ALD22 Books: Fire and Ice, Dr Natalie Starkey

Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System, Dr Natalie Starkey

The volcano is among the most familiar and perhaps the most terrifying of all geological phenomena. However, Earth isn’t the only planet to harbour volcanoes. In fact, the solar system, and probably the entire universe, is littered with them. Our own moon, which is now a dormant piece of rock, had lava flowing across its surface billions of years ago, while Mars can be credited with the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons, which stands 25km high. While Mars’s volcanoes are long dead, volcanic activity continues in almost every other corner of the solar system, in the most unexpected of locations.

We tend to think of Earth volcanoes as erupting hot, molten lava and emitting huge, billowing clouds of incandescent ash. However, it isn’t necessarily the same across the rest of the solar system. For a start, some volcanoes aren’t even particularly hot. Those on Pluto, for example, erupt an icy slush of substances such as water, methane, nitrogen or ammonia, that freeze to form ice mountains as hard as rock. While others, like the volcanoes on one of Jupiter’s moons, Io, erupt the hottest lavas in the solar system onto a surface covered in a frosty coating of sulphur.

Whether they are formed of fire or ice, volcanoes are of huge importance for scientists trying to picture the inner workings of a planet or moon. Volcanoes dredge up materials from the otherwise inaccessible depths and helpfully deliver them to the surface. The way in which they erupt, and the products they generate, can even help scientists ponder bigger questions on the possibility of life elsewhere in the solar system.

Fire and Ice is an exploration of the solar system’s volcanoes, from the highest peaks of Mars to the intensely inhospitable surface of Venus and the red-hot summits of Io, to the coldest, seemingly dormant icy carapaces of Enceladus and Europa, an unusual look at how these cosmic features are made, and whether such active planetary systems might host life.

Order the book on here and your purchase will support a local independent bookshop of your choice!

About the Author

Natalie Starkey is a science communicator and writer, and is Science Media Producer for Chemistry World at Royal Society of Chemistry. Following a PhD at University of Edinburgh studying the geochemistry of Arctic volcanoes, Natalie’s post-doctoral work at The Open University shifted her research focus to comet and asteroid samples. It was at this time she got the chance to analyse samples returned by the NASA Stardust and JAXA Hayabusa space missions.

Natalie’s passion for her research makes her a keen science communicator. She received a British Science Association Media Fellowship in 2013, and regularly appears on television and radio internationally, as well as being a science host on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s popular StarTalk Radio. Her writing includes her previous book Catching Stardust: Comets, Asteroids and the Birth of the Solar System as well as numerous articles for The Guardian, BBC Focus, All About Space and New Scientist. Additionally, she is a regular contributor to The Conversation.

You can follow her work here:

Twitter: @starkeystardust
Instagram: @StarkeyStardust
Facebook: @StarkeyStardust

ALD22 Podcasts: The Caring Scientist, Adriana Wolf & Nikoline Borgermann

The Caring Scientist, Adriana Wolf & Nikoline Borgermann

Laboratories are leaving behind a massive ecological footprint that isn’t exactly improving the state of our planet. But what can wet-lab scientists do to reduce their environmental impact? And is it possible to go green in the lab without compromising research? In this podcast, Adriana Wolf & Nikoline discuss obstacles and solutions related to sustainability in science, and give you hands-on tips on how to reduce the environmental impact of your lab work without compromising research.

Recent episodes covered: 

  • Nikolaj Lervad Hansen and Ann Schirin Mirsanaye from the University of Copenhagen to talk about how they adjusted their freezer temperature from -80C to -70C.
  • Hannah Johnson from Green Labs Netherlands talks about how the network started and what they are doing. 
  • Raj Patey from My Green Lab talks about sustainable products and procurement
  • CEO of the non-profit organisation Seeding Labs, Melissa Wu, discusses how donating surplus lab equipment helps ecological sustainability and social equity in science. 
  • A discussion of sustainable conferencing and air travel in academia with Kate Whitfield, sustainability expert at ISGLOBAL, and Teun Bousema, Professor at Radboud University Medical Centre Nijmegen.

You can:

Listen on Spotify
Follow on Twitter: @caringscientist @AvaSustain @AdrianaWolfPer1 

ALD22 Books: Reaching for the Moon, Katherine Johnson

Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson, Katherine Johnson

As a young girl, Katherine Johnson showed an exceptional aptitude for math. In school she quickly skipped ahead several grades and was soon studying complex equations with the support of a professor who saw great promise in her. But ability and opportunity did not always go hand in hand. As an African American and a girl growing up in an era of brutal racism and sexism, Johnson faced daily challenges. Still, she lived her life with her father’s words in mind: “You are no better than anyone else, and nobody else is better than you.”

In the early 1950s, Johnson was thrilled to join the organisation that would become NASA. She worked on many of NASA’s biggest projects including the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first men on the moon. Johnson’s story was made famous in the bestselling book and Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. In Reaching for the Moon she tells her own story for the first time, in a lively autobiography that will inspire young readers everywhere.

Order the book on here and your purchase will support a local independent bookshop of your choice!

About the Author

Mathematician and computer scientist Katherine Johnson was born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Her mother was a teacher and her father was a farmer and janitor. From a young age, Johnson counted everything and could easily solve mathematical equations. She attended West Virginia State High School and graduated from high school at age fourteen. Johnson received her BS degree in French and Mathematics in 1937 from West Virginia State University. Johnson was one of the first African Americans to enrol in the mathematics program at West Virginia University.

After college, Johnson began teaching in elementary and high schools in Virginia and West Virginia. In 1953, she joined Langley Research Center as a research mathematician for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), where she put her mathematics skills to work. She calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space. Even after NASA began using electronic computers, John Glenn requested that she personally recheck the calculations made by the new electronic computers before his flight aboard Friendship 7 – the mission on which he became the first American to orbit the Earth. She continued to work at NASA until 1986, combining her mathematic talent with electronic computer skills. Her calculations proved critical to the success of the Apollo Moon landing program and the start of the Space Shuttle program.

Johnson, who co-authored twenty-six scientific papers, was the recipient of NASA’s Lunar Spacecraft and Operation’s Group Achievement Award and NASA’s Apollo Group Achievement Award. On 24 November 2015, she received the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Barack H. Obama. She died in 2020, aged 101.

ALD22 Podcasts: People Behind The Science, Dr Marie McNeely

People Behind The Science, Dr Marie McNeely

People Behind the Science’s mission is to inspire current and future scientists, share the different paths to a successful career in science, educate the general population on what scientists do, and show the human side of science. In each episode, a different scientist will guide us through their journey by sharing their successes, failures, and passions. We are excited to introduce you to these inspiring academic and industry experts from all fields of science to give you a variety of perspectives on the life and path of a scientist.

Recent episodes: 

  • Dr Joshua Pate: Exploring pain science education and pain management in children.
  • Dr Naomi Tague: Scientific simulations in stream and ecosystem synergies.
  • Dr Susan Krumdieck: Dedicating her energy to engineering solutions to fuel our future.
  • Dr Lee Cronin: Chemistry is key: Studying self assembly and the origins of life.
  • Dr Emily Darling: Conducting research to conserve coral reefs.

You can:

Visit their website:
Follow on Twitter: @PBtScience @PhDMarie

ALD22 Books: Maryam’s Magic, Megan Reid and Aaliya Jaleel

Maryam’s Magic: The Story of Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, Megan Reid and Aaliya Jaleel

As a little girl, Maryam Mirzakhani was spellbound by stories. She loved reading in Tehran’s crowded bookstores, and at home she’d spend hours crafting her own tales on giant rolls of paper.

Maryam loved school, especially her classes in reading and writing. But she did not like maths. Numbers were nowhere near as interesting as the bold, adventurous characters she found in books. Until Maryam unexpectedly discovered a new genre of storytelling: In geometry, numbers became shapes, each with its own fascinating personality – making every equation a brilliant story waiting to be told.

As an adult, Maryam became a professor, inventing new formulas to solve some of math’s most complicated puzzles. And she made history by becoming the first woman – and the first Iranian – to win the Fields Medal, mathematics’ highest award.

Maryam’s Magic is the true story of a girl whose creativity and love of stories helped her – and the world – to see math in a new and inspiring way.

Order the book on here and your purchase will support a local independent bookshop of your choice!

About the Author

After receiving her MA in English Literature, Megan acquired and edited several bestselling and award-winning books as an editor at Simon and Schuster’s Touchstone and Emily Bestler Books imprints before joining FX Networks as a development and literary executive.

A graduate of Northern Arizona University and The Ohio State University, her writing has been featured on Elle, Refinery29, BuzzFeed, LitHub, and FastCompany. She published her first picture book biography, Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis’ Fleet-of-Foot Girl in 2020, and has followed it with $9 Therapy: Semi-Capitalist Solutions to Your Emotional Problems and Who Did It First? 50 Icons, Luminaries and Legends Who Revolutionized the World.

You can follow her work here:

Twitter: @meg_r
Instagram: @meg_er/

About the Illustrator

Aaliya Jaleel is a Sri-Lankan American illustrator, designer and visual development artist.

Some of her past works include the books Amazing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Who Inspire Us All, Under My Hijab and Muslim Girls Rise. She has also worked on projects with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Penguin Random House. In addition to being an illustrator, Aaliya works as a storyboard artist at Wild Canary, including the Disney Junior show Mira, Royal Detective.

You can follow her work here:

Twitter: @aaliyamj
Instagram: @aaliyamj