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The Art of Science: A Natural History of Ideas [Paperback]

Richard Hamblyn
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

25 Oct 2012

Science is about discovery, a journey towards knowledge.

With authors as diverse as Galileo and Lewis Carroll, the extracts featured in this anthology span centuries and continents; they include startling revelations that changed the way we think and tackle more prosaic questions such as why the sea is salty; they consider the natural beauty of the snowflake and the man-made wonder of the first computer. What links them all is a desire to understand, explain and enrich the world, and the ability to communicate this in original, clear and engaging prose.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (25 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330490761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330490764
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Hamblyn is the author of The Invention of Clouds, which won the 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; Terra: Tales of the Earth, a study of natural disasters, described by the Guardian as 'beautifully written, richly detailed and brilliantly judged'; and The Art of Science: A Natural History of Ideas, a collection of 101 pieces of readable science writing from the Babylonians to the Higgs boson.

He has also written three illustrated books in association with the Met Office: The Cloud Book; Extraordinary Clouds; and Extraordinary Weather, as well editing Daniel Defoe's The Storm for Penguin Classics.

Richard currently teaches on the Creative Writing BA at Birkbeck College, University of London, and is working on a collection of (mostly) true stories about (mostly) made-up landscapes.

Product Description

Review

‘Relaxed, sunny and domesticated . . . the science emerges naturally, and reflectively from our familiar world’ Guardian

The Art of Science showcases not only readable translations of key scientific ideas but situates those ideas in their cultural and historical context’ Independent

About the Author

Richard Hamblyn is the author of The Invention of Clouds, which won the 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, Terra: Tales of the Earth, a study of natural disasters, Data Soliloquies, co-written with the digital artist Martin John Callanan, and The Cloud Book, published in association with the Met Office. He teaches creative writing at Birkbeck College, University of London.


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A storybook of scientific discovery 19 Oct 2012
By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
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.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Senex.
Format:Hardcover
Richard Hamblyn's deceptively scholarly book is a source book spreading knowledge that can be read and digested in easy bites.
The case that science is an art is built up over nearly five hundred pages with every piece proving its worth as an example of crystal clear writing while being a model for any scientist about to break into print.
Perhaps another anthology would have a different selection of writings: but it would be difficult for it to match the wide spread of subjects and authors in Hamblyn's choice. He has done this while insisting that the science is readable and rigorous and original at its time.His introductions to each section follow in the same pattern.
The Art of Science puts Lady Mary Montague between the same sheets as Voltaire,while Planck and Einstein are together under the covers with Marie Stopes. This may cause the reader a short diversionary fantasy on the conversations or the activities that they might have shared, but the effect is to show the universality of science and scientists and the democratic nature of thought. It is a splendid book.
Senex.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected 22 Jan 2013
By Nick
Format:Paperback
I find myself at complete odds with the other reviewers. Contrary to how this book is described it is essentially a collection of writings that are about science but generally not scientific. In some cases they are about ancient natural philosophy, in others scientist airing their views about their work, and in some cases random topics such as why N-rays do not exist. For those that enjoy reading various and generally florid prose with a wide variety of styles this could be of interest. For those with a more scientific bent I am sure there will be some interest but it takes some hunting for. I found it gave few insights to the development of scientific ideas, a number of the articles, particularly the older ones, while giving an interesting perspective are basically wrong. I left the book wondering why it was compiled and what the selection criteria was for such a random collection of articles. The rambling introduction gives little indication. An "afterword" is included in which Mr Hamblyn admits that his friends suggested he may be compiling a book with the science left out - very perceptive because that just about sums it up. I cannot recommend this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A storybook of scientific discoveries 19 Oct 2012
By Dr. H. A. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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.
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