Science Isn't Always Fun

The best thing about The Best Science and Nature Writing anthology is that the writers do all the work for you: if you want to learn about the wonders of gene expression, you don't have to pore over exciting medical journals such as Thorax . . . -- instead you can skip the primary-source research and just read David Dobbs' essay "The Social Lives of Genes," which details the incredible power your environment and social ties have over your genes (basically, if you're lonely, your immune system doesn't work very well) but I must warn you, the book is not all fun and games; Maryn McKenna's article "Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future" is downright scary-- infectious bacteria is becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics we have and we can't create new antibiotics fast enough to deal with this problem, so some time in the near future, we're going to loop back to the days when stepping on a rusty nail could kill you-- and that's a minor problem compared to what Roy Scranton describes in "Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene": near the end of the essay he reminds us that "the human psyche naturally rebels against the idea of its end . . . likewise, civilizations have throughout history marched blindly towards disaster, because humans are wired to think that tomorrow will be much like today-- it is unnatural for us to think that this way of life, this present moment, this order of things, is not stable and permanent; across the world today, our actions testify to the belief that we can go on like this forever, burning oil, poisoning he seas, killing off other species, pumping carbon into the air, ignoring the ominous silence of our coal mine canaries in favor of the unending robotic tweets of our new digital imaginarium."


zman said...

As I certified below, I'm not a robot despite the fact that I'm tweeting in this digital imaginarium.

Dave said...

science may not always be fun, but this digital imaginarium is!

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