The Medical Book: From Witch Doctors to Robot Surgeons, 250 Milestones in the History of Medicineby Clifford A. Pickover
Following his hugely successful The Math Book and The Physics Book, Clifford Pickover now chronicles the advancement of medicine in 250 entertaining, illustrated landmark events. Touching on such diverse subspecialties as genetics, pharmacology, neurology, sexology, and immunology, Pickover intersperses “obvious” historical/i>/i>
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The Medical Book Completes a Scientific Milestone Triology The Medical Book is the latest in a series of over forty scientific books by the author, Clifford Pickover. The Medical Book completes a trilogy on the theme of scientific milestones. The trilogy now includes the Medical Book, The Math Book and The Physics Book. Each book has the same format. There are exactly 250 milestones arranged in chronological order. Each milestone is provided with a two-page layout. On the left-hand page is a written explanation and on the right-hand page there is a full-page image. Among the images are paintings, photos, drawings from Untied States patents, and graphic representations associated with the milestones. There is a progression in the scope of the subject matter covered in each of the three books. The Math Book, which is first in the series, covers a universe of abstract mathematical constructs while only occasionally touching on the physical world, e.g., the entry on the Bedsheet Problem. The Physics Book deals with the reality of space and time from the very large to the very small, beginning with the Big Bang and ending with the death of our Universe. The Medical Book takes us on a more personal journey. It starts with investigations of human anatomy, progresses through the discovery of the disease carriers, and eventually takes us on an exploration of the ever smaller: cells, bacteria, viruses, and DNA. Pickover's genius lies in his ability to combine scientific explanation with thought-provoking images. My strategy for the Medical Book was to page through the illustrations and then to go to the written explanations. Among my favorite illustrations are the photographs: a Roman sewage system, 600 BC; a flea, representative of objects observed by Robert Hooke using his compound microscope, 1665; Mendel's pea plants, 1865; and a saber-toothed cat fossil illustrating PCR, 1963. Some of the connections between subject matter and illustrations show a certain leap of inspiration on the part of the author, who holds over one hundred United States patents according to the book jacket. As a scientist, I could not help but notice a sub-theme running through the book. That is the role played by science, engineering, chemistry, and physics in the development of medical practice. Some specific examples that we take for granted today include the previously mentioned Roman-invented sewage system, clean water supply, the discovery of antibiotics, medical x-rays, PET, CAT, and MRI scanning. This new entry in Pickover's scientific milestones trilogy is impressive. It goes well with the previous Math Book and Physics Book. If you like one, you will like the other two.