The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference

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9780028604039: The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference

The most comprehensive single volume of frequently needed information on science available, this extensive reference is authoritative, up-to-date, and easy-to-use, spanning ten separate disciplines as well as related fields. Includes 350 charts, tables, graphs, and illustrations.

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Review:

Considering this volume is a mere 668 pages, it does a remarkable job of covering the major concepts and facts of biology, human anatomy, chemistry, physics, astronomy, Earth sciences, meteorology, environmental sciences, and engineering. Not surprising, as it was written by the New York Public Library staff who know what questions are most frequently asked by a knowledge-hungry public.

The ultimate test of such a reference volume is scrutiny of areas with which one is intimately familiar, then reading up on areas about which one is woefully ignorant. This book passed both tests: The biology chapter was sound (though I wanted much more information about evolutionary principles), and the section on particle physics was informative. Even if you already have a collection of several thousand books covering most of the sciences (like myself), this is a handy reference. And if you're a student or want access to a lot of scientific knowledge in the smallest possible non-digital package, this resource is essential for those times when you simply can't get to the library.

From Booklist:

This latest title in the NYPL series compiled by a book packager contains science and technology information for the high-school and college student and the layperson. It is topically arranged under headings such as "Scientific Measurement," "Time," "Biology," "Earth Science," and "Computer Science." Most chapters have glossaries, brief biographies of important people in that discipline, and bibliographies for further reading. Much of the book is made up of tables and lists, for example, decimal and percent equivalents of common fractions, elements that make up the human body, botanical names of plants, forthcoming solar and lunar eclipses, and decimal and binary equivalents. Black-and-white drawings are provided for symbols, such as those used for rock types and in electrical engineering. The more than 100 graphics include drawings of plant and animal cells, areas of taste on the tongue, and weather fronts. Some information is provided in textual form, often as answers to such questions as How do wounds heal? or What is the periodic table of the elements? The book concludes with useful directories of science museums, planetariums, zoos, national parks and wildlife refuges, and scientific organizations. Lists of Nobel Prize winners and popular-science periodicals are followed by a very brief bibliography. The index is fairly detailed but does not index topics within tables. For example, the names of major meteor showers are not included in the index, nor are the names of recent active volcanoes.

Comparable books are The Henry Holt Handbook of Current Science & Technology [RBB D 15 92], which presents information more in the form of essays and less in tabular format, and Science and Technology Desk Reference [RBB My 1 93], which uses a question-and-answer format. The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference is an attractive book that will be useful for ready reference in high-school, public, and academic libraries. Sandy Whiteley

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