Arts and Entertainment

Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill, London

Letter: We are the monsters

Sir: David Aaronovitch's article (16 May) on the extinct Ediacaran way of life was spot on, both as a description for the lay readers, and for the high sense of humour and insight by which he made links to how we view ourselves biologically and ideologically.

Art: Preaching to the converted

Richard Dawkins The Queen Elizabeth Hall; Will science be the new rock'n'roll?

The dark lady of DNA

IN THE history of science, this is a remarkable statement: "A lot of people thought we stole the problem from her. Rosalind herself realised that she just didn't pick it up and run with it."

Education: A-Z Of Universities: Oxford

Age: Almost 900.

NET GAINS: The edge of enlightenment

Can you imagine what the Internet must have been like in its early days? Of course, there must have been plenty of technical foul-ups, lost messages and insanely complicated protocols (not to mention the terrible Seventies haircuts). But let's leave all that aside. Just picture it: a group of academics debating the big ideas in glorious intellectual isolation. Nothing to distract them from tackling the really important questions.

Science: An expression of the facts

Darwin's masterwork on the unity of the human race went out of fashion and print. Its revival promises to stir up the racial difference debate again

Literature: The race against time

Walter Mosley, creator of fictional private eye `Easy' Rawlins and Bill Clinton's favourite novelist, comes to London to talk on this century's race relations as part of the South Bank Centre's `Sounding the Century' season

Letter: In the stars

Sir: If the M2-9 butterfly nebula is really 2,100 light years away, and if your splendid photograph (19 December) really shows it 1,200 years ago, congratulations on your scoop: the news won't reach Earth for another 900 years. The office party must have been fun.

Letter: Happy truth about Oxford

Happy truth

Coming and going

Men have one-night stands; women have babies. That's evolution, says Gail Vines

Books: Theorising on a whinge and a prayer

Will Big Science disappear up its own black holes?; The End of Science: facing the limits of knowledge in the twilight of the scientific age by John Horgan, Little, Brown, pounds 18.99 The Second Creat ion: makers of the revolution in 20th century physics by Robert P Crease and Charles C Mann, Quartet, pounds 14


Literature has not been kind to science. You will hunt through countless novels and have the greatest difficulty finding a single worthwhile description of science or of a scientist. There are virtually no books in the classical cannon of English fiction which have illuminated the process of science in a way that scientists could identify or sympathise with, or that can compete with Jim Watson's The Double Helix. What great novel has a scientist as a believable central character? If literature is meant to reflect our culture then, as far as science is concerned, it is a miserable failure. One of the very few exceptions is the surgeon, Tertius Lydgate, in George Eliot's Middlemarch, who does some basic biological research.

Letter: Infected by a small mental parasite

Sir: Keith Williamson's "earworm" (letter, 5 June) is indeed known to science, and was described by Professor Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene under the name "meme". To quote Dawkins, a meme is

Magazine Weekly : Out of the lab, is New Scientist the latest must-have?

Now that the right-wing free marketeers have lost power, perhaps their house journal, The Economist, and its triumphalist advertising lose some lose some of its lustre. But what will replace it as the must-be- seen-to be reading magazine?

Books: Technofile

One of the grand themes most obviously suitable for multimedia treatment is evolution. Voyager devoted an Expanded Book to Stephen Jay Gould's heterodox view; Notting Hill built a disc around Richard Dawkins. Blackwell Science (01865 206206) have entered the lists with Evolution (pounds 34.66), a companion to an undergraduate textbook of the same name by Mark Ridley. It's an attractive product in many ways, but is enthusiastic rather than definitive. The great Darwinian CD-Rom has yet to appear.
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