A More Perfect Heaven
How Copernicus Revolutionised the Cosmos
In 1510, Copernicus had begun to formulate the theory that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the centre of our universe. The theory was potentially heretical and not until 1539, when a young German mathematician named Rheticus sought him out, was Copernicus persuaded to publish On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres. Dava Sobel tells the story of the great astronomer, and where the evidence runs out, she imagines the meeting between Rheticus and the older scientist.
The Mice Who Sing For Sex
And Other Weird Tales From the World of Science
This humorous scientific miscellany is curated by the presenters of the podcast Geek Chic’s Weird Science and imparts the rationale behind all manner of inventions and phenomena, including solar-powered flight, self-lacing shoes, super-memory and addiction to healthy food (which can replace an addiction to fat and sugar). With frequent ‘chic fact’ boxes and cartoons, it also delves into outer space, wildlife and sex: are sound waves the new Viagra?
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 Ingenious Mr Pyke
Inventor, Fugitive, Spy
Geoffrey Pyke first came to prominence when he escaped from a German prison camp in 1915. His ingenuity and energy subsequently produced experiments in various fields from stock-market speculation to educational theory and, during the Second World War, both Churchill and Mountbatten championed his extraordinary military inventions. Drawing on recently declassified files, this biography analyses his gift for innovation and considers whether he may have been spying for the Russians, as the files suggest. Slightly off-mint.
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.
The Divided Life of Bruno Pontecorvo, Physicist or Spy
In September 1950 Bruno Pontecorvo, one of Britain’s most brilliant nuclear physicists, disappeared with his family; when he resurfaced five years later he was on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Professor Close, who has worked with some of the defector’s former colleagues, assesses the importance of Pontecorvo’s research and pieces together the evidence for and against claims that he had been a Soviet spy while he was employed on the Anglo-Canadian arm of the Manhattan Project.
The Upright Thinkers
The Human Journey From Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos
Leonard Mlodinow, bestselling author (with Stephen Hawking) of The Grand Design, traces the human 'odyssey of discovery', from starting to walk upright to space travel. Emphasizing the unity of knowledge and the creative impulse, he deals first with the evolution of the human brain and the urge to understand; then describes the development of the hard sciences up to the early 20th century; and finally surveys the exponential progress of science and technology since the discovery of quantum physics.
Cataloging the World
Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age
Working in an era when 'the closest thing anyone had ever seen to a database was a drawer full of index cards', the visionary Belgian information theorist Paul Otlet (1868–1944) aimed to create a global information network, the 'Mundaneum'. He had amassed some 15 million entries in a 'Universal Bibliography' and over 70,000 boxes of documentary material by 1940, when it was destroyed by the Nazis. Alex Wright introduces this extraordinary figure, his achievements and the legacy that survived.
A Russian Life in Science
Born to a family of priests in provincial Russia, Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936) made his home and professional life in imperial St Petersburg, suffered the destruction of his world during the Bolshevik Revolution, and successfully rebuilt his career in the 1930s. In this definitive biography, Todes reinterprets the physiologist's famous research on conditional reflexes and weaves his life, values and science into the tumultuous period of Russian history between the reigns of Tsar Nicholas I and Stalin.
The Language of Science from the Fall of Latin to the Rise of English
From ancient Roman poetry to attempts to communicate with extra-terrestrials, Professor Gordin traces the history of ‘the set of languages by means of which scientific knowledge has been produced and communicated’. He shows not only the progression from languages as varied as the nationalities of scientists to the present ‘monoglot international community’ of scientists communicating in English, but also how the dominance of English was never a foregone conclusion.
Science in the Third Reich
This volume presents recent historical research into aspects of the complex relationship between the sciences and National Socialism, in many cases reaching back to the earlier years of the 20th century. Beginning with the editor's introductory essay and a study of Humboldt's concept of the university, the essays deal with disciplines including geography, eugenics, biochemistry and aeronautics; technologies such as bio-technology and area planning; and the careers of individual scientists.
The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen
How would you achieve invisibility? If you could become invisible, what would you do? What challenges would you face? These are perennially fascinating questions, raising moral dilemmas and prompting scientific investigations as well as inspiring many myths and legends about magic rings and cloaks of invisibility. This wide-ranging cultural history of the concept of invisibility embraces Plato and HG Wells, medieval occultism and quantum theory, zebras' stripes and the optical camouflage used on military ships.
Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and The Quest to Cure Tuberculosis
In August 1890, Robert Koch, Europe’s greatest scientist, was rumoured to have found a cure for tuberculosis; sufferers began to arrive in Berlin in their thousands. In November, when Koch was scheduled to make public his miraculous substance, physicians joined the pilgrimage – among them, the young Arthur Conan Doyle. In this study, Goetz explores the ‘historic if unwitting collaboration’ of Koch and Doyle; how both men’s lives were undone by tuberculosis; and the positive contribution of failed theories to medical progress.
A History Through Fact and Fiction
Working spacesuits were not required until the 1960s, but the technology used reaches back to pressurized suits developed for aviators in the 1930s and further to diving suits of the 19th century. This exploration of the spacesuit mixes the history of technical development with the predictions and hypotheses of science fiction. The book is illustrated with archive photographs and diagrams, and classic sci-fi artwork from comic books and pulp fiction.
Things That Are
Encounters with Plants, Stars and Animals
Amy Leach’s debut collection of creative non-fiction displays a remarkable fusion of enchanting poetic language, quirky humour and factual information relating to the natural world and our communion with it. From lilies and peas, frogs and beavers to the moon, constellations and exploding stars, each of these 26 short pieces is filled with what Olivia Laing has called a ‘tumultuous, incantatory rejoicing in the astonishing multiplicity of the Earth’.
The Birth of the Pill
How Four Pioneers Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution
In the winter of 1950, 71-year-old Margaret Sanger met the scientist Gregory Pincus in New York City. Their meeting would change the world. This gripping account tells how Pincus and Sanger, a lifelong campaigner for women’s right to control their fertility, developed the contraceptive pill, funded by the philanthropist Katharine McCormick and supported by a charismatic Catholic doctor, John Rock, who battled his own church to win public approval for the controversial new drug.