The Art of Science: A natural history of ideas by Richard Hamblyn, Picador (Pan Macmillan), London, 2011, 512 ff.
This book is a collection of stories about how some of the greatest scientific discoveries and inventions were made - and there are over 100 of them described here! As part of his History of Ideas, the author has compiled very intelligible explanations of some scientific concepts (like black holes, Planck time, and pulsars) and descriptions of how some other things (like pasteurization and continental drift) work. Most of the book comprises actual historical articles written by the scientists themselves about their discoveries, with introductory editorial commentary by Hamblyn, including brief pen portraits of the scientists. The author is a creative writing lecturer in the Department of English and Humanities at Birkbeck College, London. The hardback version of the book is set in quite large print that would make it easy for children and adults alike to read, though the same may not be true of the paperback version. It is so well written and covers such a wealth of topics in science that I think it should be on the Recommended Reading list for every child in school as part of a General Studies course. This should not be taken to imply that this is specifically a book for children - it is a book for adults that would be useful and engaging for children. After a professional lifetime teaching science, I learnt things about cosmology and biology myself that I had never met before! The sources of all the material are given. There is a short Bibliography of further reading at the end and a detailed Index.