoes, on tectonically active faults, on flood plains, and in areas routinely lashed by vicious storms? A famous historian once observed that “civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice.” In the pages of this unique book, leading geologist Susan W. Kieffer provides a primer on most types of natural disasters: earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, landslides, hurricanes, cyclones, and tornadoes. By taking us behind the scenes to the underlying geology that causes them, she shows why natural disasters are more common than we realize and that their impact on us will increase as our growing population crowds into ever more vulnerable areas. Kieffer describes how natural disasters result from “changes in state” in a geologic system, much as when water turns to steam. By understanding what causes these changes of state, we can begin to understand the dynamics of natural disasters. Finally, Kieffer outlines how we might better prepare for, and in some cases prevent, future disasters. She also calls for the creation of an organization—something akin to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—that is focused on pending natural disasters.

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    The Dynamics of Disaster by Susan W. Kieffer

    The Dynamics of Disaster

    7.0 hrs • 10/21/13 • Unabridged
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  11. 18.2 hrs • 10/20/2013 • Unabridged

    A wild epic journey by an American physician and two Inuit companions who successfully struggle to be the first humans to reach the North Pole. The adventure continues with a year-long, perilous journey back to civilization. The true story concludes with the angry wrath of the establishment, when it is discovered that three men with simple tools accomplished this near impossible feat before a well-financed and government-backed explorer did. Listen as Dr. Frederick Albert Cook, a respected physician and experienced explorer, tells you how he became the first man to reach the North Pole on April 21, 1908.

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  12. 4.8 hrs • 10/2/2013

    Geology is often thought of as simply the study of rocks. In reality, geology is the study of our planet on all scales, from microscopic to planet-wide, and ranging in time from almost instantaneous events, like earthquakes, to the glacially slow motion of the tectonic plates. Everything we know about our world from a geologic perspective is based on information locked into the rock record and the job of a geologist is to tease out that story through a wide variety of observations. This insightful course explores a range of topics that help to tell the story of Earth, and to explain the discipline of geology and the role of the geologist. Individual lectures explore subjects such as minerals, the three different rock types and how they relate through the rock cycle, as well as how the interior of the earth is divided and the processes that occur there. Further lectures explore geologic time and how we sort out the history of any given sequence of rocks, how rocks deform and how plate tectonics works, and many processes related to surface water and groundwater. Geology has grown to become a very broad field with numerous areas of specialization, but this course provides a substantial overview of some of the most important features and processes that affect us as we interact with our planet and as it interacts with us.

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  13. 12.8 hrs • 5/21/2013 • Unabridged

    From bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis comes a treasure trove of answers to questions about our world. Was there an Atlantis? What’s the smallest country in the world? What’s the difference between a jungle and a rain forest? Kenneth C. Davis, author of Don’t Know Much About® History, Don’t Know Much About® the Civil War and Don’t Know Much About® the Bible, turns his inimitable wit and wide-ranging knowledge to the subject of geography, and proves once and for all that there is a lot more to it than labeling countries on a map. From often amusing perceptions people have had through the ages about the world and the universe to the changing map of today, Davis shows how geography is really a great crossroad of many fields: biology, meteorology, astronomy, history, economics, and even politics. In this lively, entertaining, and endlessly fascinating presentation, you’ll hear about the personalities that helped shape the world and learn the answers to questions that have vexed most of us since grade school. Along the way, Davis offers an affectionate ode to the earth: a celebration of the earth, a searching investigation of the destruction of our habitat, and a practical guide to saving our home planet. For anyone who has felt geographically ignorant ever since gas stations stopped handing out free maps, Don't Know Much About® Geography is enormously informative entertainment.

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  14. 0 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5
    6.6 hrs • 1/8/2013 • Unabridged

    From one of our finest and most popular science writers, and the best-selling author of Your Inner Fish, comes the answer to a scientific mystery as big as the world itself: How are the events that formed our solar system billions of years ago embedded inside each of us? In The Universe Within, with his trademark clarity and exuberance, Shubin takes an expansive approach to the question of why we look the way we do. Starting with fossils, he turns his gaze skyward, showing us how the entirety of the universe’s fourteen-billion-year history can be seen in our bodies. As he moves from our very molecular composition (a result of stellar events at the origin of our solar system) through the workings of our eyes, Shubin makes clear how the evolution of the cosmos has profoundly marked our own bodies.

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    The Universe Within

    6.6 hrs • 1/8/13 • Unabridged
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  15. 7.9 hrs • 9/27/2012 • Unabridged

    New insights from the science of science. Facts change all the time. Smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly. We used to think the earth was the center of the universe and that Pluto was a planet. For decades, we were convinced that the brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. In short, what we know about the world is constantly changing. But it turns out there’s an order to the state of knowledge, an explanation for how we know what we know. Samuel Arbesman is an expert in the field of scientometrics—literally the science of science. Knowledge in most fields evolves systematically and predictably, and this evolution unfolds in a fascinating way that can have a powerful impact on our lives. Doctors with a rough idea of when their knowledge is likely to expire can be better equipped to keep up with the latest research. Companies and governments that understand how long new discoveries take to develop can improve decisions about allocating resources. And by tracing how and when language changes, each of us can better bridge generational gaps in slang and dialect. Just as we know that a chunk of uranium can break down in a measurable amount of time—a radioactive half-life—so too any given field’s change in knowledge can be measured concretely. We can know when facts in aggregate are obsolete, the rate at which new facts are created, and even how facts spread. Arbesman takes us through a wide variety of fields, including those that change quickly, over the course of a few years, or over the span of centuries. He shows that much of what we know consists of “mesofacts”—facts that change at a middle timescale, often over a single human lifetime. Throughout, he offers intriguing examples about the face of knowledge: what English majors can learn from a statistical analysis of The Canterbury Tales, why it’s so hard to measure a mountain, and why so many parents still tell kids to eat their spinach because it’s rich in iron. The Half-life of Facts is a riveting journey into the counter-intuitive fabric of knowledge. It can help us find new ways to measure the world while accepting the limits of how much we can know with certainty.

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    The Half-Life of Facts

    7.9 hrs • 9/27/12 • Unabridged
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  16. 13.8 hrs • 9/25/2012 • Unabridged

    Maybe you know someone who swears by the reliability of psychics or who is in regular contact with angels. Or perhaps you’re trying to find a nice way of dissuading someone from wasting money on a homeopathy cure. Or you met someone at a party who insisted the Holocaust never happened or that no one ever walked on the moon. How do you find a gently persuasive way of steering people away from unfounded beliefs, bogus cures, conspiracy theories, and the like? Longtime skeptic Guy P. Harrison shows you how in this down-to-earth, entertaining exploration of commonly held extraordinary claims. A veteran journalist, Harrison has not only surveyed a vast body of literature, but has also interviewed leading scientists, explored “the most haunted house in America,” frolicked in the inviting waters of the Bermuda Triangle, and even talked to a “contrite Roswell alien.” Harrison is not out simply to debunk unfounded beliefs. Wherever possible, he presents alternative scientific explanations, which in most cases are even more fascinating than the wildest speculation. For example, stories about UFOs and alien abductions lack good evidence, but science gives us plenty of reasons to keep exploring outer space for evidence that life exists elsewhere in the vast universe. The proof for Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster may be nonexistent, but scientists are regularly discovering new species, some of which are truly stranger than fiction. Stressing the excitement of scientific discovery and the legitimate mysteries and wonder inherent in reality, Harrison invites readers to share the joys of rational thinking and the skeptical approach to evaluating our extraordinary world.

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