> SCIENTISTS' NIGHTSTAND
The Oxford biologist reviews his recent reading and favorite authors
The University of Chicago biologist makes the case for evolution
A review of The Art and Politics of Science, by Harold Varmus. Varmus's engaging memoir deserves to be followed by a second volume, says Cook-Deegan
A review of The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn, by Louisa Gilder. This vividly imagined re-creation of some of the most subtle intellectual history of the 20th century is grippingly readable, says Mermin
A review of The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters, by Rose George, The Last Taboo: Opening the Door on the Global Sanitation Crisis, by Maggie Black and Ben Fawcett, and The Culture Of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage, by Jamie Benidickson. George and Black and Fawcett offer an NGO’s-eye view of a feces-smothered world in search of solutions, says Hamlin. But can it really be true, as Benidickson’s legal history of hydraulic sanitation suggests, that public health is founded in private property and is a private matter?
A review of Structure and Randomness: Pages from Year One of a Mathematical Blog, by Terence Tao. Tao’s book and blog provide a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the best mathematicians working today, says Shalizi
A review of Natural Security: A Darwinian Approach to a Dangerous World. Edited by Raphael D. Sagarin and Terence Taylor. There are surely lessons that the field of international security could learn from evolutionary biology, says Gusterson, but this book fails to deliver them
A review of Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World, by Sharon Waxman, and Who Owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle over Our Ancient Heritage, by James Cuno. Waxman describes high-profile cases of museums returning stolen works of ancient art to their country of origin, focusing on the flamboyant personalities involved, whereas Cuno, a museum director, defends the mores of his profession, decrying the nationalism that has given rise to demands that objects be returned
A review of The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces, by Frank Wilczek. This lively, playful book does a superb job of introducing readers to our current understanding of the nature of matter and the forces that govern the universe, says Dzierba
A review of Lost Land of the Dodo: An Ecological History of Mauritius, Réunion, and Rodrigues, by Anthony Cheke and Julian Hume. The story of the Mascarenes illustrates how human activity can devastate ecosystems—and, in color paintings of the islands’ extinct flora and fauna, Hume offers a glimpse of what has been lost
A review of Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America, by Stephen Trimble. Trimble tells the story of the struggle to keep Mount Ogden, Utah, from being developed
A review of Tools of American Mathematics Teaching, 1800–2000, by Peggy Aldrich Kidwell, Amy Ackerberg-Hastings and David Lindsay Roberts. This book surveys the “material culture” of the mathematics classroom: protractors, blocks, beads, geometric models, slide rules, calculators and the like
Trying Leviathan • What Have You Changed Your Mind About? • The Lost Art of Walking
Historian of science, coauthor with Peter Galison of Objectivity
The Brandeis University psychologist discusses her work the Alex, the African gray parrot
We present some of our favorite recent science and math coffee-table books
A review of Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture, by Alan Sokal. In his new book Sokal leaves the terrain of literary theory, says Bérubé, and enters “realms where the distinction between justified and unjustififed belief actually matters to the world—specifically, the history and philosophy of science . . . and religion.”
A review of Einstein for the 21st Century: His Legacy in Science, Art, and Modern Culture, edited by Peter L. Galison, Gerald Holton and Silvan S. Schweber. Twenty essayists consider what elements formed Einstein’s view of the world and what effects his work and persona have had
A review of Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma, by Anthony Johnson. Johnson argues that the builders of Stonehenge had an understanding of the geometry of squares and circles that allowed them to lay out the different elements of the stone monument with impressively regular proportionality
A review of The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought, by Robert J. Richards. This book marks a major rehabilitation of Haeckel as a mainstream Darwinian, says Gliboff
A review of Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years, by Vaclav Smil. By enriching our understanding of the complexity of nature and society, Smil shows that we have much more to fear than accumulating carbon dioxide
A review of Lewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life. By Robin Wilson. Wilson’s brief life of Charles Dodgson explains for a general audience his work as a mathematician and includes samples of the problems and puzzles found in his books on recreational mathematics
A review of The Symmetries of Things, by John H. Conway, Heidi Burgiel and Chaim Goodman-Strauss. “This book is a plaything,” says Lanier, “an inexhaustible exercise in brain expansion for the reader, a work of art and a bold statement of what the culture of math can be like, all rolled into one”
A review of The Universe in a Mirror: The Saga of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Visionaries Who Built It, by Robert Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s blow-by-blow account of how the Hubble got built is a cracking good read, says Disney
A review of Rebels, Mavericks, and Heretics in Biology, edited by Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich. Highlighting the value of dissent, these 19 essays open a new conversation on the nature of scientific innovation, says Wolfe
A review of The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges’ Library of Babel, by William Goldbloom Bloch. This mathematical companion to Borges’ austere fable offers new ways to engage with the themes of the fiction
A review of Fermilab: Physics, the Frontier, and Megascience, by Lillian Hoddeson, Adrienne W. Kolb and Catherine Westfall. Reviewed by Kate Scholberg. At the center of this account of the fascinating rise of Fermilab are the charismatic personalities of its first two directors—Robert Wilson and Leon Lederman
A review of Western Diseases: An Evolutionary Perspective, by Tessa M. Pollard. Pollard argues that our physiology, honed in a time of small population groups, scarcity and episodic plenty, betrays us in a modern world that has become increasingly sedentary, urbanized and calorie-rich
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