Monday, April 21, 2008

Suntree, Science's Favourites and Umberto

I took this picture last month.

It was a brief glimpse of March sunshine, in the woods above my house. I tried fading a little of the colour from it to get the result you see here. Reminds me of the cold, spring sunshine -- strangely enough, more of which we appear to be enjoying today...


A week ago or so I posted a discussion about favourite books.

Just read a piece posted on Boing Boing by David Pescovitz, citing a listing of prominent scientists and their favourite books. I agree with DP that checking out the favourites of these luminaries is fascinating (though I do think Alison G. copped out)...

1. Farthest North - Steve Jones, geneticist

2. The Art of the Soluble - V. S. Ramachandran, neuroscientist

3. Animal Liberation - Jane Goodall, primatologist

4. The Foundation trilogy - Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist

5. Alice in Wonderland - Alison Gopnik, developmental psychologist

6. One, Two, Three... Infinity - Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist

7. The Idea of a Social Science - Harry Collins, sociologist of science

8. Handbook of Mathematical Functions - Peter Atkins, chemist

9. The Mind of a Mnemonist - Oliver Sacks, neurologist

10. A Mathematician’s Apology - Marcus du Sautoy, mathematician

11. The Leopard - Susan Greenfield, neurophysiologist

12. Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior - Frans de Waal, psychologist and ethologist

13. Catch-22 / The First Three Minutes - Lawrence Krauss, physicist

14. William James, Writings 1878-1910 - Daniel Everett, linguist

15. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Chris Frith, neuroscientist

16. The Naked Ape - Elaine Morgan, author of The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis

17. King Solomon's Ring - Marion Stamp Dawkins, Zoologist

Here's the link to the original piece in NewScientist.

Any of the vast coterie of scientists reading this blog are more than welcome to add to this list. And for those few of you non-scientists, go ahead and admit to having a little kink or two in your personality, and let me know your favourite book about science, too.

Currently, I am reading THE ISLAND OF THE DAY BEFORE, by Umberto Eco. I'd have to call it more philosophical than scientific. Still pretty good, though...



Lottery Girl said...

Do you really think Alice G copped out? WHY?

Alice in Wonderland was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I obsessed over it and had much of it memorized. I can't begin to guess how many times I read it. Then my Dad had a set of records of a famous British guy (Cyril Richichart?) reading it. I'd come home from kindergarten everyday and play the entire thing (took several hours). I still think about it now and again.

I could see how this book could inspire a scientist. I have several children's books listed as favorites, because they have touched me every bit as much as any other book.

kc dyer said...

Hey Steph!

I love Alice, too. My first take on it was that she listed her favourite book, as opposed to her favourite inspirational science book. I suppose you could argue that since hallucinogens were likely at the root of much of the story, there is a scientific component!

But trust me when I say I agree that kids' books can be HUGELY inspirational. Think how many careers Madeleine L'Engle must have launched with A Wrinkle in Time...