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A Little History of Science  By  cover art

A Little History of Science

By: William F. Bynum
Narrated by: Jonathan Cowley
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Publisher's summary

Science is fantastic. It tells us about the infinite reaches of space, the tiniest living organism, the human body, the history of Earth. People have always been doing science because they have always wanted to make sense of the world and harness its power. From ancient Greek philosophers through Einstein and Watson and Crick to the computer-assisted scientists of today, men and women have wondered, examined, experimented, calculated, and sometimes made discoveries so earthshaking that people understood the world-or themselves-in an entirely new way.

This inviting audiobook tells a great adventure story: the history of science. It takes listeners to the stars through the telescope, as the sun replaces the earth at the center of our universe. It delves beneath the surface of the planet, charts the evolution of chemistry's periodic table, introduces the physics that explain electricity, gravity, and the structure of atoms. It recounts the scientific quest that revealed the DNA molecule and opened unimagined new vistas for exploration.

Emphasizing surprising and personal stories of scientists both famous and unsung, A Little History of Science traces the march of science through the centuries. The book opens a window on the exciting and unpredictable nature of scientific activity and describes the uproar that may ensue when scientific findings challenge established ideas. With a warm, accessible style, this is a book for young and old to treasure together.

©2012 William Bynum (P)2013 Tantor

Critic reviews

"Bynum's lively narrative...certainly delivers on his opening line: 'Science is special.'" ( Kirkus Starred Review)

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What listeners say about A Little History of Science

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The Title Holds No Secret...

What did you love best about A Little History of Science?

The brief overview that it gave to most disciplines in Science was appreciated - even how Bynum chose to visit dark chapters in Science History such as eugenics. It left me wanting to know more about the men and women who dedicated their life to asking the basic questions of our natural world.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Little History of Science?

How the Ancients held such an incredible view of our world and universe without the aid of modern technology. I also loved how they established so many foundational truths for others to build on - as Newton said "standing on the shoulders of giants."

What about Jonathan Cowley’s performance did you like?

The British accent helped provide a little sophistication to the reading.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No extreme reactions - just an even deeper appreciation for mankind's journey through science.

Any additional comments?

As the title suggests - and which is of no surprise - this book provides an excellent, but brief overview of the history of science. After reading other reviews, I noticed many people were unhappy with the length or subject matter so I guess I went into this one with lower expectations.

My background is in biology, so naturally I'd prefer to read more about the history of life sciences, but I thought Bynum did a fair job of mixing the physical and life sciences together. I was a bit surprised that he didn't go into much detail with geology, but I think in all fairness he wanted to stick to the general themes within physical and life sciences, including medicine.

My only complaint was that he didn't go too far into the golden age of microbiology. Naturally, by having a greater interest in the life sciences, I was eager to know more about the history and figures of that era. Bynum briefly mentioned spontaneous generation and I was let down that he never mentioned Francesco Redi's meat jar experiments. Instead he discussed Pasteur's broth/flask experiments, which became the final 'kick in the pants' to spontaneous generation.

Altogether, if Bynum would have wrote more about what everyone complained about leaving out, this quick read would've turned into a lengthy text book - giving people something else to complain about. I think this book served a great purpose.

Pros: a great overview of mankind's journey through science and why it is important.
Cons: a "for more reading on this topic" section after each chapter would've been nice.
Bottom line: a great read for anyone interested in getting the 10,000 foot perspective of science.

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7 people found this helpful

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Good Coverage but Not Perfect

What made the experience of listening to A Little History of Science the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed the narration. It plowed the surface and didn't drill too deep. Thus it provides a nice overview. I picked up on matrix mechanics being assigned to Schrodinger as the developer. More accurately, it came out of Heisenberg's camp.

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great book

so interesting and engrossing. thought-provoking. my 13 year old enjoyed it as much and learned as much from it as I did. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who does not already have a solid background in philosophy.

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A little book on a BIG subject

This was a enjoyable run through a few millennial of science. It took me a while to get used to the readers voice but once I did I actually started to like it. It definitely made some concepts for this nonscientific listener more understandable. I definitely recommend

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Wonderful

So much to learn! Interesting from start to finish. Worth listening to more than once to absorb better All the material.

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loved the nods to discoveries other than European.

The narrator's rhythm got a bit tedious and it definitely created some semantic confusion occasionally but the material was interesting and accessible enough to keep my attention in spite of it. A great primer and a solid refresher/enhancer for this less than methodical observer and consumer of scientific progress over a lifetime.

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Great Information

Good book. It wasn’t as fun to read as “A Little History of the World”, but I recommend this book.

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A bit too appeasing of pseudosciences.

The author seemed a bit too appeasing towards some well known pseudosciences such as: acupuncture, traditional chinese medicine, and even greek philosophy as a science. One may infer from reading this book that science is a subject of study rather than a method of study. I was disappointed.

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Not stellar

This avalanche of science seemed disjointed and outdated. I think because of an over-ambitious scope, although toward the end more of an attempt was made to pull it together. The reader was good few mistakes noted.

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Boring.

Truly mind numbingly boring. Get Bill Bryson’s “A short history of nearly everything” instead.

Poor performance and not very engaging. Good for sleep.

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