- Series: Best American Science Writing
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Ecco; 2011 ed. edition (October 20, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062091247
- ISBN-13: 978-0062091246
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #989,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Best American Science Writing 2011 2011 ed. Edition
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“The perfect gateway to the wider world of modern science in all its variety and wonder. The writing is engaging and perfectly suited to readers of any interest level.... The Best American Science Writing 2011 provides a brilliantly brief glimpse into that fascinating world.” (San Francisco Book Review)
“By drawing from a wide variety of sources, mainstream (The New York Times, Playboy, Vanity Fair) and niche (Discover, Columbia Journalism Review, and science blogs), the  anthology both provokes and inspires.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The list of impressive guest editors over the years—including Oliver Sacks, James Gleick, Atul Gawande and Jerome Groopman—is joined this year by a father and daughter... Rebecca Skloot (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) teams with her father Floyd, a past contributor to the series…Literate, nontechnical popular science.” (Kirkus Reviews)
From the Back Cover
Edited by Rebecca Skloot, award-winning science writer and New York Times bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and her father, Floyd Skloot, an award-winning poet and writer, and past contributor to the series, The Best American Science Writing 2011 collects into one volume the most crucial, thought-provoking, and engaging science writing of the year. Culled from a wide variety of publications, these selections of outstanding journalism cover the full spectrum of scientific inquiry, providing a comprehensive overview of the most compelling, relevant, and exciting developments in the world of science. Provocative and engaging, The Best American Science Writing 2011 reveals just how far science has brought us—and where it is headed next.
Top customer reviews
*One of my favorites - "What Broke My Father's Heart" by Butler: Good article about end of life issues - that can be less like a battle and more like a massacre. There's nothing like the profit motive to keep people from being allowed to die in peace.
*One of my favorites - "Hot Air" by Homans: The "dumbing down" of science has infected our local TV weathermen. They enjoy a large respect factor from the public, sometimes being looked at as science ambassadors in their communities. Unfortunately, they may not know much science outside their immediate field - short-term prediction of weather - and have been known to misrepresent climate change issues.
"The Singularity" by Zimmer: Why Artificial Intelligence will not replace the human brain - but there are certainly technologies that might enhance it. Zimmer is a great science writer and does justice to this large subject.
"BP's Deep Secrets" by Whitty: In depth study of the long term environmental impacts of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and much about the physiology of the deep.
"The Estrogen Dilemma" by Gorney: Hormone replacement therapy may carry a few risks but the symptoms of menopause can be tough to deal with. Good example of why epidemiological studies are so hard to interpret. The variables and intricacies are endless.
"Cary in the Sky With Diamonds" by Beauchamp and Balaban: A couple of psychiatrists in Beverly Hills in the late fifties had long sessions with their famous patients starting with little blue pills - an adjunct to their psychotherapy. "Look" magazine gave a big thumbs up to the new wonder drug and Cary Grant swore LSD made him a new man.
"The Longest Home Run Ever" by Brenkus: The Physics of the game. Mickey Mantle hit the longest home run on record in 1953 - 565 feet. In neurotic detail our author calculates how far the ideal batter could hit the ideal pitch under ideal circumstances.
*My favorite - "Nature's Spoils" by Burkhard Bilger: A delightful romp through an alternative lifestyle as you rediscover the symbiotic relationship between humankind and bacteria. The author takes us from "urban squatters" who are not above dumpster diving to homesteaders living on communes who prefer raw milk and roadkill. Be prepared to "read through" some of the earthier parts of this article while our author drives home the idea that "Modern hygiene has prevented countless colds, fevers, and other ailments, but its central premise is hopelessly outdated. The human body isn't besieged: it's saturated - infused with microbial life at every level."
*My least favorite - "The Mess He Made" by Rosenwald: The office a**hole used to be just a jerk but nowadays he has a psychiatric diagnosis. Likewise, in this article, the author tries to make his pathological messiness into something more than laziness and unwillingness to change bad habits. I can't imagine what this is doing in a collection of science essays. Another article or two like this one and I'd have had to downgrade the book's rating.
"Professor Tracks Injuries With Aim of Prevention" by Schwarz: "Fred Mueller has almost singlehandedly run the National Center For Catastrophic Injury Research at the University of North Carolina for 30 years, logging and analyzing more than 1,000 fatal, paralytic, or other ghastly injuries in sports from peewees to the pros. His work has repeatedly improved safety for young athletes by identifying patterns that lead to changes in rules, field dimensions, and more."
"The Trouble With Scientists" by Blum: Scientists have historically been loath to engage the general public. They have even, at times, discriminated against certain of their colleagues (Carl Sagan, for example) who have tried to make science more available. That is changing and the author praises those scientists who blog, speak, or otherwise engage the general public - a public that is a bit antiscience these days and certainly needs to be more attuned to the scientific method that helped bring humanity out of the dark ages.
*One of my favorites - "The Data Trail" by Folger - Dave Bertelsen has been hiking in the Sonora desert for nearly 30 years and taking notes - as a hobby. After a talk by climatologist Michael Crimmins in Tuscon, Bertelsen approached him and said, "I have a big data set - I don't know if you'd be interested." Crimmins and his wife, an ecologist, were blown away by his data. His mile-by-mile notes are now being used by scientists at the University of Tuscon to study how global warming has changed the desert.
"Earth on Fire" by Ohlson: People have reported fires in coal beds for thousands of years. Ever since the industrial revolution, numbers of smoldering coal beds have increased dramatically around the world. The coal bed fire was so bad in (now ghosttown) Centralia, Pennsylvania that Congress gave Pennsylvania $42 million to relocate all its citizens.
"A Deadly Misdiagnosis" by Specter: "While hardly a threat in the West, tuberculosis is still a killer in the developing world." A new test is available to expedite diagnosis but it might not be used in India where the disease is a huge problem. Doctors in India make so much of their money using ineffective methods of diagnosis and treatment, they'd rather keep the status quo.
That's 14 out of 21 - I think you get the idea. This is a great read.
The first story alludes to the book Stuff which is a book about hoarding.
The writer analyzes his behavior. I read Stuff. I liked it all the way up to the cat hoarding end which is when I quit.
It got a bit weird. Next we go into a tale about a parent acquiring a pacemaker and falling down a rabbit hole because disconnection
is not an option in regards to the do not resuscitate preference. We hear about the pros, cons and ramifications of getting involved with such a device. Then there is a story about a mother in the early 1980' dealing with Duschene's which was not even called muscular distrophy back then. We take the journey as she receives an education listening to her two suffering offspring, about the fundraising channels that are most lucrative, the treatments and how they need to be customized, working with other parents, and finally pursuing aid for other sufferers after her own sons passed. Next we are treated to a history of meteorologists and climatologist in regards to global warming. What was their educational background? How do meteorology and climatology differ? Do the meteorologists who reject global warming have the educational background that qualifies them to do so? Then we examine Neuro-scientific breakthroughs in a short story that declares that people will have to be rebuilt in some instances ( somewhat akin to the cochlear implant example). One million people die each year from heart disease. This is something for you to ponder if you want follow Trumps lead and order Kentucky Fried Chicken and 84 grams of fat burgers at some posh location.
We learn that memories get stored in webs. Possible solutions in the future could include being rebuilt like a computer a bit and algae. Treatments are discuss for some neurological ailments too.
My favorite short story is BP's deep secrets. This should be required reading everywhere since our planetary survival demands it! Where were the experts when we needed them to exclaim "no dispersent-Corexit!" This is pointed out to be "marine warfare masquerading as cleanup" Read about how the oil should be cleaned up as it floats to the top. It was sunk because they get charged according to the size of the spill as measured from the top. This deactivated the natural bottom filter and put the DSL in jeopardy and thus all the sea life that feed on the DSL too. Anyone who is trying to decide if they want to risk their land and water to harvest energy needs to read this. The drilling muds are a toxic brew of 14+ heavy metals! And, the methanol that thwarts the vaporization of the gas into the atmosphere and diverts it to the water is no solution. It robs precious oxygen from the water and attracts creatures that feed on it which are not the most desirable.
The next article explores menopause drugs. It leans on the Climara Estrogen patch along with Progesterone ( to prevent uterine cancer) as the winning combo. But, it goes on to say that if taken too late Estrogen rather than protecting can accellerate symptoms of Alzheimers/ dementia.
After that is an article on Animal abuse; it explores heinous incidents, how it is closely related/ a precursor to people abuse, and how it
is taken seriously as a crime whereas it used to be marginalized.
Then, there is a wonderful article about robots that are effectively use as friends or psychotherapeutic aids to folks in nursing homes who are lonely. People's need to personalize robotic vacuums with outfits is also discussed.
And, the story that follows that delves into 1958 psychotherapeutic practices involving celebrities and LSD.
It is pretty far out.
The Longest home run ever examines the margin for error with fast balls. It discusses speed, distance and a spin that
can increase the speed by decreasing the friction.
The article that follows that discusses the fatal consequences of playing too soon after a concussion.
Another favorite of mine is the article that discusses sushi and how much more the native Japanese get out of it
due to their cultivated gut bacteria.
There is a short story about different diets followed by paleolithic oriented people. This starts off with an HIV infected
man pursuing an overall fermentation diet. It also discusses culinary creations from dumpster diving. And, discusses how
clean eating could be making us sicker. We are, after all, out numbered by bacteria by a 9 to 1 ration. Some people consume
high (rotten) meat.
And, for the reviewer who is looking for geology and global warming oriented reading, there is a story about coal mines that emit
1/4 of the pollution of a working coal mine into the environment after being left unmanned. These fires are responsible for emitting countless toxins into the air.They are dirtier than working coal mines due to the fact that there is no oxygen infused to lessen the emissions. It mentions a town in PA that was given 42 million by the U.S. government to evacuate and relocate. And, there is discussion about sulfurous sinkholes. The seams of coal that create these fires are called Ruth Mullins fires in honor of her having discovered them via the scent of rotten eggs. You can't tell where these exist without tests because sometimes the vegetation above ground is not harmed. Anytime coal is mined we risk igniting these never ending fires. These exist worldwide. This short story is one of my favorites.
It is a must read!
Another favorite is on internet threats: worms mostly, trojan, virus
Worms are discussed in depth. They are a great threat. They invade then call home with new info on a regular basis.
They keep getting more and more sophisticated. Obama wants 1000 people working on the problem. There are not that many that even understand them. And, the creators have a foothold and are constantly morphing their worm into a more impenetrable beast and a greater threat!
The back of the book goes into a detailed description of each contributor's qualifications.
Most recent customer reviews
The 2011 version of the Best American Science Writing started out great for me with the introduction by Rebecca Skloot, author of...Read more