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The Best American Science Writing 2006 (Best American Science Writing)

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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  258 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Together these twenty-one articles on a wide range of today's most leading topics in science, from Dennis Overbye, Jonathan Weiner, and Richard Preston, among others, represent the full spectrum of scientific inquiry, proving once again that "good science writing is evidently plentiful" (American Scientist).
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published September 1st 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 556)
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David
Twenty-one essays about science--each essay on a completely different subject. Some of the subjects are quite surprising! There is an essay about a chess-playing computer, a cochlear implant to help a deaf person to hear music, the physics of time travel, a claim that the so-called "obesity epidemic" isn't real, the problems that may occur if longevity is extended further, the subtle influence of racism on anthropology, belief in religion as a consequence of innate dualism, and an essay that won...more
Dan
It's "popular" science writing to be sure; if you peruse the New York Times or Scientific American regularly then you may have already seen some of these articles.

The range is nice, one subject that was completely new to me was the value of autopsies in medical diagnosis. Despite all the new scanning technologies, the best way to really know the cause of death is still to cut people up; it's not done nearly as often as it was 40 years but it's still very useful for finding diagnostic errors and...more
Jennifer
I read this book because I wanted to see what kinds of stories my favorite person in the world Atul Gawande liked to read. The answer is ones that are worse than the ones he writes. There were some good gems in here, namely the ones about literary Darwinism, yawning and the bionic ear and Bolero, but mostly underreported think pieces that, frankly, pale in comparison to Gawande's own work.
Kyle
The book did not disappoint. Every single one of the articles was entertaining and thought-provoking. "Your Move" by Tom Mueller was about a computer program that plays chess, that often uses strategies that surprise even its programmers. Alan Weisman's article entitled "Earth Without People" reminds one of how fleeting human existence is in the grand scheme of things, and how quickly it could be erased. W. Wyatt Gibbs provides a much needed counter-point to the obesity epidemic that many claim...more
Helen
Dec 09, 2007 Helen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 07-08
Since I received this book, I thought that it would be interesting to learn of what writers wrote on a particular topic they were either assigned or wrote as a statement for views to understand of the world. As I was reading this book, I found that the way the different author's stucture of their writing have somewhat similarities and differences based on their topic. I thought that the way they included the people they have interviewed during their time researching on their topic was very infor...more
David
Mar 30, 2008 David rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: science
Shelves: 10th
A analogy with many strong ideas, yet quite boring for "the best American science writing". But science isn't that interesting anyways. Some of the ideas are quite appealing to me such as what life would be like if humans did not exist, or what makes people gay, etc. Many of the ideas are very controversial. I may not be very religious, but the heading, "Is God an Accident" just struck me hard. Interesting, yet maybe offensive. The writers talk about their beliefs and ideas from their own experi...more
Lianne Burwell
I love this series of essay collections, and buy them every year. I prefer them to the similar Best Science and Nature Writing series, which organizes the essays in alphabetical order by the author's name, while this one, in the volumes I've read, actually organize by subject matter so that one essay flows nicely into the next.

I even ended up buying two separate books based on essays collected here. A World Without People, by Allan Wiseman, became the best-seller The World Without Us, and the es...more
Jay Garcia
Ended up being kind of a mixed bag. The essays towards the beginning are a bit less compelling than the rest of the book.

Two essays stood out from the others. Paul Bloom's examination of the cognitive roots of religion, and Jack Hitt's essay on the controversy over who can claim to be real native americans. Close behind was "The Coming Death Shortage" by Charles C. Mann. But only a couple essays got skipped over because it wasn't really interesting in the subject matter (appropriately, an essay...more
Chin
A collection of twenty one articles on the topics of science. But, one particular article stood out for me. “Earth Without People” by Alan Weisman. Although, the title is self explanatory but, he only writes and explains what happens to New York City’s surroundings instead of the planet Earth. Such as, without people New York City will turn Lexington Avenue into a river. Domestic animals such as dogs wouldn’t exist because there are no human around. In addition, rats and pigeons wouldn’t also su...more
asra
Consists of 25 articles drawn from various publications. The selection ranges from cutting edge research, medical issues, the effects of science and technology on people, human development, and more. Briane Green, the editor of the version I read, explains the need for science to be readable, and has thus chosen pieces that discuss scientific topics in an accessible manner. Not all of the essays/articles were accessible for me (as I'm scientifically challenged) but I applaud the concept. I'm goi...more
Kerry
Sep 13, 2014 Kerry marked it as to-read
to read
Jack Kirby and the X-man
A facinating collection of American popular science essays. It features a truely eclectic mix from biology to antropology, physics to geology.

For several I would really have like to see the response to the article - in particular "Obesity: An Overblown Epidemic?".

Expanding the scope could also be interesting... Why just American Science Writing? What about a similar series for the best (or maybe most influental) peer reviewed articles?

I'll be back to read the other years!

Caz Margenau
I don't even pretend that I read science magazines, but I'm interested in science kind of at the Nova and Nature on PBS level. Well this annual collection of published articles is the Nova of science writings. They are readable, captivating and usually astonishing. These are not ground breaking papers and there are no equations and drab jargon. This collection is about "writing," and if you're quasi into science and like to read, make this collection part of your annual routine.
Amanda
Mar 13, 2008 Amanda is currently reading it
I'm really enjoying this book, and since it's essays, I can continue to read other books and pick this one up when I feel like reading a good science essay. My favorite so far has been "My Bionic Quest for Bolero" from Wired magazine. Google it. It's a really great article dealing with cochlear implants with a wonderful story of one man's quest to hear Ravel's Bolero again as he remembered it before he lost his hearing.
Ananya Sarkar
I am really enjoying it so far, probably because I want to like whatever Atul Gawande likes (he is the editor of this year's "Best American Science Writing" and is the author of "Complications").

A couple of the articles I could do without - the one on cloning I thought was poorly written. The one called "Might White of You" is only passable. On the other hand, the one one homosexuality is written very well.
Jrobertus
Well 2007 is nearly over so I thought I should get started on the best of 2006. So far the articles and essays are terrific. I started with one about why belief in God is so prevalent; there was a very convincing evolutionary rationale so it made my day. The essay, "Nature's Bioterrorist" about flu epidemics was fascinating. Indeed nearly all the articles were really engaging.
Ashley Bessire
a great read. a collection of well-written science articles from various newspapers, such as the new yorker, washington post, etc. touches on subjects such as: the effect of measles vaccinations on autism, what makes a person homosexual, the so-called obesity ¨epidemic¨, global warming, among others.
Vanessa
I so rarely delve into non-fiction, let alone science writing, but this was a real treat. From a scathing critique of racist archaeology to a serious take on yawning to rancorous academic squabbling over the mass extinction of trilobytes, every article in here is totally compelling and funny.
Darla
Very interesting! Collection of the best science writing essays from 2006 some of the nation's leading magazines and newspapers. Inspiring for my own desired career, but intimidating at the same time! Can't wait to read the best science writing from subsequent years.
Austin
Picked this up at my parents house over the holidays and got a kick out of it. I bought the rest of the series. Basically just all of the science writing that makes it into The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper's, NYT Magazine in a year in one place.
Ron
Got this for Christmas from my brother Jack and loved it. Amazing stories from all different fields of science. Liked it so much I told my brother that I expect to get the next book in this series every Christmas.
Devon
I got this book to see if I wanted to use it in my Technical Writing course in the Fall and I'm impressed by the variation and the political topics covered from homosexuality to time travel to obesity.
Todd
A decent anthology giving a glimpse at science, technology, and ethics today. I think I prefered last year's Science & Nature edition. Nice to read about climbing the redwoods.
Theodore Wilson
It works, lively enough to keep the non-fiction pages turning though I would recommend www.scienceblogs.com for anyway wanting to expand their general scientific radar.
Jennifer
Jul 09, 2007 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: sciency nerds
Love science writing and loved this book. I want to read all of the years. Lots of interesting and provocative articles, all at your fingertips!
Kirill
May 07, 2009 Kirill rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Still reading, but already captivated. As the editor bluntly puts it, the coolest stories out of this great nations' popular science magazines.
Alan
Some boring topics (which one just skips) and some fascinating as well as disturbing articles.
The article on yawning was entertaining.
dusty.rhodes
These were good to read over (under?) coffee in the AM. Polished writing, interesting topics, but no real art to it.
Kaethe
One of my favorite series for the high quality of the writing. Gawande appears in the New Yorker regularly.
Meg
I think this was the best collection of science writing in the series. What a great year for the sciences!
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Atul Gawande is author of three bestselling books: Complications, a finalist for the National Book Award; Better, selected by Amazon.com as one of the ten best books of 2007; and The Checklist Manifesto. His latest book is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a professor at Harvard...more
More about Atul Gawande...
Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology

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