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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compared to Bill Bryson
Having read Gribbin's Science and Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything in the last few months its interesting to contrast the two, which are approximately the same length.

Gribbin firstly is a professional scientist and Bryson a popularist. Unsurprisingly then Gribbin's book has the more authoritative air about it. However Bryson's is undoubtedly...
Published on 13 April 2008 by R. P. Sedgwick

versus
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More biography than science
I'll probably get slated for this; going against the grain and all that, but I have to say I didn't really enjoy this book as much as I had hoped. Sure, it's a masterpiece of research and is packed with information. It's just not very... well, scientific.

I believe a more accurate - if ungainly - title would be 'A biography of the world's great scientists': the...
Published on 29 Jan 2010 by ProDrive


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, 22 Dec 2010
This review is from: Science: A History 1543 - 2001 (Paperback)
A good read. The author has managed to comprehensively cover all the significant achievements in Science. Since the skeleton of the book is built on the discoveries that make Science what it is today, the author has to go through them chronologically. Since many of us know what the sequence of discoveries are, I initially worried that it might not be an exciting piece to read. But the author has cleverly clustered discoveries and leads one to another. Further a major chunk of the book is about the Scientists, their personal life and also about their environment. This makes it a good read.

Recommended. ***
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5.0 out of 5 stars Biographies as well as science, 14 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Science: A History 1543 - 2001 (Paperback)
Nincompoops can read this and come away wanting to read more,or know more. A brilliant update of current knowledge as well. If only when I was young to the introduction of science it was interspersed with interest, - rather than learn by rote e.g. "the laws of chemical combination" (my first lesson in science) .Luckily I went on to a Tech College where the physics teacher kept on saying "Physics is easy",when explained well, it is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Context, 14 May 2013
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This review is from: Science: A History 1543 - 2001 (Paperback)
Since I studied the A' level when I was a lot younger this book helped me put innovations into context for the eras they came about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable and inspiring book., 14 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Science: A History 1543 - 2001 (Paperback)
I really like the book. In fact, I like it so much that I am writing a review without reading the book through. With so little time on my hands it will take me a long time till I'm done.

The book is authoritative and enjoyable. It is not too enthusiastic which I do not enjoy. Definitelly a good book to read and enjoy; the writing style is really close to the reader. It might not describe facts in too much detail but then again, if it did it would be twice the size.

I would rate it very high at my personal scale.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly researched, biased, trivia without compelling analysis, an author stretched on an ambition far beyond his skill-set, 11 Feb 2013
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E. Vynckier - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Science: A History 1543 - 2001 (Paperback)
John Gribbin is not a professional historian and it shows. John's approach is flawed. He has used only English originals and a few translations into English. His coverage in scientists and scientific discovery is Anglo-Saxon to the extreme. Virtually all of the institutions he consulted are English (Cavendish in Cambridge, the Royal Institution and the Royal Society in London, ...). Even then, we are paid in trivia, such as the estate acreage some scientist's grandfather held in Somerset, but short on explaining key scientific reasoning, method and breakthrough.

Foreign language errors abound: Ice Age was called "Eizeit" (Time of the Egg?) by Louis Agassiz (Eiszeit!), Leibniz is consistently misspelled Leibnitz [sic]. There are even more worrying errors in describing the science. One example is the confusion Gribbin apparently suffers from in describing Mendel's laws of genetics. The regressive gene may pop up in the second generation, not the first generation of descendants as Gribbin has it!

There is no connection to Greek, Roman or Islamic science, although a reference to atomism would certainly have been appropriate in the chapter on modern chemistry, Greek and Roman natural history, botany and pharmacology should have been referred to in the chapter on life, and astronomy and mathematics of the Middle East certainly played a role in early Renaissance science.

The graphical illustrations are few and far between, are not well-chosen and are stand-alone and not worked into the fabric of the text.

Why did modern science arise in Europe, starting with the Renaissance? The question is not raised, let stand alone tentatively answered. What did science do for Europe? Did it allow Europe to dominate the world for an extended period? How was science received in society and how did it affect it? These essential questions at the crossroads of science and history are not properly identified and elucidated.

In conclusion: it isn't clear what this book is supposed to achieve for the reader and why it was written? A mash of facts and trivia, very biased, not properly referenced, and often dubiously interpreted. It reads like a book written in anger, something Gribbin wanted to get off his chest, but hadn't planned, prepared, researched and organised properly. What John Gribbin produces is a science "Book for Boys", not a history of science.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid but disappointing, 2 May 2012
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I have read books by John Gribben before and generally liked them, but I found this one rather disappointing. It does cover the ground in a readable way, but I found some of the biographical information rather tedious. You want the characters to be brought to life, but giving so much informaton about parents and even grandparents failed to do that and felt like padding.
Equally the science was adequately but not well explained.
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17 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good read spoilt by some idiosyncracies, 10 Oct 2003
By 
Keith Appleyard "kapple999" (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Science: A History 1543 - 2001 (Paperback)
I enjoyed reading this marathon 600-page tome, and I learned a lot from it.
However, I'm always disappointed when I see errors in these works, because it makes me ponder what other things are described wrongly that I now believe to be truths?
It must be difficult to know what to include and leave out, but given the title, I'm surprised not see to see any reference whatsoever to
* Pasteur, Koch, Ehrlich, Salk or Fleming
* Onnes (Superconductivity), Goddard (Spaceflight), Libby (Radioactive Dating), Oppenheimer, Teller or Hawking
* Shockley (Transistors) or Neumann (Information Technology)
The errors & anomalies are myriad; here are a few :
Ch.1 p.20 "Constantinople wasn't founded until 330AD" - true - but it was called Byzantium for 400 years before that.
Ch.5 p.191-192 the bequests of money to Newton's Housekeeper from Lord Halifax occupy 25 lines (no science content there); yet the last 17 years of Newton's life aren't described, just the date he died and how much was in his estate.
Ch.6 p.220 "plants are mainly made of carbon dioxide" - no - via photosynthesis they take carbon dioxide from the air, fix the carbon, and give back the oxygen - for us animals to breathe!
Ch.7 p.248 the detailed explanation of specific heat is expressed in units of 'Pounds" and "Fahrenheit" - it doesn't pretend to be a quotation from Black, so why not use grams and Celsius as appear elsewhere on the same page?
Ch.9 p.326 there's an engaving of Santorini, but on p.324 the text only mentions Lyell going to Etna in Sicily, so no mention of his ever going the extra 1,000 km to visit Santorini or the significance of what he observed there?
Ch.10 p.387 despite all the attention to detail elsewhere in quoting many decimal places, Absolute Zero gets defined as exactly -273C, not -273.15
Ch.11 p.426 Clerk Maxwell's home at Dalbeattie (nr Dumfries) is described (for some unknown reason) as "a few score km from Birmingham" - well on modern roads its 400km from Birmingham, and its 150km from Glasgow, so I don't know what place they had in mind?
Anyway, still very worthwhile and a good read; I read it in 3 days, not wanting to put it down.
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19 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good read spoilt by some idiosyncracies, 10 Oct 2003
By 
Keith Appleyard "kapple999" (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Science: A History 1543 - 2001 (Paperback)
I enjoyed reading this marathon 600-page tome, and I learned a lot from it.
However, I'm always disappointed when I see errors in these works, because it makes me ponder what other things are described wrongly that I now believe to be truths?
It must be difficult to know what to include and leave out, but given the title, I'm surprised not see to see any reference whatsoever to
* Pasteur, Koch, Ehrlich, Salk or Fleming
* Onnes (Superconductivity), Goddard (Spaceflight), Libby (Radioactive Dating), Oppenheimer, Teller or Hawking
* Shockley (Transistors) or Neumann (Information Technology)
The errors & anomalies are myriad; here are a few :
Ch.1 p.20 "Constantinople wasn't founded until 330AD" - true - but it was called Byzantium for 400 years before that.
Ch.5 p.191-192 the bequests of money to Newton's Housekeeper from other Halifax occupy 25 lines (no science content there); yet the last 17 years of Newton's life aren't described, just the date he died and how much was in his estate.
Ch.6 p.220 "plants are mainly made of carbon dioxide" - no - via photosynthesis they take carbon dioxide from the air, fix the carbon, and give back the oxygen - for us animals to breathe!
Ch.7 p.248 the detailed explanation of specific heat is expressed in units of 'Pounds" and "Fahrenheit" - it doesn't pretend to be a quotation from Black, so why not use grams and Celsius as appear elsewhere on the same page?
Ch.9 p.326 there's an engaving of Santorini, but on p.324 the text only mentions Lyell going to Etna in Sicily, so no mention of his ever going the extra 1,000 km to visit Santorini or the significance of what he observed there?
Ch.10 p.387 despite all the attention to detail elsewhere in quoting many decimal places, Absolute Zero gets defined as exactly -273C, not -273.15
Ch.11 p.426 Clerk Maxwell's home at Dalbeattie (nr Dumfries) is described (for some unknown reason) as "a few score km from Birmingham" - well on modern roads its 400km from Birmingham, and its 150km from Glasgow, so I don't know what place they had in mind?
Anyway, still very worthwhile and a good read; I read it in 3 days, not wanting to put it down.
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6 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars McLogs, 30 Aug 2006
This review is from: Science: A History 1543 - 2001 (Paperback)
I am still in the process of reading this so my star rating is provisional. However I wish to point out the "howler" on p66, which refers to the "inventor" of logarithms as John Napier of England. In fact John Napier was Scottish and carried out his work in Scotland. The author is probably confusing him with Henry Briggs who shortly after adapted logs to their modern format.

Nevertheless, a rattling good read.
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Science: A History 1543 - 2001 by John Gribbin (Paperback - 7 Aug 2003)
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