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Steve Jones

The Single Helix

The Single Helix is a compilation of Jones' weekly 'View from the lab' articles in the Daily Telegraph, which provide an amusing look at aspects of scientific life. There is plenty relating to biology in general and genetics in particular, such as the strange names given to new genes and indeed to new species of animals. However there are also essays on many other subjects such as the representation of shadows in art, and the best system for voting.

Now one is naturally tempted to measure this work against the essays of the other Steve J - Gould that is, (who, it has to be said, had a whole month to write each of his articles) and I would say that they don't really compare - but maybe they're not meant to.

Firstly the essays are short. Now 1000 word articles are OK in their place, but one of the advantages of a book is that arguments can be developed more fully. Secondly Jones is writing about a variety of subjects, which means that he won't have done much research for each article. Thus one is never quite sure about the accuracy of what is written and there are no references to follow up on things that take your interest. So I would say that this book is OK for a bit of light reading, but not if you want something which will really capture your interest.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews