I enjoy books about science and history, as well as biographies, so the content was certainly interesting to me. There was actually a lot more historyI enjoy books about science and history, as well as biographies, so the content was certainly interesting to me. There was actually a lot more history in this book than I was expecting, most of which I found interesting, though some of it seemed to detract from the story.
I'm not a huge fan of author's making themselves part of the story, but it didn't annoy me terribly. There were a few scenes from the author's life that seemed out of place or too contrived to fit well in the story. I found this particularly true of the anecdote about him walking to school as a child, and the segments about the production of his play (especially the weird, unexplained comment by the director about the author's daughter.)
Silly typos and omissions. Really, too many. But the story of Mary Sherman Morgan was what kept me reading. That was good stuff.
I thought the pace got too slow toward the end, but all things considered, this is exactly the kind of book that makes me enjoy non-fiction so much. AI thought the pace got too slow toward the end, but all things considered, this is exactly the kind of book that makes me enjoy non-fiction so much. A great story. And I learned a lot. I found that my mouth dropped open a few times while reading this book, thinking I can't believe that really happened. It is amazing how much has happened (and does happen) in the medical field that we are completely unaware of.
So, it was eye-opening. (All the way through the afterword... don't skip that!) And it makes you aware of how much we take for granted....more
I have a degree in chemistry and I love to read about chemistry and the history of chemistry. I was so excited when I heard about this book! UnfortunaI have a degree in chemistry and I love to read about chemistry and the history of chemistry. I was so excited when I heard about this book! Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment for me.
Let me start by saying that this book is NOT the story of how 17 molecules changed history. A simple look at the chapter titles will tell you that: 1. Peppers, Nutmeg, and Cloves 2. Ascorbic Acid 3. Glucose 4. Cellulose 5. Nitro Compounds 6. Silk and Nylon 7. Phenol 8. Isoprene 9. Dyes 10. Wonder Drugs 11. The Pill 12. Molecules of Witchcraft 13. Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine 14. Oleic Acid 15. Salt 16. Chlorocarbon Compounds 17. Molecules Versus Malaria
The authors admit, in their introduction, that most of the book is about groups of molecules rather than specific molecules. I figured maybe this wasn't such a big deal, so I decided to try reading it anyway.
I read the first 5 chapters (about 100 pages) and was just bored with it. The story about Napoleon's Buttons was conveyed in the introduction, and none of the other stories were even close to interesting. The chapters focused primarily on the *development* of the molecules themselves and, while the authors were careful to make their point that the molecule(s) did in fact change history, the stories they told to support that claim were flat, underdeveloped, and uninteresting.
Here is an example of what seemed to be a typical chapter, the chapter about glucose:
First, one quickly discovers that even some of the chapters named for a single molecule turn into a discussion of related molecules. That is true for this chapter. Besides the fact that a large portion of the chapter is devoted to topics such as "Sweet Chemistry" (which necessarily involves molecules besides glucose,) it only took the authors two paragraphs to start discussing sucrose. They give precedence to glucose, however, because it is a component of sucrose... even though the two are technically different molecules.
Among other things, they go on to discuss the slave-supported sugar industry (which would have been the sugar called sucrose) and how that industry changed the world. The idea, at the end of the chapter is this: we eat a lot of sugar, we have a lot of health problems because of sugar, it is a commodity that greatly affects economies around the world, it has (and does) relied on slave labor for its production: So, as you can clearly see, it has changed history.
Really? How many things can we NOT make such general statements about?
This book has given me so many things to think about. Its primary strength is pointing out the fallacies embraced by Western culture that make peopleThis book has given me so many things to think about. Its primary strength is pointing out the fallacies embraced by Western culture that make people resistant to the gospel, and the changes that need to happen within the Church to effectively address the culture.
The points that made the biggest impact on me were: 1. rejection of the idea that humans can separate their public witness from their private beliefs.
2. identification of the flaws in the western plausibility structure which is based on scientific proof devoid of purpose.
3. comparison of the ideals of capitalism and socialism, and their inability to bring about the freedom or equality that its champions endeavor to create. Rather, Newbigin explains how both of these ideals are met through the relatedness we are called to in Christ.
4. a 7-point list of what must happen for the Church to effectively challenge Western culture. Some of these points might be quite disconcerting to some. (I can hear many people's objections to them now.)
5. portrayal of the Church as a whole, and how this relates to the pervasive (and dangerous) belief among Western Christians that the manifestation of truth in their experience is, in actuality, The Truth.
I have a book of quotes that I keep, in which I write worthwhile passages from the books I am reading. While reading this book, I gave up writing, and started attaching photocopied paragraphs.
I think this book needs to be read by anyone who is serious about engaging our culture with the gospel. Unfortunately, many of the Christians who need to be engaging that culture are fast becoming victims of it, and probably wouldn't even attempt to read a book like this one. So, if you are like me, you will read this book and be convicted as well as enlightened... but you will probably also be grieved at the number of Christians you can find who even see how important these ideas are....more
In the prologue to this book, George Johnson writes:
"Science in the twenty-first century has become industrialized.... But until very recently the mosIn the prologue to this book, George Johnson writes:
"Science in the twenty-first century has become industrialized.... But until very recently the most earthshaking science came from individual pairs of hands.... The great experiments that mark the edges of our understanding were most often performed by one or two scientists and usually on a tabletop. Computation, if there was any, was carried out on paper or later with a slide rule."
The experiments described in this book truly are beautiful - in part because of their amazing simplicity, and in part because of the creativity that was required of their designers to think them into existence.
Truly fun to read. After reading this book, I am left with a list of scientists whose experiments were described therein, or were simply mentioned in passing. I've 'read' about them all before in text books, but never really studied their lives or the experiments they did. Now I am excited to delve deeper into their stories....more
Tough to choose a star rating here. This book was poorly written, and I wonder if it was even edited. There were a lot of times when words in a sentenTough to choose a star rating here. This book was poorly written, and I wonder if it was even edited. There were a lot of times when words in a sentence were repeated or left out. Annoying.
These are the major ideas I took with me after reading the book: 1. Global climate data have been collected for only about the last 100 years. And in the earliest days, much of the data were collected from very few points around the globe. The idea that our climate is warming is based on data that represents an extremely small slice of our earth's history. In fact, such warming may be well within earth's natural climate fluctuations.
2. Water vapor is, by far (very, very far) the number one greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. It is the major player in both cloud formation and precipitation. Spencer says that precipitation is considered the least understood mechanism of weather, even by experts. So, the effects on global warming, of the most prevalent greenhouse gas, are totally unknown. It isn't even part of the models currently being used by global warming gurus.
3. The current models that are being used have to constantly be "tweaked" because they don't include parameters for all of the stabilizing effects that exist in the real atmosphere. These models don't keep track with current weather. This makes questionable their ability to predict future weather.
4. There is a bias in the science and politics of global warming as well as the funding of global warming research.
5. Global warming research, which is based on computer modeling, is not real science. We have no way to recreate something as huge as an atmosphere in the physical sense, so we have to make one in the theoretical sense. Traditional experimentation, therefore, is not possible. (This is not to say modeling doesn't have value, but the conclusions we draw from it cannot be relied upon as we would raw physical data.)
The first two points were new and very interesting to me to learn, though the actual science of it was difficult to grasp. (Water does crazy things, and it is hard to understand why it is doing what it does.)
The last three points are aspects of science which have interested me for a while. I think, to a greater degree than most people realize, there is a bias in all scientific work. Countless times in the course of scientific history, you can find examples of researchers who thought his data proved more than it really did. People devote their lives to this stuff. You can't overlook their emotional attachment.
The points about the reliability of modeling will always be debated, I suppose. Models just can't predict everything... and models which need to be continually tweaked to get them calibrated with reality are hardly reliable. The real rub, in my mind, is that these models don't include parameters for water vapor. That is stunning.
Having listed these points, which I think were excellent, I must say that the author's treatment of these topics is, at times, lacking. He cites no studies. He sometimes doesn't even name the scientists of whom he speaks in his stories. And he gives no bibliography. He states at the outset that he does not intend for the book to be a rehashing of data from all the studies. That's fine. But it would be nice if he would at least cite them so that someone would be able to verify his statements.
The author also has interesting, if repetitive, ideas about how economics and politics play into the global warming hysteria. Some of them are good to be reminded about, others I found just a little too trite.
Overall, I liked this book because it gave me some definite points to look into before I make my mind up one way or the other about man-made global warming. Unfortunately, I think I am going to have to go somewhere else if I am going to get a more rigorous treatment of this topic....more
More like 3 1/2 easy pieces. At least for me. The rest was more difficult. I think part of the problem is that this book was taken from his lectures,More like 3 1/2 easy pieces. At least for me. The rest was more difficult. I think part of the problem is that this book was taken from his lectures, where he was probably diagramming things as he spoke. And much can be gained from hearing the intonation of the speaker as well. Those things don't come across when you read the lecture.
Overall: Regarding the "pieces" I already have a firm grasp of, I found his points interesting. Regarding those that I didn't understand, I still don't understand them....more