Why science is important

Mike Sullivan writes:

I am about half-way through a pretty good book, “The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science” by Natalie Angier who is a science writer for the New York Times.

I first picked the book up at a “new releases” table at Barnes & Noble and it intrigued me. Please understand; while I may work for a scientific research institution, I’m not a scientist. My degree is in broadcast journalism and for most of my career I was a TV news manager. I took the usual run of biology, chemistry and physics in high school. In college, I took some chemistry and zoology courses during an ill-advised stab at a pre-med major. However, I can’t hold a candle to the scientists I see every day at work. I jokingly say I know just enough science to impress someone who doesn’t know anything.

I flipped though the book and it looked interesting. “Maybe I’ll learn something that will help me with my job,” I thought to myself. So being the tight-wad I am, I put the book back on the table and went to the neighborhood library and reserved a copy. (Sorry, Natalie, you are getting a “plug” but you didn’t get any royalties from me.)

The author devotes a chapter each to a range of scientific topics such as probabilities, evolutionary biology, physics and so on. It is ceverly written, almost too cutsey at some points, and full of interesting information.

I was most impressed with the Introduction. It us rather long (17 pages in the book.) In it Angier laments the lack of public interest in science and the low emphasis it gets in the US education system. As she points out, most people take pride in having flunked chemistry. Even if you don’t read the whole book, if you are interested enough in the subject to be reading this blog, you ought to read her Introduction. It is available on her Web site.

I hope you enjoy it.

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