The Dictionary of Science

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9780133047189: The Dictionary of Science
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Originally published in the U.K. in 1993 as The Hutchinson Dictionary of Science, no changes have been made in this book for the U.S. market. Spelling is British throughout. This is not a problem with tyre or sulphur, but caesium for cesium, oesophagus for esophagus, or aeroplane for airplane (one of the few entries that notes the different U.S. spelling) might confuse a student or unsophisticated adult.

For a reader alert to the Briticisms, this can be a handy tool. The editorial and design staffs have paid attention to the needs of the browser. The 5,000 entries range from a few lines to a page or so. There are chronologies of great events and boxed full-page progress reports for the various sciences. Medicine is covered, as are technology, computers, and environmental science, but the social sciences are not. A dozen science puzzles are scattered throughout the book with answers at the back. Anyone who watched Mr. Wizard will be able to solve them. Following the puzzle answers are the Greek alphabet, values of fundamental constants, SI (Systeme International) units, the periodic table, and lists of Nobel Prize winners in chemistry, physiology, and physics. A list of great scientists divided by field with birth and death dates is also given; there are no biographical entries in the text. The thematic indexes at the end will be useful, although entries are extensively cross-referenced.

More than 400 diagrams explain entries. These black-and-white drawings are clear and comprehensible. Some, like that for urinary system, are busy, but there are few of these. Boxes and other features keep pages that are all text from being dull; these features range from quick facts about the preceding entry to quotations following entries (e.g., S. J. Harris: The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men but that men will begin to think like computers).

No academic backgrounds are given for the contributors, but some of them, such as Dougal Dixon and Ian Ridpath, are familiar enough to readers of popular scienceand Nova watchersto inspire confidence. The articles are clear and concise, written for the nonscientist but not patronizing.

This book is not an essential purchase, but at the price, medium to large public libraries seeking dependable current information will want to consider, as will community college and large high-school libraries.

From Library Journal:

This fine dictionary for students and general readers presents the rich world of science in an interesting, informative, and readily understandable manner while remaining concise and factual. This 5000-entry work does not aim to be as exhaustive as standard dictionaries, such as the Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology (Academic Pr., 1992) or the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms (McGraw-Hill, 1993. 5th ed.), whose entries number well over 100,000. What it lacks in quantity, however, it makes up for in "extras." Alphabetically arranged entries, while succinct, are really more like explanations, often placing terms in historical context and adding other tidbits of interesting information. The entry for "bar code," for example, states when the technique was patented and goes on to say when and why it became popular. Accompanying the entries are high-quality illustrations, cross references, some etymologies, and an occasional quote such as Francis Crick's 1953 exclamation, "We have discovered the secret of life!" with the entry on DNA. Special features include chronologies, puzzles, and a thematic index. Brief articles describe momentous experiments and discoveries, while signed "Progress Reports" explore such topics as "Genetic Engineering's Brave New World." Recommended as a supplement to comprehensive science and technology dictionaries in most reference collections.
Leacy Pryor, NYPL
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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