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Galileo's Commandment: 2,500 Years of Great Science Writing [Paperback]

Edmund Blair Bolles
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 18, 1999 0805073493 978-0805073492
Bolles has scoured the literature of science to build a treasury that is accessible and riveting, and therefore appealing to readers unfamiliar with science, yet erudite enough for the scientifically initiated to enjoy.

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Editorial Reviews Review

"Science only knows one commandment: contribute to science." This line, spoken by the title character in Bertolt Brecht's The Life of Galileo, inspired the title of this collection of science writing by 59 diverse authors. Most of the pieces collected by editor Edmund Blair Bolles are excerpted from texts by working scientists or natural philosophers, including George Smoot of NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer to Lucretius. Marie Curie's joy on seeing the lovely, glowing bottles of impure radium in her workroom at night is just one of the vivid images to be extracted from this volume, though with far less effort than the radium cost the Curies. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA?Science is a way of thinking as much as it is a body of knowledge. Bolles provides potent evidence of great thinking as he chronicles the cumulative process of doing science in this sampler of excellent historical and contemporary writings. This book is not so much about the current understanding of scientific principles (although there is certainly ample material included) but rather the thought and reflections of individuals who have struggled throughout human history to tease out, bit by bit, the fundamental linkages of our world and universe. It is the author's contention that "science writing can be great writing in the same sense as other genres" and this book proves his point. The selected writings include pieces by Herodotus, Galileo, Kepler, Voltaire, Piaget, Newton, and Darwin, as well as by Asimov, Gould, Sagan, and Feynman. Because of the underlining order to the sequence of selections, the book can be read all the way through as an "accessible and appealing" journey through the history of science. It can also be read randomly without losing an appreciation of the writing. Great primary-source material for students researching specific scientists.?Dennis McFaden, Fairfax County Public Schools,
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (October 18, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805073493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805073492
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #788,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great anthology of science writing August 26, 2000
In his play about Galileo, Bertolt Brecht has him say: "Science knows only one commandment: contribute to science." And those who write about science contribute as much as those who do it-and perhaps more, since a discovery not written up is a discovery that might as well not have occurred.
This is a collection of articles and excerpts representing an overview of science writing, from Herodotus speculating on Egyptian geology to George Smoot analyzing the results from COBE. Some of the writers are primarily popularizers (Isaac Asimov, Rachel Carson, Walter Sullivan) and some are scientists who made an especial effort to write for the public (Arthur S. Eddington, Stephen Jay Gould, Carl Sagan), but some of the pieces are by and for scientists, just sufficiently accessible to be included here (as with the articles by Darwin, Wallace, Kepler, and Helmholtz). The pieces run the gamut of the sciences-astronomy, biology, geology, physics-and a gamut of issues relating to the sciences, from the process of discovery (Mach talking about the human sense of position) to philosophy (Bacon and Popper) to observational notes (Darwin on Galapagos finches and Galileo on his first look through a telescope). There are breathtaking excerpts from the moment when a new science is born: Alfred Russel Wallace realizing the concept of natural selection, Lavoisier explaining the new organization of substances he has discovered (and thereby setting the foundations of modern chemistry).
While reading, I somehow found less interesting than I thought I would, but my problem may be that I have a strong background in the history of science and have been exposed to much of this before. That being said, I am finding that this book is sticking with me in ways that few books do.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent anthology of science writers February 26, 1999
By A Customer
This is an excellent book! I really enjoyed all the essays by different scientists. It was good to see so many scientists writing clear essays for the "general reader" describing recent advances in their field. The earliest was from Herodotus (444 B.C.), but by far most of the essays were from scientists writing in the 1900's. I have a much better feel and appreciation for the breadth of science after reading this book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I use to hate science... but now... March 21, 2000
I now have a new appreciation for Science all because of this book! Reading this was very touching and helped me understand why science is so important to our lives. They even got essay's done by some scientist you have never heard about that are totally irrelevant to what you hear everyday at school, at work, or just walking around. My favorite writings were of Course Galileo's beatiful description of the stars and Jupiter. GREAT BOOK! BUY IT NOW!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stupefaction June 8, 2008
If you say "science", most people would probably think back to the tedium of high school science and math class. This book shows what science really is about, namely wonderment at nature's beauty, and the process of understanding its workings. It contains arguably the best writing of many of the big names in science, such as Sagan, Galileo, Newton, Watson, Gould an others. If you have a laypersons interest in science, you will have fun reading Galileo's Commandment. If you do not find science appealing, you will after reading this book!
Most of the essays are highly readable. Some are a bit more difficult, especially those written in older English.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific History of Scientific Writing February 16, 2012
By Bethany
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Stock full of classic authors. It's a wonderful read, although I purchased this for a course it's definitely a keeper. Fast shipping! Highly recommended at a very affordable price.
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