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Best American Science Writing 2005

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2006

    Outstanding collection

    There are twenty- six essays in the anthology. Oliver Sachs in his essay ⿿Greetings from the Island of Stability⿿ writes of the discovery of two new elements, and in doing so considers the work of Glenn T. Seaborg and his colleagues at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the making of new elements beyond element ninety- two. In the course of this Sachs reawakens his own childhood interest in chemistry. James Gleick in his essay considers the other non- scientific side of Newton, his mystical religious researches and how they mark the great pioneering figure of the New Age as somehow belonging also to the pre-scientific world before. Frank Wilicek speaks of his own difficulty in understanding a certain area of fundamental physics, and this leads him into a deeper exploration of the meaning of Newton⿿s second law of motion. Peter Gallison turns to a small bypath in Einstein⿿s career the time when he used the compass( which had first drawn his scientific interest) to explore certain qualities of magnetism. William J. Broad writes about the perhaps impending reversal of the Earth⿿s magnetic field , and some of the great disturbances that might result. K.C. Cole considers the various possibilities for forms of life which do not have water as prime component. Dennis Overbye considers the recent discovery of a larger number of planets which might be suitable for life. He concludes with his own optimistic observation that he expects Earth- like planets will be found in his own lifetime. Jim Holt in a sense goes in the opposite direction and explores scenarios as to how the universe will end. He speaks with some of the most well- known cosmologists( Freeman Dyson, Ed Witten, Frank Tipler) theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, astrophysicist Richard Gott, Nobel Laureate in Physics Steven Weinberg and most pessimistic of all Lawrence Krauss( who speaks about this being the worst of all possible universes) . His tone is often humorous and he concludes with the sobering observation of the philosopher Thomas Nagel, ⿿ It does not matter now that in a trillion trillion years nothing we do now will matter.⿝ And nonetheless Krause⿿s observation that it is encouraging ⿿ that sitting in a place on the edge of nowhere in a not especially time in the history of the universe, we can , on the basis of simple laws of physics , draw conclusions about the future of the life and the cosmos⿿ . The problem however as the article clearly shows is that those conclusions are ⿿theoretical speculations at their most speculative⿿. Apparently, we will have to wait and see how the Universe will end. Natalie Angier speaks with Jacqueline Barton on what it means to be an outstanding woman scientist, role model , and chemist. Jennifer Couzin examines the conflict between two prominent researches studying the genetic causes of aging. Robin Marantz Henig shows how the question of the genetic investigation as to whether there are differences in race beyond superficial features has again become significant. Mark Dowie studies how a biologist Dr.Stuart Newman is trying to find against the possibility that ⿿genetic engineering⿿ will bring into being ⿿chimeras⿿ strange frightening hybrid creatures. Gina Kolata looks at ⿿ stem cell science⿿ its ethical implications and its viability. Philip Alcabes suggests that our obsession with bioterrorism may be leading us to ignore more real, if more mundane medical threats. Laurie Garret looks at what she sees as an impending AIDS epidemic in Vietnam, and whether there will be a global effort to prevent it. Atul Gawande goes with a World Health Organization team to a remote area of India where they work to limit the damage from the few remaining cases of polio in the world. Jerome Groopman investigates how researchers investigating the body- mind reveal how hope ⿿can overcome pain, and has observable physiological effects on respiration, mot

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