Monday, March 06, 2006

Popular Science Book Reviews

Phillip Manning is a science book reviewer based in Chapel Hill. He writes reviews for Raleigh News and Observer and a column for the Chapel Hill News. In yesterday's N&O he had a nice little review of popular science books in general, titled These books make science popular. Apart from citing that horrendous Kristoff editorial on 'two cultures' that bloggers (from both 'cultures') destroyed when it first came out, it is a nice list of suggestions of readings that can help an educated person catch up with modern science. Phillip writes:
However, Snow was on the right track. Education is the key. A bridge between the two cultures, a gateway to understanding today's front-page science stories is available. For most of us, it lies only a few steps away, in a bookstore or library. The hundreds of popular science books (so-called to distinguish them from academic texts) that have hit the market in the last decade or two make scientific literacy possible for anyone. Entertaining, accurate and amazingly informative, the best of them provide the scientific background -- what exactly is a stem cell? how solid is the evidence for global warming? -- that is rarely spelled out in public discussions. As the science of nutrition, medicine, the environment and myriad other issues affect our everyday lives, it is ever more important that we understand them in order to make informed decisions.
Then he gives short blurbs for the following books: on stem cells: The Proteus Effect: Stem Cells and Their Promise for Medicine by Ann Parson; on invasive species: Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion by Alan Burdick; on genetically engineered food: Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Foods by Nina Fedoroff and Nancy Marie Brown; on global warming: The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery and Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert; on evolution: Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom by Sean B. Carroll; on avian flu: Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic by Marc Siegel; on Alzheimer's: The Forgetting: Alzheimer's: Portrait of an Epidemic by David Shenk; and on impending world vaccine crisis: The Cutter Incident: How America's First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis by Paul Offit. Pretty good choices, methinks (I have listed some of mine here). Go read the whole review.

You can check out a lot of other reviews at Scibooks: Science Books Reviews by Phillip Manning, a static website (ah, how last century). I wish he had a blog.

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