An award-winning writer for the Los Angeles Times and the New
Yorker, K. C. COLE is the recipient of the American Institute of
Physics Award for Best Science Writer. She lives in Santa Monica,
Essays from Cole's "Mind Over Matter" in the Los Angeles Times. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Cole (The Universe and the Teacup) gathers 92 short essays that first appeared primarily in her Los Angeles Times science column. The book's four sections are loosely ordered around the subjectivity of inquiry, the physical world, science in practice and the politics of science. Cole's technique is to set her stage with a scientific factoid or news blip and then ruminate on the unexpected insights, inversions or ironies she finds there. Her themes include uncertainty, the limitations of measure, fragility, illusion, humility before nature, complacency. A solar eclipse "exposes our fragility" and dispels illusion "like turning up the houselights during a movie." The millennium, indeed the notion of time itself, is an artificial concept, and "it's a fine line," the author writes, "between discovering something and making it up." Ever the navel gazer, Cole seeks the wondrous in the stuff we mistake for just ordinary. Her piece on clouds ("wind made visible") segues inevitably to dying stars ("a cosmic-scale cloudburst") and atoms (a nucleus "engulfed by a cloud of electrons"); her piece on wind leads her to the hurricanes on Jupiter and the complicated "weather" of galaxies. Her science is also a foil for left-of-center political commentary on Enron, daisy cutter bombs, the Kansas Board of Education's vote on Darwin and the American justice system, to name a handful of her targets. These light vignettes are doubtless welcome respite for readers of the L.A. Times, but this collection may be too much of a good thing. Readers are advised to take it in measured doses. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
An absolute delight. Belongs on the bedside bookshelf of every science enthusiast.
-- "San Jose Mercury News"