The Mysteries of a Rocket Mom, Parasites, and Human Intelligence

Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America’s First Female Rocket Scientist

by George D. Morgan

The Nutshell:

Mary Sherman Morgan’s playwright son, George D. Morgan, knew that his mother had invented hydyne, the rocket propellant that put America’s first satellite in orbit, while working at North American Aviation during the Cold War. But much of her story was shrouded in mystery until he decided to write first a play and then a biography about her life.

People, Parasites, and Plowshares: Learning From Our Body’s Most Terrifying Invaders

by Dickson D. Despommier

The Nutshell:

Despommier, a Columbia University parasitologist, chronicles the discovery—and destructive treachery—of parasites as well as the promise they offer modern medicine in curing a number of diseases.

Future Bright: A Transforming Vision of Human Intelligence

by Michael E. Martinez

The Nutshell:

Martinez, who was an education scholar at UC-Irvine (Future Bright was published posthumously), argues that we need a smarter society in order to prosper in our information economy—and that human intelligence can be increased greatly through learning.

More In: The Six-Point Inspection

American Voters, American Writers, American Indians

Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy , The Selected Letters of Willa Cather , and Native American Placenames of the Southwest: A Handbook for Travelers ,

The Nutshell:

University of Delaware historian May chronicles the civil rights struggles—including the assassinations of Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr.—and political maneuverings that gave birth, eventually, to the Voting Rights …

Lost Video Games, Found Cats, and Mysterious Proteins

The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games , Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology , and Fatal Flaws: How a Misfolded Protein Baffled Scientists and Changed the Way We Look at the Brain ,

The Nutshell:

Using the lenses of psychology, philosophy, game design, and fiction, New York University gaming scholar Juul explores the strange paradox of video games: we hate losing, but we only like …