Science has especial intentions; therefore, specific comprehension and/or readership profile for books — of a protocol not merely confined to the world of facts, but also literary embellishment, unlike standard, popular opinion. In actuality too science is creativity personified and vice versa. This is not all. Science, like its writings, is also the exploration of mind and matter in frames and words: of verified or verifiable knowledge brought forth by the sublime conception of percepts and induction of deducts.
It is agreed that for scientific imagination to blossom forth from conceptualisation to perception — not many precepts are needed. For example, Albert Einstein's elucidation of the concepts of relativity, when he turned on the ‘engines’ of science for readers who had had a good algebraic background. Or, Fritjof Capra's generous illustration of his primaeval concepts vis-à-vis the marvels of physics for readers who may not have a smattering of the subject, much less mathematical proclivity. It isn't, therefore, all too easy. Yet, add to it a plethora of scientific and popular science editions, and you have an enormous number of works, by and large, elaborate and complex, with their own swivel of conscious and prepared readers.
Every scientific discipline has had in its physical compass, or literary radar, books of the highest value. They may also have been complex, and at the same time, easy-to-understand, or something not effortlessly comprehensible. Committed readers may not have had any problems glancing through them, even if they are/were manuals and not as highly exalted as they would have wanted them to be. Reason: books don't offer a warranty, or pledge, to be extensive. Generally, they are 'options' from the full discipline. They use finite data and also view hypothetically wider parameters or dimensions than most texts, or treatises. Characteristically, they aspire, no less, to captivate with their approximation, while refining their crux with an expansive gleam.
Most of the great titles may, at the general level, as already cited, offer easy-to-terse explication. Take Capra's fascinating book, The Web of Life , an elaborate body of work that offers a spectacular peek into the new scientific understanding of living systems: the nature of life and pathways for interdisciplinary thinking. Capra's book, in simple terms, is a brilliant synthesis of topical breakthroughs, such as the rationale of complexity, Gaia and chaos theory, and so on. Stephen Hawking's marvellous string of books, likewise, is another — all matchless science bestsellers. Their books delight, entertain, and inform — and, they also make the most intricate component apparent.
Scientific biographies make interesting reading too. Biographies are facts, not abstracts. They may be transcendent, at times, yes; but, they do have a good bit of life in them. Of what went right; or, what went wrong; or, something in-between. One could conjure up a great name in the category: Charles 'Evolution' Darwin, the first popular science writer — if ever there was one — who initiated the whole process. Autobiographies also offer a sublime view of self, expansion, family, and the rest. Not always, though. The great mathematician, and our own Srinivasa Ramanujan's 'discoverer,’ G H Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology  was rarely subjectively reflective, while James 'DNA' Watson's The Double Helix , was a splendid narrative that revealed the personal life of a convincing analyst. Think of paradoxes, and you have them all just as well in tune with science and its investigative 'psyche.' A notable example, in the genre, is Richard Feynman's Surely, You're Joking, Mr Feynman .
If the early part of the last century was a roseate revelation of Einsteinian emergence, so were Bertrand Russell-Alfred North Whitehead's philosophical volumes the obelisk, just as much as Cyril Smith's classical essays on materials in technology and art. Or, take a quick dekko at how science as literature has flowered, having reached its apogee with the likes of George Gamow's One, Two, Three ... Infinity , Norbert Weiner's Cybernetics , Donald Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming , Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett's, The Mind's I , Feynman's QED , Carl Sagan's The Pale Blue Dot , Timothy Ferris' The Whole Shebang , and Michael Dertouzos' What Will Be  — to name only a select few.
Interestingly, you also have books that trace a single theme, like Dennett's capital work, Darwin's Dangerous Idea , just as much as you have had the best account of The Making of the Atomic Bomb  by Richard Rhodes. Besides, you have the encyclopaedic works — not structurally restricted to the famous — or, something just as wonderful. Which brings us to some of the best works on the subject called science: Paul de Kruif's Microbe Hunters , Martin Gardner's In the Name of Science , John Desmond Bernal's Science in History , Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff , Abraham Pais' Inward Bound , among others.
Science books are also records of a form of self-examination: of knowledge carefully thought out as a subject of study. Philosophers, for example, have written different accounts — and, of enduring eminence. C P Snow's The Two Cultures  had shown, early on, that science is a major element of the culture of our times. The Nobel Prize-winning immunologist and virtuoso writer Peter Medawar's The Art of the Soluble , for example, gives a fine personal description of what science can and cannot do. Karl Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery  is another notable book. Think also of Whitehead's Science and the Modern World , Vannevar Bush's Science, The Endless Frontier , and Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions .
You have yet another dimension — the diversity of living forms mirrored by books that recount them, including voyages into fields as diverse as molecular biology. You'd, as a matter of routine, if not contemplation, recall the work of Erwin Schrodinger, What is Life? , for one. Or, cast a sharp eye on works that relive the life of the protean crystal, realised by the double helix. What's more, you have the ornate plankton and fish of the seas, the call of birds, the ecology of the countryside, ice and jungle, viral threats, like Richard Preston's The Hot Zone , dinosaur finds, and all cells — of life viewed several ways, including explorations. The list includes such gems as William Beebe's Jungle Days , Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac , Konrad Lorenz's King Solomon's Ring , Rachel Carson's Silent Spring , Jacques Monod's Chance and Necessity , Lewis Thomas' The Lives of A Cell , Francois Jacob's The Possible and the Actual , Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape , John Horner and James Gorman's Digging Dinosaurs , and Edward Wilson's Consilience .
The conceptual seat of passion of biology is, of course, Darwinian evolution as it has developed. A farrago of views is told in admirable prose, by biologist-authors whose expertise has been expanded by their literary talents. There are a host of such titles in the technical mould, with theories extended; Howard Gruber's book, with PauI H Barrett, Darwin on Man: A Psychological Study of Scientific Creativity  being the one exception. It examines Darwin's notebooks to heckle at the foundation of creativity. You'd also think of Ronald Aylmer Fisher's The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection , Richard Goldschmidt's The Material Basis of Evolution , Stephen Jay Gould's Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History , Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene  and The Blind Watchmaker , and Jonathan Weiner's The Beak of the Finch .
Do spare a thought to those lovely, coffee-table volumes that are manifestly a component of life, but yet a distinct constituent. This is evident in the expansive list: from anthropology and archaeology, from biology to zoology, mathematics and physics, and psychology to medicine, including music and language. They are wonderful books and equally among the favourites. The theme that gyrates from the fully supported story is as technical and yet as thrilling as a book can get. Choose your pick: Sigmund Freud's General Introduction to Psychoanalysis , Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception , Jacob Bronowski's Science and Human Values , R L Gregory's The Intelligent Eye , Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man , Gregory Bateson's Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology , Elizabeth Barber's Women's Work , Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence , and a host of other titles.
Medicine, likewise, is literature. Doubtless. The last century was witness to an exciting spurt in the medical genre, like never before. Most notably for books related to the now-burgeoning field of mind- body medicine. Candace Pert's Molecules of Emotion , was one amazing endeavour that caught readers' imagination worldwide. The work provides novel and expansive answers to mind-body questions: of appropriate inquisitions that have haunted, or challenged, philosophers and scientists, since the beginning of time. It is a glorious epitome, a remarkable premise — no less. It is also much more than a whiff of the centre-stage. Of a classy scientific picture of truth; of how the chemicals inside our bodies form a dynamic information network, linking the body and mind.
Yet another outstanding book that comes to mind is Paul Martin's landmark work, The Healing Mind , which brings home the metaphor: the extraordinary links that exist between psychology and biology: of the mind and body, and how they have been dexterously fabricated, and contrived, by evolution over the millennia. The connotation, of course, does not take into consideration the great textbooks — the bible in every segment, or speciality – which have stood the test of time. Like the essential works of a Henry Gray, Charles Best, Arthur Guyton and Sir Stanley Davidson.
Last, but not the least, preserve a huge regard to the scientific original for the lay reader, the most literate and populous of them all without attending to what the art of narrative brings — both lament and chortle. Interestingly, the fantasies of novelists are not exactly hard scientific evidence, albeit there is plenty of it as well. H G Wells' book, Tono-Bungay  was truly portentous, but his portrayal of the advertisers' world and the life of a young scientist have hardly been improved upon. Thomas Pynchon's Gravity Rainbow  is another utterly brilliant novel of World War II structured around science, but its warmth is freezingly frosty. Wait a minute. Well, there is no way one can forget Sinclair Lewis's Arrowsmith , Kurt Vonnegut, Jr's Cat's Cradle , Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics , Bruce H Lipton’s The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles , Melanie Mitchell’s Complexity: A Guided Tour , and V S Ramachandran’s The Tell-Tale Brain: Unlocking the Mystery of Human Nature , among others — all outstanding books in their own ‘write.’.
Well, to state the obvious. Whoever said that science books aren't templates of literary finesse in their literary framework, or artfulness, did not get things right. There's nothing that is mundane in them. This is not all. One could quickly think of the likes of Dr Dean Ornish’s Reversing Heart Disease  too, in a fully-updated popular perception, #1 bestselling scientifically-validated revolutionary book for ‘turning around’ heart disease — a life-changing work. The list is endless, yes. Besides, all one could do is conjure up, thanks to limitations of space, their own inventory of ageless science titles — something that will inspire, teach, and stay put within the psyche of every reader for one’s optimal health and wellness too.
If this isn't a tribute to the power of the word, and the art of writing, in science and medicine, what is?