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HOME > SCIENTISTS' NIGHTSTAND > BROWSE SCIENTISTS' NIGHTSTAND BY PUBLICATION TYPE

Book Review


Fortean Flora

Andrea Wills

A review of What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses, by Daniel Chamovitz. Plants’ ability to sense and respond to their surrounding environment is stranger and more surprising than one might think, and Chamovitz recounts the stories of scientists’ discoveries in plant biology with wit and charm, says Wills

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Making the Land Our Own

Christine Casson

A review of American Georgics: Writings on Farming, Culture, and the Land, edited by Edwin C. Hagenstein, Sara M. Gregg, and Brian Donahue. The United States has always embodied the tension between the ideals of agrarianism and industrialism, says Casson, and this book provides a compelling history of that tension

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Chemical Innocence?

Emily Monosson

A review of Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants, by Carl F. Cranor. Cranor notes that it’s not enough for individual citizens to try to avoid chemicals that are known to be toxic; to offer substantive protection, legislation must be improved

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A Portrait of the Economy

Brian Hayes

A review of Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius, by Sylvia Nasar. This work is essentially a biography of economics, says Hayes. Nasar reveals the history and the nature of the field through captivating portraits of economists

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Fresh Water from the Ocean, by Cecil B. Ellis et al.

Kirtley F. Mather

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Trouble at the Back End

Allison Macfarlane

A review of Fuel Cycle to Nowhere: U.S. Law and Policy on Nuclear Waste, by Richard Burleson Stewart and Jane Bloom Stewart. This comprehensive book details efforts to manage nuclear waste in the United States and, in doing so, offers useful lessons for policy makers and the public

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Mathematical Road Trips

Brian Hayes

A review of In Pursuit of the Traveling Salesman: Mathematics at the Limits of Computation, by William J. Cook. The traveling salesman problem falls into that set of mathematical problems that are very difficult, but not impossible, to solve, says Hayes. This book celebrates its idiosyncrasies

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Insect Escape Artists

Elsa Youngsteadt

A review of How Not to Be Eaten: The Insects Fight Back, by Gilbert Waldbauer. Waldbauer has written another book that delights in the intricacies of the insect world. Seasoned entomologists will find no revelations here, says Youngsteadt, but the book may help convince their friends and family members of the wonders of the field

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A “Simple” Piece of Plastic

Emily Willingham

A review of The Global Politics of the IUD: How Science Constructs Contraceptive Users and Women’s Bodies, by Chikako Takeshita. The scientific and social history of the group of birth-control devices known as IUDs (intrauterine devices) is fraught with instances of design under- or uninformed by empirical knowledge of how IUDs work and even of how the uterus is shaped, says Takeshita

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Turning Scientific Perplexity into Ordinary Statistical Uncertainty

Cosma Shalizi

A review of Principles of Applied Statistics, by D. R. Cox and Christl A. Donnelly. Cox and Donnelly’s book “stands as a summary of an entire tradition of using statistics to address scientific problems,” says Shalizi. The lessons the book contains will allow those entering the field to “make original mistakes”

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Gene therapy

Gene therapy and genomic engineering are rapidly burgeoning areas of research. Dr. Charles Gersbach of Duke University sat down with associate editor Katie L. Burke to discuss the history of gene therapy and what we can do now that we couldn’t do even a few years ago.

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