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Places of Infinite Possibilities

Newsletter: Sep 16th 2022

The greater Wayzata community officially and warmly welcomed The Thinking Spot yesterday and in return we promise to provide “a place of infinite possibilities” - as one Author describes independent bookstores - to the community for years to come.

The ribbon cutting gave me a chance to reflect on why we are here. Our tagline is “Making Science Accessible”. There are times when people hear science and go, “not for me”! Until, that is, they step into the Spot. Whether it's the fashion designer interested in Fashionopolis or the hockey players who keep picking up the story of Frank Zamboni or the Brewery enthusiast finding a Gut Microbiome book, they find that science is behind any possible interest they may have. So, thank you for reading/listening/playing/attending at The Spot. Your support makes it possible for us to have these books/toys/workshops/speakers available to the community at large. Together, we can make conversations about science a norm instead of a nerd thing.

Upcoming Events

Tomorrow Saturday 9/17 at 3p. Liz Heinecke will be at The Spot with her experiments. If you have a 6-10 yr old, you don't want them to miss this. Bound to be fun.

Sunday 9/18 2p - Science Bookclub is meeting for the first section of “An Immense World. What a fascinating book it's turning out to be. Join us if interested, there are still 6 more weeks on this book. Age Group: Adults

Friday 9/23 5p - We are hosting STEM Builders of Plymouth, for another workshop. This time on Robotics for the 6-10 yr old. Minimum 3 signups required to hold the workshop. If there is enough interest, we can make this a recurring event at The Spot.

Sunday 9/25 1p - AI Assisted ART Workshop and fundraiser for CodeSavvy Hackathon! Come learn what we know about this transformative tech and the pitfalls to watch out for. Age Group: Primarily Adults. Kids 12+ may enjoy it too.

Saturday Oct 1st 3p - Meet 3M Chief Science Advocate Jayshree Seth. Hear her talk about who can be “The Science Type”. Spoiler Alert - it's everyone! Age Group: Adults.

SmartReads - the Bookclub for 7-12 yr olds is ON! Kids picked “The Last Mapmaker” as their first read. Meetings will be Monthly on Sundays at 4p. First meeting is scheduled for Oct 16th 2022. Check out the link if your kid is interested and let me know if you'd like me to reserve a copy for them.

Science News of the Week

It is so typical of humanity that the first idea on how to save the planet from an errant asteroid is to ram into it! September 26th, NASA's DART mission will rendezvous with an asteroid as a test in ramming it off it's course. It's a test and there's a chance nothing happens or the satellite misses the asteroid completely. But the question I don't see answered is whether there is a chance it actually works too well and pushes the asteroid onto a collision course with Earth, where currently it is not! Hope someone's thinking about it. :)

Lots of great new releases this week. I usually get ~50 new titles each week. Some weeks, it's super hard to narrow down to 5 for the newsletter. This was one such week. Stop in for more.

New Releases this week

The Botany of Beer

By Giuseppe Caruso

From mass-produced lagers to craft-brewery IPAs, from beers made in Trappist monasteries according to traditional techniques to those created by innovative local brewers seeking to capture regional terroir, the world of beer boasts endless varieties. The diversity of beer does not only reflect the differences among the people and cultures who brew this beverage. It also testifies to the vast range of plants that help give different styles of beer their distinguishing flavor profiles.

This book is a comprehensive and beautifully illustrated compendium of the characteristics and properties of the plants used in making beer around the world. The botanical expert Giuseppe Caruso presents scientifically rigorous descriptions, accompanied by his own hand-drawn ink images, of more than 500 species. For each one, he gives the scientific classification, common names, and information about morphology, geographical distribution and habitat, and cultivation range. Caruso provides detailed information about each plant’s applications in beer making, including which of its parts are employed, as well as its chemical composition, its potential toxicity, and examples of beers and styles in which it is typically used. The book also considers historical uses, aiding brewers who seek to rediscover ancient and early modern concoctions.

This book will appeal to a wide audience, from beer aficionados to botany enthusiasts, providing valuable information for homebrewers and professional beer makers alike. It reveals how botanical knowledge can open new possibilities for today’s and tomorrow’s brewers.

Giuseppe Caruso teaches forest botany at the Mediterranean University in Reggio Calabria and biology and agricultural biotechnology at the Istituto Tecnico Agrario “V. Emanuele II” in Catanzaro, Italy. He holds a doctorate in environmental and applied botany and researches the flora and vegetation of southern Italy, as well as habitat recovery and restoration processes. He is also a beer expert and taster. Marika Josephson is the James Beard Award–nominated co-owner and brewer at the Scratch Brewing Company in Ava, Illinois. She is a coauthor of The Homebrewer’s Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to Making Your Own Beer from Scratch (2016).

Sweet in Tooth and Claw

By Kristin Ohlson

What if Nature is more cooperative, and less competitive, than we think?

A follow-up to Kristin Ohlson’s previous book, The Soil Will Save Us (Rodale 2014), Sweet in Tooth and Claw extends the concept of cooperation in nature to the life-affirming connections among microbes, plants, fungi, insects, birds, and animals – including humans—in ecosystems around the globe.

For centuries, people have debated whether nature is mostly competitive -- as Darwin theorized and the poet Tennyson described as “red in tooth and claw”—or innately cooperative, as many ancient and indigenous peoples believed. In the last 100 or so years, a growing gang of scientists have studied the mutually beneficial interactions that are believed to benefit every species on earth. This book is full of stories of generosity – not competition -- in nature. It is a testament to the importance of a healthy biodiversity, and dispels the widely accepted premise of survival of the fittest.

Ohlson tells stories of trees and mushrooms, beavers and bees. There are chapters on a wide variety of ecosystems and portraits of the people who learn from them: forests (the work of Suzanne Simard); scientists who study the interaction of bees and flowers in the Rocky Mountains; the discovery of bacteria and protozoa in the mid-1600s by Dutch scientist Antoni von Leeuwenhoek; ranchers, government agency personnel, and scientists working together to restore wetlands from deserts in northeastern Nevada; and more. It is a rich and fascinating book full of amazing stories, sure to change your perspective on the natural world.

Kristin Ohlson is an author and freelance journalist in Portland, Oregon, who has published articles in the New York Times, Orion, Discover, Gourmet, Oprah, and many other print and online publications. Her magazine work has been anthologized in Best American Science Writing and Best American Science Writing.

Ohlson's last book was The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers and Foodies are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet, which the Los Angeles Times called "a hopeful book and a necessary one…. a fast-paced and entertaining shot across the bow of mainstream thinking about land use." She appeared in the award-winning documentary film, Kiss the Ground, to speak about the connection between soil health and climate health. Ohlson lives in Portland, Oregon.

Long Hard Road

By Charles J. Murray

Long Hard Road: The Lithium-Ion Battery and the Electric Car provides an inside look at the birth of the lithium-ion battery, from its origins in academic labs around the world to its transition to its new role as the future of automotive power. It chronicles the piece-by-piece development of the battery, from its early years when it was met by indifference from industry to its later emergence in Japan where it served in camcorders, laptops, and cell phones. The book is the first to provide a glimpse inside the Japanese corporate culture that turned the lithium-ion chemistry into a commercial product. It shows the intense race between two companies, Asahi Chemical and Sony Corporation, to develop a suitable anode. It also explains, for the first time, why one Japanese manufacturer had to build its first preproduction cells in a converted truck garage in Boston, Massachusetts.

Building on that history, Long Hard Road then takes readers inside the auto industry to show how lithium-ion solved the problems of earlier battery chemistries and transformed the electric car into a viable competitor. Starting with the Henry Ford and Thomas Edison electric car of 1914, it chronicles a long list of automotive failures, then shows how a small California car converter called AC Propulsion laid the foundation for a revolution by packing its car with thousands of tiny lithium-ion cells. The book then takes readers inside the corporate board rooms of Detroit to show how mainstream automakers finally decided to adopt lithium-ion.

Long Hard Road is unique in its telling of the lithium-ion tale, revealing that the battery chemistry was not the product of a single inventor, nor the dream of just three Nobel Prize winners, but rather was the culmination of dozens of scientific breakthroughs from many inventors whose work was united to create a product that ultimately changed the world.

Charles J. Murray has written about science and technology for thirty-five years, during which he has published more than five hundred articles on electric cars and batteries. His work has appeared in engineering journals such as Design News, EE Times, and Semiconductor International, as well as in many consumer publications, including the Chicago Tribune and Popular Science. He is a recipient of numerous editorial awards, including the Jesse H. Neal Award for business journalism. Murray is also the author of The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer. He lives in the Chicago area and is an engineering graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Wild Ride

By Hayley Arceneaux

The youngest American to ever orbit the earth—cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux—shows us all that when we face our fears with hope and faith, extraordinary things can happen. “It may be hard to believe while I’m gravity-bound on my bedroom floor, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time on Earth, it’s that as long as you keep saying yes, everything is possible,” says author Hayley Arceneaux. Arceneaux's power comes from her faith and her ability to look forward in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Before she became the youngest American to go to space, she had packed a lifetime’s worth of experience into her twenty-nine years. She went to Spain to practice her Spanish and worked medical mission trips in Nicaragua and Peru, checking off five continents on her travel list before she was invited on the ultimate ride, farther than she ever dreamed she'd go. And she's done it all with a titanium prosthesis in her leg—courtesy of treatment for bone cancer at St. Jude nearly twenty years ago. In this riveting and deeply personal memoir, with heart and humor, Arceneaux shares the details of her Wild Ride, from the cancer experience that inspired her lifelong dream of working with childhood cancer patients to the exhilaration of being asked to join the first civilian space flight as a representative of St. Jude. From training to launch to splashdown, in never-before-told stories, Arceneaux details what it was like to climb Mt. Rainier in the snow, train in a fighter jet, battle G-forces, fly in a Dragon to space, and drink her morning cold brew while circling the globe once every ninety minutes. Arceneaux’s uplifting story is the inspiration we all need today. She offers wisdom and courage to anyone fighting against the odds. And through it all, she reveals how resilience and faith can help us grab hold of the life we’ve always wanted and live it to the fullest.

Hayley Arceneaux is a St. Jude Children's Research Hospital physician assistant, a career she committed to at age ten, after surviving pediatric bone cancer. She is also now a member of the SpaceX medical team, where she helps medically train commercial astronauts. She joined SpaceX's first private spaceflight, Inspiration4, on September 15, 2021, and successfully water-landed three days later. At age twenty-nine, she became the youngest American to orbit the earth, the first pediatric cancer survivor in space, and the first astronaut with a prosthetic body part.

Thinking 101

By Woo-kyoung Ahn

Psychologist Woo-kyoung Ahn explains why our judgement is so often wrong—and offers strategies to help us respond to the challenges we all face as individuals and in society at large.

What can K-pop dance moves teach us about how we can best learn new skills? How can a winning soccer goal illustrate the challenge of assigning credit or blame? Why should we think about the way we shop for holiday gifts before starting a new project? Professor Woo-kyoung Ahn devised a course at Yale called “Thinking” to help students examine the biases that cause so many problems in their daily lives. It quickly became one of the college’s most popular courses. Now, for the first time, she presents key insights from her years of teaching and research in a book for everyone. Ahn shows how ‘thinking problems’ stand behind a wide-range of challenges from common, self-inflicted daily aggravations to our most pressing societal issues and inequities. Throughout, Ahn draws on decades of research from other cognitive psychologists, as well as from her own ground-breaking studies. And she presents it all in a compellingly readable style using fun examples from pop culture, anecdotes from her own life, and illuminating stories from history and the headlines. Thinking 101 is a book that goes far beyond other books on thinking, showing how we can improve not just our own daily lives through better awareness of our biases, but the lives of everyone around us. It is, quite simply, required reading for everyone who wants to think—and live—better.

WOO-KYOUNG AHN is the John Hay Whitney Professor of Psychology at Yale University. After receiving her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, she was assistant professor at Yale University and associate professor at Vanderbilt University. In 2022, she received Yale's Lex Hixon Prize for teaching excellence in the social sciences. Her research on thinking biases has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, and she is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.

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