Annal: 2001 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science & Technology

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2001.

Book:The Invention of Clouds

The Invention of Clouds

Richard Hamblyn

The early years of the nineteenth century saw an intriguing yet little-known scientific advance catapult a shy young Quaker to the dizzy heights of fame. The Invention of Clouds tells the extraordinary story of an amateur meteorologist, Luke Howard, and his groundbreaking work to define what had hitherto been random and unknowable structures—clouds.

In December 1802, Luke Howard delivered a lecture that was to be a defining point in natural history and meteorology. He named the clouds, classifying them in terms that remain familiar to this day: cirrus, stratus, cumulus, and nimbus. This new and precise nomenclature sparked worldwide interest and captured the imaginations of some of the century’s greatest figures in the fields of art, literature, and science. Goethe, Constable, and Coleridge were among those who came to revere Howard’s vision of an aerial landscape. Legitimized by the elevation of this new classification and nomenclature, meteorology fast became a respectable…[more]

Book:A Different Nature

A Different Nature: The Paradoxical World of Zoos and Their Uncertain Future

David Hancocks

Humanity has had an enduring desire for close contact with exotic animals—from the Egyptian kings who kept thousands of animals, including monkeys, wild cats, hyenas, giraffes, and oryx, to the enormously popular zoological parks of today. This book, the most extensive history of zoos yet published, is a fascinating look at the origins, evolution, and—most importantly—the future of zoos.

David Hancocks, an architect and zoo director for thirty years, is passionately opposed to the poor standards that have prevailed and still exist in many zoos. He reviews the history of zoos in light of their failures and successes and points the way toward a more humane approach, one that will benefit both the animals and the humans who visit them. This book, replete with illustrations and full of moving stories about wild animals in captivity, shows that we have only just begun to realize zoos’ enormous…[more]

Book:In Code

In Code: A Mathematical Journey

Sarah Flannery, David Flannery

In January 1999, Sarah Flannery, a sports-loving teenager from Blarney in County Cork, Ireland was awarded Ireland’s Young Scientist of the Year for her extraordinary research and discoveries in Internet cryptography. The following day, her story began appearing in Irish papers and soon after was splashed across the front page of the London Times, complete with a photo of Sarah and a caption calling her “brilliant.” Just 16, she was a mathematician with an international reputation.

In Code is a heartwarming story that will have readers cheering Sarah on. Originally published in England and co-written with her mathematician father, David Flannery, In Code is “a wonderfully moving story…about the thrill of the mathematical chase” (Nature) and “a paean to intellectual adventure” (Times Educational Supplement). A memoir in mathematics, it is all about how a girl next door, nurtured by her family, moved from the simple math puzzles that were the staple of dinnertime…[more]

Book:The Seven Daughters of Eve

The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry

Bryan Sykes

The national bestseller that reveals how we are descended from seven prehistoric women. One of the most dramatic stories of genetic discovery since James Watson’s The Double Helix, The Seven Daughters of Eve reveals the remarkable story behind a groundbreaking scientific discovery. After being summoned in 1997 to an archaeological site to examine the remains of a five-thousand-year-old man, Bryan Sykes ultimately was able to prove not only that the man was a European but also that he has living relatives in England today. In this lucid, absorbing account, Sykes reveals how the identification of a particular strand of DNA that passes unbroken through the maternal line allows scientists to trace our genetic makeup all the way back to prehistoric times, to seven primeval women, the Seven Daughters of Eve.

Book:Uncle Tungsten

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

Oliver Sacks

From his earliest days, Oliver Sacks, the distinguished neurologist who is also one of the most remarkable storytellers of our time, was irresistibly drawn to understanding the natural world. Born into a large family of doctors, metallurgists, chemists, physicists, and teachers, his curiosity was encouraged and abetted by aunts, uncles, parents, and older brothers. But soon after his sixth birthday, the Second World War broke out and he was evacuated from London, as were hundreds of thousands of children, to escape the bombing. Exiled to a school that rivaled Dickens’s grimmest, fed on a steady diet of turnips and beetroots, tormented by a sadistic headmaster, and allowed home only once in four years, he felt desolate and abandoned.

When he returned to London in 1943 at the age of ten, he was a changed, withdrawn boy, one who desperately needed order to make sense of his life. He was sustained by his secret passions: for numbers, for metals, and for finding patterns in the world…[more]

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