Recommended; September 2009; Scientific American Magazine; by Kate Wong; 1 Page(s)
The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us about Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life
by Alison Gopnik. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009 ($25)
Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that far from being irrational and limited in their ability to think, babies are smarter, more imaginative and more conscious than adults. Along the way, she examines such fascinating topics as why children pretend, how they discover the truth, the origins of love and morality, and how early life shapes later life. Understanding how children think can help adults become better parents—another subject Gopnik explores.
Vesuvius: A Biography
by Alwyn Scarth. Princeton University Press, 2009 ($29.95)
Writer Alwyn Scarth traces the violent history of Mount Vesuvius—from its destruction of Pompeii in A.D. 79 to its most recent eruption in 1944. What might the future hold for this, the most dangerous volcano in all of Europe? Scarth discusses the warning signs of an eruption and considers current contingency plans for the 600,000 people who live in the 236-square-kilometer area around the summit of this ferocious force of nature.