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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2006

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2006

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andres

    I've enjoyed all the articles this series has had to offer because it gives me the chance to read about far ranging subjects that I normally wouldn't come across since I can't read all the science magazines out there. This collection includes 25 articles from 14 publications, the top contributor being Scientific American with 6. In place of reviewing the book as a whole, I'll point out the articles that interested me the most: Almost Before We Spoke, We Swore by Natalie Angier A neurolinguistic lo I've enjoyed all the articles this series has had to offer because it gives me the chance to read about far ranging subjects that I normally wouldn't come across since I can't read all the science magazines out there. This collection includes 25 articles from 14 publications, the top contributor being Scientific American with 6. In place of reviewing the book as a whole, I'll point out the articles that interested me the most: Almost Before We Spoke, We Swore by Natalie Angier A neurolinguistic look at why we cuss. My Bionic Quest for Bolero by Michael Chorost A man who lost his hearing chronicles his quest to hear his favorite piece of music again, just as he remembers it, this time with the help of electronic aids. Buried Answers by David Dobbs My favorite piece, a look at the decline of the autopsy and why they are vitally important to everyone. The Mummy Doctor by Kevin Krajick Fascinating look at what happens to all those mummies that have been unearthed. Are Antibiotics Killing Us? by Jessica Snyder Sachs A reminder that not all bacteria are bad for us. Remembering Francis Crick by Oliver Sachs My first encounter reading anything about the famous scientist. Buried Suns by David Samuels An interesting, if not entirely clearly written article about the roughly 1000 nuclear explosions that took place in the Nevada desert, and the people behind them.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jlawrence

    Excellent collection of science essays/journalism. Especially fascinating were the articles on the inventor of ecstasy (and his encyclopedia of homemade hallucinogens!), cooperative deal-making behavior in primates, indigenous groups fighting being kicked off conservation preserves, possible sociological stresses of successful longevity treatments, the surprisingly complex (and sometimes beneficial) ecology of bacteria we carry and how antibiotics may be warping that ecology, and Oliver Sacks on Excellent collection of science essays/journalism. Especially fascinating were the articles on the inventor of ecstasy (and his encyclopedia of homemade hallucinogens!), cooperative deal-making behavior in primates, indigenous groups fighting being kicked off conservation preserves, possible sociological stresses of successful longevity treatments, the surprisingly complex (and sometimes beneficial) ecology of bacteria we carry and how antibiotics may be warping that ecology, and Oliver Sacks on his personal and professional relationship with Francis Crick.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Aketzle

    I can't emphasize enough how cool this book was! Definitely recommended! I learned about all kinds of things! I can't emphasize enough how cool this book was! Definitely recommended! I learned about all kinds of things!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Billie Pritchett

    This book is a wonderful popular science collection of recent articles published in various science-friendly 'zines. Some of my favorites in this collection are "Dr. Ecstacy," about the man who introduced a ridiculous amount of drugs to the world; "The Blogs of War," about the various blogs that have been kept during the Iraqi War by American soldiers; and "Remembering Francis Crick," about the man whom, I believe, sequenced the human genome (you might want to fact-check this), and his later res This book is a wonderful popular science collection of recent articles published in various science-friendly 'zines. Some of my favorites in this collection are "Dr. Ecstacy," about the man who introduced a ridiculous amount of drugs to the world; "The Blogs of War," about the various blogs that have been kept during the Iraqi War by American soldiers; and "Remembering Francis Crick," about the man whom, I believe, sequenced the human genome (you might want to fact-check this), and his later research in neuroscience, especially in trying to discover the neuronal correlate(s) of consciousness. The collection is edited by Brian Greene, and there are at least a few articles in the collection that sing the praises of string theory and its future. This is all fine, but do know that Brian Greene is himself a string theorist, and string theory is by no means the only option available in the way of a unified theory in physics. The competitive model is what is known as the Standard Model. Good collection, though, and Brian Greene is still wonderful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This is a great collection if you're interested in science but don't necessarily have a science background. Even if you do have a science degree under your belt, you would probably still learn something from the articles outside your field. The articles touch on several branches and sub-branches of science: biology, medicine, astrophysics, technology, seismology, linguistics, chemistry, animal behavior, nuclear physics, etc. All of the articles in this anthology are clearly written, engaging, and This is a great collection if you're interested in science but don't necessarily have a science background. Even if you do have a science degree under your belt, you would probably still learn something from the articles outside your field. The articles touch on several branches and sub-branches of science: biology, medicine, astrophysics, technology, seismology, linguistics, chemistry, animal behavior, nuclear physics, etc. All of the articles in this anthology are clearly written, engaging, and full of facts and insights. I thought that one or two articles were too technical for the collection, but overall the book was quite accessible.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    As always in this series, some articles better than others....another pretty good collection of science writing, although biased toward higher-end physics and astronomy articles (consider the editor...) which might make the lay reader lose interest. I particularly liked the articles memorializing Francis Crick; the one about the coming death shortage (anti-aging treatments and how they will affect health care, retirement, and social security policies); an article about the declining practice of As always in this series, some articles better than others....another pretty good collection of science writing, although biased toward higher-end physics and astronomy articles (consider the editor...) which might make the lay reader lose interest. I particularly liked the articles memorializing Francis Crick; the one about the coming death shortage (anti-aging treatments and how they will affect health care, retirement, and social security policies); an article about the declining practice of autopsy; forensic anthropology (or the study of the transmission/migration of ancient and modern disease); and the evidence for catastrophic geologic hazards in the Pacific northwest.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jenni

    A few of the articles (namely, those on quantum physics and lupus) were too detailed for a novice. I didn't give up on any but certainly didn't enjoy them as much as others. My favorites were the pieces on intelligent design, conservation refugees, and the need to conduct autopsies. I plan to read this every year. A few of the articles (namely, those on quantum physics and lupus) were too detailed for a novice. I didn't give up on any but certainly didn't enjoy them as much as others. My favorites were the pieces on intelligent design, conservation refugees, and the need to conduct autopsies. I plan to read this every year.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro Teruel

    Excellent popular science anthology, which is still well worth reading fifteen years after it was published. The area most represented is Life Sciences with at least eleven essays, followed by Physics with six out of a total of twenty five essays. Many of the essays straddle more than one area, so the exact count of essays per area is somewhat debatable. Perhaps it is not surprising, since the editor is a physicist, that some of the Physics articles are amongst the hardest to follow, especially th Excellent popular science anthology, which is still well worth reading fifteen years after it was published. The area most represented is Life Sciences with at least eleven essays, followed by Physics with six out of a total of twenty five essays. Many of the essays straddle more than one area, so the exact count of essays per area is somewhat debatable. Perhaps it is not surprising, since the editor is a physicist, that some of the Physics articles are amongst the hardest to follow, especially those on quantum theory or string theory like "The Mystery of Mass", "The Illusion of Gravity" and "Remembrance of Things Future" - I am going out on a limb here, but I suspect they may be the articles that have dated most, due to the amount of research that has been carried out. Of the "Life Sciences" essays, I admit "Taming Lupus" was disappointing because a lot of it was over my head -you need to have at least a nodding acquaintance with developments in inmunology and have an idea of the difference between a T cell and a B cell to profit most from the reading. It is hard to pick the essay I enjoyed most, and such a selection certainly depends on the reader's own interests and background. However, I would qualify as five star materials, "My Bionic Quest for Bolero" (a wonderful personalized account of the advances in the technology of cochlear implants up to 2005), "Buried Answers" (on the history and importance of autopsies to advance medical science), "Conservation Refugees" (a polemical view of the impact of strict conservation policies on some of the people with rich histories and traditions who have lived for many generations in areas now suddenly uprooted with very little and shallow bio-cultural analysis), and "Out of Time" (a look at the efforts, posibly at the peak of its possibities, of the Central Department for Isolated Indians and Recently Contacted Indians, a department of the Brazilian government agency Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI), a department which had been set up to to protect isolated tribes from contact with with modern society and preserve their culture -sadly the department´s strength was later drastically curtailed both under Lula and then under Bolsonaro), "Are Antibiotics Killing Us", (contrary to its rather catchy title, a more nuanced view of antibiotics and human microbial flora) and and of course, Oliver Sack's wonderful and heart-warming personal and professional tribute to the prolific and ever-curious Francis Crick, who together with james Watson first cracked the DNA code. Other larger than life figure appear in "Dr. Ecstasy" (Alexander Shulgin, a profilic psychodelic drug developer), "The Mummy Doctor" (Arthur Autderheide, the father of paleopathology). and "The Forgotten Era of Brain Chips" (José Manuel Rodríguez Delgado, a neuroscientist who pioneered a number of important -and polemical- brain-stimulation techniques). The are articles on possible neurologically-based gender differences ("His Brain, Her Brain"), an engaging and general article, "How Animals Do Business" by the prominent primatologist Frans de Waal , which tosses out provocative ideas on animal behavioural economics and "politics" and its possible basis in reciprocity and cooperation. "Almost before we spoke, we swore" is a delightful essay on the neuropsychology of swearing. There are also essays on X-ray astronomy ("X-Ray Vision"), the history and people who engaged in the US atomic bomb tests in New Mexico ("Buried Suns"), seismology ("Future Shocks") and even what happens to science as it percolates through the entertainment industry ("Light, Camera, Armageddon"). "The Coming Death Shortage" is the essay that most reads like science fiction as it explores the possible socio-economic consequences of longevity based on the development of expensive treatments avaible to the rich. Two of the essays deal with the amazingly still ongoing resistence to the teaching of evolution in the USA ("Show me the Science", and "The Dover Monkey Trial"). As a computer scientist, I was very disappointed to find only one essay on computer science developments -that is unless you also count the development of cochlear implants or some of Rodríguez Delgado's work). This is "Torrential Reign" which is on the development of Bit Torrent and its creator Bram Cohen. Bit Torrent continues to be used - Bit Torrent v2 was released in 2017. Bram Cohen heads Chia Network which is currently developing a blockchain and smart transaction platform which implements the first new Nakamoto consensus algorithm since Bitcoin in 2008. To recap, an excellent anthology -I look forward to reading other, hopefully more recent, volumes in this series ...if I can find them.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    Rounded up from about a 3.5 (give or take). The stories about physics, string theory for instance, were a bit over my head. Not the authors’ fault though. ; )

  10. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Very nice assortment of science essays, all of which are engaging and interesting. I admittedly skimmed one or two of them, but that's because my brain simply cannot grasp the concepts of quantum physics, even though they're fascinating ideas. I particularly liked Natalie Angier's essay on swearing, and the profile on Alexander Shulgin, the "father" of MDMA and apparently a member of Bohemian Grove. The piece on the neglect on the part of hospitals to perform autopsies was also rather enlighteni Very nice assortment of science essays, all of which are engaging and interesting. I admittedly skimmed one or two of them, but that's because my brain simply cannot grasp the concepts of quantum physics, even though they're fascinating ideas. I particularly liked Natalie Angier's essay on swearing, and the profile on Alexander Shulgin, the "father" of MDMA and apparently a member of Bohemian Grove. The piece on the neglect on the part of hospitals to perform autopsies was also rather enlightening, and sufficiently morbid for one such as myself. I look forward now to the 2007 collection.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Edd Marbello-Santrich

    It was a pleasure to read this book. Science is the most beutiful thing that human being have created, and doesn't matter how much water have passed beneath the bridge, it always follow the same rules, boosted by curiosity and doubt. The writers are exceptional scientifics, that share with us the truth of knowledge. It was a pleasure to read this book. Science is the most beutiful thing that human being have created, and doesn't matter how much water have passed beneath the bridge, it always follow the same rules, boosted by curiosity and doubt. The writers are exceptional scientifics, that share with us the truth of knowledge.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    As the title suggests, this is a collection of science and nature articles meant to be of interest to the "non-sciencey" among us. Other than the two articles on quantam physics that I found incomprehensible, it's very engaging and a great way to learn a little bit about a variety of currently relevant fields. As the title suggests, this is a collection of science and nature articles meant to be of interest to the "non-sciencey" among us. Other than the two articles on quantam physics that I found incomprehensible, it's very engaging and a great way to learn a little bit about a variety of currently relevant fields.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Melodee

    This is a very enlightening book. I was impressed with the wide range of topics addressed, and their read-ability for the average Jane. I would like to read more books in this series. There were some issues brought up in the articles that I had never heard mention of before, but which I found quite interesting.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Darla's Christmas present to me - (We decided not to spend much on each other...this was in the bargain bin) - BUT a really good read - surprising that even at 6 years old, very little was "dated", even for a "Science" book. Darla's Christmas present to me - (We decided not to spend much on each other...this was in the bargain bin) - BUT a really good read - surprising that even at 6 years old, very little was "dated", even for a "Science" book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily Sorrells

    Boring :(

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brigette

    I love this series and eagerly await each new annual edition. The writing is almost always very good, and the topics are fascinating.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Quigui

    The Best American Science and Nature Writing (Best American Science & Nature Writing) by Brian Greene (2006)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Nice essays written in 2005. Today it is 2015 and the common culture still did not soaked these ideas.

  19. 4 out of 5

    marcali

    like a non-fiction short story collection.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ryanne

    rating: -*****

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tanja

    Some very interesting articles, although I skipped a couple because my intelligence is somewhat lacking and I didn't understand! Some very interesting articles, although I skipped a couple because my intelligence is somewhat lacking and I didn't understand!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    I liked the Bolero essay. And Dennett's. I liked the Bolero essay. And Dennett's.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ishan Gautam

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  25. 5 out of 5

    James Funston

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hassen

  27. 5 out of 5

    Deepa

  28. 5 out of 5

    Varshini

  29. 4 out of 5

    Enam Hoque

  30. 5 out of 5

    Corina

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