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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), R. L. 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 K. 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 D. Watson (Contributor), Warren Weaver (Contributor), Steven Weinberg (Contributor), John Archibald Wheeler (Contributor), George C. Williams (Contributor), Edward O. Wilson (Contributor), Lewis Wolpert (Contributor)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
769625,783 (3.99)15
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."… (more)
  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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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Mr Dawkins tries, but doesn't get to go deeper more than a joking atheist can be. ( )
  JBReis | Aug 2, 2022 |
Gives a good introduction to science and scientists. Interesting and fascinating. Rigorous and invigorating. ( )
  jerhogan | Jun 4, 2015 |
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. ( )
2 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 |
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» Add other authors

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, R. L.Contributorsecondary 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, Nicholas K.Contributorsecondary 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, James D.Contributorsecondary 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

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For Charles Simonyi, who loves science, loves language, and understands how to put them together
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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."

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