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STEVEN PINKER
guardian.co.uk
Sunday Times
independent.co.uk
Fred Bortz
Jeska Reads

Natalie Angier

The Canon: The Beautiful Basics of Science

It has long been a cause of concern that many otherwise well educated people have a very poor grasp of the basics of science. Well Natalie Angier has done something about this. In The Canon: The Beautiful Basics of Science, she provides an introduction to science for such people - in her own unique style.

The book starts with an introduction where Angier expresses her dismay at the number of people who feel that science can be left behind when they enter adulthood. This is followed by chapters on probability and on understanding how things are observed and measured at widely differing scales - topics which are vital to an understanding of modern science. Angier then progresses through the sciences, starting with physics an chemistry. There is a chapter on evolutionary biology, where she exposes some of the misinformation spread by creationists, and a chapter on molecular biology which explains the nature of DNA and the workings of the cell. This is followed by a look at geology, and the book concludes with a chapter on astronomy, including the question of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe.

Angier constantly manages to find witty turns of phrase, which makes the book fun to read - for a while. I did begin to find it a bit irritating after a couple of chapters, so maybe the book is best read a chapter at a time. Overall I would say that the book is a success. Angier has interviewed a large number of scientists for this book, and has managed to produce a concise summary of a large portion of the sciences in a non-technical way.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 293 pages  
ISBN: 0547053460
Salesrank: 131715
Weight:0.65 lbs
Published: 2008 Mariner Books
Amazon price $9.25
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 304 pages  
ISBN: 0571239714
Salesrank: 1429113
Weight:0.88 lbs
Published: 2008 Faber & Faber
Marketplace:New from £1.78:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 304 pages  
ISBN: 0547053460
Salesrank: 262669
Weight:0.65 lbs
Published: 2008 Mariner Books
Amazon price CDN$ 27.89
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 16.67:Used from CDN$ 0.01
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Product Description
From the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author of Woman, a playful, passionate guide to the science all around us

With the singular intelligence and exuberance that made Woman an international sensation, Natalie Angier takes us on a whirligig tour of the scientific canon. She draws on conversations with hundreds of the world's top scientists and on her own work as a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the New York Times to create a thoroughly entertaining guide to scientific literacy. Angier's gifts are on full display in The Canon, an ebullient celebration of science that stands to become a classic.

The Canon is vital reading for anyone who wants to understand the great issues of our time -- from stem cells and bird flu to evolution and global warming. And it's for every parent who has ever panicked when a child asked how the earth was formed or what electricity is. Angier's sparkling prose and memorable metaphors bring the science to life, reigniting our own childhood delight in discovering how the world works. "Of course you should know about science," writes Angier, "for the same reason Dr. Seuss counsels his readers to sing with a Ying or play Ring the Gack: These things are fun and fun is good."

The Canon is a joyride through the major scientific disciplines: physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and astronomy. Along the way, we learn what is actually happening when our ice cream melts or our coffee gets cold, what our liver cells do when we eat a caramel, why the horse is an example of evolution at work, and how we're all really made of stardust. It's Lewis Carroll meets Lewis Thomas -- a book that will enrapture, inspire, and enlighten.