Book Review: NYT Book of Science

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One never really realizes how intricately interconnected science and journalism are. The world of science, sometimes complicated and complex, is often shared through the lens of journalists who have made this world captivating and interesting in a manner only so few are able to do. David Corcoran, the editor of Science Times, the New York Times weekly science section has compiled 125 articles from its archives that cover a century-and-half s worth of scientific breakthroughs, setbacks, and mysteries. The topics vary from archaeology, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, and physics, to name a few. Anyone who has a deep interest in scientific stories will find this compilation riveting and informative.

While lacking in narrative, the book's value is in how it guides the reader through exciting discoveries such as the excavation of the tombs of King Tut, uncovering the ashes of Pompeii, and the finding of bones of Richard III. Of note were the pieces that described the elucidation of the structure of the genetic code by Watson and Crick. This included a story on how Rosalind Franklin helped in the famous determination of the double helical structure of DNA and how the two male scientists failed to acknowledge that it was her photos of the molecule that enabled them to win the Nobel Prize.

Not unlike other subjects, science is not without its own drama and politics. While some discoveries and achievements (i.e. landing on the moon) have inspired awe in readers everywhere, we are also privy to rare glimpses into the ethical quandaries and dilemmas posed by technological developments: Technologies that push ethical boundaries improving fertility and genetic manipulation which play on the fear of creating an engineered society, fears of a Brave New World.

Yet the greatest aspect of this collection is that it provides many examples of how journalists are so craftily able to dissect complex scientific matters to make it digestible to any palette. This ability is a gift that is just as precious as any scientific achievement.

Without giving much away, the structure of the book is ideal in that the reader is capable of reading a few pages at a time and skipping from one part to another without becoming lost or overwhelmed. The overall aim is achieved successfully in that the reader wends through a time warp and is ejected back into the modern day. For those that find science exciting and fascinating, this is a book where the world of journalism is able to share those sentiments all the while making it accessible to the general public for that we are thankful.

We Give it:

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