Deserts: A Very Short Introduction

Deserts: A Very Short Introduction

Deserts make up a third of the planet's land surface, but if you picture a desert, what comes to mind? A wasteland? A drought? A place devoid of all life forms? Deserts are remarkable places. Typified by drought and extremes of temperature, they can be harsh and hostile; but many deserts are also spectacularly beautiful, and on occasion teem with life. Nick Middleton explores how each desert is unique: through fantastic life forms, extraordinary scenery, and ingenious human adaptations. He demonstrates a desert's immense natural beauty, its rich biodiversity, and uncovers a long history of successful human occupation. This Very Short Introduction tells you everything you ever wanted to know about these extraordinary places and captures their importance in the working of our planet. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Rivers: A Very Short Introduction

Rivers: A Very Short Introduction

Rivers have played an extraordinarily important role in creating the world in which we live. They create landscapes and provide water to people, plants and animals, nourishing both town and country. The flow of rivers has enthused poets and painters, explorers and pilgrims. Rivers have acted as cradles for civilization and agents of disaster; a river may be a barrier or a highway, it can bear trade and sediment, culture and conflict. A river may inspire or it may terrify. This Very Short Introduction is a celebration of rivers in all their diversity. Nick Middleton covers a wide and eclectic range of river-based themes, from physical geography to mythology, to industrial history and literary criticism. Worshipped and revered, respected and feared, rivers reflect both the natural and social history of our planet. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Reptiles: A Very Short Introduction

Reptiles: A Very Short Introduction

For millions of years reptiles have walked, crawled, and slithered over the face of our Earth. From the mighty dinosaurs who dominated the land, the pterosaurs who took to the air, and the marine adapted ichthyosaurs, to the living reptiles today such as the lizards, snakes, crocodiles, and turtles, plus the single species of tuatara in New Zealand, reptiles have come in all shapes and sizes. In this Very Short Introduction Tom Kemp discusses the adaptations reptiles made to first leave the sea and colonise the land in dry conditions, such as their waterproof skin, their ability to expel almost dry waste products, their efficient use of external heat for maintaining their body temperature, and the amniotic egg that is laid and develops on dry land. Considering the different living groups of reptiles today, Kemp then describes how their respective bodies are adapted for their different ways of life, from snake feeding patterns to the way crocodiles breathe. Finally, Kemp assesses the threat of extinction to reptile species due to over-exploitation, habitat destruction, and climate change, and considers what can be done. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Renewable Energy: A Very Short Introduction

Renewable Energy: A Very Short Introduction

Energy is vital for a good standard of living, and much of the world's population does not have enough. Affordable and adequate sources of power that do not cause climate change or pollution are crucial; and renewables provide the answer. Wind and solar farms can now provide the cheapest electricity in many parts of the world. Moreover, they could provide all of the world's energy needs. But while market forces are fast helping the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, there are opposing pressures, such as the USA's proposed withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and the vested interests in fossil fuels. This Very Short Introduction describes the main renewable sources of energy- solar, wind, hydropower, and biomass- as well as the less well-developed ones- geothermal, tidal, and wave. Nick Jelley explains the challenges of integrating renewables into electricity grids, and the need for energy storage and for clean heat; and discusses the opportunities in developing countries for renewable energy to empower millions. He also considers international efforts and policies to support renewables and tackle climate change; and explains recent innovations in wind and solar energy production, battery storage, and in the emerging power-to-gas provision for clean heating. Throughout, he emphasises what renewable energy can deliver, and its importance in tackling climate change, and in improving health, welfare, and access to electricity. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Systems Biology: A Very Short Introduction

Systems Biology: A Very Short Introduction

Systems biology came about as growing numbers of engineers and scientists from other fields created algorithms which supported the analysis of biological data in incredible quantities. Whereas biologists of the past had been forced to study one item or aspect at a time, due to technical and biological limitations, it suddenly became possible to study biological phenomena within their natural contexts. This interdisciplinary field offers a holistic approach to interpreting these processes, and has been responsible for some of the most important developments in the science of human health and environmental sustainability. This Very Short Introduction outlines the exciting processes and possibilities in the new field of systems biology. Eberhard O. Voit describes how it enabled us to learn how intricately the expression of every gene is controlled, how signaling systems keep organisms running smoothly, and how complicated even the simplest cells are. He explores what this field is about, why it is needed, and how it will affect our understanding of life, particularly in the areas of personalized medicine, drug development, food and energy production, and sustainable stewardship of our environments. Throughout he considers how new tools are being provided from the fields of mathematics, computer science, engineering, physics, and chemistry to grasp the complexity of the countless interacting processes in cells which would overwhelm the cognitive and analytical capabilities of the human mind. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Landscapes and Geomorphology: A Very Short Introduction

Landscapes and Geomorphology: A Very Short Introduction

Examining what landscape is, and how we use a range of ideas and techniques to study it, Andrew Goudie and Heather Viles demonstrate how geomorphologists have built on classic methods pioneered by some great 19th century scientists to examine our Earth.

The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction

The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction

The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction is a new look at an ancient subject: the silk road that linked China, India, Persia and the Mediterranean across the expanses of Central Asia. James A. Millward highlights unusual but important biological, technological and cultural exchanges over the silk roads that stimulated development across Eurasia and underpin civilization in our modern, globalized world.

Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction

Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction

The explorations of archaeology encompass the whole globe, survey 2.5 million years, and range from deserts to jungles, from deep caves to mountain tops, and from pebble tools to GPS. Its efforts to reconstruct and understand the past do not fail to fascinate us. Paul Bahn explores the importance of archaeology in this entertaining introduction.

Climate: A Very Short Introduction

Climate: A Very Short Introduction

In this Very Short Introduction, Mark Maslin looks at all aspects of climate, from the physical and chemical factors that drive it and how climate differs from weather, to how climate has affected human settlements and the cyclic features of it. He ends with a look at climate change and our current approaches to solving it.

Christianity

A Very Short Introduction

Christianity

At a time when Christianity is flourishing in the Southern hemisphere but declining in much of the West, this Very Short Introduction offers an important overview of the world's largest religion. Exploring the cultural and institutional dimensions of Christianity, and tracing its course over two millennia, Linda Woodhead provides a fresh, lively, and candid portrait of Christianity's past and present. Addressing topics including the competition for power between different forms of Christianity, the churches' use of power, and its struggles with modernity, this new edition includes up to date information on the growth and geographical spread of Eastern Christianity, reflecting the global nature of Christianity in our ever-shifting contemporary culture. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.