Synopses & Reviews
Science is fantastic. It tells us about the infinite reaches of space, the tiniest living organism, the human body, the history of Earth. People have always been doing science because they have always wanted to make sense of the world and harness its power. From ancient Greek philosophers through Einstein and Watson and Crick to the computer-assisted scientists of today, men and women have wondered, examined, experimented, calculated, and sometimes made discoveries so earthshaking that people understood the worldandmdash;or themselvesandmdash;in an entirely new way.
This inviting book tells a great adventure story: the history of science. It takes readers to the stars through the telescope, as the sun replaces the earth at the center of our universe. It delves beneath the surface of the planet, charts the evolution of chemistry's periodic table, introduces the physics that explain electricity, gravity, and the structure of atoms. It recounts the scientific quest that revealed the DNA molecule and opened unimagined new vistas for exploration.
Emphasizing surprising and personal stories of scientists both famous and unsung, A Little History of Science traces the march of science through the centuries. The book opens a window on the exciting and unpredictable nature of scientific activity and describes the uproar that may ensue when scientific findings challenge established ideas. With delightful illustrations and a warm, accessible style, this is a volume for young and old to treasure together.
"The history of science parallels the history of mankind, and Bynum, professor emeritus in the history of medicine at University College London, captures the high points in this engaging chronology of our search to understand ourselves and the universe in which we live. He begins in the usual place, with early humans learning to write, which aided them with a subsequent development: keeping track of the movement of stars and planets in the night sky. Contributions from China paper, gunpowder, and the compass combined with math and medicine from India set the stage for Greek innovation, especially that of Aristotle, whose powerful views dominated science for centuries. Bynum covers alchemists like Paracelsus, the anatomists Vesalius and Harvey, and Islamic scholars like Avicenna before moving on to the notable figures of the Western scientific revolution: experimentalists Galileo, Francis Bacon, and Copernicus with his controversial heliocentric theory. Early fossil hunters Mary Anning and Georges Cuvier receive attention, as do 'game changers' Newton, Darwin, anthropologists Mary and Louis Leaky, and Einstein. Bynum's medical background enriches his discussion of contemporary advances in medicine and genetics; additionally, with no math and minimal jargon, his entertaining history is more than suitable for curious teen and adult readers." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A spirited volume on the great adventures of science throughout history, for curious readers of all ages
examines the development of GPS from its secret, cold war military roots to its emergence as a worldwide consumer industry. Drawing on previously unexplored documents, the authors examine how military rivalries influenced the creation of GPS and shaped public perceptions about its origin. Since the United Statesand#8217; first program to launch a satellite in the late 1950s, the nation has pursued dual paths into spaceand#8212;one military and secret, the other scientific and public. Among the many commercial spinoffs this approach has produced, GPS arguably boasts the greatest impact on our daily lives.
Told by a son of a navy insiderand#8212;whose work helped lay the foundations for the systemand#8212;and a science and technology journalist, the story chronicles the research and technological advances required for the development of GPS. The authors peek behind the scenes at pivotal events in GPS history. They note how the technology moved from the laboratory to the battlefield to the dashboard and the smartphone, and they raise the specter of how this technology and its surrounding industry affect public policy. Insights into how the system works and how it fits into a long history of advances in navigation tie into discussions of the myriad applications for GPS.
About the Author
A Conversation with William Bynum
Q: Why did you write this book?
A: I was charmed by Gombrich's Little History of the World and thought I would like to do something like it for my grandchildren Alex and Peter. I used to teach the history of science and thought what a wonderful story it could make, to start at the beginning with the stargazers in Babylon and come up to the computer age of today. People from time immemorial, in all cultures, have thought about such things as why the sun rises and sets, how a hen's egg develops into a new chick, and why we fall ill and might be made well.
Q: What are the great turning pointsand#8212;for youand#8212;in the history of science?
A: The invention of the telescope and the microscope, which allowed people to do science on things that you couldn't even see with your naked eye.
Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, which changed the way we see the living world and offered us the chance to delve into the secrets of life. Einstein's theories of relativity, which opened up the universe to new interpretations.
The coming of the modern computer, which enabled scientists to tackle questions in fields as diverse as the human genome and climate change that would have been impossible a couple of generations ago.
Q: What are the major themes of your book?
A: My book has only one theme: science as a human endeavor to understand the world. The history of science is a journey through time, illuminated on the way by great thinkers, adept experimenters, and people of enlarged curiosity. Understanding that journey tells us something about who we are as human beings.