A first-rate exposition--thorough, accessible, and entertaining--of the rudiments of scientific knowledge. Top science-writers Hazen (The Breakthrough, 1988) and Trefil (Reading the Mind of God, 1989, etc.) discuss the full range of science fact and theory here, from "Knowing" through "Particle Physics," from "Astronomy" through "Ecosystems." Scientific illiteracy, the authors say, is rampant; only three out of 24 physicists and geologists they questioned could explain the difference between DNA and RNA ("a basic piece of information in the life sciences"). To combat this ignorance, the authors pivot each chapter around one of 18 "general principles," printed in boldface: "The universe is regular and predictable" guides the discussion of "Knowing"; "All living things are made from cells, the chemical factories of life" guides the material on "The Ladder of Life," and so on. The discussions themselves are well-organized and clear, and include topical references (the chapter on "The Code of Life," for example, touches upon the sticky question of whether life begins at conception, and looks at DNA Fingerprinting). Boosted by scores of b&w drawings and charts, this is easily one of the finest available single-volume introductions to science.