I’m new to science. Like many people I was made allergic to science sometime in high school. But a couple of months ago I picked up Bill Bryson’s wildly popular A Short History of Nearly Everything, and it’s jumpstarted me. What a truly fascinating re-introduction to science that book is. It’s the perfect starting point for anyone wondering just how the universe formed, how the Earth came to be, and how life began and evolved. Bryson—usually a travel writer—is an animated writer who seems so awed by what he’s talking about it’s as if he too is hearing it for the first time. In other words, he knows about your allergies and he does well in not stirring up the dust. He let’s you breathe it in without much concern. By the time I finished the book, I wanted to find more, more, more. I’m on to Simon Singh’s The Big Bang. It’s a little scarier for this amateur—lots of equations and diagrams sprinkled throughout—but I’m hanging on.
Meanwhile I’ve also just discovered Seed magazine, which I may just have to subscribe to. It fits the spirit of this blog—sure, it’s a science magazine, but the latest issue profiles three or four artists, has a satire by Neal Pollak, and even has a conversation between an MIT cell biologist and the graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister (apparently not online). A strong directive of Seed seems to be not only in covering hot issues in science (evolution, avian flu, stem cell, etc.), but also in how science and culture collide, perhaps more than we often notice. And if you can’t make it to a newsstand or a bookstore anytime soon, Seed has a lot of content online, including many articles from the print edition, a forum and a newly launched stable of bloggers, a la ArtsJournal's corral of the best of the best, called ScienceBlogs. The image of the Orion Nebula above, by the way, comes from one of the ScienceBlogs, Afarensis. I’ve only just barely scratched the surface of any of this, but it all looks worth further investigation.