Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Best American Science Writing 2001

I recently completed reading Best American Science Writing 2001, but haven't really had the time or inclination to write up a review. I got it from the library by mistake. I'd asked for the 2003 edition, edited by Oliver Sacks. Unfortunately, the library treats all editions as different copies of the same book, and I got the completely different book edited by Timothy Ferris.

Nevertheless, it was an interesting read, and I'd have no problem recommending it to others. Two essays I found particularly interesting:

Death of an Altruist - James Schwarz. A brief but fascinating biography of George Price, an eccentric polymath who proposed a theory of altruism in genetically related and extended groups which was more mathematically rigorous than anything which had preceded it.

Syphilis and the Shepherd of Atlantis - Stephen Jay Gould. Gould, one of my favorite nature writers, shares the story of how syphilis got it's name, including the politics of the era in which it was christened.

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