I am a fan of Ben Goldacre's "Bad Science" column in The Guardian. Several hundred of his articles are available free online at http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/series/badscience. His pieces are always well-researched and well-reasoned, and he writes with flair and wit. This slightly edited collection of his essays has recently been released in paperback in the US, after having been on the market in the UK since 2008.
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I bought "Mistakes Were Made ..." for on a long plane ride, thinking that it would be a light, entertaining read. It did turn out to be very entertaining, but it also has affected the way I think about politics, law, ethics, and the teaching of science.
In 2002, President George W. Bush signed the bill that made No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. It was a culmination of sorts of tides that had been growing for years, through both the Clinton and Bush administrations, toward sweeping reform in US schools.
The fact that Jim Riehl is a good friend and a former colleague does not mean that I can't recommend his book, does it? I would be writing about Mirror-Image Asymmetry even if I had never heard of this tennis player of limited talent.
Sam Kean is not a chemist, and he seems to have had little help from a chemistry-literate editor in writing this collection of stories about most of the elements of the periodic table. To a certain extent, his chatty and colloquial style helps to bring chemistry to an audience that is science-phobic (the c-word does not appear in the title or subtitle, presumably for this reason).
The central story of the Poisoner's Handbook is a war between poisoners and chemists working to detoxify poisoned beverages. The surprising thing is that the poisoners work for the US government and the detoxifiers for criminals. The setting is the years between 1920, when the 18th amendment started prohibition, and 1933, when the 21st repealed it.
David Goodstein has enjoyed a long and productive career at the California Institute of Technology as a professor of physics and as Vice Provost. He brings to this small book on scientific ethics the perspective of an administrator of scientific research, a viewpoint that I have not seen expressed in any other place.
Robert Boyle is known to most chemists solely for his Law relating the pressure and volume of a gas, but this privileged son of the Earl of Cork was not as interested in discovering an equation as he was in determining what his experiments could tell him about his own relationship to God.
There was a time when it was possible to estimate the size of the total US thermonuclear arsenal by measuring the ratio of Li-6 to Li-7 in commercial sources and knowing the amount of the metal in the economy. (Li-6 had been removed to make hydrogen bombs.) Now the lightest metal is prominent in other kinds of energy schemes.