Monday, March 17, 2008

The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing

A new anthology edited by Richard Dawkins is now hitting bookstores. It features popular science writing from a truly impressive array of several dozen authors.

The publisher, Oxford University Press describes the book:

Edited by best-selling author and renowned scientist Richard Dawkins, this sterling collection brings together exhilarating pieces by a who's who of scientists and science writers, including Stephen Pinker, Stephen Jay Gould, Martin Gardner, Albert Einstein, Julian Huxley, and many dozens more. Readers will find excerpts from bestsellers such as Douglas R. Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach , Francis Crick's Life Itself , Loren Eiseley's The Immense Journey , Daniel Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea , and Rachel Carson's The Sea Around Us . There are classic essays ranging from J.B.S. Haldane's "On Being the Right Size" and Garrett Hardin's "The Tragedy of the Commons" to Alan Turing's "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" and Albert Einstein's famed New York Times article on "Relativity." And readers will also discover lesser-known but engaging pieces such as Lewis Thomas's "Seven Wonders of Science," J. Robert Oppenheimer on "War and Physicists," and Freeman Dyson's memoir of studying under Hans Bethe.
I recall Dawkins asking for suggestions via his forum at I see many of the most suggested, including the wonderful Lewis Thomas, made the cut. (Alas my candidate, Heinz R. Pagels does not appear on the list.)

Seeing the list of hugely popular and influential writings, this looks like it may be the closest to a definitive collection yet published. I have some science writing anthologies on my shelf but this looks far more comprehensive.

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