The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012 Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews
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ISBN-13: 978-0547799537
ISBN-10: 0547799535
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

There is so much we don’t know, which leads us to make so many irrational decisions that we need scientists and science writers to share their inquiries and discoveries in welcoming and lucid prose. Stellar examples of just this sort of cogent and compelling writing sustains this invaluable and exciting series. This year’s guest editor, Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics and author of The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty (2012), kicks things off with a provocative introductory essay about how we can and should use science to improve our lives. His commanding and eye-opening selections run the gamut from the micro (gut biota) to the macro (global air pollution) and steadily ramp up our sense of awe and concern. His engaging contributors write of food allergies (Jerome Groopman), the evolution of feathers (Carl Zimmer), the extraction of DNA from Neanderthal bones (Elizabeth Kolbert), and crowd disasters (John Seabrook). In the most intimate essay, Sy Montgomery describes her unexpectedly emotional encounters with Athena, a very smart and expressive giant Pacific octopus. How wondrous and complicated life is. --Donna Seaman

Book Description

Previous ISBN 978-0-547-35063-9

Product Details

  • File Size: 1226 KB
  • Print Length: 350 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0547799535
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Publication Date: October 2, 2012
  • Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006R8PIG0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,895 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a third year psychology student I found this year's selection to be completely to my liking. The articles in the collection move from the micro to the macro, and cover topics from how bacteria in your gut affect your health (the human microbiome project) to how the our cities have been changing over the past centuries.

As can be expected each of the articles is very well written and completely engaging. They come from sources like the National Geographic, Science, Nature, and Wired. Most of the authors are journalists, although there are a couple of authors who are professional scientists.

The emphasis of the articles is on the social sciences-- there's nothing at all on recent physics discoveries. If you have an interest in the social sciences, and enjoy Dan Ariely's work then you'll find this selection to your pleasing. There's enough variability in the articles that you'll probably learn something new too-- I know I've certainly been learning a lot.

In sum, I'd say that it's an inspiring collection of articles. The editor did a great job, and I will continue to read the series in the future.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Unlike previous versions, this compilation does not contain any pieces on physics, astronomy, or mathematics. If that doesn't bother you, go for it. If it does, read through the table of contents before purchasing.
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I buy these every year, along with the "Best Science Writing" one from a competing publisher. Strangely, they rarely duplicate each other. With this series you also get Nature ( think ecology and environmentalism) articles. As I prefer not to be lectured when I am reading for pleasure, I somewhat prefer the other series.
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I was hooked from that line forward! Fellow readers, please don't be afraid of reading about science and nature; these are neither learned disertations nor stuffy academic folderol. These are essays--thinking on paper--written as much for the writer as for the reader, and, by the way, as the reader, you have the right and resposibility to rebut the authors' points of view, if you find them in error. Read these essays and be not afraid when you hear a grinding of gears and the faint smell of burning rubber as your brain starts up and begins to cogitate, percolate and burst forth with ideas and thoughts un-thunk before. Let these essays be your impetus. I wish you happy reading and wonder-filled thoughts!
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I took this book with me on a vacation and was delighted that each section was short enough to read in one sitting, ranging from 15-55 minutes per section. The science was current and fascinating.
I typically read fiction and thought this would be good for me...stretch my horizons so to speak. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have to "force" myself to slog through this book. Not only was the subject matter interesting to someone who is not a "science person," but the writing was good quality prose. Some of it was genuinely clever and funny. The readings are also well attributed and I found myself going online to read more about something/someone mentioned in the article.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in science and nature, but isn't necessarily a scientist.
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Format: Paperback
I have to say I think many of these other reviews are unkind to this book. There is a subtle intelligence to it that unfolds as you read the articles. Certainly, this is not hard-core science and it is aimed at general readers with a literary non-fiction approach. I found it generally interesting and informative; some articles were genuinely excellent and the whole hung together in a way that other volumes in the series have not attempted as far as I recall. Any intelligent person should be able to get something useful out of it.
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Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012 gets a three out of five, and not more, because I don't think many of the pieces were that memorable. That might say more about my memory rather than the editors' selection, so take this review however you'd like. Some of the pieces I do remember that were fascinating were the following:

This whole "bitcoin" thing, where an anonymous guy made his own currency online and then got people interested in investing in it raises all sorts of new questions about the future of currency.

Octopuses are quite smart and have very different personalities and temperaments.

Whatever this jazz people call free will is, it's severely limited and instead of having a lot of control over our wills, we too often go along with negative feedback loops, repeating old bad habits time and time again. Luckily, however, some of these negative feedback loops can be overcome with technologies to exploit them, as in the case when people slow down as a result of their driving speed being displayed for them on a big digital sign that also acts as a speed detector.

I'm sure there were other good articles, but those three were most memorable for me.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A Very interesting series of articles. I thought the balance was good and the authors were able to write in shch a way that the essence of what they were writing about , came across clearly and in a way that a layman could understand.
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