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The Best American Science Writing 2006 Paperback – Bargain Price, September 5, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
I have read all or part of the entire series beginning in 2000, and while every collection has been interesting, even fascinating, this year's collection is particularly good. I say this because Gawande, in keeping close to his area of expertise, has chosen articles mainly in the fields of biology, medicine, computers and information theory, and evolution, and these happen to be fields that especially interest me. The emphasis in this volume then is on the so-called "soft" sciences rather than the "hard" ones, although not exclusively so. Moreover, Gawande has managed to find essays that are especially well-written. I was a bit dazzled at the wordsmithing ability of some of the writers to say nothing about the fascinating and informative content of their essays. In particular I want to point to Alan Weisman's "Earth Without People"; D. T.Read more ›
The most interesting essay in this book, in my opinion, was "Climbing the Redwoods" which opened up a new window on the world to me: treetop ecology. The essay "Obesity: an Overblown Epidemic" should be comforting to the growing group of less svelte among us. "Yawning," well written, told me more than I wanted to know about the subject, and caused me to yawn. Articles on cloning, time travel, disease, hearing restoration, autism, God, and gays are easy to read -- and in fact a few are superficial.
Most of the good scientific writing I encounter is accompanied by graphs, charts, photos and other visual aids to comprehension. This book has none of that, a boon if you like good writing, less desirable if your thirst for comprehension goes a bit deeper. This is a good book to read on a long airplane flight. It's small, light-weight, and light- hearted.
H. Allen Orr - An unusually non-polemic critique of intelligent design. Orr's analyzes the arguments of ID's two main advocates - Behe and Dempsky. Both of them have grudgingly admitted that once the cell was in existence, evolution by random mutation and natural selection could have done the rest.
Richard Preston - The author joins Steve Sillett (botany professor and advanced tree climber) in exploring redwood canopies 300-375 feet above ground. To accomplish entry, they shoot an arrow from a powerful hunting bow over a low branch, perhaps 200 feet up. A fishing line is tied to the arrow, and is used to pull the 600 foot climbing rope back over that branch. That's the easy part.
Frans B. M. de Waal - The author always enjoyed being tuned to his environment, watching people in action - especially their body language. During thousands of hours as a graduate student in the 70's, de Waal watched chimps, and found that Machiavelli was a better guide than his texts. Chimpanzee politics was like human politics - a matter of individual strategies clashing to see who came out ahead - of course the chimps were much more transparent. The author began to see people around him in a different light.
Tom Mueller - Computers have triumphed at chess not by aping human thought, as most artificial intelligence experts had expected, but by playing like machines.Read more ›
"H.L. Mencken once said that for every complex problem there is a simple solution - and it's wrong." This comes from Gibbs' "Obesity." It isn't actually Gibbs' idea, but it's well-placed and I have used it many times in the past few weeks.
"The rational public-health approach would be to vaccinate those who would first be exposed [to avian flu] - heal-care workers and people in the region where an epidemic has struck. That is unlikely to happen." This is from Specter's "Nature's Bioterrorist," and it illustrates how power-hungry egotists will cause most of the human race to die needlessly in the future. (Possibly.)
"The genotype may be identical in a clone, but it gets expressed differently." This is from Quammen's "Clone Your Troubles Away." I like it because I think it's hilarious to think of people spending millions on a spare pet or child and getting an entirely unexpected being.
Mann's "The Coming Death Shortage" inspired me to write science-fiction stories. It interests me to think of a world in which "the 'becalmed temperament' of old people" is at war with "the legions of youth - 'the protagonists...of protest, instability, reform, and revolution.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating and well written essays. Just what I would expect from being put together by Gawande.Published 14 months ago by Alison Stein
I am a fan of this series because the science articles are well-pitched (neither dumbed down nor too technical), interesting, and of a good length (8 - 10 pages typically). Read morePublished on February 12, 2011 by BF
I was a bit skeptical getting a readers-digest type of a book.
However, this turned out to be a very impressive material. Read more
This is a great series. Don't miss any of it. Back order old issues... it's worth it.Published on November 17, 2007 by Craig A. Coppock
This is the first edition of this series that I have read. It's pretty good, although, this is more science reporting than science writing. Read morePublished on October 6, 2007 by email@example.com
Delivers what it promises; engaging informative scientific papers from the year. Good read! These books get better every yearPublished on June 22, 2007 by K R Skrydlak
This is a good anthology of high quality science journalism. Most of the writers are professional journalists, some with strong scientific backgrounds, but two of the better... Read morePublished on January 24, 2007 by R. Albin
You don't even have to be an avid science reader to enjoy the 21 well-written science stories contained in this book. Read morePublished on January 13, 2007 by TJ Burr