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Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013 Paperback – 8 Oct 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (8 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544003438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544003439
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.4 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 437,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Title: The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013 <>Binding: Paperback <>Author: SiddharthaMukherjee <>Publisher: MarinerBooks

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By MS E BACHLER on 7 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
a whistlestop tour across the world of science - well written and fascinating - like taking your brain for a jog before breakfast
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Met expectations.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 66 reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Perfect Bathroom or Going-to-Bed Reading 4 Oct. 2013
By Mayflower Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've read other in the "The Best American________Writing" series but never the science and nature version. I've really enjoyed this compilation. I'm somebody who had a horrible experience with science in school, and discovered a love of it (and interest in) after college... so much so, that I went back and did a post-bac program.

While I read some of the magazines/journals featured in real life or online like "Scientific American", "The Atlantic", and "The New Yorker"--others such as "Orion" or "Playboy" aren't on my radar. A lot of the pieces came from "The New Yorker", but honestly--I didn't mind reading them again. I love this book (and the other in the series) because in 10 minutes or so, I can read an article that stimulates my mind and leaves me with at least one, usually many more, new pieces of information.

As there is no preview available right now, here's what you'll get:

J.B. MACKINNON. False Idyll
From Orion

BENJAMIN HALE. The Last Distinction?
From Harper's

TIM ZIMMERMANN. Talk to Me
From Outside

DAVID DEUTSCH and ARTUR EKERT. Beyond the Quantum Horizon
From Scientific American

MICHAEL MOYER. Is Space Digital?
From Scientific American

SYLVIA A. EARLE. The Sweet Spot in Time
From Virginia Quarterly Review

JOHN PAVLUS. Machines of the Infinite
From Scientific American

MICHELLE NIJHUIS. Which Species Will Live?
From Scientific American

RICK BASS. The Larch
From Orion

BRETT FORREST. Shattered Genius
From Playboy

JEROME GROOPMAN. The T-Cell Army
From The New Yorker

DAVID OWEN. The Artificial Leaf
From The New Yorker

MICHAEL SPECTER. The Deadliest Virus
From The New Yorker

ALAN LIGHTMAN. Our Place in the Universe
From Harper's Magazine

DAVID QUAMMEN. Out of the Wild
From Popular Science

OLIVER SACKS. Altered States
From The New Yorker

ELIZABETH KOLBERT. Recall of the Wild
From The New Yorker

KEITH GESSEN. Polar Express
From The New Yorker

STEVEN WEINBERG. The Crisis of Big Science
From The New York Review of Books

GARETH COOK. Autism Inc.
From The New York Times

NATALIE ANGIER. The Life of Pi and Other Infinities
From The New York Times

ROBERT SAPOLSKY. Super Humanity
From Scientific American

KATHERINE HARMON. The Patient Scientist
From Scientific American

NATHANIEL RICH. Forever and Ever
From The New York Times Magazine

STEPHEN MARCHE. Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?
From The Atlantic

MARK BOWDEN. The Measured Man
From The Atlantic

KEVIN DUTTON. The Wisdom of Psychopaths
From Scientific American
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Excellent as always. A bit more philosophical 29 Oct. 2013
By Jane - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I look forward to receiving this anthology every year and am never disappointed. It is a treat to find a curated selection of essays that are invariably informing and beautifully written. I would say that in prior years I have found an essay that quite literally changed my life in a significant way (The Estrogen Dilemma by Cynthia Gorney reprinted from the New York Times). In another recent collection I encountered what I feel to be the most beautifully constructed and written essay I have ever found (Sign Here if You Exist by Jill Sisson Quinn, reprinted from Ecotone). I had come across neither of these in their original published format and would likely never have seen them if not for this annual anthology.

The 2013 collection did not contain any essays that I found life changing or truly awesome, but it was an excellent compendium nonetheless. I found the general character of the essays to be more thoughtful and appraising of the whole enterprise of science. Do we really know as much as we think we do? There have always been essays in past collections that questioned the scientific process, the over reliance on what may be overly massaged or misleading data, or even the arrogance in thinking we understand so much more than we really do. I felt that this tendency to be a little bit more humble in the face of nature and the vast territory of the unknown and perhaps unknowable to be a more emergent attitude in this latest collection -- and a welcome one, from my point of view. May-be this is to be expected since the entries were selected by a physician who has who has studied and written about a disease that is slow to be understood despite the massive amounts of funding and the efforts of so many researchers.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
What happened in science last year? 29 Sept. 2013
By Angie Boyter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There is so much being written today that it is impossible to be sure you haven't missed something really worthwhile, and that is why I look forward each year to the latest in The Best American Science and Nature Writing series. Each annual edition has two editors. Series editor Tim Folger collects candidate articles from general-interest periodicals such as the Atlantic and The New Yorker and more tailored publications like Scientific American, Popular Science, Orion, and the Virginia Quarterly Review and assures that the selections include a wide variety of science and nature topics. Each year he is joined by a different prominent scientist or science journalist, who makes the final selection of articles. As a result, each book has a fresh personality reflecting the guest editor's interests and intellectual bent.
This year's guest editor, Siddhartha Mukherjee, is a cancer physician and the author of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning The Emperor of Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. In his thoughtful introduction, Mukherjee say that most of the essays he selected "share a common thread: they describe how science HAPPENS." Beyond that, the subject matter runs the gamut of science and nature, as evidenced in this partial list of the contents:
David Deutsch and Artur Ekert, Beyond the Quantum Horizon
Michael Moyer, Is Space Digital?
Sylvia A. Earle, The Sweet Spot in Time (about undersea exploration, NOT physics!)
Michelle Nijhuis, Which Species Will Live?
Jerome Groopman, The T-Cell Army
David Quammen, Out of the Wild
Oliver Sacks, Altered States
Steven Weinberg, The Crisis of Big Science
Gareth Cook, Autism, Inc.
Natalie Angier, The Life of Pi, and Other Infinities
Nathaniel Rich, Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?
All of the articles are interesting and well-written, accessible to a general reader. My favorites probably would reflect my personal interests more than the merit of the article itself, so I will not play favorites.
Whether you are a practicing scientist who would like to see what is happening outside your field or a curious humanities person who is intrigued by the wonders of science, The Best American Science and Nature Writing will be a source of pleasure and wonder.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Reason Behind the Reason 2 Dec. 2013
By Kevin L. Nenstiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A rare jellyfish, discovered off Italy a quarter century ago, doesn't die of old age; it just reverts to childhood and relives its life. I learned that in one essay. But in another essay, at almost the far end of this collection, an oceanic researcher, one of the first women in a formerly all-male field, laments that the beautiful ecosystems that first made her love the ocean sixty years ago, are now severely depleted, in danger of imminent extinction.

The ability to make such connections across specializations and distances is why I love science. The truth exists, not in individual discoveries, but in the relationship between our new knowledge and the knowledge that came before. And the ambitious, inclusive sweep of this year's Best American Science and Nature Writing collection permits readers to make connections not only profound, but timely, as it reflects recent and developing thought.

Oncologist and author Siddhartha Mukherjee aggregates twenty-seven essays from across the scientific and naturalistic disciplines. Some are written by scientists and researchers, including one Nobel laureate. Others are written by journalists, novelists, and other writers with a strong interest in developing science. Some discuss single, specific discoveries; others have a more eclectic scope, describing entire ranges of new thought or developing disciplines of science.

But the real joy comes in the unspoken relationships between essays. David Deutsch and Arthur Eckert, for instance, describe quantum physics and its implications for molecular-level computers, potentially making our digital processing capabilities grander than anything we've previously considered. But Michael Moyer describes how, as we approach the Planck Length, the smallest possible length in existence, reality itself appears granular, binary, almost computerized. The potential interplay between these two realizations is chillingly beautiful.

Likewise, both Jerome Groopman and Katherine Harmon describe how recent developments in immunology offer new hope in fighting invasive cancers. But while Groopman examines the science, hopscotching among personalities, Harmon intensively focuses on one man whose discoveries let him treat his own cancer, with remarkable consequences. The shifting focus between ideas and personalities reveals unspoken truths about how science makes its advances.

Unlike other selections in the Best American series, this one doesn't much reward celebrity authors. Sure, Oliver Sacks and Kevin Dutton include excerpts from their latest books, and authors famous from other fields, like Mark Bowden, contribute to the collection's overarching movement. But this specific collection rewards profound ideas, explained well, rather than authorial virtuosity. I contend this makes it easier reading, since the product, not the personality, defines quality.

Fortunately, this collection focuses on science writing for general audiences. No impenetrable academic prose from scholarly journals here. Mukherjee's selections carefully explain concepts previously only comprehensible to specialists, translating sophisticated scientific insights into plain English. This makes formerly difficult ideas accessible to ordinary readers like me, putting surprising new ideas into play in regular, everyday situations.

I abandoned my childhood ambition to become a scientist when I discovered it's hard to make test tubes explode. But I never quit my love of science and discovery, and continue enjoying new insights into how our universe works. This collection, laced with eye-opening expositions in the latest science, reminds me why I love science, and why our society, plagued by anti-intellectual thinking, needs science so badly. Read this book, and relearn the joy of discovery.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent collection 13 Nov. 2013
By Worddancer redux - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is one of the best of the Best. The choice of writers, and the breadth of (kinds of) topics was thoughtful, and wise. Some of the articles are essay-like, some are effectively memoirs/autobiographical, and some are brief pieces of science reporting. Though I usually wonder about some of the inclusions (and obvious omissions), I found this volume easily readable, and enjoyable. Stuck at the airport, with a flight delay, having this collection to read was a big help.
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