978-0-7139-9503-9 / 9780713995039

Science: A History 1543-2001


Publisher:ALLEN LANE



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About the book:

The last five centuries worth of scientific discovery is a vast area to try and encompass in a single book. John Gribbin's Science: A History 1543-2001 is appropriately big (over 600 pages) and manages remarkably well to cover this vast range of topics which amount to the whole of modern science since the Renaissance. The index ranges from absolute zero a "minimum possible temperature (-273 degrees celcius, now written as 0 K) at which no more work can be done because no heat can be extracted from a system" to Zoonomia, a long two volume work on medicine, biology and evolution, written by Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of the more famous pioneer of evolutionary theory Charles Darwin.

John Gribbin is a well-known, award winning, British science writer who somehow manages to produce several books a year. He starts this encyclopaedic tome with Copernicus (1473-1543) and his revolutionary concept of the sun being the centre of the Universe instead of the Earth--an heretical idea which apparently was largely ignored by Rome for the rest of the 16th century but was roundly condemned by the European protestant movement. Fifteen chapters later, having journeyed through the history of the development of ideas in astronomy, physics, chemistry, maths, biology and several other "-ologies", Gribbin returns to his favourite topic astronomy and its sister subjects involved in the exploration of outer space, especially over the last century. For a single volume work, Science: A History 1543-2001 is a remarkable achievement which synthesises so much in an eminently readable and affordable fashion for the general reader. --Douglas Palmer

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