In this exuberant book, the best-selling author Natalie Angier distills the scientific canon to the absolute essentials, delivering an entertaining and inspiring. Though Angier is a regular contributor to the Science Times section of this “The Canon” presents the fundamentals of science: numbers and. ONE to watch: out in paperback in early January is science writer Natalie Angier’s The Canon. It is an ambitious sweep through the basics of.

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Truly, I liked what I could understand about chemistry, but never really “got” it, and didn’t even have the clarity of mind to know what questions to ask. If only science teachers at my high school had been as engaging as this writer. But for me, someone who asks a lot of whys and hows, a lot was left unexplained. Comets brought water to Earth; the oceans are 3 to 4 billions years old, but our present atmosphere, with its oxygen content, was not established until about million years ago.

For example, it took me a few minutes to puzzle out the connection between the Earth’s core, soccer, and the name Wilson, until I finally realized she was referring to Castaway –some of the difficulty coming from the fact that Wilson was a volleyball, not a soccer ball–and by the time this all clicked together I had forgotten that the whole point of the weird connection was supposed to help explain atomic nuclei.

I didn’t get far, what with the small font and lots of analogies and metaphors that I either didn’t understand or were completely unnecessary and actually detrimental to anyone who seriously just picked up this book to get a basic understanding of science. And perhaps I loathed every second of my multiple tries at reading this because I’m no fun. As someone familiar with science, it wasn’t an issue, I could provide my own signposts, but I think it would be a major barrier to someone hoping to learn.

THE CANON by Natalie Angier | Kirkus Reviews

Evidence counts, not opinions. And it’s for every parent who has ever panicked when a child asked how the earth was formed or what electricity is.

The problem was that while i understood the science concepts just fine, I often got stumped on the cultural reference that was supposed to make it clearer.


To be fair, she did present the material in a linear order that made it relatively easy for me to see how one freestanding fact might follow naturally from the one s preceding it. It makes me think of when I was a little kid. The author gets the science right, and tells it in an lively, interesting way. She talks about incompetent sewing in home ec, likens polarized molecules to Mickey mouse, and mentions how the grand canyon was made in the most convoluted way possible: She mixes jokes, puns and one-liners in with her science facts at a ratio of about one to one.

Angier does this by bimboizing everything, referring to David Trump’s toupee as a force of nature and with a giddy, Tourettes-like prose at the end of one paragraph anecdote involving the Bronx: I was really looking forward to reading this book, which purports to be a layperson’s introduction to all things beautiful in science.

Along the way, we learn what is actually happening when our ice cream melts or our coffee gets cold, what our liver cells do when we eat a caramel, why the horse is an example of evolution at work, and how we’re all really made of stardust. If the author had pulled out 99 percent of the jokes and puns and filled in that space with genuine prose, rich imagery, and flowery anecdotes, the book would have benefited greatly from it.

May 31, Kate rated it did not like it. Angier has some fun turning a good phrase here and there. I thought that the author also did a anngier job of presenting all those basics that I somehow couldn’t understand all along.

Unfortunately, it stands stoic and silent, drowned out by the ostensibly clever but officious and indefensible affectations we readers are brought to bear. There are chapters on scientific method, the scale of things, basic physics, chemistry, molecular biology, geology, and astronomy.

I found myself reading a half a chapter – a chapter at most – every day, but no more. Understanding how things work feels good. The earliest stars exploded, creating higher elements, which enabled our planet and life. It’s not that the jokes are all bad; no, some of them are moderately clever, many of them made me at least smile.

There are many books and many pages in the world I want to read, and it is generally advisable for authors never to give readers an excuse to put down their book and pick up someone else’s, because we may never pick their book up again. Jokes are built into almost every paragraph and their structure, usually a series of serious scenarios followed by a comical one, is tiresome.


My compulsion with finishing a text once I’ve started it us the only reason I made it to the final page of The Canon. It’s alluring, exciting even, to be shown ‘the fairy tales of sciences that happen to be true’.

This time to page The writing was atrocious, and made cannon want to stab people, starting with the author. Refresh and try again. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. The chapter on physics made my day; the chemistry chapter would have made last year’s science class much more interesting; the astronomy chapter was a tad belabored, though no amount of repeti Science is beautiful. Science is interesting only if you have an interest in it nataoie creating an interest is a worthy goal, and my kudos to her for trying.

Presented in an easily understood format by Natalie Angier who calls herself, not a scientist, but a science writer. Let’s see what’s there Basically, just don’t read it.


The second law guarantees a certain degree of chaos and mishap natalle your life natslie matter how compulsively you plan your schedule and triple-check every report. Unless you’re talking to an eight year old, sentences like “Star light, star bright, Brown wishes you’d try this trick at night” are not really appropriate. From the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author of Woman, a playful, passionate guide to the science all around us With the singular intelligence and exuberance that made Woman an international sensation, Natalie Angier takes us on a whirligig tour antier the scientific canon.

It wasn’t all bad, though. My guess on that is is that the Stoppard reference was actually useful in understanding the concept, and thus the context was necessary.