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Science: The Definitive Visual Guide Hardcover – October 5, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0756655709 ISBN-10: 0756655706 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


A visual delight for the general reader... a triumph of science communication. Chemistry World --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Adam Hart-Davis is a writer, photographer, and broadcaster and an established television face of science and the history of science. Among recent TV work, he has presented and written the books for the BBC series What the Romans/Ancients/Tudors/Stuarts/Victorians Did for Us, as well as presented How London Was Built, which was broadcast on both British television and The History Channel. He is the author of over 20 books on science, technology, and invention, and has received 12 honorary doctorates, a medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering for the Public Promotion of Engineering, and the 1999 Gerald Frewer memorial trophy of the Council of Engineering Designers.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: DK; 1 edition (October 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756655706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756655709
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 1.4 x 12.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As with other DK books, this one is absolutely beautifully illustrated, so it should be engaging for kids, as well as a pleasant coffee table book for adults to browse during weekend afternoons.

The book is organized historically rather than by subject matter. Of course the upside is that you can get a sense of the sequence and timing with which scientific ideas emerged. But the downside is that the coverage of any given subject (eg, physics, chemistry, or biology) is scattered intermittently across many pages, so this format isn't ideal for systematically learning particular subjects.

Also, the scope of the book includes a significant amount of technology rather than strictly science. That isn't necessarily a problem, and of course there has always been interaction between science and technology, but failing to make a clear distinction between science and technology contributes to the public's mistaken conflation of the two.

Finally, regarding coverage of science itself, this book does a good job of explaining the basics and providing interesting historical details, but it doesn't go very deep into anything. As is typical for a DK book, the level is somewhere near the lower end of the popular science spectrum, and certainly well below university science courses. That's not inherently a problem, but something for readers to be aware of.

The net result is that I can recommend this book to kids and adults with a general interest in science, but people with a serious interest in science (and looking for rigor) may find this book too limited for their needs, although they might still find it to be a fun book for casual reading.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Thomas E. Davis TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I want to make clear what this book is and is not. It's a large-format visual guide from Dorling Kindersley, which means that it's filled to bursting with glorious color illustrations, detailed diagrams, and succinct summaries that help the non-mathematical novice understand the history of scientific thought. It is not, however, a reference for those who work in an academic setting, study at the college level, or consult the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

"Science" is helpful principally for young people who want a general overview of the progress of knowledge about our world, from its smallest elements to the vastness of the expanding universe, and who wish to achieve a quick grasp of basic terminology and principles. The coverage is a mile wide and an inch deep, but it does a good job of inspiring interest in the varied subjects it tackles. For in-depth information, more scholarly books will need to be consulted.

The book is divided into five main eras: The Dawn of Science (before 1500), The Renaissance & Enlightenment (1500-1700), The Industrial Revolution (1700-1890), The Atomic Age (1890-1970), and The Information Age (after 1970). It traces the development of science from the earliest natural philosophers -- Aristotle and Alhazen, for example -- to modern scientists like Turing and Feynmann, and from early breakthroughs such as heliocentrism and the laws of gravity to recent ones like the atomic bomb and the structure of DNA.
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67 of 72 people found the following review helpful By G. Fisk on February 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The strength of this book for me lies in its organization. Using time as a thread makes for an interesting presentation. The weakness of the book lies in its terribly sloppy editing. The "calendar" of the section on the industrial revolution places Linus Pauling's "The Nature of the Chemical Bond" a full century ahead of its actual publication. The discussion of plant life cycles ends in mid sentence. There are enough errors to make the reader unsure whether to trust statements about unfamiliar material.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Lynam on September 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've always enjoyed DK books. This is no exception. The illustrations are remarkable and the breadth of topics wide.

For those buying the PAPERBACK version of this book, please note there's a size (dimensions) difference. The typeface can be quite small on some pages to accommodate the reduced dimensions.

The only thing that would be a nice add-in would be a website or a 'for further reading' for each topic.
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71 of 94 people found the following review helpful By spinoza on October 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is another in DK's magnificent "Definitive Visual Guide" series, and is perhaps the most ambitious since it covers all of science. I had a chance to peruse the book and am looking forward to a serious reading. What I can say now is that the interplay of text and image is, as usual with DK Publishing, masterfully done using state-of-the-art printing technology. I noticed that the book possessed many of the strengths--and weaknesses--one finds in other DK publications, such as some of the images that seem to be simply aesthetic "filler" rather than actually enhancing one's understanding of the topic or the textual material. This is a minor criticism, however, and I found myself generally absorbed by the visual and textual content.

The content is well developed and substantial, though it suffers from the same shortcomings that other general histories of science betray, and which seem to be a product of the current academic narrow-sightedness in the history of science. First, there is a strong emphasis on the physical sciences and astronomy at the expense of the biological sciences. Also there is a pronounced British-American orientation to the narrative, again at the expense of other cultures contributing strongly to the history of science (Germany being the most obvious example). Knowing the history of German science as well as I do, there is no question in my own thinking that Germany contributed more to the history of science and technology than either Britain or France, and yet this book (as well as many other English-language texts) simply assumes that the history of science was largely a British and French affair.
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