science

Post image for Review: ‘The Girls of Atomic City’ by Denise Kiernan

At the end of World War II, more than 75,000 people lived and worked in the makeshift town built at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The bus system to take the thousands of workers from the hastily-built barracks, trailers, and homes was one of the 10 largest in the United States. There were 163 miles of wooden sidewalks, 300 miles of roads, and 17 cafeterias. The compound consumed more electricity than New York City, but didn’t show up on a single map.

No one outside Oak Ridge knew what was going on at the facility. And for the most part, no one inside knew either. But they weren’t supposed to know, and weren’t supposed to think or talk about their work at the end of the day. As a sign outside the facility gently reminded them: “What you see here. What you do here. What you hear here. When you leave here. Let it stay here.”

In One Hundred Names for Love, author Diane Ackerman writes about the five years after Paul’s stroke — his daily struggles to make himself known, the challenges an illness that takes away language does to a relationship built on words, and the process of designing a new life in the wake of a condition that all but destroys what used to be.

Post image for Review: ‘Fooling Houdini’ by Alex Stone

I have struggled for more than a month now to write a review of Fooling Houdini by Alex Stone, and I haven’t managed to write a single word. The only cause I can come up with for this reviewing writer’s block is that I’m feeling pressure to write a review that expresses just how totally delightful this book is and will convince everyone to go pick up a copy as soon as you can.

Post image for Review: ‘The Social Animal’ by David Brooks

The Social Animal is a book that tries to figure out how and why success happens. David Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times, uses a wealth of current psychological research to build the lives of two composite characters, Harold and Erica, and explore why Americans do the things they do and think the way they think. (The structure of the book is inspired by Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s 1960 study of education, Emile, in which Rousseau invented a young boy named Emile and gave him a tutor in order to write about how human beings are educated).

Physics of the Future is a look at the future based on the work and predictions of scientists who are actually doing the work that is going to change how the world looks in 100 years. In that way, the book is deeply fascinating. However, I was disappointed is how many moments felt like they only scratched the surface of what seemed like the most interesting details about how science is going to fundamentally change the way we live.

Post image for Review: ‘Here Is a Human Being’ by Misha Angrist

Review: In 2007, Misha Angrist agreed to make his innermost secrets public for the world to see. As participant number four in the Personal Genome Project, Angrist agreed to let his entire genome be sequenced and then made available to researchers looking for samples to test in genetics research. While most medical research tries to work with anonymous samples, the Personal Genome Project required participants to be public because research into our genes works best when researchers can compare whats in our DNA to how that blueprint is expressed. In a very real way, Angrist and the other participants agreed to bare it all in the name of science.

Post image for Review: ‘The Neighborhood Project’ by David Sloan Wilson

One Sentence Summary: An evolutionary biologist tries to apply lessons from his field in his community, opening up a wide-ranging discussion of evolution, scientific research, and the scientists who do the work.

One Sentence Review: Reading The Neighborhood Project is like sitting down for a conversation with a favorite professor, full of personal stories, research questions, gossip about other scholars, and a range of topics that are more- or less-interesting depending on the reader’s predilections.

A Note from Kim: This review is a guest post from my friend Erin, a grad student in journalism at UW-Madison, who studied science communication in the protrack MA program. Erin says she is prone to tripping her geek alarm over all kinds of topics, including physics, astronomy, dinosaurs, evolution, and the history of science. She also blogs about the science behind things in our daily lives at her blog, Astronaut Ice Cream. Make Erin feel welcome!

Here’s basically what I thought when I saw Feathers sitting on Kim’s bookshelf:

Feathers!!!!! They are awesome!

5 Reasons Why E-Books Aren’t There Yet by John C. Abell in WIRED

I love a lot great discussion points about e-books in this article, but my favorite paragraph has to be this one:

It may be all about vanity, but books — how we arrange them, the ones we display in our public rooms, the ones we don’t keep — say a lot about what we want the world to think about us. Probably more than any other object in our homes, books are our coats of arms, our ice breakers, our calling cards. Locked in the dungeon of your digital reader, nobody can hear them speak on your behalf.

I want to just pull out this quote every time anyone in my family makes a comment about the growing size of my bookshelves!

Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns did an interview with Nieman Storyboard, one of my favorite blogs about journalism and narrative nonfiction, about some of the process of writing her book.

Natalie (Book, Line, and Sinker) wrote a great post – Book Reviews or Book Reports: Which are you writing? – about how she taught her students about reports and reviews. What I liked most about it was how well her advice can be applied to reviewers of all ages!