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The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension Hardcover – November 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


“As a good—even great—teacher, Hakim knows exactly where students might stumble and is always there, making sure they don't.”—Diana Lutz, Natural History

“Hakim has interwoven creation myths, history, physics, and mathematics to present a seamless, multifaceted view of the foundation of modern science. . . . At its essence, the book displays the most appealing aspect of science and mathematics: that advances result from a practical need solved by curious minds.”—School Library Journal, starred review

“[W]hen master storyteller Joy Hakim wields her pen, take heart: you're in for a breathtaking adventure.”—American Educator

“If Leonardo da Vinci had studied school science, he would have been fascinated with The Story of Science.”—Juliana Texley, lead reviewer for National Science Teacher Association Recommends

About the Author

Author of the prize-winning series A History of US, Joy Hakim is the recipient of the James Michener Award in Writing and the Gold and Silver Parents' Choice Awards in Writing.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1000L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Books; 1st edition (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1588341623
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588341624
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I started my career as an author with a ten-volume U.S. history: A History of US, published by Oxford University Press in 1993, and now in a third updated printing. I had no idea the history would end up in ten books, or that it would be so much fun to write. A History of US has been awarded a bunch of prizes. David McCullough commented, ". . .the idea that history might ever be thought of as a chore has clearly never crossed her mind." In testimony before the Senate Education Committee he called the series "superb." People Magazine described me as "the J.K. Rowling of the history world." (Umm, that would be nice. But the books have sold 5 million copies.)

Mine are narrative history books that attempt to set literary standards. I mean for them to be exciting to read. They're meant for young readers, and their teachers and parents, or for anyone without a deep background in U.S. history. These are books that can be found in bookstores, on Amazon, and in schools. Oxford and Hopkins have done teaching materials for those who want to use the books in academic study.

That series was followed by: Freedom: A History of US (published in 2003), the companion to a 16-part PBS series of the same name that was narrated by Katie Couric, with voices by a host of Hollywood figures, from Tom Hanks to Robin Williams. The videos are available to schools from PBS. And the book spawned a terrific website: (

I then turned to The Story of Science, a three-book series jointly published by Smithsonian Books and the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association). The series focuses on the quest to understand the universe--from ancient Greece to today's expanding universe. The first volume is Aristotle Leads the Way; the second, Newton at the Center; the third book, Einstein Adds A New Dimension, attempts to explain quantum theory and relativity with black holes and space travel too. Writing in the New York Times, Natalie Angier called the books, "richly informative." Alan Alda raved. These books have won prizes too. Science writer Timothy Ferris said he wished he had them when he was a boy. Educators at Johns Hopkins and NSTA have developing coordinated teaching materials for classroom use (available from NSTA or Amazon). Reading guru Lucy Calkins, of Teachers College, Columbia, has called my books the "gold standard" in the field.

I've just published my latest title, Reading Science Stories, which celebrates non-fiction reading through tales of some of history's greatest explorers.

And I'm currently working on two books that put biology into a narrative framework.

Before I began writing books, I was an associate editor, editorial writer, and business writer for The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk's morning paper) and a general reporter and photographer on the staff of The Ledger-Star (Norfolk's afternoon paper. I did a whole lot of freelance writing while raising three kids. And I was an assistant editor of World News, a foreign news service at McGraw-Hill.

Writing and teaching seem to be two faces of the same need to explain things. Which may explain why I've had dual careers--as writer and teacher.

I've taught elementary school (Omaha, NE), high school English (Virginia Beach, VA), special education in a middle school (Syracuse, NY), and English composition and American literature at a community college (Virginia Beach). I initiated and taught a writing course for high school teachers of English through the University of Virginia.

I do a lot of speaking, especially to education groups. For three years I worked with a group of history teachers in Los Angeles under a TAH (Teaching American History) grant. I've spent some of my time in an inner-city school where most of the students speak Spanish at home and reading English doesn't come easily.

As to my schooling: I earned a B.A. from Smith College after high school in Rutland, Vermont. Then I received a M.Ed. and an honorary doctorate from Goucher College. Smith gave me the Smith Medal (2000); the Matrix Foundation, the Edith Workman Award (2003); I've taken graduate courses in journalism and in geography at New York University, child psychology at Johns Hopkins, and courses in American history and science at Brown, Harvard, Cornell, and Cambridge University. My website is: You can also connect with me on Twitter: @joyhakim_joy.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Science Goddess on February 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Length: 5:29 Mins
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Length:: 5:29 Mins

Hi, this is Joanne, a bioengineering instructor at the University of Illinois. I read science books and review them. See more at my youtube site [...]

If my brain is tired from reading all those high level science journals, I take a break and read about science in a fun, lighthearted but still informative way with Joy Hakim's The Story of Science Series. Great for educators and homeschoolers, too! Covers the basics of physical sciences thoroughly but at a middle to high school level.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By William R. Klemm on March 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Joy Hakim's book on modern physics is the most exciting science book I have read in my 45-plus years as a scientist. The book truly is, as she puts it, "written for young thinkers of all ages." She doesn't call it a "textbook," but the book not only is that, it is also the way all science textbooks should be written. To her, physics is not just a body of observations and theories; it is the process of discovery.

Although Einstein's thinking is the underlying centerpiece of the book, Hakim deftly traverses, without mathematics, the whole history of physics from electromagnetism, atomic structure and chemical bonding to special and general relativity, quantum mechanics, black holes, quarks, supernovae, dark matter, dark energy, and more. This is a story-book journey of discovery that is described in terms of the people involved. Physics is brought to life in a most engaging way. On every page it seems, physics, the mother of all science, is embellished with side-bar stories about key discoveries, how they were made and the lives of the people who made them. Numerous color photographs adorn the pages throughout.

The two great and exciting present-day frontiers of scientific research are physics and neuroscience. Joy's book almost makes me wish, after a lifetime of being a neuroscientist, that I had started off in physics. Science is great fun, and this book proves it.

Bill Klemm, author of "Thank You Brain for All You Remember. What You Forgot Was My Fault" and "`Dillos. Roadkill on Extinction Highway?" (both available on
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Wynter Fyre Woodbury on November 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is informative and interesting, not dry and/or stuffy like most science books. This is the 2nd or 3rd in the "Story of Science" series that I have purchased and I would highly recommend them to anyone. Joy Hakim not only writes about science, but she writes about how the world was when these scientists were making their discoveries and the struggles they had while doing so. Another great feature is that any word the reader might not know and understand is explained in the margins.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. Schultz VINE VOICE on February 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is both a pleasure to hold and to read. It includes many vivid illustrations printed on glossy paper. It does follow the tendency of most modern informational works to be designed with sidebars and insets on each page. Many scholars complain that this kind of formatting is a reflection of our increasing inability to concentrate, and that when overdone in school textbooks, it tends to train us in distraction even further. However Hakim keeps the boxed asides within manageable limits. She and the publishers of this book don't fragment the pages beyond reason. The result is a nice balance between entertainment and education.

The sidebars often include pictures that add a historical perspective to the scientific explanations. For example, there are photographs of some of the places where Einstein spent his youth, and there's one particularly telling photograph of a German street scene during WWII.

However a book like this ultimately has to have, not only eye appeal, but worthwhile content. Hakim delivers on this score. Her explanations are for the most part lucid and interesting. She makes clarifications I hadn't read elsewhere. For example, she distinguishes between X-rays (which are waves) and beta rays (which are particles). And she finally helped me understand the difference between vacuum tubes and solid state transistors - I think.

Furthermore, she passed a litmus test I apply to all books that touch on the topic of how the structure of DNA was unraveled. Hakim gives due credit to Rosalind Franklin and her work with X-ray crystallography in providing a key clue to the nature of the double helix. Most authors credit only Watson and Crick. But when they do that, I know they haven't thoroughly researched their topic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jwgarver on August 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are hesitant to buy this series because it is written for juvenile audiences, don't hold back any longer. This is extremely well-written, as are the other two earler science books by Joy Hakim. Get all three. You will not be disappointed.

This book handles the weird concepts of relativity and quantum physics better than any other source - and I own a dozen books on those subjects.

Each beautiful book follows a logical order, and basic concepts are explained before more complex concepts are introduced. All theories and discoveries are placed in historical context.

I like the side bars and illustrations and do not find them distracting. How can anyone read hundreds of pages of nothing but text and not lose their mind? Especially if the subject is science!

Unless you are a scientist, this material will not be too basic for you. If you ever watched "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?", you know there is plenty of stuff you forgot or never learned, and this is the place to learn it.
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