The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004

Front Cover
Houghton Mifflin, 2004 - Science - 209 pages
146 Reviews
In his introduction to The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004, Steven Pinker writes that the best science writing "gives readers the blissful click, the satisfying aha!, of seeing a puzzling phenomenon explained." Here to deliver the blissful click are many of the most "eclectic, provocative" (Entertainment Weekly) science and nature essays written in 2003. Geoffrey Nunberg turns to linguistics to expose the grammar police, Scott Antran questions received wisdom regarding the root causes of terrorism, and Peggy Orenstein shows that trends in baby names are not inspired by . . . just about any external cause.
Straight from the Cape Codder comes Mike O'Connor's "Ask the Bird Folks," from a weekly column that strikes a tone far from, as Steven Pinker puts it, "the worshipful sonorities found in much nature writing." Also on the creature front, Meredith Small shares with readers the pleasures of primatology (while for the first time explaining satisfactorily why primates groom), and Eric Scigliano gives us the eerie, and eerily intelligent, world of octopuses. (Read Steven Pinker if you aren't convinced that the plural of octopus is octopuses.) Atul Gawande profiles the great innovative surgeon Francis Moore, a man who essentially remade modern surgery -- and then could not live with the consequences -- and Jennet Conant captures the engaging, irreverent, and ever-provocative James Watson. Chet Raymo's musing on the modern universe story gives elegant insight into the cosmic place of physics, chemistry, and biology -- but not before first harking back to the days when "boys took physics (and went on to become engineers and automobile mechanics), girls took biology (and became nurses and homemakers), and nobody took chemistry if they could help it (except a few nerds who wanted to make stink bombs)."

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Review: The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014 (Best American Science and Nature Writing)

User Review  - Ray Zimmerman - Goodreads

Diverse collection of essays, most of which I found fascinating. Read full review

Review: The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014 (Best American Science and Nature Writing)

User Review  - Jen K. - Goodreads

As promised by my sage friend Lisa, this was a fascinating and very readable collection of essays. I was surprised to find that there were very few essays that I didn't fully enjoy. I may have to join ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-born U.S. experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. He is a Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Pinker is the author of several non-fiction bestsellers including: The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007). and The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Pinker was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 and one of Prospect and Foreign Policy's 100 top public intellectuals in both years the poll was carried out, 2005 and 2008; in 2010 and 2011 he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers. His research in cognitive psychology has won the Early Career Award (1984) and Boyd McCandless Award (1986) from the American Psychological Association, the Troland Research Award (1993) from the National Academy of Sciences, the Henry Dale Prize (2004) from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the George Miller Prize (2010) from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He has also received honorary doctorates from the universities of Newcastle, Surrey, Tel Aviv, McGill, and the University of Tromsų, Norway. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1998 and in 2003. On May 13, 2006, he received the American Humanist Association's Humanist of the Year award for his contributions to public understanding of human evolution.

TIM FOLGER is a contributing editor at Discover and writes about science for several magazines.

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