The Single Helix : A Turn Around the World of Science Paperback
by Steve Jones
THE SINGLE HELIX is a miscellany of a hundred easy pieces about science.
It brings to life a vast diversity of subjects, united under the banner of scientific truth - the universal solvent that brings clarity to almost all the mysteries of the world we live in. Scientists are trained to know ever more about even less but here Steve Jones sets out deliberately to explore subjects in which he is emphatically not an expert (although his favourite snail, the single Helix of his title, does poke in a tentacle here and there). His insatiable curiosity and enthusiasm as he sheds light on unexpected corners of knowledge combine to produce science writing at its very best.
From chaos in the heavens to the fight against creationism, from optical illusions in tartan to the mathematics of elections and what rules the sex lives of cats THE SINGLE HELIX is a scientist's look at sciences other than his own - and as a result its author has been forced to make the complicated simple enough for even a biologist to understand.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 336 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 01/11/2006
- Category: Science: general issues
- ISBN: 9780349119403
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Review by antisyzygy
I can't fault Steve Jones' writing style - he's entertaining and informative, whether talking about the philosophy of science, technical subjects, or the bizarrer aspects of academia. The problem I had with this book is its format; it's essentially 1-2 page long articles reprinted from a weekly science magazine. In that context they sit superbly - light reading amongst the more in-depth articles. Collected together in a book, it's frustrating, you constantly wish the subject matter could be handled in more depth (which is in itself an accolade to the author - many science writers 2 pages is the most you can take). Had selected articles been expanded, mixed in with those more humorous or cursory, it would have been a much more satisfying book.