Robert Winston (ed)

World Scientific

2013 | 400pp | £25

ISBN 9781409316138 

Science year by year is a wide-ranging survey of the history of scientific discoveries going back to the development of stone tools some 2.5 million years ago. Science and technology year by year would be a more accurate title of this book, but it does not roll off the tongue so well. 

Most pages of the book have a timeline at the bottom and feature the contemporary discoveries in the text above. Developments from 2.5 million years BC up to AD 1800 are given around 150 pages of the book, then as the pace of discovery started to increase so the 19th century inventions and discoveries cover just over 60 pages and the period from 1900 to the present expands over some 113 pages. In my view this results in a well-balanced treatment. 

The book is completed by reference sections, covering areas like the laws of physics, the periodic table, classifications of living things and geological time scales, as well as very short biographies of scientists and a glossary of important terms. 

I would have loved to have had this book for reference when I was at school, but in fact anyone of any age is sure to find interesting chunks of information spread throughout. I can see Science: year by year being bought by many an adult as a present for a child or grandchild, only for the handing over to be impeded by the gift-giver’s own fascinated hold upon the book.

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