The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2000 Years

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9780753811283: The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2000 Years
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The editor and literary agent John Brockman recently challenged the salon of scientists that he hosts on his website by asking: 'What is the most important invention of the past two thousand years?' Not content to be merely right, his contributors vied for originality, provocativeness and intellectual panache. This book provides a showcase for more than a hundred of their responses, which are as varied, and in some cases strange, as the participants themselves. Gutenberg's printing press wins the most endorsements and passing nods. But the neuroscientist Colin Blakemore and others argue for the birth-control pill. The biologist Richard Dawkins nominates the spectroscope. The physicist Freeman Dyson makes a case for hay. John Maddox, the former editor of Nature, favours the calculus.

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Review:

What's the greatest human invention of the last two millennia? The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2,000 Years grew out of a Web-site project called Edge (www.edge.org), wherein the invited intelligentsia recorded their deep thoughts on a variety of topics. In 1998, editor John Brockman asked them to choose the creation that most shaped our world since year 1. For this book, Brockman picked a hundred of the most compelling entries from intellectual celebrities like Stewart Brand, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Murray Gell-Mann.

The printing press received a number of votes, as did the computer and television. Other entries were more eclectic: organized science, the contraceptive pill, the gun, or even hay. Chairs and stairs. Anesthesia. Cities. Each invention is justified by a short essay, some of which read like... well, Web-site prose. Also, a glaring sexism flaws the book--Brockman chose fewer than 10 women's submissions. Nevertheless, Greatest Inventions is a worthy addition to your millennial reading list, and lots of fun besides. --Therese Littleton

About the Author:

John Brockman, president of the Edge Foundation and a founder of The Reality Club, is a writer and literary agent based in New York. He is has written and edited twenty books, including The Third Culture, How Things Are: A Science Tool-Kit for the Mind and The Greatest Inventions of the past 2000 Years.

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Published by Phoenix (an Imprint of The Ori (2001)
ISBN 10: 0753811286 ISBN 13: 9780753811283
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