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The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science

by

The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science Cover

ISBN13: 9780618242955
ISBN10: 0618242953
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

 

Staff Pick

Another winner from one of the best science writers around, The Canon, like Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything, provides a pleasurable understanding of science.
Recommended by Beth, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:


With the singular intelligence and exuberance that made Woman an international sensation, Natalie Angier takes us on a "guided twirligig through the scientific canon." She draws on conversations with hundreds of the world's top scientists, and her own work as a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for the New York Times, to create a thoroughly entertaining guide to scientific literacy. People magazine says, "Angier has that rare dual talent: a true passion for science combined with a poet's linguistic flair." Those gifts are on full display in The Canon, an ebullient celebration of science that stands to become a classic.

The Canon is a joyride through the major scientific disciplines: physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and astronomy. It's vital reading for anyone who wants to understand the great issues of our time, from stem cells and bird flu to evolution and global warming. It's also one of those rare books that reignites our childhood delight in figuring out how things work: we learn what's actually happening when our ice cream melts or our coffee gets cold, what our liver cells do when we eat a caramel, how the horse shows evolution at work, and that we really are all made of stardust. It's Lewis Carroll meets Lewis Thomas: a book that will enrapture, inspire, and enlighten.

Review:

"Carl Sagan once complained, 'We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.' So it is today. A host of national debates — from stem cell research to climate change — require a baseline of scientific literacy. And yet even Harvard students surveyed at their commencement couldn't correctly explain why the year... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Natalie Angier...has produced another, much-needed book on the basics of science." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Every sentence sparkles with wit and charm...it all adds up to an intoxicating cocktail of fine science writing." Richard Dawkins

Review:

"Natalie Angier makes planets and particles sexy....She turns guys with lab coats and pocket protectors into Daniel Craig." Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind

Review:

"An essential experience....How dare she write so artfully, explain so brilliantly, rendering us scientists simultaneously proud and inarticulate!" Leon Lederman, Nobel laureate

Review:

"Natalie Angier provides a masterful, authoritative synthesis of the state of knowledge across the entire scientific landscape." Howard Gardner, Harvard University, author of Five Minds for the Future and Frames of Mind

Review:

"Not everything is as easy as pie (or pi) to grasp, and therein lies the excitement and challenge of science, masterfully conveyed here." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"[Angier] writes with such verve, humor, and warmth that even readers who may have flunked any of those subjects in high school will still be willing to give them a second chance." Library Journal (Starred Review)

Synopsis:

In this exuberant book, the best-selling author Natalie Angier distills the scientific canon to the absolute essentials, delivering an entertaining and inspiring one-stop science education. Angier interviewed a host of scientists, posing the simple question “What do you wish everyone knew about your field?” The Canon provides their answers, taking readers on a joyride through the fascinating fundamentals of the incredible world around us and revealing how they are relevant to us every day. Angier proves a rabble-rousing, wisecracking, deeply committed tour guide in her irresistible exploration of the scientific process and the basic concepts of physics, chemistry, evolutionary biology, cellular and molecular biology, geology, and astronomy. Even science-phobes will find her passion infectious as she strives "to make the invisible visible, the distant neighborly, the ineffable affable."

Synopsis:

From the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author of Woman, a playful, passionate guide to the science all around us< BR> < BR> With the singular intelligence and exuberance that made Woman an international sensation, Natalie Angier takes us on a whirligig tour of the scientific canon. She draws on conversations with hundreds of the world's top scientists and on her own work as a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the New York Times to create a thoroughly entertaining guide to scientific literacy. Angier's gifts are on full display in The Canon, an ebullient celebration of science that stands to become a classic.< BR> < BR> The Canon is vital reading for anyone who wants to understand the great issues of our time — from stem cells and bird flu to evolution and global warming. And it's for every parent who has ever panicked when a child asked how the earth was formed or what electricity is. Angier's sparkling prose and memorable metaphors bring the science to life, reigniting our own childhood delight in discovering how the world works. Of course you should know about science, writes Angier, for the same reason Dr. Seuss counsels his readers to sing with a Ying or play Ring the Gack: These things are fun and fun is good.< BR> < BR> The Canon is a joyride through the major scientific disciplines: physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and astronomy. Along the way, we learn what is actually happening when our ice cream melts or our coffee gets cold, what our liver cells do when we eat a caramel, why the horse is an example of evolution at work, and how we're all really made of stardust. It's Lewis Carroll meets Lewis Thomas — a book that will enrapture, inspire, and enlighten.

Synopsis:

Buckle up for a joy ride through physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and astronomy with this ebullient guide to science by a Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author.

About the Author

Natalie Angier is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the New York Times and a frequent contributor to many magazines. Her honors include the Lewis Thomas Award and the AAAS Science Journalism Award. She lives near Washington, D.C., with her husband and their daughter.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Sisyphus Sings with a Ying 1

1. Thinking Scientifically: An Out-of-Body Experience 18 2. Probabilities: For Whom the Bell Curves 47 3. Calibration: Playing with Scales 71 4. Physics: And Nothings Plenty for Me 87 5. Chemistry: Fire, Ice, Spies, and Life 121 6. Evolutionary Biology: The Theory of Every Body 147 7. Molecular Biology: Cells and Whistles 183 8. Geology: Imagining World Pieces 212 9. Astronomy: Heavenly Creatures 235

References 267 Acknowledgments 280 Index 282

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

titianlibrarian, January 25, 2008 (view all comments by titianlibrarian)
Angiers has taken every big idea of science and given it a chapter; most of the essentials are explained in a way that doesn't leave non-science people behind. From calibrations to chemistry to geology, she is able to cover the basics of a science education on one book.
I have to admit that I learned a lot. But I learned a lot in spite of Angiers' flowery prose, with its run-on sentences and out-there metaphors. While some of the strange comparisons were appropriate, others were too obscure or just too distracting.

In truth, sodium chloride, magnesium bromide, calcium chloride and the like are not molecules but ionic compounds, and though the hero here is still a bond, Sean Connery it is not. The ionic bond that brings us condiments, pebbles, eggshells, Alka-Seltzer, many household cleaning products, and a surprising selection of psychiatric drugs, is stiffer and more strait-laced than a covalent bond, less pliable, more predictable. A brick, a rock, the salt of the earth. An ionic bond is Roger Moore.

Weird, huh? It's like you have to wrap your mind around what people use these substances for (table salt, rocks, etc.), then what the difference is between the two kinds of bonds, and then she throws in the sneaky metaphor about James Bond. It all works, but it's too much for very casual reading...
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(6 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618242955
Subtitle:
A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science
Author:
Angier, Natalie
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Location:
Boston
Subject:
Reference
Subject:
Science
Subject:
General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
May 2007
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.69 in 1.12 lb

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Related Subjects


Reference » Science Reference » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Popular Science » Essays

The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Houghton Mifflin Company - English 9780618242955 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Another winner from one of the best science writers around, The Canon, like Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything, provides a pleasurable understanding of science.

"Review" by , "Natalie Angier...has produced another, much-needed book on the basics of science."
"Review" by , "Every sentence sparkles with wit and charm...it all adds up to an intoxicating cocktail of fine science writing."
"Review" by , "Natalie Angier makes planets and particles sexy....She turns guys with lab coats and pocket protectors into Daniel Craig."
"Review" by , "An essential experience....How dare she write so artfully, explain so brilliantly, rendering us scientists simultaneously proud and inarticulate!"
"Review" by , "Natalie Angier provides a masterful, authoritative synthesis of the state of knowledge across the entire scientific landscape." Howard Gardner, Harvard University, author of Five Minds for the Future and Frames of Mind
"Review" by , "Not everything is as easy as pie (or pi) to grasp, and therein lies the excitement and challenge of science, masterfully conveyed here."
"Review" by , "[Angier] writes with such verve, humor, and warmth that even readers who may have flunked any of those subjects in high school will still be willing to give them a second chance."
"Synopsis" by ,
In this exuberant book, the best-selling author Natalie Angier distills the scientific canon to the absolute essentials, delivering an entertaining and inspiring one-stop science education. Angier interviewed a host of scientists, posing the simple question “What do you wish everyone knew about your field?” The Canon provides their answers, taking readers on a joyride through the fascinating fundamentals of the incredible world around us and revealing how they are relevant to us every day. Angier proves a rabble-rousing, wisecracking, deeply committed tour guide in her irresistible exploration of the scientific process and the basic concepts of physics, chemistry, evolutionary biology, cellular and molecular biology, geology, and astronomy. Even science-phobes will find her passion infectious as she strives "to make the invisible visible, the distant neighborly, the ineffable affable."
"Synopsis" by , From the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author of Woman, a playful, passionate guide to the science all around us< BR> < BR> With the singular intelligence and exuberance that made Woman an international sensation, Natalie Angier takes us on a whirligig tour of the scientific canon. She draws on conversations with hundreds of the world's top scientists and on her own work as a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the New York Times to create a thoroughly entertaining guide to scientific literacy. Angier's gifts are on full display in The Canon, an ebullient celebration of science that stands to become a classic.< BR> < BR> The Canon is vital reading for anyone who wants to understand the great issues of our time — from stem cells and bird flu to evolution and global warming. And it's for every parent who has ever panicked when a child asked how the earth was formed or what electricity is. Angier's sparkling prose and memorable metaphors bring the science to life, reigniting our own childhood delight in discovering how the world works. Of course you should know about science, writes Angier, for the same reason Dr. Seuss counsels his readers to sing with a Ying or play Ring the Gack: These things are fun and fun is good.< BR> < BR> The Canon is a joyride through the major scientific disciplines: physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and astronomy. Along the way, we learn what is actually happening when our ice cream melts or our coffee gets cold, what our liver cells do when we eat a caramel, why the horse is an example of evolution at work, and how we're all really made of stardust. It's Lewis Carroll meets Lewis Thomas — a book that will enrapture, inspire, and enlighten.
"Synopsis" by , Buckle up for a joy ride through physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and astronomy with this ebullient guide to science by a Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author.
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