Top critical review
19 people found this helpful
Could have been better
on 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.