On Giants' Shoulders: Great Scientists and Their Discoveries From Archimedes to DNA

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9780471396840: On Giants' Shoulders: Great Scientists and Their Discoveries From Archimedes to DNA
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Explore the twelve greatest minds in the history of science with some of today's top scientific thinkers Ranging from the foundation of hydrostatics in the third century b.c. to the discovery of DNA's structure in our own time, On Giants' Shoulders is an accessible and thought-provoking round table on the seminal discoveries of science and the originators behind them.

"Well-known English journalist Melvyn Bragg presents stimulating portraits . . . [and] well-rounded evaluations of each pioneer's life and influence."–Publishers Weekly "What makes this book work so well is that Bragg is a fine journalist applying his skills as an outsider to blow away the pretensions and reveal some of the mechanics and motivations of what is still a remarkably closed world." –New Scientist "Each life is pored over in a brief but brilliant intellectual postmortem with the help of prominent contemporary scientists. . . . Here are the paranoia, the blind alleys of research, the rivalry, and many collisions of intellectual heavyweights. . . . On Giants' Shoulders holds delights for both scientist and lay person."–KEVIN O'SULLIVAN, Irish Times "What makes the result special is Bragg's unusual relationship to his subject. His gentle probing and the selection of material address exactly the questions about science and scientists that interest outsiders."–JOHN GRIBBIN, The Independent "This is an enchanting book, because it is a book produced by a clever man listening intently. . . . Science is not, in truth, a daunting alien territory. But characteristically, it seems to want to tell us the answers dogmatically, before we are sure what questions we would like to ask. On Giants' Shoulders asks just those kinds of questions."–LISA JARDINE, The Times (London)

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So many of us are blessed--or at least affected--by the fruits of science, yet how many of us really understand how we got them? Scientific creativity, like all other kinds, is a product of its times, but we can learn much from looking at the lives of its greatest practitioners; as a sizable side benefit, these lives are often tremendously entertaining. Author and BBC radio host Melvyn Bragg understands this well, and invited many of the great modern interpreters of science to discuss the lives and work of 12 greats, from Archimedes to Watson and Crick, and published the cream in On Giants' Shoulders. These are no dry transcripts, though; Bragg has a genius for selecting the most intriguing quotes and selections from both his guests and his subjects and weaving them into his own engrossing narrative. His many novels have tightened up his prose so well that he can make even a discussion of the genesis of relativity a page-turner. He couldn't have invented better material, either: Newton's notorious snobbery, Darwin's almost-naive sincerity, and Lavoisier's turbulent life and untimely death make for compelling stories indeed (one almost wonders how they had time to change the world). His guests, including luminaries such as Lewis Wolpert, Richard Dawkins, Oliver Sacks, and Roger Penrose, consistently cut to the heart of their subjects' importance and tie it all up neatly in the last chapter, "Where Are We Now?" An important question, of course, and one that can be better answered from On Giants' Shoulders. --Rob Lightner

From the Inside Flap:

On Giants’ Shoulders Explore the greatest minds in the history of science with some of the top scientific thinkers of today.

  • Archimedes
  • Galileo Galilei
  • Sir Isaac Newton
  • Antoine Lavoisier
  • Michael Faraday
  • Charles Darwin
  • Jules Henri Poincaré
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Marie Curie
  • Albert Einstein
  • Francis Crick
  • James Watson
The story of science is the greatest adventure of the human mind over the last 2,500 years, as scientists have progressively advanced humankind’s understanding and control of the universe. Yet for many, the scientific theories that underpin the modern world can be hard to grasp. On Giants’ Shoulders elucidates the milestones in the history of science, focusing on twelve individuals and their extraordinary breakthroughs. From a layman’s perspective, acclaimed journalist and author Melvyn Bragg discusses the life, work, and legacy of these remarkable people with leading scientists and historians in each field, including Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, Roger Penrose, Martin Rees, Oliver Sacks, John Gribbin, and Paul Davies. Ranging from the foundation of hydrostatics in the third century B.C. to the discovery of DNA’s structure in our own time, this is an accessible, thought-provoking, and fascinating account of the seminal discoveries of the past and their originators. The book also illuminates the issues with which scientists are wrestling today, poised on their forerunners’ shoulders to carry scientific inquiry into the next millennium. "This is an enchanting book, because it is a book produced by a clever man listening intently...Science is not, in truth, a daunting alien territory. But characteristically it seems to want to tell us the answers dogmatically, before we are sure what questions we would like to ask. On Giants’ Shoulders asks just those kind of questions." —Lisa Jardine, The Times (London) "Nobody in the media has worked harder than Melvyn Bragg to promote science as a culture and scientists as creators. In a sea of indifference to the educational and cultural nature of science, he seems to be the only person with perception." —Professor Sir Harry Kroto The Sunday Times (London)

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780756750268: On Giants' Shoulders: Great Scientists and Their Discoveries from Archimedes to DNA

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ISBN 10: 0756750261 ISBN 13: 9780756750268
Publisher: Diane Pub Co, 1998
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Wiley, 1999
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Hodder..., 1999
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