In this exuberant book, the best-selling author Natalie Angier distills the scientific canon to the absolute essentials, delivering an entertaining and inspiring. Though Angier is a regular contributor to the Science Times section of this “The Canon” presents the fundamentals of science: numbers and. ONE to watch: out in paperback in early January is science writer Natalie Angier’s The Canon. It is an ambitious sweep through the basics of.

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That’s okay once in a while, and I understand the desir I am reading this book slowly. Previous Views from Medina Road.

The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science

A boring book by a science writer who tries too hard to justify her profession. Sodom meets Gomorrah, and we’re left with a pillar of salt. It has taken me a long time to finish it because science is not something I read for fun. However, then we come to the last part of the sentence, tacked on as if it were ashamed to even be a part of it.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply You must be logged in to post a comment. What sort of texts every scientist must have read? Aug 07, Jason Pettus rated it it was ok Shelves: But the reason I gave it only two stars was because it beats a dead horse.

She couldn’t seem to decide whether she wanted to be playfully incomprehensible in a Finnegan’s Wakean way, or drolly incisive in a kind of Popish verse. The goal was to get within an order of magnitude of the actual right answer.

Nov 11, EAL rated it it was amazing Shelves: Hardcoverpages. Science maintains its outsider status not by natslie of a conspiracy against its nerdiness, but because, as its advocate readily enthuses, it is big, unwieldy, impossible to pin down. I might not have had as much of a problem with it had I felt like she intended to dumb down everything, but she explicitly said she feels that the problem with science being “uninteresting” is that people gloss over many natalle to make them more palatable.

But it just meanders from point to point, with no particu I was really looking forward to reading this book, which purports to be a layperson’s introduction to all things beautiful in science.

This is really interesting stuff. She asked them questions such as, “What does it mean to think scientifically? Refresh and try again. This page was last edited on 29 Septemberat But then, enticing though the premise was, it was flawed.


There are chapters on scientific method, the scale of things, basic physics, chemistry, molecular biology, geology, and astronomy.

The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier

It has some great ideas and I love the premise of laying out in simple, brief terms the basic tenets of science, but the writing style drives me crazy, and not in a good way. Sciences are ‘hard the way diamonds and rubies are hard,’ Angier tells us.

Well kudos for writing creativity, but by the end of the book I was throwing it out with the last of my cotton candy. The chapter on physics made my day; the chemistry chapter would have made last year’s science class much more interesting; the astronomy chapter was a tad belabored, though no amount of repetition will ever make “we are stardust” un-awe-inspiring. She has obviously limited herself to a strictly American audience by including so many cultural markers, but even as an American myself, her references spanned so many topics and generations that I lost more than a few myself.

The more I learn about the history of science, the more I realize why it has such a precarious, semi-mystical reputation with so much of the general public by now; because when the modern “scientific process” was first formed in the s, the first few generations of “scientists” were starting almost from scratch, meaning that the average member of the public could go out and replicate the experiments these people were doing, and understand for themselves what science is and why it’s so important.

And science, she emphasizes, is fun. Nov 09, Marie desJardins rated it it was ok.

It’s just that there were two problems angeir should have been addressed. But, even if I didn’t already consider science fascinating and amazing and completely utterly awesome, I’d soon come around to that point of view. It’s about this book.

Natalie Angier, The Canon

At first I found the chattiness to be slightly off-putting, but when I got to the chapters on material that I didn’t know much about molecular biology and chemistrythe light-hearted distractions were actually helpful in keeping me focused on the main points. It’s like a mighty mastodon masticated a healthy handful of diamonds and then defecated onto my lawn.

My second bite was great. Her writing style is very light, loaded with enthusiasm, and a bit chatty at times. But being force fed every other sentence? Annoying is the fairest word I could come up with to describe The Canon after suffering through it for these past weeks.


I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally here. By way of example I give you this gem from page”Perhaps nothing underscores carbon’s chemical genius better than the breadth of its packaging options, from the dark, slippery, shavable format of graphite on one extreme, to fossilized starlight on the other- translucent, mesmeric, intransigent diamond, the hardest substance known, save for a human heart grown cold.

While not glossing over them, she certainly didn’t give any depth. Science is interesting only if you have an interest in it — creating an interest is a worthy goal, and my kudos to her for trying. But whirligig is actually a more accurate term for the spinning, circular prose, cnon phrases, lists of adjectives, and nonsensical metaphors plucked from thin air without bothering to establish a relationship to the topic.

Okay, whatever, but then one sentence later, “If you bought a naalie and nicknamed it Saguaro, your aunt from Tucson might not see any cause to correct you.

Please stop teaching generation after generation of young impressionable students to write this way, and certainly please stop handing them Pulitzer f-cking Prizes when they do. It was hard to give this two stars. The chapter on geology I found moderately entertaining, geology being the ‘weakest’ of my sciences. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

However, probably not a book for someone who has seen their way through less flowery, more information dense tomes.

Therefore, I’m going to patronizingly write the rest of this review in Angier’s style to drive the point home. Angier gets a C for effort – many interesting topics are considered and there were a number of thought-provoking passages.

Angie This book is a fine review of angler nine or ten meta-categories of introductory college science concepts. Books by Natalie Angier. The primary purpose of a column is to entertain.