Best American Science and Nature Writing 2001

Posted by barb on Nov 11, 2004 in Books |

Edited by Edward O. Wilson

This is a collection of pieces from all branches of science from publications in 2001. A few notable articles:

  • “Abortion and Brain Waves” by Gregg Easterbrook
    This piece offers a sane and scientific definition of when life begins, and when in a pregancy abortion should be banned. Often when religion and dogma are pushed to determine public policy, science steps in offering a compromise. The issue of death is one instance — death occurs when brain activity stops, even if the body is kept artificially functioning. So, why not define life in the same manner? Studies show that brain wave activity similar to that of an adult human begins roughly with the third trimester of pregnancy.
  • “Seeing Scarlet” by Barbara Kingsolver and Steven Hopp
    This article discusses the disappearance of the macaw from it’s natural habitat, while describing their trek to find the one last place on earth that the macaw might be seen outside of a pet store.
  • “Ice Station Vostok” by Oliver Morton
    This article talks about the dilemma posed by the lake buried under the ice under the Vostok station. By studying the lake and its possible life, we could understand how life forms and survives in the extremes of nature. This could be applicable to studying life on other planets, most notably Europa, the ice moon of Jupiter that may have a vast ocean under it’s icy crust. On the other hand, by just introducing a device to study the lake, we risk destroying the ecosystem. There is no easy solution — the hope is to develop some way to study the lake without introducing any contagions, but ther eis no way to know for certain that we’ve planned well enough.

This book was heavy with biology-type articles, which don’t intrest me as much. I actually skipped a few of these articles after a few pages instead of trudging ahead for completeness, unlike last time.

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