The Ascent of Man

The Ascent of Man

Paperback(New Edition)

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A new paperback edition of Dr. Bronowski's classic history of humankind, with a foreword by Richard Dawkins

Dr. Jacob Bronowksi's classic traces the development of human society through our understanding of science. First published in 1973 to accompany the groundbreaking BBC television series, it is considered one of the first works of "popular science," illuminating the historical and social context of scientific development for a generation of readers. In his highly accessible style, Dr. Bronowski discusses human invention from the flint tool to geometry, agriculture to genetics, and from alchemy to the theory of relativity, showing how they all are expressions of our ability to understand and control nature. In this new paperback edition, The Ascent of Man inspires, influences, and informs as profoundly as ever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781849901154
Publisher: B B C Worldwide Americas
Publication date: 04/01/2013
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 411,819
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jacob Bronowski (1908–1974) was a mathematician, biologist, science historian, and author. His other well-known works include The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination and The Western Intellectual Tradition, From Leonardo to Hegel. Richard Dawkins is the author of The God Delusion and The Selfish Gene.

Table of Contents

Foreword 13(6)
Chapter 1 Lower than the Angels Animal adaptation -- The human alternative -- Beginning in Africa -- Fossil evidence -- The gift of foresight -- Evolution of the head -- The mosaic of man -- The cultures of the hunter -- Across the ice ages -- Transhumance cultures: the Lapps -- Imagination in cave art.
Chapter 2 The Harvest of the Seasons The pace of cultural evolution -- Nomad cultures: the Bakhtiari -- Beginnings of agriculture: wheat -- Jericho -- Earthquake country -- Technology in the village -- The wheel -- Domestication of animals: the horse -- War games: Buz Kashi -- Settled civilisation.
Chapter 3 The Grain in the Stone Coming to the New World -- Blood group evidence of migrations -- The actions of shaping and splitting -- Structure and hierarchy -- The city: Machu Picchu -- Straight-edge architecture: Paestum -- The Roman arch: Segovia -- The Gothic adventure: Rheims -- Science as architecture -- The hidden figure: Michelangelo to Moore -- Pleasure in construction -- Below the visible.
Chapter 4 The Hidden Structure Fire, the transforming element -- Extraction of metals: copper -- The structure of alloys -- Bronze as a work of art -- Iron to steel: the Japanese sword -- Gold -- The incorruptible -- Alchemical theory of man and nature -- Paracelsus and the coming of chemistry -- Fire and air: Joseph Priestley -- Antoine Lavoisier: combination can be quantified -- John Dalton's atomic theory.
Chapter 5 The Music of the Spheres The language of numbers -- The key to harmony: Pythagoras -- The right-angled triangle -- Euclid and Ptolemy at Alexandria -- Rise of Islam -- Arabic numbers -- The Alhambra: patterns of space -- Crystal symmetries -- Perspective from Alhazen -- Movement in time, the new dynamic -- The mathematics of change.
Chapter 6 The Starry Messenger The cycle of seasons -- The unmapped sky: Easter Island -- Ptolemy's system in the Dondi Clock -- Copernicus: the sun as centre -- The telescope -- Galileo opens the scientific method -- Prohibition of the Copernican system -- Dialogue on the two systems -- The Inquisition -- Galileo recants -- The Scientific Revolution moves north.
Chapter 7 The Majestic Clockwork Kepler's laws -- The centre of the world -- Isaac Newton's innovations: fluxions -- Unfolding the spectrum -- Gravitation and the Principia -- The intellectual dictator -- Challenge in satire -- Newton's absolute space -- Absolute time -- Albert Einstein -- The traveller carries his own space and time -- Relativity is proved -- The new philosophy.
Chapter 8 The Drive for Power The English revolution -- Everyday technology: James Brindley -- The revolt against privilege: Figaro -- Benjamin Franklin and the American revolution -- The new men: masters of iron -- The new outlook: Wedgwood and the Lunar society -- The driving factory -- The new preoccupation: energy -- The cornucopia of invention -- The unity of nature.
Chapter 9 The Ladder of Creation The naturalists -- Charles Darwin -- Alfred Wallace -- Impact of South America -- The wealth of species -- Wallace loses his collection -- Natural selection conceived -- The continuity of evolution -- Louis Pasteur: right hand, left hand -- Chemical constants in evolution -- The origin of life -- The four bases -- Are other forms of life possible?
Chapter 10 World Within World The cube of salt -- Its elements -- Mendeleev's game of patience -- The periodic table -- J.J. Thomson: the atom has parts -- Structure in new art -- Structure in the atom: Rutherford and Niels Bohr -- The life cycle of a theory -- The nucleus has parts -- The neutron: Chadwick and Fermi -- Evolution of the elements -- The second law as statistics -- Stratified stability -- Copying the physics of nature -- Ludwig Boltzmann: atoms are real.
Chapter 11 Knowledge or Certainty There is no absolute knowledge -- The spectrum of invisible radiations -- The refinement of detail -- Gauss and the idea of uncertainty -- The sub-structure of reality: Max Born -- Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty -- The principle of tolerance: Leo Szilard -- Science is human.
Chapter 12 Generation upon Generation The voice of insurrection -- The kitchen garden naturalist: Gregor Mendel -- Genetics of the pea -- Instant oblivion -- An all-or-nothing model of inheritance -- The magic number two: sex -- Crick and Watson's model of DNA -- Replication and growth -- Cloning of identical forms -- Sexual choice in human diversity.
Chapter 13 The Long Childhood Man, the social solitary -- Human specificity -- Specific development of the brain -- Precision of the hand -- The speech areas -- The postponement of decision -- The mind as an instrument of preparation -- The democracy of the intellect -- The moral imagination -- The brain and the computer: John von Neumann -- The strategy of values -- Knowledge is our destiny -- The commitment of man.
Bibliography 440(3)
Index 443

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Ascent Of Man 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The importance of this book can not be underestimated especially at the dawn of the 21st Century. Dr. Bronowski states that knowledge is not a loose leaf notebook of facts and in emphasizing this he very aptly bridges the 'gap' between science and the humanities. As a student ot the 50's & 60's science was presented to me as a diet of isolated facts. He bridged these facts, put them in a philosophical context, and warned all of humanity of the danger of the'itch for absolute knowledge and power.' We have to reach out and touch people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw the PBS series years ago, and was taken by it. So much so, that my wife bought me the book for Christmas. I dig it out and read parts now and again even today. To me, he's a mathematician that could have been a poet. So, I may purchase this book for my nook just for the convenience. However, I don't know how the big book print format will render on my little nook. Question: What is that extra content? That's about the right size for ten standard definition TV shows. What the heck could that much data be? If I breakdown and buy this, a book I already have, I'll let you know. Their term "available content" almost sounds like room where readers can store content, but that doesn't make sense. Anyone out there know?
SLOMNUTS More than 1 year ago
I was introduced to this book by a professor during my sophomore year in college. On the first day of class he wrote the quote at the end of the book on the board. I thought it was so good that I asked about it after class. He brought the book in for me to look at during class, but wouldn't lend it to me. I didn't hear one word of his lecture that day because I was so enraptured by this book. It's so ahead of its time that I just recently saw a documentary called "Becoming Human" (2009), made by NOVA, which uses material that Bronowski was writing about in the F'ing 70s! The dude was a rockstar. Buy this book. I found the hardcover after looking for about a week and it was well worth it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A real classic. Where stays the hardcover?
millsge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have read this book a dozen times since it was published and Dr. Bronowski continues to inspire me with his impassioned history of man's intellectual evolution. Of course, the study of history and of man has advanced since 1976, but this man's writing can still save me when my pessimism about our progress threatens to overwhelm me.
PedrapGwilym on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this little guy, for when I met him a long time ago, he was, like this book, totally inspirational. Whatever it was you were interested in he made you feel that it was the best of all fields to follow but with the caveat that one must keep an open mind and prepare to be wrong. Needless to say, over the the years, I've been wrong a lot, but thanks to Dr Bronowski, I am the better for it!
boeflak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An extraordinary book by an extraordinary mathematician, scientist and philosopher. Also a stunning PBS series available at many public libraries.
NicholasPayne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Bronowski's take on the world. Such an astute and loving eye cast on human achievement.
Griff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read during impressionable high school years. I am not rating the content and accuracy thereof - either as it would have been judged at the time or how well such content has held up over the ensuing years, years that have seen a changing interpretation of our world. I give it high marks for inspiring a group of classmates, all of whom have been successful through the years, to look at the world with awe and wonder - to get excited about discovery - and to be human and humane in our quest for knowledge. Jacob Bronowski accomplished that with this book and his series.
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