Picks

Galileo's Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science

What would you say are the greatest scientific ideas that mankind has discovered? Most of us chemists would say that the notion that matter consists of atoms would have to be one of them, and physical chemist Peter Atkins does not disappoint us on that score. He also treads ground familiar to us when he describes entropy and energy, and evolution and DNA.

The Height Gap

A widely-held misconception is that people, in general, are getting taller. Another one is that Americans are the tallest people in the world. A handful of anthropologists led by John Komlos, a professor at the University of Munich, is using the average heights of people as a unique historical and contemporary index of health and nutrition.

The Isaac Newton School of Driving: Physics and Your Car

Many teachers of science use the automobile to exemplify the principles they wish to teach, whether it be the mechanics of acceleration or angular momentum, gearing, or the aerodynamics of drag.

Einstein Simplified: Cartoons on Science

I am overdue in recognizing Sidney Harris (not a relative) in "Hal's Picks". His cartoons are always very funny, and he surely must do more of them about subjects in science than anyone. You have surely seen his work in American Scientist, Playboy, or the New Yorker.

Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps: Empires of Time

When I bought this book, I didn't realize how complementary to my Pick for Marchit would turn out to be. I thought that Poincare's "maps" referred to were his geometric depictions of deterministic chaotic systems, which he was first to discover, and the book was going to be largely about mathematics.

Uncle Tungsten: Memoirs of a Chemical Boyhood

I was finally impelled to read "Uncle Tungsten", which had been recommended by innumerable chemist friends, because of the opportunity to meet the author at the ACS meeting in New York last month.