Elbow: The Mysterious Pattern Inside Everything and How It Will Change the Way We Think About the Economy, Health Care, and the Internet

What is an “Elbow”? As best-selling science journalist Jonathan Brainer explains, it’s a ubiquitous pattern that looks much like its namesake anatomy: a line moves in one direction and then– suddenly– in another. Brainer ingeniously shows us how Elbows seem to turn up any time we make a graph, no matter what data is used: stock markets, marmoset populations, even the contours of seemingly ordinary rocks. How should we manage the world differently knowing that another Elbow might come at any time? The implications for areas as diverse as global financial systems, medical insurance, and space colonization are discussed in eye-opening detail. Several chapters toward the end address how readers can learn to recognize– and take advantage of– the Elbows in their own lives. Starred Review.

Infectious Noise: A Brief History of the Snap

Why do we snap our fingers? In this entertaining and highly readable account, Preston Warner, the Roland P. “Bud” Lawson Professor of Social Psychology at Bellevue College, describes how snapping goes back to at least the ancient Romans, who would snap– not clap– to express their admiration for gladiatorial combatants. Asides into the etymology of derivative words like “snappy,” “snap-on,” and top Japanese boy band SMAP (widely thought to be a corruption of “snap”) keep the heavy subject matter from getting too bogged down in academic jargon. Warner argues that snapping is, ultimately, a democratizing force– the explosion of compressed air from the palm of the hand makes this signature sound a direct and forceful personal statement. Includes Index.