Some of the most incendiary minds of science have also verged on pathology; a few of them clearly have been mentally ill. Cliff Pickover describes the quirks and eccentric behaviors of some of these people, including Nikola Tesla (Chapter 1!), Oliver Heaviside, Richard Kirwan, Henry Cavendish, Francis Galton, and Theodore Kaczynski, among others.
Ellen Ullman is a middle-aged female software engineer. Those adjectives usually don't describe a single person. As a philosophical and forthright spokesman for a segment of the society most often characterized by its lack of social and verbal abilities, she is also singular in that way.
Neurologist Oliver Sacks is author of two previous recent best-selling books, "Awakenings" and "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", both of which dealt with his specialty, pathologies of the human brain. In "Island of the Colorblind", Sacks takes us traveling to the islands and atolls of the Pacific: Guam, Rota, Pohnpei, and Pingelap.
In "Invention by Design", Henry Petroski (Professor of Civil Engineering and History at Duke University) describes the creative process by which objects as ubiquitous and as familiar as paper clips, aluminum soda cans, zippers, and "lead" pencils have arisen. In so doing, he invites the reader into the human activity of engineering.
"Born to Rebel" provides quantitative data in support of a novel interpretation of the importance of birth order to personality development, evolution, and history. Many are comparing its insights to those of the author's hero, Charles Darwin.
After nearly a century of "modern" archaeology in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, it is surprising that any substantial finds remain to be uncovered, but archaeologist Kent R. Weeks discovered last year what appears to be a huge complex of tombs.
The forensic sciences have received a great deal of attention lately, partly as a result of the OJ trial, but in this lengthy piece, the fine writer, John McPhee, writes about the far less-familiar field of forensic geology.