The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson
|The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson|
|Category: Popular Science|
|Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath|
|Summary: A look at the most simple, yet ground-breaking experiments throughout history. It's a perfectly pitched book that creates a greater understanding of science. The breakthroughs are placed in the context of the evolution of human knowledge, which makes it a fascinating read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 208||Date: May 2008|
|Publisher: The Bodley Head|
|External links: Author's website|
The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments looks at the most elegant, stylish, simple, ground-breaking, thrilling and inspiring experiments throughout history. There's a real feel that this is how science should be done: one person, alone in a room, forming a hypothesis and creating a method to test it. It doubles as a potted biography of some of the greatest scientists ever, but it's more about the experiments themselves than the people.
I loved it from first page to last. It's a delightful book that stimulates a real interest in and understanding of science. Because the the experiments are placed in their historical context, you understand why it's important we know how the circulatory system works, how light is comprised of many colours, or any of the other eight experiments. By seeing what people got so wrong for so many years, you understand the truth even better.
The narrative of some chapters requires a basic understanding of science. If you didn't sleep through every single science lesson at school, you'll be fine. Even if you don't solve the mystery of what 'dephlogisticated air' is, all will be revealed a few pages later. As the experiments get a little more complicated, so does the science explaining it. However, if you're interested enough in the subject matter to read the book, you'll know enough, and will understand enough. It's a perfectly pitched book.
My only criticism is that the book ended! I was left craving more. It's beautifully written: neither too flowery to obscure the science, nor too emotionless to make it dry. George Johnson clearly loves the subject matter, and his passion and wonder are shared with the reader.
The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments would make a great present for anyone with an interest in science, biography with a twist, or even an intelligent teen who wants a better appreciation of dull science lessons. Highly recommended, and I can't wait to see what George Johnson writes next.
Huge thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.
Ben Goldacre's Bad Science is another must-read science book. Quantum by Manjit Kumar is also well worth a read. For a stocking filler present, we can recommend 100 Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know by John D Barrow. You might appreciate How to Save the World with Salad Dressing by Thomas Byrne and Tom Cassidy, but we had our reservations.
The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson is in the Top Ten Books For Slightly Geeky People.
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