The Invention of Nature
The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science
Napoleon envied his achievements and Darwin called him the ‘greatest scientific traveller who ever lived’, but the writings of Humboldt (1769–1859) are now largely forgotten. This award-winning biography follows the visionary scientist’s travels around the world and highlights the extent to which his ideas shaped our thinking about ecology, climate change and the natural world.
The World Makers
Scientists of the Restoration and the Search for the Origins of the Earth
How and when did the world come into existence? Where did people come from? How will the world end? William Poole explores the interaction of the Bible and science as sources in the intellectual debates of late 17th-century England, and describes the emergence of the experimental natural philosophy that questioned the Genesis story.
Through Two Doors at Once
The Elegant Experiment that Captures the Enigma of Our Quantum Reality
A science writer with a gift for making the complicated comprehensible, Anil Ananthaswamy tells the story of quantum mechanics from the perspective of the seemingly simple, but utterly confounding double-slit experiment. He traces the various attempts to explain the enigma, from Thomas Young in 1793 to Richard Feynman, who described ‘the experiment with two holes’ as containing ‘all the mystery of quantum mechanics‘.
A Rum Affair
A True Story of Botanical Fraud
In 1954, Professor John Heslop Harrison published his discovery of several plants on the island of Rum that were found nowhere else in Britain – they had, he claimed, survived the Ice Age. John Raven, a gifted amateur botanist, went to investigate and revealed Harrison’s claim as untrue, but academic botanists closed ranks and Raven’s report was never published. Karl Sabbagh tells the story of the two men and this strange episode of botanical fraud.
A Cultural History
Jim Endersby explores ‘the curious and unexpected variety of significances that people have ascribed to orchids’ in western cultures, from Theophrastus’ herbals in ancient Greece to Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, deadly species in science-fiction and ongoing research into Spider Orchids on the South Downs. The book looks at our relationship with orchids in terms of science, sex and death, and examines the theme of empire, describing how European imperial expansion and wealth stimulated the search for ever rarer orchids.
Out of the Shadow of a Giant
How Newton Stood on the Shoulders of Hooke and Halley
Arguing that British science would not have developed very differently without Newton, the authors demonstrate his indebtedness to the achievements of his contemporaries, in particular Hooke, from whom he ‘borrowed’ many ideas, and Halley, who encouraged and paid for the publication of the Principia.
Why It's Not All Rocket Science
Scientific Theories and Experiments Explained
In 1983 Justin Schmidt recorded the degree of pain he felt when stung by different venomous insects, resulting in the ‘Schmidt Pain Index’. With chapters on medicine, psychology, society, and the universe, this book examines 100 experiments, ranging from the peculiar (like Schmidt’s) to the groundbreaking (the creation of Dolly the sheep), and appraises their significance for practical science.
Knowledge is Power
How Magic, the Government and an Apocalyptic Vision Helped Francis Bacon to Create Modern Science
John Henry assesses Francis Bacon’s ineluctable influence on the methodology, content and organization of science both in his own time and now, revealing how Bacon’s fascination with bureaucracy, magic and religion inspired his best-known works, including The New Organon.
The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe
Histories of Western science often begin their narrative with Galileo’s battle to gain acceptance for Copernicus’ heliocentric model. But physicist John Freely sets out ‘to right this historical injustice’ by showing how a succession of European scholars as far back as the Dark Ages paved the way for the exciting discoveries of later centuries. Discussing the influential work of such figures as the Venerable Bede and Albertus Magnus, he identifies those ‘giants’ on whose shoulders Newton said he was standing.
And Soon I Heard A Roaring Wind
A Natural History of Moving Air
Before the advent of weather forecasting, ships were wrecked with alarming frequency, and even today’s mathematical modelling of cyclones fails to be completely reliable. Bill Streever sets sail aboard his own yacht to discover the power of the wind first hand, while narrating an engaging history of our understanding of this force of nature, and its impact on commerce, politics and war. The book features lively portraits of meteorological pioneers including Robert Fitzroy, creator of the first published weather forecast. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The Hunt for Vulcan
And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe
Thomas Levenson tells the all-but-forgotten story of Isaac Newton, Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier and the search for the planet Vulcan, and how Albert Einstein proved that it did not exist and went on to discover relativity.
Aldous Huxley's Hands
His Quest for Perception and the Origin and Return of Psychedelic Science
On learning that her father, Howard Thrasher, once photographed Aldous Huxley’s hands, Symons set out to discover how the two men’s paths had crossed. Here she reveals what she learned from conversations with her father and from a cache of letters: how Huxley’s eclectic circle undertook pioneering experiments into the healing potential of psychedelic drugs, because of their belief in the importance of visionary, mystical experience and their hope that this research would benefit humankind.
Black Hole Blues
And Other Songs from Outer Space
When black holes collide, vast amounts of energy are emitted in the form of gravitational waves. Einstein predicted the existence of such waves in 1916, but not until a century later was it possible to create instruments of sufficient sensitivity to detect them from Earth. Reporting her own conversations with her fellow-astrophysicists, Levin’s lyrical, humorous account of this decades-long quest captures their ambitions and obsessions, struggles and disappointments as they endeavour to measure subtle shifts in the shape of spacetime. American-cut pages and felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
Goethe on Science
An Anthology of Goethe's Scientific Writings
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) is best known as Germany’s foremost poet and playwright, but he was also an accomplished all-round scientist, studying anatomy, geology, botany, zoology and colour theory. The extracts from his scientific writings reproduced in this book illustrate his belief that we should study our world as people at home in it rather than remotely, and are essential reading for anyone who feels we have lost our spiritual connection to nature.
Superstition and Science
Mystics, Sceptics, Truth-Seekers and Charlatans
The period between the European Renaissance and Enlightenment brought monumental scientific discoveries about gravity, the structure of the solar system and the circulation of the blood, but these coexisted with an almost universal belief in horoscopes and magic. In this book a Tudor historian explores how the great thinkers of the age responded to the entanglement of superstition and science, and shows how their work contributed to debate about the relationship between belief and knowledge.
The Clerk Maxwells and the Scottish Enlightenment
The physicist James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879) was one of the ‘great men’ to emerge from the Scottish Enlightenment. Although prompted by Clerk Maxwell’s achievement, this study goes beyond his life to examine the family he emerged from and its wider connections. Covering the period following the religious and political turmoil of the 17th century, John Arthur explores how Scottish families such as the Clerk Maxwells and their associates produced the brilliant Scots of the Enlightenment and the 19th century.
Great Victorian Discoveries
Astounding Revelations and Misguided Assumptions
The 19th century saw great breakthroughs in every field of enquiry. Discoveries were eagerly described in the popular press of the day but limited understanding sometimes led to wild and colourful theories. This book, drawn from editions of Cassell's Family Magazine, explores the innovations and advances reported between 1875 and 1895 in subjects ranging from microscopic organisms and the fossil record to the meaning of the apparent canals on Mars.
Revolution in Mind
The Creation of Psychoanalysis
Few disciplines have had such a profound influence on the way we see ourselves and one another as psychoanalysis. This magisterial history contextualizes Freud’s early work amid the social and scientific changes of late 19th-century Europe, before charting its development to the end of the Second World War. Lucid, meticulously researched and scrupulously impartial, it describes the bitter split with Jung and Adler, and the eventual acceptance of psychoanalysis throughout the Western world.
Prisoners, Lovers, and Spies
The Story of Invisible Ink from Herodotus to Al-Qaeda
Kristie Macrakis begins by describing how she unearthed a formula for invisible ink in the Stasi archives, which inspired her to pen this history of secret writing, from the simple but ingenious techniques used in ancient Greece and Rome to the newest opportunities for concealment provided by computer files and DNA microdots. In an appendix she offers a selection of recipes for invisible inks derived from such everyday ingredients as porridge and tonic water.
The Aurelian Legacy
British Butterflies and Their Collectors
After a history of butterfly collecting in Britain and a chapter on the methods of the early lepidopterists, this volume presents profiles of 101 collectors, from Thomas Moffet (1553–1604) to John Heath (1922–1987), each illustrated with a contemporary portrait. The ‘Aurelians’ are followed by a survey of some of the historically interesting species they collected, and a discussion of conservation and collecting. Finally, the book lists all British and Irish butterflies, with past and present common names.