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The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing by…
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The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing (2008)

by Richard Dawkins (Editor)

Other authors: Peter Atkins (Contributor), Per Bak (Contributor), Colin Blakemore (Contributor), John Tyler Bonner (Contributor), Sydney Brenner (Contributor)74 more, Jacob Bronowski (Contributor), Rachel Carson (Contributor), S. Chandrasekhar (Contributor), Francis Crick (Contributor), Helena Cronin (Contributor), Paul Davies (Contributor), Daniel C. Dennett (Contributor), David Deutsch (Contributor), Jared Diamond (Contributor), Theodosius Dobzhansky (Contributor), Freeman Dyson (Contributor), Sir Arthur Eddington (Contributor), Maitland A. Edey (Contributor), Albert Einstein (Contributor), Loren Eiseley (Contributor), Richard P. Feynman (Contributor), Sir Ronald Fisher (Contributor), Kenneth Ford (Contributor), Richard Fortey (Contributor), George Gamow (Contributor), Martin Gardner (Contributor), Stephen Jay Gould (Contributor), Brian Greene (Contributor), Richard Gregory (Contributor), J.B.S. Haldane (Contributor), W.D. Hamiliton (Contributor), Garrett Hardin (Contributor), Alister Hardy (Contributor), G. H. Hardy (Contributor), Stephen Hawking (Contributor), Douglas R. Hofstadter (Contributor), Lancelot Hogben (Contributor), Fred Hoyle (Contributor), Nicholas Humphrey (Contributor), Julian Huxley (Contributor), James Jeans (Contributor), Donald C. Johanson (Contributor), Steve Jones (Contributor), Jonathan Kingdon (Contributor), David Lack (Contributor), Richard Leakey (Contributor), Primo Levi (Contributor), Roger Lewin (Contributor), John Maynard Smith (Contributor), Ernst Mayr (Contributor), Peter B. Medawar (Contributor), J. Robert Oppenheimer (Contributor), Roger Penrose (Contributor), Max Perutz (Contributor), Steven Pinker (Contributor), Martin Rees (Contributor), Mark Ridley (Contributor), Matt Ridley (Contributor), Oliver Sacks (Contributor), Carl Sagan (Contributor), Erwin Schrodinger (Contributor), Claude Shannon (Contributor), George Gaylord Simpson (Contributor), Lee Smolin (Contributor), C. P. Snow (Contributor), Russell Stannard (Contributor), Ian Stewart (Contributor), Lewis Thomas (Contributor), D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson (Contributor), Niko Tinbergen (Contributor), Robert Trivers (Contributor), Alan Turing (Contributor), James Watson (Contributor), Warren Weaver (Contributor), Steven Weinberg (Contributor), John Archibald Wheeler (Contributor), George C. Williams (Contributor), Edward O. Wilson (Contributor), Lewis Wolpert (Contributor)

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516519,652 (3.95)14
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  1. 10
    The Faber Book of Science by John Carey (Widsith)
    Widsith: The modern, and the not-so-modern. Two excellent collections.
  2. 00
    Galileo's Commandment: An Anthology of Great Science Writing by Edmund Blair Bolles (stretch)
    stretch: Another Anthology of essays by Scientist and science writers
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Showing 5 of 5
How do you pick the best science writing of the twentieth century? Really it all comes down to a matter of opinion, which almost always results in the complaint and special pleading for authors and works left on the cutting room floor (I mean no geology! Come on can’t we get just a little respect). Richard Dawkins never the less makes the noble and very worthwhile attempt to collect some of the very best that science has to offer from the scientist themselves.

The book itself is a collection of over a hundred short passages, excerpts, essays, and even a few poems taken from the likes of Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Francis Crick, Stephen Gould, Brian Greene, Jared Diamond, Alan Turning, Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Primo Levi, the list goes on and on. Just this alone would make a great collection, but Dawkins also includes the men and women that contributed so much to the worlds of astronomy, oceanography, evolution, particle physics, and genetics that most and certainly I have never had the pleasure of coming across before. Dawkins introduces each and every essay with a humbling and often personal anecdote informing the reader on not just who the author is but why they are important and why they deserve to be included with the ranks of the very best.

The book is organized into four distinct groups “What Scientists Study,” “Who Scientists Are,” “What Scientists Think,” and “What Scientists Delight in” providing a unify theme that serves as a backdrop of the often awe inspiring essays that follow. At times the essays can be a bit dry, but Dawkins tries to reveal the whole spectrum that science has to offer. It’s also not a light fluffy affair; some science literacy is needed because Dawkins does not shy away from the technical here. I found myself doing something I love with really great non-fiction works: further research. Not being so well versed in some of the genetics and higher mathematics/physics I was required to independent research and information gathering to grasp the full meaning of that particular essay. I learned so much more than I ever expected.

The excerpts and short passages could be so tantalizing that I was sometimes left wishing for more. Couple that with the exposure to works by scientist I would have never come across before has caused my wishlist to implode. I only wish there were more collections like this one by different editors to really show off the diversity of that science has to offer. ( )
1 vote stretch | Aug 10, 2011 |
Really interesting stuff. ( )
  mcandre | Jul 6, 2010 |
I got this book from the library, thinking it would be a series of essays on different aspects of science. However, it turned out to be a completely different sort of book – short extracts from books and articles by scientists themselves, more often about their lives or thoughts than about the actual science. All the famous names are represented – Einstein, Oppenheimer, Crick & Watson, etc., as well as quite a few I had never heard of.

I guess Dawkins’ aim was to show the breadth of thinking of the scientists, and to highlight the quality of their writing, to encourage people to read and engage with them more often. Most of the extracts were interesting enough, but reading hundreds of them one after the other is probably not the best way to approach them. If I owned this book, it would be nice to dip into it every now and then, but as it was a library book I had to read it all within a few weeks. Given its size and price, I don’t know how many people, particularly non-scientists, would actually buy their own copies, and this need to read it quickly must restrict the extent to which Dawkins’ aim can be achieved. Maybe a better approach would be to read a bit on each library visit, and hope no one wants to borrow it! Still, for the sheer breadth and quality of the extracts, I would recommend this book. ( )
1 vote JanetinLondon | Apr 20, 2010 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1314389.html

I'm not a fan of Dawkins' views on religion, but as editor of this book he has done a fine job; it clearly makes a difference that he is writing about topics he knows and likes, and his introductory pieces to each extract are informative and often self-deprecating.

I was less sure that the book actually works as a concept. The selected pieces are necessarily extracts rather than complete works, and the result feels more like a scrapbook than an anthology. Certainly none of the pieces is bad, and several of them made me want to seek out more by that author (from the sublime - Albert Einstein's thoughts on God - to the ridiculous - Francis Crick's advice to avoid gatherings of more than two Nobel Prize winners). But the nature of the book means a succession of changes of pace, some of which are rather jarring. This contains a number of chunks out of various excellent books about science but doesn't quite end up being one itself. ( )
  nwhyte | Sep 29, 2009 |
This review was also published, in a slightly enhanced & more comfortable format, at my blog between drafts.

This is a great book, but it will cost you. Right after I finished reading it, I ordered three or four books from its featured authors right away, and put several more on my wishlist. And as to how length and time are relative, this book is its own highly distinguished example: the excerpts from scientific fields I know next to nothing about were much too short, while those from scientific fields I have a little more knowledge, or had even read the books the excerpts were taken from, were much too long. So there.

And I really, really loved it that my personal hero Richard Dawkins did not write just some plain old foreword, but introduced each and every author and excerpt, with background knowledge and sometimes amusing, sometimes thought-provoking anecdotes. One peeve, though, and not an unexpected one: these far too long, and far too annoyingly unfunny excerpts from the writings of Peter Medawar. (I tried at times, at RDSF forum discussions, to disabuse Richard of at least some of his more outrageous notions about postmodernism, to no avail.) But, shortly after the Medawar Annoyance, everything was made up for by an equally long, carefully chosen, and wonderful essay by Stephen J. Gould.
2 vote gyokusai | Oct 18, 2008 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dawkins, RichardEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Atkins, PeterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bak, PerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blakemore, ColinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bonner, John TylerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brenner, SydneyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bronowski, JacobContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carson, RachelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chandrasekhar, S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crick, FrancisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cronin, HelenaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davies, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dennett, Daniel C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deutsch, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Diamond, JaredContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dobzhansky, TheodosiusContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dyson, FreemanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eddington, Sir ArthurContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Edey, Maitland A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Einstein, AlbertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eiseley, LorenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Feynman, Richard P.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fisher, Sir RonaldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ford, KennethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fortey, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gamow, GeorgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gardner, MartinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gould, Stephen JayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greene, BrianContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gregory, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haldane, J.B.S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hamiliton, W.D.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hardin, GarrettContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hardy, AlisterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hardy, G. H.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hawking, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hofstadter, Douglas R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hogben, LancelotContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoyle, FredContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Humphrey, NicholasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Huxley, JulianContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jeans, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johanson, Donald C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones, SteveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kingdon, JonathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lack, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leakey, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Levi, PrimoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lewin, RogerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Maynard Smith, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mayr, ErnstContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Medawar, Peter B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Oppenheimer, J. RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Penrose, RogerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Perutz, MaxContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pinker, StevenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rees, MartinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ridley, MarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ridley, MattContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sacks, OliverContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sagan, CarlContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schrodinger, ErwinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shannon, ClaudeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simpson, George GaylordContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smolin, LeeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Snow, C. P.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stannard, RussellContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stewart, IanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thomas, LewisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thompson, D'Arcy WentworthContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tinbergen, NikoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Trivers, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Turing, AlanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Watson, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weaver, WarrenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weinberg, StevenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wheeler, John ArchibaldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, George C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilson, Edward O.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wolpert, LewisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

Is an abridged version of

Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker

How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal by Jared M. Diamond

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

Genome by Matt Ridley

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life by Daniel C. Dennett

The Emperor's New Mind by Roger Penrose

Consciousness Explained by Daniel C. Dennett

Pale Blue Dot : A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan

A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks

The Diversity of Life by Edward O. Wilson

The Character of Physical Law by Richard Feynman

The Sea Around Us by Rachel L. Carson

Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth by Richard A. Fortey

A Mathematician's Apology by G. H. Hardy

A Mathematician's Apology by G. H. Hardy

The Fabric of Reality by David Deutsch

Lucy by Donald C. Johanson

Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe by Martin Rees

Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution by Richard Fortey

Dreams of a Final Theory by Steven Weinberg

The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? by Paul Davies

What is Life? : With Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches by Erwin Schrodinger

Mathematics for the Million by Lancelot Hogben

Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human by Richard E. Leakey

Mr. Tompkins in Paperback by George Gamow

Disturbing the Universe by Freeman Dyson

The Life of the Cosmos by Lee Smolin

On growth and form [Abridged edition] by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson

The Mathematical Theory of Communication by Claude E Shannon

The Language of the Genes by Steve Jones

What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery by Francis Crick

The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance by Ernst Mayr

Avoid Boring People by James D. Watson

Curious Naturalists by Niko Tinbergen

The Meaning of Evolution by George Gaylord Simpson

The Meaning of Evolution by George Gaylord Simpson

The Unnatural Nature of Science by Lewis Wolpert

The Time and Space of Uncle Albert by Russell Stannard

How Nature Works: The Science of Self-Organized Criticality by Per Bak

Life Itself (Touchstone Books (Paperback)) by Francis Crick

Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought by George Christopher Williams

The Mysterious Universe by Sir James Jeans

The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today by Helena Cronin

Mankind Evolving: The Evolution of the Human Species by Theodosius Dobzhansky

The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection by R. A. Fisher

On Being the Right Size by J. B. S. Haldane

The Expanding Universe by Arthur Eddington

Truth and Beauty: Aesthetics and Motivations in Science by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

Creation Revisited by P. W. Atkins

The Life of the Robin by David Lack

Mirrors in Mind by Richard L. Gregory

Social Evolution by Robert Trivers

Self-Made Man: Human Evolution From Eden to Extinction by Jonathan Kingdon

The Mind Machine by Colin Blakemore

How Flowers Changed by Loren Eisely

Life Cycles: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist by John Tyler Bonner

Narrow roads of gene land : the collected papers of W.D. Hamilton by W.D. Hamilton

The open sea : its natural history [2-volume set] by Sir. Alister Clavering Hardy

Man in the universe by Fred Hoyle

Computing machinery and intelligence by Alan Mathison Turing

The Tragedy of the Commons (Article) by Garrett Hardin

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For Charles Simonyi, who loves science, loves language, and understands how to put them together
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199216800, Hardcover)

Boasting almost one hundred pieces, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing is a breathtaking celebration of the finest writing by scientists--the best such collection in print--packed with scintillating essays on everything from "The Discovery of Lucy" to "The Terror and Vastness of the Universe."
Edited by best-selling author and renowned scientist Richard Dawkins, this sterling collection brings together exhilarating pieces by a who's who of scientists and science writers, including Stephen Pinker, Stephen Jay Gould, Martin Gardner, Albert Einstein, Julian Huxley, and many dozens more. Readers will find excerpts from bestsellers such as Douglas R. Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach, Francis Crick's Life Itself, Loren Eiseley's The Immense Journey, Daniel Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea, and Rachel Carson's The Sea Around Us. There are classic essays ranging from J.B.S. Haldane's "On Being the Right Size" and Garrett Hardin's "The Tragedy of the Commons" to Alan Turing's "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" and Albert Einstein's famed New York Times article on "Relativity." And readers will also discover lesser-known but engaging pieces such as Lewis Thomas's "Seven Wonders of Science," J. Robert Oppenheimer on "War and Physicists," and Freeman Dyson's memoir of studying under Hans Bethe.

A must-read volume for all science buffs, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing is a rich and vibrant anthology that captures the poetry and excitement of scientific thought and discovery.

One of New Scientist's Editor's Picks for 2008

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:15 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Selected and introduced by Richard Dawkins, 'The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing' is a celebration of the finest writing by scientists for a wider audience - revealing that many of the best scientists have displayed as much imagination and skill with the pen as they have in the laboratory.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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