Writer Shawn Lawrence Otto traces the history of anti-science beliefs in the United States and says that too many political candidates today pander to this point of view on such hot-button issues as climate change, stem cell research and evolution. Otto credits Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers with building a nation on a “foundation of science” and suggests that while anti-science views might win some elections in 2012, they will hurt the country economically in the long run.
Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century mathematician who upended cosmology by arguing that the sun, not the Earth, was at the center of the universe — gets his due in “A More Perfect Heaven.” So does Georg Joachim Rheticus, the young German mathematician who helped Copernicus complete the manuscript of what was considered a preposterous theory. The story, by science writer Dava Sobel, takes place during the Protestant Reformation in Europe and explores a time of religious, social and scientific upheaval through the eyes of these two men. At the center of this meticulously researched and highly readable biography, now available in paperback, Sobel provides a writerly twist: a fictional two-act play titled “And the Sun Stood Still.”