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

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  306 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 781)
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May 28, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
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
Jan 20, 2008 Dan rated it really liked it
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
Jun 07, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 30, 2011 Kyle rated it really liked it
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
Dec 09, 2007 Helen rated it liked it
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
Feb 06, 2016 Sonya is currently reading it

Bought this book in Jaipur - mainly because its edited by Atul Gawande and looked like an interesting anthology.
Loved the piece on designing software for a hearing implant person to listen to Bolero - try, try and try again from 8 channels of sound to 16 and then to 112 - working with multiple researchers, advertising on Craigslist for a music geek .
Mar 30, 2008 David rated it liked it
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
May 21, 2009 Lianne Burwell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
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
Jay Garcia
Jan 17, 2008 Jay Garcia rated it liked it
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
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
Jul 06, 2007 asra rated it liked it
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
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
May 06, 2008 Caz Margenau rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Sep 26, 2007 Ananya rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 06, 2007 Jrobertus rated it really liked it
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
Apr 18, 2007 Ashley Bessire rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Aug 03, 2007 Vanessa rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 03, 2011 Darla rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 09, 2010 Austin rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 25, 2008 Ron rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 21, 2007 Devon rated it liked it
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.
Aug 01, 2012 Todd rated it liked it
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
May 26, 2007 Theodore Wilson rated it it was ok
It works, lively enough to keep the non-fiction pages turning though I would recommend for anyway wanting to expand their general scientific radar.
Jul 09, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
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!
May 07, 2009 Kirill rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 12, 2007 Alan rated it liked it
Some boring topics (which one just skips) and some fascinating as well as disturbing articles.
The article on yawning was entertaining.
Aug 19, 2008 dusty.rhodes rated it liked it
These were good to read over (under?) coffee in the AM. Polished writing, interesting topics, but no real art to it.
Jul 16, 2014 Kaethe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
One of my favorite series for the high quality of the writing. Gawande appears in the New Yorker regularly.
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Atul Gawande is author of three bestselling books: Complications, a finalist for the National Book Award; Better, selected by 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 about Atul Gawande...

Other Books in the Series

Best American Science Writing (1 - 10 of 13 books)
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