Scientific primer books/literature by BIPOC authors?
December 10, 2020 8:22 PM   Subscribe

I was talking with someone about rereading A Brief History of Time and we were wondering if there were similar books/literature available from BIPOC authors. We're reasonably scientifically/mathematically literate so it doesn't need to be entry level pop-sci, but that's fine too. We were specifically thinking quantum- or astrophysics and the like, but other natural science topics (ocean life, geology, chemistry and genetics, etc) would be great too.
posted by curious nu to Science & Nature (16 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer is a book written by Siddhartha Mukherjee.
posted by nickggully at 8:47 PM on December 10, 2020


I know he's fallen out of favor a bit due to repeatedly being the worst kind of nerd on Twitter but this is kind of Neil deGrasse Tyson's whole bag.
posted by babelfish at 8:53 PM on December 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


Oh, and one I can full-throatedly recommend: I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong! One of the best science writers out there.
posted by babelfish at 8:54 PM on December 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


My colleague Clifford Johnson wrote a graphic novel about ideas in physics and the philosophy of science called The Dialogues.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:57 PM on December 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


Also by Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:17 PM on December 10, 2020


She's a philosopher (so on the boundaries of your 'natural science' question), but Amia Srinivasan edits and regularly features as a reviewer in the LRB. For example: 'The Sucker, the Sucker! What's it like to be an octopus' is a memorable review essay on cognition and consciousness.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:57 PM on December 10, 2020


Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses is written by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
posted by foxfirefey at 10:11 PM on December 10, 2020 [3 favorites]


I just came in to rec Clifford Johnson’s work.

If you happen to read Japanese, Hirosi Ooguri has a popular series on theoretical physics but I don’t think it is available in English.
posted by nat at 11:33 PM on December 10, 2020


Atul Gawande is a big name writer about medicine. I especially recommend his The Checklist Manifesto.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:00 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


Michio Kaku is a well-known theoretical physicist and science popularist. Wikipedia has a long list of his book, radio, and TV appearances.
posted by underclocked at 7:32 AM on December 11, 2020




Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is a Black theoretical physicist with a particular interest in cosmology who writes popular science columns and has a book coming out next spring. Another BIPOC theoretical physicist who does a lot of popular science communication is S. Jim Gates; he did one of the Great Courses series and has co-written a book called Proving Einstein Right.
posted by yarntheory at 8:56 AM on December 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


Manjit Kumar's Quantum is really good. (Whether someone born in India who has lived in London most of his life should be called BIPOC is not a question I know the answer to. But, the book is excellent.)

I'm also very much looking forward to Prescod-Weinstein's book.
posted by eotvos at 9:12 AM on December 11, 2020


Also, if you do decide to try Neil deGrasse Tyson's books, I'd suggest starting with a sample if you can. Leaving aside arguments about the man himself, I find the writing incredibly frustrating. I struggled through all of Accessory to War, because it contains a lot of important information that I didn't know. But, the overwhelming presence of the author in every third sentence is frustrating. The other two more astro-related books I skimmed, hoping to use them as assigned readings in an undergrad non-majors science class, just left me feeling disappointed. (I'd say this is no different from Hawking and many other famous authors - Feynmann, Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould - so my opinion is clearly not consistent with the popular consensus when it comes to popsci nonfiction. You may well disagree.)
posted by eotvos at 9:39 AM on December 11, 2020


I'm passing on NdT due to the sexual assaults -- I don't want this question to sideline into a discussion on that, and should have stated that upfront.

Thank you everyone for the suggestions so far!
posted by curious nu at 9:49 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


I will second Gawande. He's just a fantastic writer.
posted by callmejay at 11:11 AM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


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