Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jonathan Weiner: Science Writer

HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER by Jonathan WeinerI wasn't a science major in college. I passed physics in high school by sheer force of will and my youthful memory. Still, I enjoy reading about science today with the happy thought that I don't have to worry about the final exam.

I'm a fan of science writer
Jonathan Weiner. And, I'm not the only one: Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, recommends Jonathan Weiner's His Brother's Keeper: A Story from the Edge of Medicine in the New York magazine article "If You Liked My Book, You’ll Love These." It's a very human story: Stephen Heywood was twenty-nine years old when he learned that he was dying of ALS—Lou Gehrig's disease. Almost overnight his older brother, Jamie, turned himself into a genetic engineer in a race to cure his sibling's incurable disease. Along the way, you'll learn about gene therapy, stem cells, brain vaccines, and other cutting-edge treatments for such diseases as ALS, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's—but Jonathan Weiner never lets you forget the Heywood family's heartache and the researchers who are working to find treatments for these diseases.

Jonathan Weiner's new book, Long for This World: The Strange Science of Immortality will publish this month—and it's already gotten high praise: "I love this book. It is a mesmerizing blend of vivid (sometimes hilarious) reporting, wide-ranging scholarship, and the throughtful probing of a great mystery. Like everything Jonathan Weiner does, it is far more than the sum of its parts."—James Gleick

If you haven't read
Jonathan Weiner's The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time, you should set aside a rainy afternoon for it. Evolution seems so remote—but Weiner will show you how natural selection is taking place by the hour. Plus, it won a Pulitzer Prize.

And, here's Jonathan Weiner talking about Long for This World.

1 comment:

  1. Jonathan Weiner has given us a book that's equal part science and philosophy. Our world would be vastly different without the stimulus of personal demise (for a companion reader I'd recommend Death & Sex by Tyler Volk). Perhaps the strongest example of this was given--unwittingly--by Aubrey de Grey. He speculated that once aging was eliminated, then death would come only by accidental cause. We'd be afraid to get in a car or to climb a mountain. With immortality, our fear of death would only increase. What kind of a life is that?