Written by John Gribbin
Release date: August 10, 2004
A wonderfully readable account of scientiﬁc development over the past ﬁve hundred years, focusing on the lives and achievements of individual scientists, by the bestselling author of In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat
In this ambitious new book, John Gribbin tells the stories of the people who have made science, and of the times in which they lived and worked. He begins with Copernicus, during the Renaissance, when science replaced mysticism as a means of explaining the workings of the world, and he continues through the centuries, creating an unbroken genealogy of not only the greatest but also the more obscure names of Western science, a dot-to-dot line linking amateur to genius, and accidental discovery to brilliant deduction.
By focusing on the scientists themselves, Gribbin has written an anecdotal narrative enlivened with stories of personal drama, success and failure. A bestselling science writer with an international reputation, Gribbin is among the few authors who could even attempt a work of this magnitude. Praised as “a sequence of witty, information-packed tales” and “a terriﬁ c read” by The Times upon its recent British publication, The Scientists breathes new life into such venerable icons as Galileo, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Linus Pauling, as well as lesser lights whose stories have been undeservedly neglected. Filled with pioneers, visionaries, eccentrics and madmen, this is the history of science as it has never been told before.
From Publishers Weekly
As expansive (and as massive) as a textbook, this remarkably readable popular history explores the development of modern science through the individual stories of philosophers and scientists both renowned and overlooked. Prolific popular science writer Gribbin wants to use the lives of these thinkers to show how they "reflect the society in which they lived, and... the way the work of one specific scientist followed from that of another." While he makes this case well, the real joy in the book can be found in the way Gribbin (who has made complex science understandable in such books as In Search of Schr"dinger's Cat) revels not just in the development of science but also in the human details of his subjects' lives. He writes, "Science is made from people, not people by science," and the book weaves together countless stories of the people who made science, from the arrogance and political maneuverings of Tycho Brahe in the 16th century to Benjamin Thompson's exploits during the American Revolution as a spy for the British and his later life as Count Rumford of Bavaria (in the realm of science, he studied convection and helped discredit the caloric theory of heat). Though the names and discoveries become more and more prolific as the book reaches the 19th century, Gribbin does an admirable job of organizing his narrative around coherent topics (e.g., "The Darwinian Revolution," "Atoms and Molecules," "The Realm of Life"), leaving the reader exhausted by the journey, but in awe of the personalities and the sheer scope of 500 years' worth of scientific discovery. Illus.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* This is the most ambitious effort yet by astrophysicist Gribbin, who has written numerous biographical and topic-specific works. Gribbin uses biography as a vehicle to traverse science's history from Copernicus to the principals of the quantum and relativity revolutions. Or were they revolutions? Readers will find the author arguing against the notion; he promotes an evolutionary view in the biographical vignettes, describing how the greats in science, at some stage, tussled with the authority of predecessors. Aristotle, Galen, and Ptolemy were impediments nudged, not shoved, aside. Gribbin notes the arguments that gave them apparent weight until lifted by a contradicting experiment or observation. And there was a remarkable number of colorful figures among the performers noted here, with Gribbin alighting upon the likes of Benjamin Thompson, the American Tory who became a Bavarian count, discovered truths about heat, and founded the laboratory that produced Michael Faraday, one of the most storied lives in science. Populated by such characters and replete with scientific clarity, Gribbin's work is the epitome of what a general-interest history of science should be. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Paperback: 646 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (August 10, 2004)
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