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Editor's choice

Jan 19, 2014

A special free-to-read digital edition containing 10 of our very best feature articles on the science and applications of light


Bright ideas and their architects

Stephen Wolfram's collection of essays details big ideas and the people who thought of them, although some of the tales are rather partial, says Tony Mann

Tracing the path towards totality

Tyler Nordgren’s book on the history, science and beauty of a total solar eclipse flows between personal experiences and scientific facts, writes Shadia Habbal

Galaxies and auroras and planets, oh my!

The coffee-table book of all the winning and shortlisted images in the 2016 Astronomy Photographer of the Year award is a sight to behold, says Tushna Commissariat

Life as we do and don't know it

Looking at everything from extremophiles on Earth to galactic habitability zones, this book on astrobiology covers all the basics, says Dimitra Atri

Between the lines: Christmas special

An eclectic mix of popular-science books, from everyday physics to loop quantum gravity to collider cartoons, reviewed by Matin Durrani, Kate Gardner, Hamish Johnston, Margaret Harris and Louise Mayor

Fermi: physicist with a capital F

The first in-depth English-language biography of one of the heavyweights of modern physics – Enrico Fermi – has been long awaited, says Marina Cobal

Zombie girls: a history

A new book tells the depressing but important tale of female radium-dial painters in the early 1900s who contracted radiation poisoning, writes Kate Brown

Web life: Ice Flows

Guide penguins to their Antarctic feeding grounds and learn about the behaviour of ice sheets in the Ice Flows game

Is the universe a sponge?

J Richard Gott’s book on the large-scale topology of the universe goes beyond a “Cosmology 101” pseudo-history, writes Martin Bucher

How weather became a science

A book on three pioneers of meteorology reveals much about their science, although little about their personalities, says David M Schultz

Between the lines

An analysis of science under Stalin and a memoir/stargazing guide with a difference, reviewed by Margaret Harris

The struggle for convergence

Are all the fields of science converging towards a unified narrative? Manjit Kumar assesses the “deepest idea in the universe”

Web life: Precarious Physicist

If teaching physics to undergraduates strikes you as a secure, well-respected and at least somewhat highly paid job, this blog will challenge your assumptions

Finding the right boundaries

Roger Penrose’s book on “fashion, faith and fantasy” in physics asks excellent questions, but reviewer Chanda Prescod-Weinstein finds some of the answers wanting

Between the lines

Books about the science of cities and artificial intelligence, plus a film about Russia’s nuclear “closed city”, reviewed by Margaret Harris and James Dacey