Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Scientists

by John Gribbin
Published: Random House, 2002
Pages: 647

It's an "Eclectic Reader 2012 Challenge" book :D

To be perfectly honest, I had to read this for school otherwise I probably would have never picked it up.  And by probably, I mean definitely.  I have never been a huge fan of science, which is slightly ironic because one of my favorite genres is science-fiction.  I just never found the facts of science all that interesting or understandable.  That being said, I was pleasantly surprised about how much I enjoyed this book. 

The full title is The Scientists: a history of science told through the lives of its greatest inventors.  Rather than this book being full of facts and information that is hard to understand, John Gribbin took a different approach.  He gave the readers a history lesson.  The readers get a little biography of each scientist that is introduced, making it read more like narrative than a textbook. 

I will be honest, because I had to read it for class I had to read it in two weeks, which is a task giving the obnoxious length.  I read most of it, not all but most.  However, what I did read was very engaging.  There were points when I had to force myself to read, but as soon as I began I was intrigued with the history of the scientists.

The voice of the book was entertaining mostly because at times it seemed rather informal, telling the reader "I'm not going to discuss this because it's not really important but well maybe I'll tell you about it later."  Honestly, these inserts probably are not necessary but they are funny and I got a kick out of reading them. 

The best part of the book was not the discussion of the science that was developed, but the discussion of the life of the scientists.  It is much more interesting to know the life of the scientist because then the reader gets an understanding of who the person was when they discovered their incredible sciences.  The book starts at the very beginning with Ptolemy and his model of the universe and it ends with the future of science as we know it.

There is a section in the book about Marie Curie and her discoveries with radioactivity.  It really is fascinating to reflect on her work as one of the first female scientists to be recognized for her work.  She won two Nobel prizes and paved the way for women scientists after her.  It is weird to think that at one time she was not allowed to work in the labs with men because she might cause too much sexual arousal.  Little things like that just make the history of science better.

Stars: 3/5


"Essential reading...tells the story of science as a sequence of witty, information-packed tales...complete with humanizing asides, glimpses of the scientist's personal life and amusing anecdotes."
         - London Sunday Times

"A magnificent history...enormously entertaining."
         - The Daily Telegraph

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad that you found something to enjoy in this book, despite its obnoxious length (and its school requirement)

    Thanks for sharing your review for the Eclectic Reader Challenge

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out