Tuesday, October 12, 2010


c. David Grim (taken 8/20/08)

Lately I've found myself reading a series of science books. I picked them up at Copacetic Comics a couple of months ago, and now I'm working my way through them. I hardly want to speculate on the mood I must have been in when I took them home. It's rare for me to be drawn to this type of material. So often it's written in a manner that's tough for a layman to get through. Without a lot of background in physics or chemistry or biology, I have a bit of struggle relating to these concepts. But I am aware that some authors have developed an accessible style that allows all levels of readers to appreciate their work.

There is something about the scientific method that makes people who engage in it rather dry. Artifice and unconventionality tend to be heavily discouraged. The stories involved are supposed to be communicated in a straightforward and direct manner, and precise descriptions employing technical language are hard to avoid. This all means that scientists are stereotypically characterized as square and pallid. That's not a typical equation for engrossing accounts on the page.

Yet now and again I run across someone capable of translating difficult ideas and research in a n entertaining and elucidating way. For instance, right now I'm reading "The Three-Pound Enigma" by Shannon Moffett. She wrote it while she was in medical school, and I find it remarkable how deft she is as an author. A lot of the stuff included in her selection of interviews with famous and accomplished neurologists should be completely over my head. But somehow I get it, and I even enjoy it. It doesn't hurt that I am specifically curious about the mysteries of the brain. Still it would have been very easy to present this information in a way that would have completely eluded me.

Anyway, I don't know how useful it will be for me to corrupt some of the ideas that particularly attract me in Moffett's work. I may or may not get into that stuff on here. Specifically the function the hippocampus serves in memory formation is fascinating. But Moffett is so elegant in her explanations that I'd much rather simply recommend that you track down her book and buy it as soon as possible. It simply seems like essential information for anyone in modern day society. And I don't have the chops to set it down in this venue. I have to give full props to those fighting the good fight.

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