Defining moments in science

Defining moments in science

Mark Steer, Hayley Birch and Andrew Impey (eds)

London, UK: Cassell Illustrated 2008 | 798pp | ?18.99 (SB) ISBN 9781844035892

Reviewed by Marcus Adams 


This beautiful book provides a selection of the key events, key inventions, key publications, key people, key discoveries and key experiments in all areas of science from 1900 onwards. It moves rapidly from moments in chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy etc., starting with the discovery of gamma radiation by Paul Villard in 1900 to the creation of a blacker-than-black nanocarpet from carbon nanotubes by Pulickel Ajayan in 2008. Each snapshot is described in about 300 words, including an explanation of why it is to be considered a key science moment. 

Although such a selection must of necessity be a personal one, this particular compilation has been expertly chosen by an international panel of scientists and science writers. It is lavishly illustrated with great photographs which complement the text. I found myself continually dipping into the book and finding it compulsive reading, as either a text item attracted my attention or a photograph caught my eye. 

This book would be a much appreciated gift this Christmas for anyone with an interest in modern science.