Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Little History of Science

I read A Little History of Science by William F. Bynum. This is my favorite nonfiction book I've read so far.

This book discusses everything from the Paleolithic era to the nano Digital age. My main takeaway from this book was Descartes's Cartesian doubt, which is a systematic process of being skeptical about the truth of one's beliefs and trying to find what makes sense and what is junk from bad experiments. This book was extremely elaborate especially on the topics of physics, chemistry, and biology. One of the messages I took away from this book was that science, despite being associated with crazy hair and potions, is really just a method of figuring things out. That the method of essentially taking a guess at a problem, testing if your guess is correct, and if not, trying again, is an extremely advantageous way to increase comprehension. I recommend this book to everyone as a guide to science for beginners and experts.

Aristotle Stagiritis was wrong about almost everything he theorized about, he followed good methods, which lead the way for others. Isaac Newton’s laws of motion and gravity changed the way people looked at how the world and science interacted, and was the god of modern science for centuries. Albert Einstein was a revolutionary scientist with his laws of general relativity, claiming that time and space are warped by the objects and forces.

This book covered an enormous amount of information, literally everything from the ancient babylonians to the current opening of the nano digital age. Each chapter covers a specific topic, introduce 2-5 scientists of the era, the beginning of some questioning and eventually a resolution. Then they move on to the next chapter, of new major discovery. Since there is so much information I will cover only one chapter fully, as a sample.

For centuries people had noticed evidence of cross continent interactivity, a popular theory was that bridge-like land masses or ice sheets connected the continents. One scientist, Alfred Wegener, described something he referred to as continental drift. Which later resulted in the theory of Pangea the super continent that had drifted apart.

The most important message in this book was that even though scientists are associated with fancy suits and labs, as shown, science is really a way of thinking. Also, science should be a global pursuit encouraged all around the world.

I thought this was a wonderful book for its detail, excitement, and broad range of topics.