I was lucky enough to sit in a room with three of the 81 scientists who've contributed to this book - three of the "New Optimists". (Every essay is from a scientist answering the question "what makes you optimistic" - a wonderful idea).
Professor Janet Lord, (we have more control over when we die that we think) Professor Chris McCabe (cancer is controllable and we can be ill and lead a high quality life) and Dr Tim Grant (understanding how people speak and write is improving justice) were speaking at the Lichfield Literature festival. I'd read a number of the essays before I went so was expecting soemthing good, but I found their ideas, energy and sense of how science can make the world better downright infectious.
There are 81 essays here, most of which will inspire you in some way, all of which will make you appreciate why science is one of our most important endeavours. A wonderful piece of work.
I am only about a 1/3 way through the book, but thoroughly enjoying it already. It is a breath of fresh air compared with the average popular science book. It's good to read something that gets one thinking but is not hard work. It's also refreshing to read about current scientific research written in such a succinct and comprehensible manner by real scientists rather than second or third hand. The essays vary, from unlocking the key to plant evolution, to engineering and joint replacements. A large part are about medical and biological sciences, it is eye opening to uncover just what breadth of research goes on in this field, all within the Midlands. These scientists are carrying on where the Lunar Men left off, furthering our understanding of the world.
Jenny Uglow's forward definitely does the book justice and Spike Walker's pictures set off the nicely understated cover. These essays are cleverly put together by linguist and editor Keith Richards so that the book can also be dipped into as well as read straight through. The layout is also great - very classy. The first page of every essay is a single column, a taster that lure's you on to turn the page to discover just why these scientists really are optimistic. This book shatters the much held opinion that the future for the human race is a bleak one. It is clear that science really does prevail.
This I hope will be the first in a long line of books on current scientific research and thinking from The Linus Trust.
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