On the iPod, Kindle, and Bedside Table
Like most contemporary people, I am a voracious consumer of information. I readily concede that possession of information does not ensure wisdom, but at least it raises the possibility of a more informed judgment about the state of the world.
Leaving aside television and the Internet (and who wouldn’t be better off leaving these aside?), my main info sources are podcasts and books. Here are a few current favorites from each category.
My iPod is a constant companion on early-morning runs in whatever city I happen to find myself. Favored science-related podcasts:
- Distillations, CHF’s own award-winning romp through the world of the molecular.
- Science Friday, the always perceptive Ira Flatow hosts NPR’s weekly broadcast on all things scientific. Unpredictable but reliably interesting content.
- Scientific American, hosted by the always curious Steve Mirsky.
- This Week in Science, a humorous and irreverent look at current science.
Books come in two familiar flavors: digital and analog. On the digital side, my travelling buddy Kindle currently holds three science books:
- Science Matters (Robert Hazen and James Trefil), short and snappy essays on each major branch of science and its major questions. Easy reading.
- What’s Next (Max Brockman), a more challenging set of 18 pieces by scientists peering into the future.
- The Invention of Air (Steven Johnson), a biography of Joseph Priestley focusing on the intersections of his scientific, political, and spiritual dimensions.
On the bedside table are two volumes:
- The Age of Wonder (Richard Holmes), a totally charming history of literary and scientific explorations (some by the same people) at the cusp of the 18th and 19th centuries. Highly recommended, and the author will be visiting CHF next spring for a public lecture.
- Cosmic Imagery: Key Images in the History of Science (John D. Barrow), a sumptuous visual exploration of how images help us make sense of the physical world. Hint: anticipates forthcoming exhibits in the Museum at CHF.
Of course, I also read unchallenging, lowbrow, and unredeeming works, mostly in the fiction category. Probity prevents me from revealing any titles….