Strange Encounters

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The warm, witty anecdotal adventures of a world-renowned scientist, spanning thirty years and dozens of countries.

Most people only dream of having the life Daniel B. Botkin has led. He has studied whales and elephants, tramped over high mountain passes and through rain forests, worked with NASA, and spent substantial time walking in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, and Henry David Thoreau. In Strange Encounters, Botkin does for the natural ...

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1585423734 1585423734 From Publishers Weekly A skilled essayist as well as an ecologist, Botkin (Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century) combines ... science, wit and a gift for characterization to craft these consistently engaging essays. Many deal with contradictions and uncertainties that may never be resolved by research alone. In "Winds of a Condor's Wings," he describes a 1980 project that he was engaged in as a member of a committee to advise the State of California how to save the condor, whose population had declined to only 22. Three sets of so-called experts were unable to agree on what factor was chiefly responsible for the condor's decline or whether captive breeding or reintroduction to the wild should be pursued to sustain the species. "The Ecology of Cancer" is a touching account of his late wife's illness and how the questions she raised about chemotherapy motivated Botkin to establish an experimental workshop, as a memorial to her, composed of both biologists and cancer resear ... Read more Show Less

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2004 Paperback New 1585423734. Remainder; 13 oz.; 268 pages; New PB unread w/remainder mark bottom edge. Most people only dream of having the life Daniel B. Botkin has led. He ... has studied whales and elephants, tramped over high mountain passes and through rain forests, worked with NASA, and spent substantial time walking in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, and Henry David Thoreau. In Strange Encounters, Botkin does for the natural world what Richard Feynman did for physics and Oliver Sacks for human behavior. Read more Show Less

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Tarcher/Penguin 2004 New, Paper, 272p., ISBN 1-58542-373-4.

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Overview

The warm, witty anecdotal adventures of a world-renowned scientist, spanning thirty years and dozens of countries.

Most people only dream of having the life Daniel B. Botkin has led. He has studied whales and elephants, tramped over high mountain passes and through rain forests, worked with NASA, and spent substantial time walking in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, and Henry David Thoreau. In Strange Encounters, Botkin does for the natural world what Richard Feynman did for physics and Oliver Sacks for human behavior.

Whether rebuilding an old mill in New Hampshire while ruminating on notions of "progress," researching the most weight-efficient high-protein food for space travel, or working in a radioactive forest on an early Cold War research project, Botkin experiences the kind of adventures that illuminate the complex and ever-changing relationship between human beings and their environment.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
"A change is taking place in our myths about nature--in our nature knowledge--with immense implications for us and life on earth." This volume illustrates the evolution of that change in the forward thinking of its author. Botkin's credentials as an environmentalist are impeccable. Well known for his writings on Thoreau, Lewis and Clark, and forest dynamics, he reflects here on such things as an irradiated forest, animal and people behavior, triple canopy rain forests, peanut butter in space, and the ecology of cancer, which affected him personally. He discovers that the way we think about nature, often incorrectly, dictates the way we treat the problems we see developing around us. He relates many of the gaps in knowledge that he came across in his research while trying to construct computer models to explore possible scenarios for the dynamics of animal populations and global resources. He wonders why people have never done the basic research to support the ideas they have. The philosophical nature of the author's look at his life's work makes excellent material for reflection, imparting bits of new knowledge and entertaining stories from his personal experience. The topical chapters can be used individually, but they often refer to previous discussions. A good read for instilling hope in anyone with at least a passing concern for the world we inhabit KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Penguin, 272p. notes., Ages 15 to adult.
—Ann Hart
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585423736
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/5/2004
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel B. Botkin is a research professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the president of the Center for the Study of the Environment.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 1
1. Maggie's Bend 3
2. The Radioactive Forest 7
3. Repairing the Mill 27
4. Lost in an African Wilderness 39
5. Avoiding Deer in the Fog 45
6. The Monkey's Dilemma 51
7. How Many Hours Does a Whale Sleep? 61
8. Cigarettes and the Summit of Mount Washington 77
9. Weird 85
10. The Search for the Amazing Triple-Canopy Rain Forest 91
11. How Much Food Does an Elephant Eat? 101
12. How Many Leaves Are on a Tree? 107
13. How Many Bowhead Whales Ever Lived on the Earth? 115
14. Trimming Elm Trees 129
15. The Ecology of Splitting Wood 135
16. Politeness Under Gunfire 143
17. Is It Okay to Let Your Dog Drink from the Toilet? 149
18. Winds of a Condor's Wings 155
19. Raccoons, People, and the Great Chain of Being 171
20. How the Fox Caught the Squirrel 175
21. Roll On, Columbia: Ideas and Bureaucracies 183
22. Peanut Butter in Space 195
23. How the Coyotes Outwitted a Bureaucracy 205
24. Kill the Sea Lions; Save the Salmon 217
25. The Un-Irradiated Forest 225
26. Getting There Is Half the Fun; or, Life on Mars 231
27. The Great Baseball Bat Crisis 235
28. Thoreau's Transit 241
Epilogue: The Ecology of Cancer 253
Notes 265
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