ENTROPY AND THE MAGIC FLUTE by Harold J. Morowitz

ENTROPY AND THE MAGIC FLUTE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 More short essays (49, no less) in this latest collection (Mayonnaise and the Origin of Life, 1985, etc.) culled from Morowitz's regular contributions to Hospital Practice. There's some attempt at thematic ordering here: essays on physics and physicists (Morowitz is a biophysicist); essays on ethics; on academia; on biology, etc.--but since the groupings include a set of pieces that are ``personal'' and another set assembled simply because Morowitz wrote them on trains or planes, the logic is a bit thin. It doesn't really matter, though, since the author is a master of the short (three- or four-page) piece that reveals a sensitive, sensible mind at work, one seasoned enough to take the long view of science and society. Certain Morowitz characteristics surface throughout: He's an indefatigable source-checker, for instance, referring to standard and not-so- standard reference works. He tells us, among other things, that we're deprived of Aristotle's biology writings since they're largely omitted from the standard college editions of the thinker's work. Similar sleuthing about the namesake of his new academic affiliation--George Mason University--discloses that this Virginian appears as a mere footnote in standard American histories but was, in fact, the author of Bill-of-Rights language honed to perfection by Thomas Jefferson. Morowitz also likes to travel, finding inspiration in treks to the Vienna cemetery where physicist Ludwig Boltzmann is buried; to Kobbi Fora, where our early ancestors have come to light; to Hawaii for the study of lava flows, and so on. Such a broad mix is sure to include something for everyone. A favorite is an essay written by a rock 3.85 billion years ago, lamenting the desecration of the earthscape with all that toxic oxygen in the atmosphere and all that slimy green-gray goo coating those nice ocean-wet seashore stones. Very clever, Professor Morowitz.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-19-508199-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1993




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