cover image The Best American Science Writing 2012

The Best American Science Writing 2012

Edited by Michio Kaku and Jesse Cohen. Ecco, $14.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-211791-5

Theoretical physicist and self-described "science junkie" Kaku serves as guest editor of this intriguing collection of science-related articles published in 2011. The pieces featured here%E2%80%94which originally appeared in publications such as The New York Times and National Geographic%E2%80%94ripple outward from a focus on the human body to explore the environment, the space program, the universe, and finally the physical limits of science itself when it runs contrary to popular opinions, widely-held religious beliefs, and other social issues. Many of the authors investigate cutting-edge and controversial research, such as experiments that use blood vessels grown in a lab to replace malfunctioning ones in humans. Another essay proposes a new hypothesis as to why teenagers do dangerous things; the author asserts that "%E2%80%A6the willingness to take risks during this period of life has granted an adaptive edge." Ethical concerns are addressed in a study of physical predictors of criminal behavior and in the consequences of allowing those with mental illness to decide whether or not to take medication, and an essay on the hunt for the Higgs boson (purportedly discovered in July 2012) showcases the exponential progress of science. Kaku writes that his hope for this book is that it might "inspire young scientists%E2%80%A6 to spark%E2%80%A6 a new era of innovation and discovery." While only time will tell whether Kaku's hopes will be fulfilled, in the meantime, this anthology is guaranteed to pique readers' interests. (Sept.)