Currently Reading: Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain

The first section of this book is the ‘letters.’ Twain wrote them as from an exiled Archangel Lucifer on Earth to his colleagues back in heaven.

He picks apart the hypocrisy and cruelty of religion with skill and the ferocity of outraged humanity. Science blogger and atheist PZ Myers would approve.

This book was not published until 1962.

See also:
Letters from the Earth: Mark Twain and PZ Myers
People’s convictions and beliefs

You know how some cats want to crawl into your suitcase?

A woman flew from St. John, New Brunswick, with a live cat in her suitcase. The cat passed airport security although the checkers asked if she was carrying a turkey. After a two-hour plane flight and one-hour bus ride, Ms. Martell arrived at Niagara-on-the-Lake and discovered that the family pet had come along.

Martell said her bag was scanned at the airport, but she was not stopped.

They had asked me, when they put … the luggage through the X-ray, whether I had a turkey,” Martell said.

“[Security] kept going back and forth with [the suitcase],” Martell said. “I was adamant. ‘Look, I have no turkey.'”

“The bag was sent on and loaded into the cargo bay of the airplane. Ginger, 3, was discovered when Martell opened her suitcase in her hotel room.

(See “Baggage Cat.”)

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Best Science Books of the Year

Six books have been shortlisted for the 2007 Royal Society’s Prize for Science Books:

  • Homo britannicus, by Chris Stringer (Penguin Allen Lane). Homo britannicus tells the epic story of the human colonisation of Britain, from our very first footsteps to the present day.
  • In Search of Memory, by Eric R. Kandel (WW Norton & Co). Nobel laureate Kandel charts the intellectual history of the emerging biology of the mind, and sheds light on how behavioural psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience and molecular biology have converged into a powerful new science.
  • Lonesome George, by Henry Nicholls (Macmillan). Lonesome George is a 90kg tortoise aged between 60 and 200, and it is thought he is the sole survivor of his sub-species… Henry Nicholls details the efforts of conservationists to preserve the Galapagos’ unique biodiversity… He explores the controversies raging over which mates are most appropriate for George and the risks of releasing crossbreed offspring into the wild.
  • One in Three, by Adam Wishart (Profile Books). When his father was diagnosed with cancer, Adam Wishart couldn’t find any book that answered his questions: what was the disease, how did it take hold and what did it mean? … There was no such book. So he wrote it. One in Three interweaves two powerful stories: that of Adam and his father; and of the 200-year search for a cure.
  • Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert (Harper Press). Psychologist Daniel Gilbert reveals how and why the majority of us have no idea how to make ourselves happy. The drive for happiness is one of the most instinctive and fundamental human impulses. … Psychologist Daniel Gilbert uses scientific research, philosophy and real-life case studies to illustrate how our basic drive to satisfy our desires can not only be misguided, but also intrinsically linked to some long-standing and contentious questions about human nature.
  • The Rough Guide to Climate Change, by Robert Henson (Rough Guides). This guide looks at visible symptoms of change on a warming planet, how climate change works, the evolution of our atmosphere over the last 4.5 billion years and what computer simulations of climate reveal about our past, present, and future. It looks at the sceptics’ grounds for disagreement, global warming in the media and what governments and scientists are doing to try to solve the problem.

The Society also gives a lesser prize for books written for readers younger than fourteen years.

Can a science geek help save the world?

Of course. We can all help. And, as blogfish points out, PZ Myers is helping to bring awareness of science to the public. And so is blogfish.

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