Covering hunting spiders and black holes, gorillas and stardust, protons, photons and neutrinos, this anthology plots the development of modern science from Leonardo da Vinci to chaos theory. It consists of accounts by scientists themselves - astronomers, physicists, biologists, chemists, psychologists - who talk about their moments of breakthrough. Ronald Ross describes his discovery of the secret of malaria; the workers in Edison's laboratory put together the first electric-light bulb; and readers share in the construction of the world's first atomic pile. The book shows how science has changed art: how Newton's "Optics" flooded 18th-century poetry with colour; how the vastness of geological time terrified Tennyson and the Victorians; and how modernist writers struggled to adapt to Einstein's relativity. The classic science-writers are included - Darwin, T.H. Huxley, and Jean Henri Fabre tracking insects through the Provencal countryside. So too are today's experts - Steve Jones on the Human Genome Project, Richard Dawkins on DNA, and many other representatives of the late-20th-century genre of popular-science writing which, John Carey argues, challenges contemporary poetry and fiction in its imaginative power.