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Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society Paperback – 7 Jul 2011
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‘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 TimesSee all Product description
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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.
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.'
My favourite essays in this collection were those by: Richard Holmes (`A new age of flight: Joseph Banks goes ballooning'); Henry Petroski (`Images of Progress: Conferences of Engineers'); Ian Stewart (`Behind the Scenes: the hidden mathematics that rules the world'); and Gregory Benford (`Time: The Winged Chariot').
`Mathematics is simply the catalogue of all possible patterns.'
I enjoyed reading this book and I'd recommend reading it slowly, enjoying each essay before moving on to the next. It isn't necessary to understand all of the science ( I certainly don't) in order to appreciate the achievements: the history is fascinating in its own right.
`Sometimes complexity can be simple too.'
Matthew was not allowed to trumpet heresy from the rooftops.
Moreover Dawkins failed to investigate whether any naturalists had read Matthew's book. "Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret" proves that a multitude of Darwin's and Wallace's personal associates did read Matthew's prior discovery. Dawkins also failed to conduct a plagiarism check. Parroting Darwin's lies is poor scholarship. The shame of it ! (written on my kindle).
Advice to an "expert"
Dear Richard Dawkins - please read the following two books again if you have read them already and then in your future "expert" mere knowledge-belief pronouncements - on the history of the discovery of natural selection and Darwin's and Wallace's immaculately conceived independent discovery of a prior published theory - please do not -cherry-pick-out explanations that apply for why Robert Chambers and Charles Darwin were afraid to be associated with heretical explanations for evolution by the development theory and organic evolution by natural selection as though for some reason they do not apply equally to Patrick Matthew's published seditious heresy and blasphemy.
"Trumpet from the rooftops" indeed!"
Secord. J. A. (2000) Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. Chicago and London. The University of Chicago Press.
Desmond, A. Moore, J. and Browne, J. (2007) Charles Darwin. Oxford. Oxford University Press.