STEM Previews, Mar. 2024, Pt. 5 | Prepub Alert

From astrophysics to robots.

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Cliff, Harry. Space Oddities: The Mysterious Anomalies Challenging Our Understanding of the Universe. Doubleday. Mar. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9780385549035. $29. Downloadable. ASTROPHYSICS

A Cambridge University–based particle physicist who pushes the envelope in his work on CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, Cliff reveals strange new phenomena—hyper-energized particles beneath the Antarctic ice, unknown forces tugging away at the essentials of matter—that don’t fit into our current understanding of physics. Have we reached the end of physics (the title of his TED talk, viewed by nearly three million)? Or are we on the cusp of something new?

Lauretta, Dante. The Asteroid Hunter: A Scientist’s Journey to the Dawn of Our Solar System. Grand Central. Mar. 2024. 336p. ISBN 9781538722947. $30. Downloadable. SPACE SCIENCE

The principal investigator of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission, which aims to retrieve an asteroid sample for study, Lauretta introduces readers to a massive asteroid named Bennu. Bennu, which is as big as an aircraft carrier and looms taller than the Empire State Building, has the potential to explain the origins of life on Earth but could also end it; it seems set to collide with Earth on September 24, 2182. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Lustgarten, Abrahm. On the Move: The Overheating Earth and the Uprooting of America. Farrar. Mar. 2024. 336p. ISBN 9780374171735. $30. CLIMATE CHANGE

A Pulitzer Prize finalist for his series on drought in the U.S. West, investigative reporter Lustgarten considers how climate change will reshape life across the country, with coastal flooding, wildfires to the west, heat and humidity to the south, and agriculture-destroying drought everywhere driving populations northward and hurting poor communities particularly. Chats with homeowners from California to Florida reveal that the migration is already afoot. With a 35,000-copy first printing.

Rus, Daniela & Gregory Mone. The Heart and the Chip: Our Bright Future with Robots. Norton. Mar. 2024. 256p. ISBN 9781324050230. $29.99. ROBOTICS

With over three million robots currently doing everything from assembling computers to monitoring air quality, the robotics revolution has already arrived. Cutting-edge roboticist Rus, a MacArthur fellow who serves as the first woman director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, shares what’s happening.

Smith, Andrew. Devil in the Stack: Searching for the Soul of the New Machine. Atlantic Monthly. Mar. 2024. 417p. ISBN 9780802158840. $28. TECHNOLOGY

Algorithmic codes are so integral to everyday life that we don’t even notice them, yet how many of us understand how they work? And if we can’t understand them, how can we control their impact on society? Author of the internationally best-selling Moondust, Smith decided to provide some clarity by learning coding himself.

Swisher, Kara. Burn Book: A Tech Love Story. S. & S. Mar. 2024. 320p. ISBN 9781982163891. $30. TECHNOLOGY

Swisher is a technology reporter so renowned that Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg once said: “It is a constant joke in the Valley when people write memos for them to say, ‘I hope Kara never sees this.’” Having interviewed pretty much everyone who’s anyone in technology, she here provides a sweeping view of Silicon Valley and the impact—and dangers—of the internet.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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