Eyewitness to Science: Scientists and Writers Illuminate Natural Phenomena from Fossils to Fractals

Eyewitness to Science: Scientists and Writers Illuminate Natural Phenomena from Fossils to Fractals

by John Carey
     
 

Plotting the development of modern science from Leonardo da Vinci to Chaos Theory, John Carey chooses accounts by scientists themselves that are both elegant and arrestingly written. The classic science-writers are here: Darwin, Huxley, Fabre. So, too, are the luminaries of the late-twentieth-century genre of popular science-writing which, Carey argues,

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Overview

Plotting the development of modern science from Leonardo da Vinci to Chaos Theory, John Carey chooses accounts by scientists themselves that are both elegant and arrestingly written. The classic science-writers are here: Darwin, Huxley, Fabre. So, too, are the luminaries of the late-twentieth-century genre of popular science-writing which, Carey argues, challenges contemporary poetry and fiction in its imaginative power.

Editorial Reviews

Elle
A tantalizing cornucopia of essays, arguments, and investigations...Carey has combed the annals of science to gather pieces on radium, rust, wasps, nerves, tides, toads, gravity, light, spiders, sex, fractals, and flesh, by the likes of Sigmund Freud, Laura Fermi, Darwin, Rachel Carson, Richard Feynman, and Eve Curie...Immensely entertaining and surprisingly easy-to-read.
Nature
Entertaining, stimulating and occasionally startling. Carey's reading is prodigious, and...his choices are illuminated by commentaries that crackle with literary and indeed scientific insights.
— Walter Gratzer
Sunday Times [UK]
Carey has put together a wonderful collection...His introduction is a piece of science writing that should in its own right occupy a central place in any future anthology...[His] scholarship is enviable...The mixture is deliciously rich.
— Lewis Wolpert
The Dispatch [Columbus]
Carey's anthology of writing about science is both entertaining and instructive. George Orwell on the common toad: 'I mention the spawning of toads because it is one of the phenomena of spring which most deeply appeal to me, and because the toad, unlike the skylark and the primrose, has never had much of a boost from the poets.' Here also are Anton van Leeuwenhoek, said to be 'the first human being to see living protozoa and bacteria' on his discovery of '"little animals" in water'; Vladimir Nabokov on butterflies; and Angus McLaren on 'antigestatory appliances.'
— S.R.B. Iyer
The Observer
Carey is a man of letters, not one of equations. Yet his sympathy for science and his defense of the actions of its practitioners shines through every page. This has produced an enthralling anthology that illuminates the world of science and explains its wonders with lyrical clarity.
Times [UK]
Captures the flavor of modern science through many illustrious epochs. Starting with Galileo's discovery of Jupiter's four moons, it moves through Darwin's theory of evolution and ends with contemporary contributors such as the zoologist Richard Dawkins and the geneticist Steve Jones. Carey's collection crystallizes the essence of great science--the awe of discovery, the emotions stirred by breakthrough and...the intellectual brilliance of those who have shaped our understanding of the world.
— Anjana Ahuja

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674287556
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
10/28/1997
Pages:
560
Product dimensions:
6.05(w) x 9.27(h) x 1.21(d)

What People are saying about this

The best practical antidote against the myths that scientists cannot write and that science itself it too difficult for non professionals to comprehend. This wonderfully diverse set of pieces, from Leonardo to now, from the idiosyncratically humorous to the sparingly didactic, contains the best of scientific writing for the past half-millennium.
Stephen Jay Gould
The best practical antidote against the myths that scientists cannot write and that science itself it too difficult for non professionals to comprehend. This wonderfully diverse set of pieces, from Leonardo to now, from the idiosyncratically humorous to the sparingly didactic, contains the best of scientific writing for the past half-millennium.

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