MYSTERIES OF LIFE AND THE UNIVERSE: New Essays From America's Finest Writers on Science by William H.--Ed. Shore
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MYSTERIES OF LIFE AND THE UNIVERSE: New Essays From America's Finest Writers on Science

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A bonanza of original science essays by top names in the field, written to benefit Share Our Strength, a nonprofit hunger-relief foundation. Whatever magic Shore, executive director of SOS, used to gather these 28 pieces, it worked like crazy: It's been a long time since such a fine science anthology came into view. Things open with a delightful piece by Tim Ferris, who decides to grasp the nature of time by strolling from Times Square to New Jersey, regressing in his imagination one thousand years with each step. He gives up near his father's grave, 44 million years in the past and having ""translated into sore feet and aching calves what I'd learned from books."" Several articles tackle origins: Alan Lightman rejoices that the birth of the cosmos will ever remain a mystery; Bruce Gregory sketches evidence for the Big Bang; Harold Morowitz describes how life may have arisen from prebiotic soup. Arthur Aveni, in the book's only dissent from scientific orthodoxy, suggests that the cosmology of ancient Mesoamerica, which found meaning where we find mechanics, may have been the equal of our own. James Farlow writes a funny piece on dinosaur footprints. Lawrence Joseph examines common sense; Martin Gardner wonders about computer intelligence. One of the few female contributors, Judith Stone, mulls over Murphy's Law. James Gorman enthuses about swamps; Denis Overbyte about Voyager. The weakest articles are by some of the best-known authors: Diane Ackerman says little of interest about the Grand Canyon, while Douglas Hofstadter contributes the only real clunker--a J.G. Ballardish bit of incomprehensibility about a collision between a deer and a car as seen from various (molecular, galactic) perspectives. Nothing but a sense of wonder bonds these essays together, which means there's something for everyone and everything for those who love science.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich