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January 1&15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Sci-Tech Books
This year’s most inspired science writers did their best to keep up with scientific and technological advances as well as environmental concerns, while also looking back to mark the hundredth anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity and the sixtieth anniversary of the atomic bomb. The top 10 were selected from books reviewed in Booklist from December 1, 2004, through November 15, 2005.
Bird, Kai and Sherwin, Martin J. American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Knopf, $35 (0-375-41202-6).
In their definitive biography, Bird and Sherwin explicate the painful ironies of Oppenheimer’s life as they portray him as a child prodigy, the charismatic father of the atomic bomb, and a vilified advocate for arms control.
Carroll, Sean B. Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo. Norton, $25.95 (0-393-06016-0).
Carroll, a pioneer in evolutionary developmental biology, or evo devo, lucidly explains the field’s foundation and implication.
DeGroot, Gerard. The Bomb: A Life. Harvard, $27.95 (0-674-01724-2).
DeGroot covers the entire story of the atomic bomb from Los Alamos to Hiroshima, the testing frenzy during the arms race, and the precarious practice of deterrence, revealing many little-known and chilling facts.
Gallagher, Tim. The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. Houghton, $25 (0-618-45693-7).
Gallagher was one of the first to rediscover the ivory-billed woodpecker, a fabled bird long believed extinct, a momentous sighting that validates preserving large habitat areas to enable endangered species to recover.
Goldstein, Rebecca. Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel. Norton/Atlas, $22.95 (0-393-05169-2).
Novelist-philosopher Goldstein portrays mathematician Gödel as ambitious, diffident, and neurotic, then explains his famous proofs in elegant and satisfying detail.
Lightman, Alan. The Discoveries: Great Breakthroughs in 20th Century Science. Pantheon, $32.50 (0-375-42168-8).
Physicist and novelist Lightman presents 25 seminal but rarely seen twentieth-century “breakthrough” papers in diverse fields, discussing each as a great work of art as well as of science, and profiling each scientist, including Einstein, Pauling, and McClintock.
Park, David. The Grand Contraption: The World as Myth, Number, and Chance. Princeton, $29.95 (0-691-12133-8).
Park’s capacious history of cosmology recounts the human effort to fathom the universe from the earliest creation stories to the most recent investigations into dark energy.
Sobel, Dava. The Planets. Viking, $24.95 (0-670-03446-0).
Taking a cue from Gustav Holst’s symphonic suite, The Planets, best-selling science writer Sobel orchestrates a lyrical tour of the solar system, evoking awe with her gorgeous descriptions of each planet and its mythology.
Weidensaul, Scott. Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent’s Natural Soul. Farrar/North Point, $25 (0-86547-688-8).
Acclaimed nature writer Weidensaul chronicles a cross-country journey, describing diverse landscapes, a great array of plants and wildlife, deleterious effects of human activities, and conservation success stories.
Wilson, Diane. An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas. Chelsea Green, $27.50 (1-931498-88-1).
Wilson, a shrimp-boat captain and mother of five, tells the dramatic story of her crusade to expose the environmentally destructive and socially unjust practices of Formosa Plastics and halt the devastating pollution of Texas’ Lavaca Bay.
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