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Science: A History 1543-2001 by John Gribbin

Science: A History 1543-2001 (2002)

by John Gribbin

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530819,020 (3.8)8
  1. 10
    In Search Of Schrodinger's Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality by John Gribbin (hungeri)
    hungeri: Mindkét tudományos ismeretterjesző mű történeti megközelítésű ugyanazon szerző tollából. Egyedül a téma különbözik. :-)

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This sprawling, comprehensive history of science and the scientists that made its discoveries begins from Copernicus and ends in a slightly rushed way towards modern day science. Some famous scientists are described wonderfully, making science appear very much a personal process, with fascinating often larger-than-life characters populating it. The science itself is usually described with crisp authority, though there are times when more clarity would be useful. The two main strengths of the book for me were the sheer range of detailed historical coverage, and secondly the opinionated overviews of what specific discoveries mean for our place in the universe, and how science operates. These were fantastic at highlighting how incredibly profoundly science has changed our perspective of almost everything, and I would have liked even more digressions like this.

But, having been published about 15 years ago, there are a few places here and there that are a little outdated: for instance the genomic information is wrong, and some of the astronomical information is too.

And it is written in a rather dry, slightly pompous, even marginally old-fashioned style. And I imagine to avoid the book going on for thousands more pages, it is a tad uneven in the following way: there is far more biographical information about the earliest scientific names compared to the giants of 20th century science. For instance, there is almost no biographical information on Richard Feynman, Murray Gellman, Watson and Crick, and other leaders of modern science.

But these are minor quibbles. The book is on the whole a fantastic achievement, and a great treat to read for anyone remotely interested in science. ( )
  RachDan | Aug 11, 2015 |
John Gribbin writes excellent narrative history, with an eye for the entertaining anecdote, but also in a well-organized and comprehensive fashion, covering physics, biology, chemistry and geology equally well. ( )
  neurodrew | Feb 2, 2013 |
An easily-read and entertaining overview of the main players and events in the history of Western science. the author clearly sets out his stall from the beginning in the the limits of what he covers and how he chooses to approach the subject. This is very much focussed on the the individual and the personality with an emphasis on the biographical detail rather than the scientific detail. In general this works well, there are a couple of occasions where the informal approach does jar slightly (in describing one scientist as 'going ballistic' at his rival), but mostly it works to flesh out personalities (particularly pre 20th century).
However, given the scope of this book, it takes some skill to cover so much and put in a proper context, and by and large Gribbin manages this. It would make a good introduction to the general reader. ( )
1 vote antisyzygy | Jun 2, 2010 |
A great introduction to the topic which concentrates on the people and their lives and only gives a brief insight into the science itself.

Very easy to read and with many entertaining anecdotes and tales.

Gribbin is one of the easiest to read popular science writers, now he shows his hand as a great history writer as well.

I can see that I will be dipping in and out of this book for reference for many years to come.

A good read.

Four out of five stars. ( )
  psiloiordinary | Oct 8, 2008 |
This is a very comprehensive text that brings to life some of the names behind the laws, theories and experiments from the high school science curriculum. Many of the stories are fascinating - we get a brief insight into some of the personal and political issues that these people had to cope with.
A particular strength of the book is the strong focus on pre-20th century scientific advancement. Many histories tend to over-emphasise recent events to the detriment of older stories.
My only reservation about the book was the uneveness of the biographies in the books. Some of the bios are fascinating, others appear irrelevant and rather pedestrian. I have a feeling that some more editing in this direction would have helped the readibility of the book greatly.
Nevertheless, a fascinating book for anyone who wants to understand something about where how these great ideas came about. ( )
1 vote woodpigeon01 | Jan 18, 2008 |
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The most important thing that science has taught us about our place in the Universe is that we are not special.
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"In this book John Gribbin tells the story of the people who made science and the turbulent times they lived in. As well as famous figures such as Copernicus, Darwin and Einstein, there are also the obscure, the eccentric, even the mad. This diverse cast includes, among others, Andreas Vesalius, landmark sixteenth-century anatomist and secret grave-robber; the flamboyant Galileo, accused of heresy for his ideas; the obsessive, competitive Newton, who wrote his rivals out of the history books; Gregor Mendel, the Moravian monk who founded modern genetics; and Louis Agassiz, so determined to prove the existence of ice ages that he marched his colleagues up a mountain to show them the evidence."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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