Picks

Am I Making Myself Clear?: A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public

The world has never more needed public understanding of science than it does now, and those of us in science education have a special obligation in this regard. The answers to health care, climate change, conservation of the environment, and so forth are not going to be found in science alone, but if they are to be addressed rationally, science literacy will be necessary.

Mammogram Math (The Way We Live Now)

Imagine a highly reliable cancer test. It detects 95% of a certain type of cancer, and has a "false positive" rate of only 1%. This test is used on a population in which this type of cancer occurs in 0.5%. One day your doctor tells you that you have tested positive. What is the chance that you are actually sick? Surprisingly, it is only about 32 percent!

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Meet Flavia de Luce. You are going to like her. It is 1950 and Flavia, a very precocious eleven year old, lives in a small village in England in a deteriorating grand mansion with her father and two older sisters. Her passion is chemistry, which she has learned on her own by reading a textbook owned by her deceased mother and practiced in a laboratory inherited from her uncle.

Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution

When I saw this new book on the subject of evolution, I thought it would probably be one side or the other of the very tired evolution/creationism-"intelligent" design debate. I was delighted to find instead a very smart discussion of the status of our understanding of the origins of life, how life has changed over the millennia, and how we have learned about those things. Mr.

Of Beauty, Sex and Power

Having just returned from the Gordon Research Conference on Chemical Education Research and Practice, I can attest to the central role that statistics plays in chemical education.

Science Teaching as a Profession: Why it Isn't How it Could Be

The shortage of well-trained science teachers is widely recognized, but the solution to the problem requires first an appreciation of its causes. This little book, which is available free online, addresses the tangible and intangible reasons why fewer talented people choose science teaching as a career or choose not to stay in teaching.

Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World

Jan Hendrik Schön published some of the most exciting and ground-breaking physics of the past decade. He published it in the most prestigious specialty journals such as Physical Review Letters, Nature and Science. He won several important prizes and was being nominated for more of them when a problem came to light. The problem was that Schön had no data to substantiate his discoveries .