BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE AND NATURE WRITING 2010
by Freeman Dyson (nonfiction
DIVERSIONS BOOK CLUB
1. What is your favorite essay from this compilation?
What is your least favorite?
1. Was it necessary to include the Foreword and the
Introduction to this volume?
2. Part One, titled "Visions of Space,"
includes 5 essays. Most present a rather bleak vision of the future for space
exploration. How do you feel about spending money to explore space?
3. The second essay in Part One, "One Giant Leap
to Nowhere," ends with the comment that NASA's true destiny is "to build
that bridge to the stars." (p. 22) Your thoughts?
4. Part Two claims that "Neurology [is] Displacing
Molecular Biology." Do you agree?
5. The "marshmallow test," resolving PTSD with memory
research, and reorganizing the brain to cure phantom limb pain are all covered
in the 3 neurology essays. Do you think these are all viable fields of
6. Part Three focuses on "Natural Beauty."
Birds, ants, whales, walking sticks, ponies, and Darwin are all covered in the
7 essays. Did 1 of these 7 make more of an impact on you than the others?
7. The 3rd essay in Part Three, "Modern
Darwins," compares Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel. Mendel published his
paper on inheritance 7 years after Darwin published his book, but Mendel's work
was ignored while Darwin's became famous. (p.121) Why do you think this
8. The last three parts all focus on the Environment:
"Gloom and Doom," "Small Blessings," and "Big Blessings." Why do
you think the editor, Freeman Dyson, devoted so much space to the Environment?
Do you agree with his decision?
9. The second essay in Part Four, "A Formula for
Disaster," focuses on economics. Why do you think this essay was included
in a section about the Environment?
10. Part Five discusses "Small Blessings" in
the Environment. "A Life of Its Own" describes the creation of
artificial life using BioBricks, a process that may also work as a new energy
source. Your thoughts on this concept?
11. Letting cows eat grass is the simple approach to
farming described in Part Six's "Graze Anatomy." Are you concerned about
the preparation of the meat and vegetables that you eat?