From Publishers Weekly
Edited by New York Times
science writer Kolata, this volume celebrates writing that captures the excitement of scientific discovery and also its human consequences. Tyler Cabot's The Theory of Everything spotlights theoretical physicists awaiting the greatest, most anticipated, most expensive experiment in the history of mankind. By contrast, Manifold Destiny by Sylvia Nasar and David Gruber tells of Russian mathematician Grigory Perelman, who quietly announced a solution to one of the field's most elusive problems: Fermat's Last Theorem. Atul Gawande's The Score looks at the all-too-often painful history of obstetrics, and Truth or Consequences by Jennifer Couzin examines the bitter fallout for innocent graduate students and postdocs when their adviser is accused of falsifying data. Oliver Sacks's Stereo Sue explores the marvel of binocular vision, and Barry Yeoman's Schweitzer's Dangerous Discovery profiles unconventional paleontologist Mary Higby Schweitzer, discoverer of tissue remnants in dinosaur bones. These articles, culled mainly from general interest publications like the New Yorker
but also from science magazines like Discover
, showcase articles that show, in Kolata's words, how [a]dvances in science have changed who we are as human beings and... are changing what we will become, and readers will indeed find them as exciting as they are compelling. (Sept. 18)
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From daring medical developments to dire environmental predictions, from sophisticated computer applications to scathing evolutionary skirmishes, the range of scientific topics covered by journalists has never been more eclectic or exhilarating, nor has it ever been so accessible to the layperson whose knowledge of or interest in such presumably "technical" subjects might have been left behind at the end of high-school biology classes. With so many stellar examples of sharp and satisfying writing to choose from, Kolata faced a daunting editing task, yet the 20 selections in this year's annual compilation represent a seamless fusion of the empirical and elemental. Among the highlights: Stacey Burling's nimble tale of diagnosing Alzheimer's disease; Matthew Chapman's nifty behind-the-scenes exposé of the Dover, Pennsylvania, lawsuit regarding the teaching of evolution; and Gregory Mone's noteworthy profile of the scientist behind movie science. Culled from the pages of Harper's, Esquire, and the New Yorker, among other mainstream publications, this compelling compendium is one-stop reading for technogeeks and regular folk alike. Haggas, Carol