This collection of essays on science and the Royal Society is a gorgeously designed book. The use of pictures and colors throughout is app...moreRating: 6/10
This collection of essays on science and the Royal Society is a gorgeously designed book. The use of pictures and colors throughout is appealing and tasteful.
The best essays are those which focus on the history of the Royal Society itself, and how the elements of science we take for granted today came to be through the genius and work of extraordinary people. I was not familiar with much of this history, and I found it fascinating. For example, the scientific method of gaining knowledge of the world through repeatable tests and measurements seems like common sense in hindsight, but it was in fact worked out over centuries.
Unfortunately, the second half of this book was a disappointment as it lost its focus and direction. The essays turned away from history to more modern issues facing scientists today. Some of these were simply too plain - e.g., a one chapter overview of an issue such as alien life or global warming, when the issue is already well known and the chapter brings nothing to the discussion. Other essays were odd and didn't seem to suit the book.
The final chapter is a rambling conclusion which makes the brain achingly obvious point that science has accomplished much, but that we will need scientists even more as face more complex problems in the 21st century. Who doesn't understand that? This chapter features a picture of an iPhone to illustrate how marvelous science can be, which triggered a rapid rolling of my eyes.
Despite a weak conclusion, I can heartily recommend the opening chapters. The reader can simply read any essays which seem appealing, and at the end have an attractive addition to the old bookshelf.(less)
I was disappointed by this book which repeatedly showed potential for brilliance, but which ultimately was just long and dry. The footnote...moreRating: 5/10
I was disappointed by this book which repeatedly showed potential for brilliance, but which ultimately was just long and dry. The footnotes and the thoughtfully constructed history were excellent, but that was not enough to make up for the weak characters and storytelling.
The characters are bizarrely full of passion over small things, and then listless at the most important moments of the story. Without going into detail, the ending of the book highlights this perfectly. The two characters in that scene play their roles as if they have no souls. It goes way beyond English repression to the point of being inhuman. I never felt connected to the characters as a result.
The storytelling itself is similar in that the author seems to have no idea when she has something good. Just when the story builds and we are really getting caught up in it, we will be sent on a long irrelevant tangent - either a footnote or a far less interesting plot point. And when we return to the main action, it will be quickly ended in the most anticlimactic way possible.
There are many great ideas in this book. I would love to see all the good pieces extracted and rewritten by someone who can weave a compelling story. (less)
I'm not usually one to quit a book. I was excited when I saw it, and purchased it on an impulse. The concept sounded great, but in the first few chapt...moreI'm not usually one to quit a book. I was excited when I saw it, and purchased it on an impulse. The concept sounded great, but in the first few chapters it is extremely silly.
The young scientists take a bike ride, tra-la-la, and then picnic. The dew on the grass reminds one of them about some concept in physics. This inspires some idea of his, which is not explained in much depth. Of course, the bike ride never happened, and the dew never inspired him, but wouldn't it be swell if it did?(less)
This book is full of great ideas, but something about the writing or characters kept me from really getting absorbed by the story. The p...moreRating: 6.5/10
This book is full of great ideas, but something about the writing or characters kept me from really getting absorbed by the story. The protagonist shows little feeling throughout the book, and randomly makes inexplicable decisions with little apparent motive. Still, I'd say it was worth reading.(less)