Their varied backgrounds and specialties notwithstanding, all physicians are trained to think scientifically. They are entranced by big ideas, drawn toward difficult challenges, and perpetually in search of solutions both grand and small. Nothing gets the blood pumping like making a discovery, settling on a diagnosis, or constructing a cure. The Best American Science Writing 2009 successfully taps into the hunger for scientific knowledge and adventure.
The current edition of this annual collection of essays is bursting with biomedical subject matter. The book opens with a look at the problem of pathological itching. That treatise only scratches the surface of the many medically themed essays that follow. A sampling of topics includes discussions of how fetuses and newborns experience pain, the difficulty of defining autism, and the risk of granulomatous pneumonitis from exposure to toxic dust at Ground Zero following the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center terrorist attack.