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Scientific Conversations: Interviews on Science from The New York Times

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0805071801
ISBN-10: 0805071806
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Feeling "inchoate stress" from interviewing politicians, Dreifus convinced her bosses at the New York Times to let her interview scientists. Gathered here are nearly 40 interviews with not only widely recognized author-scientists such as Martin Rees and Stephen Jay Gould but also researchers rarely sought out by reporters. Disdainful of the interview candidates pushed on her by university flacks, Dreifus (among other approaches) would instead attend scientific conferences; one yielded a talk with an enthusiastic expert in birdsongs. Dreifus also seeks out lesser-known women scientists. If not always well represented in science, they are increasingly populating its disciplines, examples of whom, such as the director of the National Science Foundation (microbiologist Rita Colwell), recall, at Dreifus' prompting, the rampant sexism they have encountered and overcome. Although Dreifus does not have a science background, she is meticulous about doing preparatory work for each interview and often picks people who have not arrived in science along conventional routes, such as former cocktail waitress and NIH immunologist Polly Matzinger. A lively reprise from the paper's science section. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Claudia Dreifus gives readers the luxury of great conversation, and the necessity of personal bridges into the scientific world. Rarely has learning been so pleasurable."--Gloria Steinem

"This is a wonderful book, crackling with character, eloquence, quirk, and wit. You'll have fun reading it and you'll learn a lot without knowing what hit you."--Natalie Angier
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805071806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805071801
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,236,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This collection of interviews from the New York Times by one-time political journalist Claudia Dreifus works well as an introduction to various areas of current scientific interest.
Each of the 38 conversations (11 with women) includes a two and a quarter by one and a half inch black and white photo of the interviewee, an introduction, some Q and A, and a postscript in which Dreifus reports on a follow-up. The persons being conversed with are mostly scientists, but there are medical practitioners, a couple of politicians, an AIDS victim, and some administrators. There are some superstars (Martin Rees, Arthur C. Clarke, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Jay Gould, Roger Penrose) and some others who are not very well known outside their area of expertise (e.g., Luis F. Baptista, Birute Galdikas), and still others who are perhaps best known for being in the public eye (Princess Diana's psychiatrist, Susie Orbach; National Public Radio's Ira Flatow; maverick science writer John Horgan). One has the sense that the conversations have been distilled from a larger essence.
The most striking interview is with Dr. Nawal M. Nour, a Sudanese-born gynecologist who treats African-American women in the Boston area who have been mutilated by so-called "female circumcision." Dreifus asks Nour if "These operations" are used "as a means of social control."
Dr. Nour's surprising response is that "the people who are perpetuating the practice are usually the women themselves." She adds, "I find that people do it because of a deeply ingrained belief that they are protecting their daughters. This not done to be hurtful, but out of love." (pp 171-172) Dr. Nour's prescription is to dispel such grotesque ignorance with education.
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Format: Hardcover
An exploration of our great scientists from the unique perspective of a New York Times writer. Dreifus's knack is to draw out her interviewees and distill complex subjects into compelling, easily understood science. I never miss her interviews in Science Times.
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Format: Hardcover
Claudia Dreifus has done a tremendous job in compiling interviews from a vast array of scientists of various expertise. The interviews are generally provacative and allow the reader (better than any other book of this kind that I have read) to understand the mind and passions of the scientists. Very highly recommended!!!
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Format: Hardcover
What comes through loud and clear from Dreifus's interviews is how much fun her subjects are having doing cutting-edge science. They love their work and love talking about it, and Dreifus manages to convey their enthusiasm to the reader, incidentally passing on a good bit of information from the scientific frontier. You're hooked from the beginning, when Dreifus asks Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal of Great Britain, "So what's your sign?" Think of this as the best cocktail party you've ever been to.
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By A Customer on December 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This upbeat book about thirty eight fascinating figures in contemporary science, makes their universe accessible to the outsider. The pieces are easy to get in to, witty and--dare one say it?--FUN. Suggestion: this is the book for a young person interested in a science career--as well as for routine science buffs.
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