Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Greatest Show on Earth

I finished reading Richard Dawkins' "The Greatest Show on Earth" and I have nothing but praises for the author. As a layman, who got drawn into the world of biology, and especially evolutionary biology, late in my informal education (after enjoying formal education in Computer Science, and informal interests in modern physics and astronomy), I enjoyed this book immensely.

Richard Dawkins has an incredible gift of holding your interest in the topic, presenting some of the most incredible facts about biology and the current state of evolutionary science to the reader. He presents a step-by-step case for evolution, producing evidence based on the newest research in multiple fields. I especially liked his intuitive explanations of the geological "clocks" and how scientists can date the past events and artifacts. But what really blew my mind (so to speak) was the chapter on embryological development. It's simply amazing to see "our inner fish" during that short period of nine months, when we can trace our evolutionary development condensed in time.

If you are looking for a good popular science introduction to the current state of cutting edge biology, this book is for you.

In addition to the great scientific content, this book also presents a terrible state of education in the U.S. (and Great Britain too). Having around 40% of Americans still believe that the Earth is 6000 years old, in the age of the Internet, space exploration, and many other technological advances, shows you that we are consistently failing to educate our children. Scary, but unfortunately, true.