A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science
The New York Times bestseller that makes scientific subjects both understandable and fun: “Every sentence sparkles with wit and charm.” —Richard Dawkins
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times science journalist and bestselling author of Woman, this is a playful, passionate guide to the science all around us (and inside us)—from physics to chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy, and more.
Drawing on conversations with hundreds of the world’s top scientists, Natalie Angier creates a thoroughly entertaining guide to scientific literacy. For those who want a fuller understanding of some of the great issues of our time, The Canon offers insights on stem cells, bird flu, evolution, and global warming. For students—or parents whose kids ask a lot of questions about how the world works—it brings to life such topics as how the earth was formed, or what electricity is. Also included are clear, fascinating explanations of how to think scientifically and grasp the tricky subject of probability.
The Canon is a joyride through the major scientific disciplines that reignites our childhood delight and sense of wonder—and along the way, tells us 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.
Pulitzer-winning science writer Angier (Woman: An Intimate Geography) distills everything you've forgotten from your high school science classes and more into one enjoyable book, a guide for the scientifically perplexed adult who wants to understand what those guys in lab coats on the news are babbling about, in the realms of physics, chemistry, biology, geology or astronomy. More important even than the brief rundowns of atomic theory or evolution enlivened by interviews with scientists like Brian Greene are the first three chapters on scientific thinking, probability and measurement. These constitute the basis of a scientific examination of the world. Understand these principles, Angier argues, and suddenly, words like "theory" and "statistically significant" have new meaning. Angier focuses on a handful of key concepts, allowing her to go into some depth on each; even so, her explanations can feel rushed, though never dry. Angier's writing can also be overadorned with extended metaphors that obscure rather than explain, but she eloquently asks us to attend to the universe: to really look at the stars, at the plants, at the stones around us. This is a pleasurable and nonthreatening guide for anyone baffled by science.