- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press (November 10, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250007143
- ISBN-13: 978-1250007148
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World
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About the Author
Bill Nye is a scientist, engineer, comedian, and inventor, as well as the New York Times bestselling author of Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, where he studied under Carl Sagan, and worked as an engineer at Boeing on the 747, before creating and hosting his much-loved Emmy award-winning PBS/Discovery Channel show "Bill Nye the Science Guy." He holds six Honorary Doctorate degrees from Lehigh University, Willamette University, Quinnipiac University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Goucher College, and Johns Hopkins, and visits Cornell regularly as a Professor in his own right.
Corey S. Powell is the former editor in chief of American Scientist and Discover, where he is currently editor at large and continues to write the "Out There" column and blog. He is also a visiting scholar at NYU's SHERP science journalism program, as well as a freelance writer for Popular Science, Smithsonian, Nautilus, and Aeon; his article "The Madness of the Planets" appears in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, two daughters, and a small collection of Permian-era fossils.
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Top Customer Reviews
“Unstoppable” is a wonderful, upbeat plea to make a better world through science. It focuses on the many environmental challenges we face as a planet and provides hope through science and engineering on what we can do to rise to address them. Mechanical engineer, science educator, and Emmy award-winning TV personality Bill Nye the Science Guy provides readers with yet another gem. This enjoyable 350-page book includes thirty-five chapters that cover a wide-range of topics pertaining to environmental issues.
1. Entertaining, practical, well-written and well-researched book for the masses.
2. A great topic, how to harness science to change the world for the better. “To the Next Great Generation. Embrace science. Solve problems. Make things. Change the world.”
3. A pleasant, upbeat, engaging and sometimes even humorous tone throughout. Some of the topics are indeed alarming but Nye’s upbeat tone and practical knowhow emits confidence.
4. There is a love of science and engineering that is palpable throughout the book. Bill Nye loves the knowledge that science provides and the problem-solving attitude of engineering. “Engineers use science every day to build things and to solve problems, sometimes seemingly intractable problems.”
5. Many great topics discussed but this book revolves around climate change and its impact. “In recent years, you’ve probably heard a great many people speak about addressing climate change with lists of things we shouldn’t be doing—like burning fossil fuels, coal especially. That guidance is useful, but we need to focus more on the things we aggressively should be doing—like developing ways to store renewable energy.”
6. Hits back against science denialism. “The warming of our world has gone in lockstep with the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases we have dumped into the atmosphere. The connection between climate change and human activity is akin to the connection between cancer and smoking.” “What on Earth makes anyone think that 97% of the world’s climate scientists are wrong?”
7. Does a great job of making difficult topics easy for the public to understand. “Most of the electrical power in the world—everything produced from coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear material—relies on boiling water to spin a turbine that runs a generator.” “One of their insights is that there is no such thing as “cold,” at least in this scientific sense. There is instead only the absence of heat.”
8. One of the joys of reading this book is the discussion of big or innovative ideas to solve problems. “I’m talking about a substitute for asphalt. Instead of a jet-black parking lot, with an albedo less than 10 percent, I’m imagining a nearly white parking lot, with an albedo up around 70 percent.” “The idea, then, is to produce bubbles in water to make the water more reflective on purpose.”
9. A reasonable look at nuclear energy. “The primary appeal of nuclear energy is what it does not produce: carbon. Right now the two biggest zero-carbon energy sources in the United States are hydroelectric power and nuclear power.”
10. Plenty of interesting factoids throughout the book. “We get about 19 percent of our electricity from nuclear plants, 6 percent from dams, and about 5 percent from wind and solar.”
11. Solar energy. “The big idea of space-based power is to collect solar energy above the atmosphere—where sunshine is continuous, up where we can get at the full spectrum—and put it on Earth where we can make it almost directly into electricity. It’s a big engineering idea.”
12. A plea to transform the grid.
13. Explains the quest for more storage and some interesting ideas in the horizon.
14. A look at fuel flexibility. “Because of their agricultural situation, Brazilians are able to use their ethanol effectively. Most of their vehicles are fuel-flexible. They have sensors in the fuel system that sense how much alcohol is mixed with the gas, and they adjust the timing of the ignition spark to match the fuel on board.”
15. The three advantages of railroads over cars on the roads.
16. A look at improving getting freshwater to the world. “We just need the magical material that separates water from salt as readily as the mangroves and the seabirds do.”
17. How to improve feeding the world and GMOs. “If we add it all up, the economic sector that uses the most of Earth’s resources and produces the largest environmental change is our agriculture.” “A lot of the resistance I see to GMOs has less to do with the perceived safety of the food or the ecosystems than with a basic mistrust in large corporations—especially large industrial chemical corporations.”
18. A recurring humorous theme, environmental competition Bill Nye has with his neighbor actor friend Ed Begley. Nye demonstrates how his home is his personal lab for efficiency improvements. “Now I’m a big-time minor celebrity with no obligations and a deep desire to crush Begley, so I had two separate inline or tankless water heaters installed.”
19. The reality of it all. “The less we do to address climate change now, the more regulation we will have in the future.”
20. Loved the chapters on space exploration. “If your rocket were perfectly efficient, you would need about 500 million Joules to lift one ton of payload to a height of 100 kilometers (62 miles), which is a common definition of where “space” begins.”
21. A practical recommendation to improve the planet. “In general, no one has the guts or the political influence sufficient to establish a carbon fee or tax or shared financial burden regarding climate change.”
1. Lacking in visual content (graphs, timelines, and diagrams).
2. Some on the right may take issue with some of the political criticism. The truth is it is done so at a minimal.
3. No notes.
4. No formal bibliography.
In summary, this is a wonderful book on how to improve the planet. Bill Nye does a wonderful job of sharing his love for science and the power of engineering to solve big problems, including climate change. It’s a plea for action with a hopeful can do tone. I highly recommend it!
Further recommendations: “Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation” also by Bill Nye,
“This Changes Everything” by Naomi Klein, “Eaarth” by Bill McKibben, “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes, “Space Chronicles” by Neil deGrasse Tyson, “The Last Hours of Humanity: Warming the World to Extinction” by Thom Hartmann, “Storms of my Grandchildren” by James Hansen, “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars” by Michael E. Mann, and “Clean Break” by Osha Gray Davidson.
Like Nye's previous book, "Undeniable", this book focuses on big ideas and represents and appeal from the author directly to his readers to stop fearing or denying science because it only serves to hurt us as a society. His great sense of optimism and wit permeates every chapter so that even those portions that casual readers may find dull have their share of entertainment. As Nye proved on the "Science Guy" show, humor is an effective tool in education. That said, he is serious when the topic calls for it. "Unstoppable" should serve as a wake-up call to readers around the world to get actively engaged not only in petitioning their governments to do something about climate change, but to implement many of the small-scale ideas that Nye is already using in his own home. Together, we can change the world!