Annal: 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science & Technology

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2002.

Book:Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA

Brenda Maddox

In March 1953, Maurice Wilkins of King’s College, London, announced the departure of his obstructive colleague Rosalind Franklin to rival Cavendish Laboratory scientist Francis Crick. But it was too late. Franklin’s unpublished data and crucial photograph of DNA had already been seen by her competitors at the Cambridge University lab. With the aid of these, plus their own knowledge, Watson and Crick discovered the structure of the molecule that genes are composed of—DNA, the secret of life. Five years later, at the age of thirty-seven, after more brilliant research under J. D. Bernal at Birkbeck College, Rosalind died of ovarian cancer. In 1962, Wilkins, Crick and Watson were awarded the Nobel Prize for their elucidation of DNA’s structure. Franklin’s part was forgotten until she was caricatured in Watson’s book The Double Helix.

In this full and balanced biography, Brenda Maddox has been given unique access to Franklin’s personal correspondence…[more]

Book:The Demon in the Freezer

The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story

Richard Preston

“The bard of biological weapons captures the drama of the front lines.”—Richard Danzig, former secretary of the navy

The first major bioterror event in the United States-the anthrax attacks in October 2001-was a clarion call for scientists who work with “hot” agents to find ways of protecting civilian populations against biological weapons. In The Demon in the Freezer, his first nonfiction book since The Hot Zone, a #1 New York Times bestseller, Richard Preston takes us into the heart of Usamriid, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, once the headquarters of the U.S. biological weapons program and now the epicenter of national biodefense.

Peter Jahrling, the top scientist at Usamriid, a wry virologist who cut his teeth on Ebola, one of the world’s most lethal emerging viruses, has ORCON security clearance that gives him access to top secret information on bioweapons. His most urgent…[more]

Book:Love at Goon Park

Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection

Deborah Blum

We take it for granted today that we should kiss our children, hug our friends, and comfort our partners. But until recently, the “experts” thought otherwise. In fact, in the early 20th century, affection between parents and children was very much discouraged—psychologists thought it would create needy and demanding offspring; doctors were convinced it would spread infectious disease. It took a revolution in psychology to overturn these beliefs, and prove that a loving touch not only didn’t harm babies but in fact ensured their emotional and intellectual growth.

In Love at Goon Park, Deborah Blum charts this profound cultural shift by tracing the story of the man who made it possible: a brilliant, alcoholic, work-obsessed psychologist named Harry Harlow.

Pursuing the idea that human affection could be understood, studied, even measured, Harlow arrived at his conclusions…[more]

Book:Of Moths and Men

Of Moths and Men: An Evolutionary Tale

Judith Hooper

Mutant moths and feuding scientists—the real story behind the most famous experiment in twentieth-century evolutionary biology.

As almost every high school biology student once learned, the peppered moths of England were the most renowned insects in the world. Featured in nearly every science textbook, they acquired their fame through the pioneering work of H. B. D. Kettlewell, a British physician and amateur lepidopterist who went into the woods in the 1950s to use this population of moths to capture “evolution in action.” He wanted—needed—to prove that the moths were evolving to a darker color in response to industrial pollution, for this would put the finishing touches on Darwin’s theory. As Judith Hooper reveals in this groundbreaking work, Kettlewell’s ambitions would exceed the strength of his science and the story of the “peppered moth” would became one of the…[more]

Book:Salt: A World History

Salt: A World History

Mark Kurlansky

Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. Today we take it for granted; however, as Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates in this world-encompassing book, salt-the only rock we eat-has shaped civilization from the very beginning. Its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind.

Until about 100 years ago, when modern geology revealed how prevalent it is, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities, for without it humans and animals could not live. Salt has often been considered so valuable that it served as currency, and it is still exchanged as such in places today. Demand for salt established the earliest trade routes, across unknown oceans and the remotest of deserts: the city of Jericho was founded almost 10,000 years ago as a salt trading center. Because of its worth, salt has provoked and financed some wars; it was, as well, a strategic element in the American Revolution and the Civil War, among…[more]

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