In “The Canon,” Angier agitates energetically for scientific literacy by highlighting key elements of scientific thinking, and by devoting chapters to, as she puts it, the “sciences generally awarded the preamble ‘hard.'” The chapter on astronomy, for example, centers on the ineffable instant in which our universe blossomed out of the Big Bang. The section on molecular biology features a reprise of the high-speed commotion that prevails within a human cell even before it’s time to split the DNA and divide.
And one finds that Angier’s polemical edge, when she cares to display it, is as keen as ever: She writes, for example, that proponents of creationism and/or intelligent design strike her as subscribing to sadly “data-deprived ideologies.”
IDEAS: What was your goal with “The Canon”?
ANGIER: In order to follow science, even in the newspapers, you have to have some confidence that you get the basic lay of the land, the geography of the scientific continent. I was trying to convey the basic ideas behind scientific thinking in a way people would understand.