Secret Cities: The Architecture and Planning of the Manhattan Project, National Building Museum, Washington, DC, 3 May 2018–3 March 2019, $10.00 admission

In 1942 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the formation of the Manhattan Project, a massive effort to weaponize nuclear fission. The project would eventually employ more than 130 000 people, many of whom lived at three Manhattan Project sites: Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico. Secret Cities, a new exhibit at the National Building Museum, examines the architecture of those sites. Entire cities were constructed almost overnight to accommodate the scientists, administrators, and laborers needed to make the project run. Visitors get a fascinating glimpse into life on the Manhattan Project via photographs, floor plans, and artifacts such as security badges. The exhibit also highlights the fact that not everyone on the project was given comfortable housing. At the segregated Oak Ridge site, for example, African Americans lived in plywood “hutments” rather than the tidy two- or three-bedroom homes given to the white scientists. The exhibit situates the Manhattan Project in a wider history of both architecture and science and includes a thoughtful and sobering examination of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. —mb

The Computability of the World: How Far Can Science Take Us?, Bernd-Olaf Küppers, Springer, 2018, $29.99

In this collection of edited and updated lectures, physicist and philosopher of science Bernd-Olaf Küppers asks a series of provocative questions about the nature of scientific knowledge. The Computability of the World explores topics ranging from the origins of life to the nature of language and beauty and asks readers to consider both the possibilities and the limitations of science and technology. The book, aimed at an interdisciplinary audience, will appeal to readers interested in the philosophy of science, especially the philosophy of information and data. —mb

Science Not Silence: Voices from the March for Science Movement, Stephanie Fine Sasse and Lucky Tran, eds., MIT Press, 2018, $14.95 (paper)

“Let us now pause for a moment of science,” reads a placard held by Mr. Science Bear in one of the many evocative illustrations that appear in Science Not Silence. The book is a compilation of photographs, signs, artwork, and autobiographical sketches commemorating the 2017 March for Science, a worldwide movement in support of scientific research. Science Not Silence, using images of and interviews with participants from all over the US and the world, represents both a paean to the marchers and a call to action to continue defending the role of science in society. The book’s editors, Stephanie Fine Sasse and Lucky Tran, both helped plan the march. —cc

The Young Scientists Series: In 12 Volumes, Nury Vittachi, World Scientific, 2017, $49.90 (paper)

Written for children ages 6 to 12 years, World Scientific’s Young Scientists Series presents the stories of 60 notable scientists working in various disciplines. Each of the 12 slim 24-page volumes focuses on five people who contributed to a particular scientific field or area of study. Volume 2, for example, features physicists Wilhelm Röntgen, Marie Curie, Abdus Salam, Wu Chien-shiung, and Michael Faraday. Written by journalist Nury Vittachi and illustrated by Step Cheung, the stories are simple, quick introductions to a diverse group of people—men and women of all ages and cultures—who have made significant contributions to science. —cc

Unveiling Galaxies: The Role of Images in Astronomical Discovery, Jean-René Roy, Cambridge U. Press, 2017, $44.99

Whether sketches, drawings, or photographs, images of stars have proven to be excellent investigative tools that allow astronomers to make many important advances. For example, about a century ago, Edwin Hubble’s images of stars in a spiral nebula established the existence of galaxies beyond the Milky Way. In Unveiling Galaxies, Canadian astronomer Jean-René Roy starts with a history of astronomical observation, follows with a summary of the current knowledge about galaxies and a discussion of optical, radio, and x-ray imaging techniques, and finishes with a presentation on galaxy classification schemes and scientific atlases. Color and black-and-white images illustrate the author’s highly readable and nontechnical text. —cc

Mercury 13, Netflix, Fine Point Films, 2018

This engaging documentary tells the story of 13 women who dreamed of becoming US astronauts in the 1960s. All were experienced pilots who passed the intense physical and psychological screening tests designed by NASA physician Randy Lovelace. He hoped their impressive test results would persuade the space organization to allow women to enter the space program. But their efforts met with resistance from NASA and Congress, and ultimately only men flew in the groundbreaking Mercury and Apollo missions. It’s hard not to wish the story had ended differently in the 1960s, but Mercury 13 is a moving tribute to how much those women accomplished—as pilots, public figures, and inspirations for future generations. For a full review, see —mb

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Review: Mercury 13 highlights women who dreamed of the stars
Physics Today
, 23 May