Synopses & Reviews
In his introduction to The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2006, Brian Greene writes that science needs to be recognized for what it is: the ultimate in adventure stories.
The twenty-five pieces in this year's collection take you on just such an adventure. Natalie Angier probes the origins of language, Paul Raffaele describes a remote Amazonian tribe untouched by the modern world, and Frans B. M. de Waal explains what a new breed of economists is learning from monkeys. Drake Bennett profiles the creator of Ecstasy and more than two hundred other psychedelic compounds -- a man hailed by some as one of the twentieth century's most important scientists.
Some of the selections reflect the news of the past year. Daniel C. Dennett questions the debate over intelligent design -- is evolution just a theory? --while Chris Mooney reports on how this debate almost tore one small town apart. John Hockenberry examines how blogs are transforming the twenty-first-century battlefield, Larry Cahill probes the new science uncovering male and female brain differences, Daniel Roth explains why the programmer who made it easy to pirate movies over the Internet is now being courted by Hollywood, and Charles C. Mann looks at the dark side of increased human life expectancy.
Reaching out beyond our own planet, Juan Maldacena questions whether we actually live in a three-dimensional world and whether gravity truly exists. Dennis Overbye surveys the continuing scientific mystery of time travel, and Robert Kunzig describes new x-ray images of the heavens, including black holes, exploding stars, colliding galaxies, and other wonders the eye can't see.
The bestselling author Brian Greene--the first physicist to edit this prestigious series--offers a fresh take on the year's most brilliant and mind-bending science writing. Contributors include John Horgan, Daniel Dennett, Dennis Overbye, and others.
"Science is about not knowing and wanting badly to know. Science is about flawed and complicated human beings trying to use whatever tools they've got, along with their minds, to see something strange and new. In that sense, writing about science is just another way of writing about the human condition." -- from the introduction by Richard Preston
The twenty-eight pieces in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2007 span a wide range of topics, from the farthest reaches of space to the everyday world around us to the secrets hiddin in our own bodies. Michael Lemonick travels to an extinct volcano in Hawaii, where telescopes at the summit are providing researchers with a glimpse of the most distant galaxy ever seen -- and profound new insights into the creation of the universe. Neil deGrasse Tyson takes a sharp, witty look at Americans' delirium over space travel. And with surgical precision Michael Perry describes how a medical autopsy is performed. Dead men can tell tales.
Here we also see examinations of the sometimes harmful impact of science on the natural world. Susan Casey gives an alarming portrait of plastic waste pollution in the world's oceans, including a dead zone in the mid-Pacific that's twice the size of Texas. Michael Shnayerson heads to West Virginia, where the Appalachians are being blasted at the rate of several ridgetops a week, all in the pursuit of ever-elusive coal. And Paul Bennett goes deep beneath Rome's streets, where cutting-edge excavation techniques are revealing newfound treasures in one of the world's oldest cities.
A profile of a late, distinguished British ornithologist by John Seabrook reveals that the man's personal collection of bird skins, now in the British Natural History Museum, was largely stolen or bought and intentionally mislabeled. Richard Conniff visits a former Brooklyn social worker turned primatologist who has become a fierce advocate of the lemur. And Patricia Gadsby takes us into the kitchens of Europe's finest chefs to explain how the new field of molecular gastronomy is revolutionizing fine cuisine.
Edited by Richard Preston, Jr., the bestselling author of "The Hot Zone" and "The Cobra Event," this new collection is a terrific sampling of science writing at its best" ("Booklist").
Bestselling author and staff writer for "The New Yorker" Groopman edits this year's volume of the finest science and nature writing. Contributors include Walter Kirn, Ron Rosenbaum, Jeffrey Toobin, and Oliver Sacks.
About the Author
TIM FOLGER is a contributing editor at Discover and writes about science for several magazines.