The shortage of well-trained science teachers is widely recognized, but the solution to the problem requires first an appreciation of its causes. This little book, which is available free online, addresses the tangible and intangible reasons why fewer talented people choose science teaching as a career or choose not to stay in teaching.
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Jan Hendrik Schön published some of the most exciting and ground-breaking physics of the past decade. He published it in the most prestigious specialty journals such as Physical Review Letters, Nature and Science. He won several important prizes and was being nominated for more of them when a problem came to light. The problem was that Schön had no data to substantiate his discoveries .
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.