The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Apr 3, 2008 - Science - 304 pages
37 Reviews
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.

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User Review  - featherbear - LibraryThing

The goals of The Canon are twofold. A. Describe what leaders in the scientific fields consider to be the basic concepts of their respective disciplines. B. Present the concepts such that the layman ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Paulagraph - LibraryThing

A succinct tour of the foundational (key) concepts /theories in the sciences: Scientific Thinking /Method; Probability; Calibration / Scale; Physics; Chemistry; Evolutionary Biology; Molecular Biology ... Read full review


An OutofBody Experience
For Whom the Bell Curves
Playing with Scales
And Nothings Plenty for Me
Fire Ice Spies and Life
The Theory of Every Body
Cells and Whistles
Imagining World Pieces
Heavenly Creatures

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About the author (2008)

NATALIE ANGIER is a Pulitzer-Prize winning science columnist for the New York Times. She is the author of The Canon, The Beauty of the Beastly, and Natural Obsessions. She lives outside Washington, D.C.

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