Saturday, February 9, 2019

Review of "Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony," by Lewis Thomas

Review of
Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, by Lewis Thomas  ISBN 0670703907

Five out of five stars
 Doctor Lewis Thomas’ scientific credentials are significant, but his greatest skill is in writing about the humanistic aspects of science and medicine. In this book, he once again demonstrates that fact. When I came to a chemistry class one day with one of his books, after looking at it the professor said, “That man is a poet.” The reason why I had the book was because a biology professor recommended it. They were both right and in fact understated Thomas’ skills.
 The book contains a series of short essays about science, medicine, and the role of biological processes in the world. Thomas demonstrates his sheer wonder at some of what has been discovered about life. From animal behaviors that seem inexplicable regarding how they could possibly have emerged, to how a few termites together are clueless and lack direction, yet beyond a threshold they become intelligent enough to create a hive, to bacteria living in thermal vents deep in the ocean that are killed when the water temperature is lowered to that of boiling water. The potential warming of the planet due to human carbon dioxide emissions is also mentioned several times.
 If the situation were ever to occur where I was given the opportunity to teach a course in humanistic science, it would be based on the writings of Lewis Thomas. I encourage everyone to read his works. He is so good that you don’t have to understand the science to know what he is talking about when he is talking about science.

No comments:

Post a Comment