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the realm of scientific methodology that is still revered today. You will feel the heat of the battle as the individuals depicted herein challenged the conventional wisdom of their day and transformed medicine from superstition to a healing art. I was first introduced to the book in a class on microbiology, but obtained a true education in how curiosity, dedication and perserverance on the part of a few pioneers changed our view of nature forever. This book is a must read for anyone wanting to undrstand numan nature or the strange and wonderful word of pathogens. As a college professor I recomend this book to anyone who wants to find the inspiration for education in one book.” This was first published in 1926, and, hence, some of the sentiments are quite dated.


The Monk In the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel, the Father of Genetics. By Robin Marantz Henig. (Houghton Mifflin, 292 pp, 2000) GFBR **. General audiences. Gregor Mendel, a monk in what is now the Czech Republic,  is the person who, by conducting various experiments on cross-breeding different strains of peas, discovered the basic principles of modern genetic transmission. “This breezily written biography portrays not only Mendel but also his ‘rediscoverers’ (Hugo de Vries, Karl Correns) and the scientists (Raphael Weldon, T. H. Morgan, and especially William Bateson) who, two decades after his death, quarreled over the applicability of his now-famous findings. Readers looking for an introduction to the science itself will be disappointed, however, since the book offers only a cursory introduction. The biography is lean, because very little is known about Mendel himself. The author resorts to imagining probable scenes from his life: ‘In a corner of the monastery garden, Mendel huddled myopically over rows of greening plants.’ ‘His curly brown hair thinning around his widening face, Mendel sat at the oak writing table in the orangery, where the air was warm and lushly fragrant.’ You either enjoy this sort of thing, or you don't--but I can report that at least Henig does not invent dialogue. By far the more interesting part of the book is the second half, which conveys the quarrels and intrigues by which Mendel and his publications were rediscovered and illuminated by a gaggle of ego-driven scientists bent on proving each other wrong. It's fun reading, if a little disheartening, but it's nice to know that the dead man wins. Overall, The Monk in the Garden is a decent historical introduction to the founding of genetics, but not much more.”


My Brain is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdös. By Bruce Schechter (Touchstone, 224 pages, 2000) GFBR ****. Teen-Adult. “Physicist and science writer Bruce Schechter's biography of legendary Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdös is an engaging portrait, warm and intimate, bringing this strange, happy man to life. Schechter's focus is quite a bit tighter, and more traditionally biographical, than in Paul Hoffman's The Man Who Loved Only Numbers. Here, we get to see Erdös's brief childhood transform quickly into a carefree adolescence of solving difficult math problems with his circle of brilliant friends-uniquely encouraged by a country that valued the contributions of mathematics in a way that has never been equaled."


Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA. By Brenda Maddox. (HarperCollins, 2002) Teen-Adult. Rosalind Franklin made one of the most important discoveries in 20th – century science, but has received almost no recognition at all. It was her X-ray crystallography studies that revealed that DNA, the genetic messenger in all cells, had the form of a helix. James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins, who worked close by Franklin in Cambridge, England, and who used her work without her authorization, later won the Nobel Prize for their work in discovering the double-helix structure of DNA, based in a very important way on Ms. Franklin’s extremely careful work. She, however, died of cancer a few years later, and it was those three men who were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. Watson later wrote a book called The Double Helix and dismissed Franklin as a dowdy and bad-tempered person. This book attempts to set the record straight.

Science and Math Books You Can Read – page 7 out of 30

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