(Alternate title: Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery, and the Genius of the Royal Society )
Synopsis: Edited and introduced by Bill Bryson, with original contributions from “a glittering array of scientific writing talent” (Sunday Observer) including Richard Dawkins, Margaret Atwood, Richard Holmes, Martin Rees, Richard Fortey, Steve Jones, James Gleick, and Neal Stephenson, among others, this incomparable book tells the spectacular story of science and the international Royal Society, from 1660 to the present. Seeing Further is also gorgeously illustrated with photographs, documents, and treasures from the Society’s exclusive archives.
On a damp weeknight in November three hundred and fifty years ago, a dozen men gathered in London. After hearing an obscure twenty-eight-year-old named Christopher Wren lecture on the wonders of astronomy, his rapt audience was moved to create a society to promote the accumulation of useful—and fascinating—knowledge. At that, the Royal Society was born, and with it, modern science.
Since then, the Royal Society has pioneered global scientific exploration and discovery. Its members have split the atom, discovered the double helix and the electron, and given us the computer and the World Wide Web. Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Joseph Banks, Humphry Davy, John Locke, Alexander Fleming, Stephen Hawking—all have been fellows. Bill Bryson’s favorite fellow is the Reverend Thomas Bayes, a brilliant mathematician who devised Bayes’ theorem. Its complexity meant that it had little practical use in Bayes’ own lifetime, but today his theorem is used for weather forecasting, astrophysics, and even stock-market analysis. A milestone in mathematical history, it exists only because the Royal Society decided to preserve it—just in case.
Truly global in its outlook, the Royal Society now is credited with creating modern science. Seeing Further is an unprecedented celebration of its history and the power of ideas, bringing together the very best of science writing.
Published: November 2010 | ISBN-13: 978-0061999772
[Image Credit: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91enU2kJwbL.jpg ]