SIX SCIENCE books have reached the final shortlist for the pounds 10,000 Aventis Prize, the scientific equivalent of the Booker. The winner, to be announced at a Science Museum dinner in London at the end of the month, will receive more than a hefty cheque - the prize has proven to be a useful boost for book sales.
The subjects of this year's shortlist range from a history of tuberculosis and an analysis of the implications of the human genome project, to the cosmological considerations of the universe and the origins of the internet. The six finalists represent the cream of a record-breaking 117 entrants.
n The White Death, a history of tuberculosis by Thomas Dormandy (Hambledon Press, pounds 25). The disease has claimed some notable characters, such as Keats, Chopin, Chekov and the Brontes, and this book tells the story of finding its cause and the search for a cure. Dormandy, a consultant pathologist and accomplished artist, warns about the return of the disease as highly dangerous, drug-resistant forms emerge in America and Europe. The Aventis judges said the book is "full of surprising anecdotes about a disease that is coming back".
n The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene (Vintage, pounds 7.99). Greene, a professor of physics and mathematics, uses everything from an amusement park ride to the analogy of ants on a garden hose to explain the bizarre idea that all aspects of the universe, from the largest planets and stars, to the smallest atoms and particles, can be linked together under a single "theory of everything". Superstring theory proclaims that all events in the universe are reflections of one grand physical principle. The judges said the book is "an exciting glimpse of the future of physics".
n A Brief History of the Future, the origins of the Internet, by John Naughton (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, pounds 18.99). The Net promises to revolutionise our lives in the 21st century and this book explains why. Naughton, a lecturer at the Open University and professional writer, writes authoritatively about the architects who laid the foundations of the post-modern world. The Aventis judges described his book as "a fascinating account of an almost unknown story".
n Genome, the autobiography of a species in 23 chapters, by …