Dark Science

Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Avis Lang

An exploration of the age-old complicity between skywatchers and warfighters, from the best-selling author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. In this fascinating foray into the centuries-old relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer-researcher Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. "The overlap is strong, and the knowledge flows in both directions," say the authors, because astrophysicists and military planners care about many of the same things: multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion, and access to space. Tyson and Lang call it a "curiously complicit" alliance. "The universe is both the ultimate frontier and the highest of high grounds," they write. "Shared by both space scientists and space warriors, it’s a laboratory for one and a battlefield for the other. The explorer wants to understand it; the soldier wants to dominate it. But without the right technology—which is more or less the same technology for both parties—nobody can get to it, operate in it, scrutinize it, dominate it, or use it to their advantage and someone else’s disadvantage." Spanning early celestial navigation to satellite-enabled warfare, Accessory to War is a richly researched and provocative examination of the intersection of science, technology, industry, and power that will introduce Tyson’s millions of fans to yet another dimension of how the universe has shaped our lives and our world.

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Medical Apartheid

Harriet A. Washington

Examines the history of medical experimentation on African Americans, from the colonial era to the present day, revealing the exploitation and poor medical treatment suffered by blacks, often without any form of consent.

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Doing Harm

Maya Dusenbery

Maya Dusenbery brings together scientific and sociological research, interviews with experts within and outside the medical establishment, and personal stories from women across the country to provide the first comprehensive, accessible look at how sexism in medicine harms women today. Dusenbery reveals how conditions that disproportionately affect women, such as autoimmune diseases, chronic pain conditions, and Alzheimer’s disease, are neglected and woefully under-researched. "Contested" diseases, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, that are 70 to 80 percent female-dominated are so poorly understood that they have not yet been fully accepted as "real" conditions by the whole of the profession. Meanwhile, despite a wealth of evidence showing the impact of biological difference between the sexes in everything from drug responses to symptoms to risk factors for various diseases—even the symptoms of a heart attack!—medicine continues to take a one-size-fits-all approach: that of a 70 kilogram white man. In addition, women are negatively impacted by the biases and stereotypes that dismiss them as "chronic complainers," leading to long delays—often years long—to get diagnosed. The consequences are catastrophic. Offering a clear-eyed explanation of the root causes of this insidious and entrenched bias and laying out its effects, Doing Harm will change the way we look at healthcare for women.

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Whitewash

Carey Gillam

In Whitewash, veteran journalist Carey Gillam uncovers one of the most controversial stories in the history of food and agriculture. Gillam explores the global debate over the safety of a herbicide so pervasive that it is found in our cereals, snacks, and even in our urine. Known as Monsanto's Roundup by consumers and as glyphosate by scientists, the world's most popular weed killer is sold as safe enough to drink, but Gillam's research shows that message has been carefully crafted to conceal a host of dangers. Whitewash is more than an exposé about the hazards of one chemical. It's a story of power, politics, and the deadly consequences of putting corporate interests ahead of public safety.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.

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Midnight in Chernobyl

Adam Higginbotham

Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history’s worst nuclear disaster. In the thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers its citizens and the entire world. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation, has long remained in dispute. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently-declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand. The result is a masterful nonfiction thriller, and the definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth. Midnight in Chernobyl is an indelible portrait of one of the great disasters of the twentieth century, of human resilience and ingenuity, and the lessons learned when mankind seeks to bend the natural world to his will—lessons which, in the face of climate change and other threats, remain not just vital but necessary.

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Full Body Burden

Kristen Iversen

A narrative report by a woman who grew up near the Rocky Flats nuclear weapon facility describes the dark secrets that dominated her childhood, the strange cancers that afflicted her neighbors, her brief employment at Rocky Flats and the efforts of residents to achieve legal justice.

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The Radium Girls

Kate Moore

The incredible true story of the women who fought America's Undark danger The Curies' newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War. Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill. But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women's cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America's early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights that will echo for centuries to come. Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the "wonder" substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives...

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