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2.8 out of 5 stars6
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VINE VOICEon April 13, 2007
I bought this book in the belief that it would describe 100 selected inventions that shaped world history and also analyze how and why. However, the descriptions of the inventions were brief, they did not spend a lot of thought on the selection, and there was no analysis of why a certain invention had shaped history. It was a thin book written for children and young adults rather than adults. This is not necessarily bad, but was not what I expected. I still found the book useful and I am reading it to my kids. However, I have two major complaints which compel me to drop some stars.

(1) The selection of the inventions could have been better. The Video Disc, Velcro, Xerography, Teflon, the piano, the Dewar flask, the sundial and the inclined plane are all in here, but not paper (T'sai Lun), irrigation, the alphabet, the electric generator, stainless steel, integrated circuit, internet, or air conditioning.

(2) There are some glaring errors in the book. An example is #68 the theory of relativity. First it is a little odd that a scientific theory/discovery is listed together with inventions, but let me quote some errors.

First they claim that the theory of relativity was published in its basic form in 1909, the correct year is 1905.

Last sentence of the first paragraph: "He also theorized that the speed light travels, which we understand as 186,000 miles (299,330 km) per second, is not absolute". Too bad it is exactly the opposite. The theory of relativity is based on the fact that the speed of light in vacuum is absolute.

First sentence third paragraph: "The essence of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is that if matter is converted into energy, the energy released can be shown in the formula E = mc2". Too bad, but that is NOT Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. E=mc2 is a consequence of the special theory of relativity and the E=mc2 paper was published in Annalen der Physik 1905 (p639-p641). The General theory of relativity was published 1915 and had to do with Gravitation and space/time curvature. The authors are mixing up the theories.

The Laser #88: In the second paragraph they try to explain stimulated emission which is the principle behind the Laser. Well this paragraph is not even wrong, it's nonsense.

So in conclusion, it is not a bad book, it is useful, but it could have been a much better book if the authors had tried a little harder to get it right.
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on August 7, 2009
I would have to agree with a couple of the previous reviewers about the shortcomings of this book. It's not a bad overview of 100 important inventions, and the illustrations are good; however, the choice does not seem to reflect very well which 100 inventions have had the most impact on world history. Many very important inventions, such as agriculture, paper, irrigation, the alphabet and numerous others, have been left out completely. I somehow don't think that inventions like the video disk have anything like the lasting impact of agriculture! And I agree with another reviewer, that it is disappointing that there is no discussion of what impact each invention had on human society.

There are also a number of errors in the information. In addition to the items mentioned by an earlier reviewer, I know some of the info on the first handheld calculator to be wrong. While I was in graduate school in Indiana in 1968, my boyfriend back in California was at HP, working on the SECOND handheld calculator, which was released about 6 months after Texas Instruments' first model. The TI calculator came on the market at a whopping $750 (not $120); HP's was priced at half that - and the race for smaller, cheaper calculators was on.

I would like to see an expanded, better selected and more accurate version of this topic.
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on February 19, 1999
This book contains inventions from all around the world from microchips to fire. This is a really good book if you are going to do research on inventions.
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on June 4, 2011
It has no mention of CERN's particle accelerater, no mention of CERN's Internet, and the bit about lasers is totally untrue. It is written so a four year old can read it, not a fourtenn year old. they didn't even mention the dynamo!
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on November 28, 2001
This is a nice little book, easily read in one or two sittings, about mostly technological inventions. There are great pictures and/or prints, and clear explanations, even for those who are technologically-challenged. Each invention takes up only one page. Quite suitable for kids ten and up, and adults who want a quick introduction or reference book. I enjoyed it, and passed it on to my unix supervisor son. Some really interesting stuff here.
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on December 21, 2010
I bought this for my 16 year old who loves to know how things tick. It is very interesting & I know he will love it.
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