What good is music? Oliver Sacks (author of The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, The Island of the Colorblind, and especially - for chemists - Uncle Tungsten) concludes in the Preface to Musicophilia that there is no apparent evolutionary advantage associated with human appreciation for certain combinations of sounds and rhythm.
The off-label use of neuroenhancing drugs such as Provigil (modafanil), Adderall (mixed amphetamines), or Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a fact of life and a growing practice in high schools, colleges and universities and in the business world.
While quantum mechanics has been able to answer many practical questions about the structure and bonding of atoms, molecules, nuclei, and even subatomic particles, it still does not adequately yield its own ultimate meaning.
This beautiful book could certainly enhance your coffee table, but don't buy it just for its looks. Be prepared to spend some time with it, and join the wonder that mathematicians are expressing at the brilliance of this new way of describing and inventing symmetries.
I am an enthusiastic fan of Brian Hayes' "Computing Science" column in the Sigma Xi publication, American Scientist, which is the source of most of the essays in this book. Before that, I read his articles in The Sciences, a now-defunct but beautiful little magazine once published by the New York Academy of Sciences.
The BCCE in 1994 was at Bucknell University, not far from the US home of Joseph Priestley, and I was one of a group that went there to see his place. While I knew some of his scientific contributions, I did not at the time appreciate how important a role he had played in the intellectual life of the nascent republic.
I bought "The Archimedes Codex" (the cloth cover edition, no less) because of the recommendation of Dick Pagni in the Summer Reading article in July, 2008. The book is available in paper beginning next month (January), but it is the kind of book that you might want to keep permanently in your library.
You won't find titillation in this book about sex and reproduction. These two one-act plays are intended by their author, one of the "fathers of the Pill" to prompt discussion of the many ethical questions posed by the divorce between act of sex and human reproduction.
Poisons are among the favorite weapons of mystery writers, if not murderers. Guns may be quicker, but poisons have a cachet that you really can't beat. On the other hand, murder by poison has become increasingly dangerous - to the perpetrator!
The Presidential campaign to this point has been waged so devoid of issues that one might think that there is nothing to discuss other than lipstick and the number of houses the candidates own. Beyond such trivialities as foreign policy, health care, immigration and the war(s), there a few minor issues that have something to do with science.