The Science of Monsters: The Origins of the Creatures We Love to Fear

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 8, 2013 - Science - 244 pages
2 Reviews
Featured on NPR’s Science Friday, an “ingenious” (The Wall Street Journal) and insightful guide to history’s legendary and frightening monsters and the science and culture that created them.

We all know “there’s no such thing as monsters,” but our imaginations tell us otherwise. From the mythical beasts of ancient Greece to the hormonal vampires of the Twilight saga, monsters have captivated us for millennia. Matt Kaplan, a noted science journalist and monster-myth enthusiast, employs an entertaining mix of cutting-edge research and a love of lore to explore the history behind these fantastical fictions and our hardwired obsession with things that go bump in the night. The Science of Monsters tackles the enduring questions that arise on the frontier between fantasy and reality. Did dragons really exist? What inspired the creation of vampires and why are we so drawn to them? Are we close to making Jurassic Park a reality by replicating a dinosaur from fossilized DNA? Kaplan takes readers to the forefront of science, where our favorite figures of horror may find real-life validation.
 

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User Review  - meandmybooks - LibraryThing

In this entertaining look at beliefs in monsters of various sorts, as with his more recent book on magical powers, Science of the Magical, Matt Kaplan explores the ways in which science (and culture ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AlCracka - LibraryThing

Casey recommends this: "It's called Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite: The Science of Monsters, and it traces the scientific origins of monster myths (including Frankenstein!). Anyway, I haven't read ... Read full review

Contents

Giant AnimalsNemean Lion Calydonian Boar Rukh King
7
Beastly BlendsChimera Griffon Cockatrice Sphinx
33
It Came from the EarthMinotaur Medusa
51
The Mysterious FathomsCharybdis Leviathan
79
Extraterrestrial ThreatAliens
198
Conclusion
213
Sources
227
Index
239
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About the author (2013)

Matt Kaplan is a science correspondent with The Economist. He has also contributed to National Geographic, New Scientist, Nature, and The New York Times. He is the author of the book The Science of Monsters. In 2014, Kaplan was awarded a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship which he used to study the sciences at MIT and folklore at Harvard.

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