I found The Best American Science & Nature Writing 2007 when I was out hiking a couple few weeks ago. An Appalachian Trail hiker left it behind, recommending to whoever came by. I snagged it.
Any anthology will have some hits and misses. At least, in contrast with my frustrating experience with Flash Fiction Forward, all of my favorites from this book are available online, and only two of those are behind paywalls. Score. These were the ones I especially liked:
An interview with Mythbusters:
We’re just trying to see what happens. And we have relatively little time and a whole lot of curiosity, so the most efficient way to get there is what we do, and that often happens to be some form of science… That being said, the fact that we don’t have formal training, that makes what we’re experiencing a little bit more accessible to the viewers. If we actually knew what we were doing ahead of time, it would just be like talking at you, instead of experiencing the situation with you.
This year’s question from edge.org: “What have you changed your mind about? Why?” Dozens of scientists, researchers, philosophers, writers, and thinkers respond.
“After Darwin, after Einstein—just as after Galileo and Copernicus—we can’t have the same theological ideas about God as we did before.” An interview with theologian John Haught on science, faith, and the troubles of the new atheism.
“History looks more and more like a science fiction novel in which mutants repeatedly arose and displaced normal humans Äì sometimes quietly, by surviving starvation and disease better, sometimes as a conquering horde. And we are those mutants.” Humans are evolving, and there’s a difference even over the small time frame of the past 1000-10,000 years. Two big causes are the huge increases population growth, which means more mutant genetic strains, and our geographic spread, which makes for environmental adaptation.
Scott Rosenberg interviews Steven Johnson about his latest book, The Ghost Map. I liked Johnson’s thoughts on the evolution of popular theories and the role of public intellectuals. “Part of what you’re supposed to do as an educated intelligent person is try and figure out the giant weird invisible elephant in the room that nobody’s talking about — the thing that everybody’s missing. But it’s hard. They’re blind spots for a reason.” Reminds me of Mises’ thoughts on ideas.
The Royal Society is giving access to all their scholarly publications, from March 1665 to last year. Go search the archives. It’s free until the end of the year, but hopefully they will see the light and keep it open permanently. [via spurgeon]