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Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society Paperback – 7 Jul 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007302576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007302574
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 4.2 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 54,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. Settled in England for many years, he moved to America with his wife and four children for a few years ,but has since returned to live in the UK. His bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent, Notes From a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. His acclaimed work of popular science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of the decade in the UK.


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Product Description

Review

‘Provocative, admirable and highly readable’ Sunday Times

‘This is a book with cerebral riches, heavy with history, to be consumed at leisure…it is also beautifully illustrated’ Guardian

‘This book makes abundantly clear what was best about the society 350 years ago, and remains so today, is an unshakeable commitment to the value of rational inquiry and evidence as the basis for good decision making…lavishly illustrated, it manages to strike just the right note between celebration and provocation’ Financial Times

‘Beautifully produced and sumptuously illustrated book…gem-like contributions, from a heady mix of FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society)…a fitting memorial to the Royal Society and all it stands for…this beautiful book showcases distinguished scientists making difficult concepts exciting and accessible, and eloquent narrators diverting us with page-turning tales, all in their own distinct ways’ Independent on Sunday

‘This weighty tome, celebrating 350 years of the Royal Society, is a must read for any lay scientist, but it is also accessible for curious non scientists… in a vivid introduction, Bill Bryson highlights some of the many interdisciplinary discoveries made by notables such as Isacc Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Lister and Isambard Kingdom Brunel… a pleasingly thematic appraisal of this centuries-old institution brought to you by 20 esteemed writers… lets look forward to another 350 years of groundbreaking discovery’ Time Out

‘’Seeing Further’ is a handsome book – it is beautifully illustrated – containing thoughtful insights, eloquently expressed…as a celebration of 350 years of modern science, it is a worthy tribute’ Economist

From the Back Cover

On a damp November evening in 1660, a small group of men gathered to hear a twenty-eight-year old – and not widely famous – Christopher Wren give an astronomy lecture. As they listened to him speak, his audience decided to create a Society to promote the accumulation of useful knowledge. And with that, the Royal Society was born.

Since then, the Society’s fellows have split the atom, discovered hydrogen, the double helix and the electron. They’ve invented the World Wide Web and developed profound theories on evolution, gravity and motion. They’ve tested the very limits of knowledge itself.

Introduced and edited by Bill Bryson, Seeing Further is filled to the brim with contributions from some of today’s most eminent writers; Richard Dawkins on Darwin; Margaret Atwood on mad scientists; Richard Holmes on ballooners, and many more. Closing with the reflections of the Society’s current President, Martin Rees, Seeing Further forms a truly remarkable and unique celebration of one of the greatest scientific forces in history.

‘Lavishly illustrated, it manages to strike just the right note between celebration and provocation’ Financial Times


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In 2010, the Royal Society celebrated its 350th birthday. Its official foundation date is 28 November 1660, when a group of twelve men met at Gresham College after a lecture by Christopher Wren, then the Gresham Professor of Astronomy. This group of men, who included Robert Boyle, John Wilkins, Sir Robert Moray, and William, Viscount Brouncker, decided to found `a Colledge for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematicall Experimentall Learning'.

The Society was to meet weekly to witness experiments and discuss scientific topics. The first Curator of Experiments was Robert Hooke. Sir Robert Moray told Charles II of this venture, and the Society obtained its first Royal Charter in 1662. In the second Royal Charter of 1663 the Society is referred to as 'The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge'.

`Science is an unending quest: as its frontiers advance, new mysteries come into focus just beyond those frontiers.'

This collection of essays celebrates the existence and achievements of the Royal Society. More than 80 Nobel Laureates have been members of the Royal Society, and its members have included Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford and Francis Crick. Current fellows include Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking.

The essays have been written by an eclectic group of authors - including novelists (Margaret Atwood, Maggie Gee, and Neal Stephenson), historians (Georgina Ferry, Richard Holmes and James Gleick) and scientists (Richard Dawkins, Steve Jones and Sir Martin Rees). Other writers include Gregory Benford, Henry Petroski and Margaret Wertheim.

`Royal Society of London describes a location, not an allegiance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paul Clappison on 31 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating book discussing developments in science since the formation of The Royal Society in 1662. It has an introduction (by Bill Bryson) , a conclusion by Martin Rees and 20 contributed chapters. For me the most interesting contributors were:-
10 Henry Petroski Images of Progress: Conferences of Engineers
13 Philip Ball Making Stuff: From Bacon to Bakelite
15 Ian Stewart Behind the Scenes: The Hidden Mathematics that Rules our World
19 Stephen H Schneider Confidence Consensus and the Uncertainty Cops: Tackling
Risk Management in Climate

and particularly the Conclusion by Martin Rees in which he looks 50 years ahead.

Some of the other chapters are heavy going.
I don't think the typeface chosen is particularly good and I found the footnotes very difficult to read.
Still overall a very good book.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Rev. T. G. Williamson on 19 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
For someone as unscientific as me I found on the first reading that I was 'blinded by science. It is a beautifully produced book with wonderful illustrations. It is quite staggering to see how various subjects have developed in what is,after all, only a short space of time. I believe it was Newton who claimed to have received his vision by standing on the shoulders of giants. One can scarcely imagine what vision will be granted to those who stand one the shoulders of to-day's giants. It was good to struggle with the more obscure articles although the use of a mental telescope would have been useful. I would encourage others to read this book and even, if like me, they found hard going at times, just to hold the book and enjoy its quality is sufficient to provide the impetus to begin.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By yalcton on 29 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover
The book is a collection of scientific writings. One or two are very complex but the whole picture, derived from the book, is excellent. The authors clearly know their subject and express it in lucid terms. An excellent read, difficult to put down even though it is a thick and heavy book. Even good for bedtime reading but will keep you awake.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By P. Robertshaw on 12 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Though it may not be at the forefront of everyone's thoughts, it is hard to overestimate the influence and impact of both the individual members of the Royal Society and the society as a whole has had on our modern lives. Through the work of the 22 contributing authors, this book attempts to shine a light on some of these areas of influence and impact and, in my opinion, succeeds quite successfully.

Covering the 350 years of the Royal society, with topics ranging from the place of science to influence politics and policy when dealing with matters of uncertainty (parallels with the present global warming debates), through to the amount of science and mathematics that is hidden behind the scenes in almost everything we do today. The scope of the book is understandably large.

Echoing the views of the earlier reviewers, some of the submissions are easy to read and appreciate, with some of the others, for me, requiring a little more persistence. Though, all of them are well worth the effort involved.

With its wide range of subjects, I believe the book offers a great introduction to a fascinating and integral part of the history of our modern day lives. Further to that, by crafting the book from the submissions of a good selection of prominent figures and writers, I have also gained some insight into authors who I had not come across before but shall be reading more of in the future.
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