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Between the Rocks and the Stars: Narratives in Natural History (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Here are 24 essays - but these could be called short tales - of places and the stuff of the world.  Birds can 'see' magnetism, flowers reach out with an electrical charge to passing bees, the 'free electrons' in a candle flame can be bent by a magnetic field, some of those nasty things in 'dust bunnies' make the liquid they need through their own metabolism. And then the author takes us to Mars, that has shared it's redness with the Colorado Plateau, and on to the rings of Saturn and we join him on an ice mountain ploughing a way of separation between the rings. If you had asked me I would have said I had no interest in Sunfish, wouldn't know a Fireweed from any other weed, but now.... I want many more of these - science for all of us, with lovely writing and surprises.  

— Nancy


These stories take readers where they cannot go, be it out into space, back in time, deep under the ocean, down to microscopic scales, or out onto the geologic overview.

Squid turn themselves inside-out when disturbed by predators hunting through the darkness with sonar. Beneficial microbes spend their summer living in nectar and being transferred between blooms by the bees, then spend the winter living within those bees. Ecological stories are seen through the eyes of squirrels, birds, fish, ants, butterflies, and beetles.

Between the Rocks and the Stars dives deep into the relationships that shape the natural world. The book presents a collection of vignettes from the wild, each of which describes the natural advantage of a particular organism. These true-to-life accounts are then posed in particular circumstances that illustrate the principles--commensalism, speciation--that shape the place of these organisms in their living environment. Some stories cover topics in geology and cosmology, describing the physical world context in which natural history progresses across the eons.

Underlying themes in the book include the network of connections that link all these organisms together and the adaptations they make to the physical world in which they must find themselves a home.

About the Author

Stephen Daubert is a retired career scientist in the department of plant pathology at the University of California-Davis. He has previously published two books of stories from natural history with Vanderbilt University Press: Threads from the Web of Life and The Shark and the Jellyfish, currently available in one deluxe paperback.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780826522757
ISBN-10: 0826522750
Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press
Publication Date: April 15th, 2020
Pages: 182
Language: English