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Galileo's Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science
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Galileo's Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  349 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Why Galileo's finger? Galileo, one of whose fingers is preserved in a vessel displayed in Florence, provided much of the impetus for modern science, pointing the way out of medieval ignorance. In this brilliant account of the central ideas of contemporary science, Peter Atkins celebrates the effectiveness of Galileo's symbolic finger for revealing the nature of our univers ...more
Paperback, 388 pages
Published September 16th 2004 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2003)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Information is immortal, and information is ruthlessly selfish.
Absolutely brilliant. Atkins' explanation of elemental emplacement within the Periodic Table, the aesthetic potencies of Symmetry, and the pretzel-form conundrums of Spacetime are superb, while his presentation of electron shells and Atomic structure within the waveform/particle duality that defines the essence of Quanta is the best and clearest I have ever come across. And that's without mentioning the one-two punch of Evolution
Plamen H.
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

В днешно време, особено в България, е трудно човек да се натъкне на качествено четиво на ниска цена. Да се пресегнеш към рафта с научно-популярна литература в книжарницата и да вземеш в ръка обемна и интересна книга с цена под 15 лева е като да играеш на ротативка и да спечелиш с първата пусната монета - случва се, но много рядко.
Затова имах късмета да пропусна упражнението с ровичкането в книжарниците и да ми бъде препоръчана "Пръстът на Галилей" ("
Tulpesh Patel
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, pop-science
Galileo’s Finger is based around 10 great ideas of science that have emerged since the time of Galileo and covers evolutionary theory, genetics chemistry, quantum theory, cosmology and mathematics. Prof Atkins distils these grand, far-reaching ideas into three or four potent words (something which I found an admirable feat in itself) and then proceeds to unpack beauty of the scientific thinking and discovery behind it.

I have stated my admiration for Prof Peter Atkin’s way with words before http:
Feb 26, 2009 rated it liked it
I may have under-rated this tour of the greatest scientific ideas. Having just finished my course on Great Ideas, I see just how hard it is to write something like this, even when you are teaching students with a good general background. You could of course use one of those gee whiz books which seriously distort scientific discovery to draw out some insane metaphor that makes no sense: women are waves men are particles? Atkins doesn't do that. My quibbles: no Newtonian gravity, no discovery of a ...more
Dec 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Detailed explanations for laymen of everything from arithmetic and DNA to quantum mechanics and spacetime. Some take rereading to really get it, others you'll never get. As renowned physicist Richard Feyneman said, "If anyone claims to know what quantum theory is all about, they haven't understood it.
Bill Bogert
Nov 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Before I read this book, I did not grasp the beauty of science, always preferred meaning to non-meaning. This book changed all that.
Gennady Polonetsky
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Pure science in understoodable way
مديحة حوري
الطاقة-الزمكان-الأنتروبيا-نشوء الفهم-الذرة
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book ! 10 Science ideas that should be taught at school. Those subjects are important for everyone to learn, at least the general ideas. I recommend this book !
Roberto Rigolin F Lopes
Say you just arrived in Florence- Italy and headed to see Galileo’s finger at his museum. There, you also learned about his pioneer experiments and bought this book at the bookshop (yes, there are plenty of copies of this book there). Open it up. Peter is about to show Galileo’s fingerprints EVERYWHERE around you. You don't need to be in Florence to see it. He starts with the beginning of understanding using experiments, also called the scientific revolution. And goes through ten great ideas pro ...more
The hardcover edition that I'm reading has a different jacket design and contains 380 pages. On page 18, I have: "Brains are great consumers of energy, and it is a good idea to get rid of your brain when you discover you have no further need of it." and it may be appropriate to confirm to what extent the book is a part of a cartography experiment being carried out by the publishers; the quotation certainly sounds like a trafficking operation backed by God's Bankers (as indeed does the first para ...more
Manish Bajpayee
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At times it was difficult for me. But he writes so well. That i can start a discussion with my children about these topics
A fave book which i reread.
Tom Oman
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nothing groundbreaking but it was a nice little read through some well known scientific ideas and breakthroughs in their historical context.
Brian Turner
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Science !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aug 07, 2012 added it
By analyzing different kinds of brain damage, and the feelings associated with phantom limbs (people with missing limbs can still feel pain in those non-existent limbs), British neurologist Vilayanur Ramachandran concluded that the brain constructs cognitive maps that are, basically, plausible interpretations of the world. It is those maps that cause all mental life, starting from perception itself. The limb is no longer there, but its representation in the brain is still there, and thus the per ...more
David Plunkett
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I think the author's purpose was to inform the reader about how Galileo's ideas intertwine with science's ten great ideas. An example is when Mr. Atkins talks about space time and then tells all about Galileo's work in astronomy and his predictions about space time.

I believe the theme of this book is to inform and explain to the reader the ten great ideas of science and how important these ideas are in today's world. The author also tries to spark an interest in the mind of the reader to contin
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, science
On the sites that want you to give a star rating, I've given this a 5. I feel it's a 4.75, but, quite sensibly, they don't let you make such small fractions. The only reason I don't give it the full 5 stars is that there's a few diagrams where you can tell the book was originally printed in colour and not much thought was given the the shade of grey it becomes when you press the grey-scale button, there's a couple of places where an extra diagram would have been a good idea (the section on genet ...more
Sep 24, 2012 marked it as to-read
Page 1 "Prologue" Atkins seems to believe that the Scientific Method actually is used. "The procedure that gets taught as "The Scientific Method" is entirely misleading. Studying what scientists actually do is far more interesting." (

I find that how things are actually discovered is much more interesting than the story that is concocted later to make it sound logical. That was sufficient to cause me to set the book aside for a few years. Now I am putting
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I don't like reading about science, but II know so little about it. A reasonably comprehensible introduction to lots of current scientific thinking. I would have found a list of what was left out particularly helpful, since I lack the background knowledge to figure it out on my own.
Jan 07, 2008 rated it liked it
I like this one, but it may be a little much for some. P. Atkins is a famous author/editor of Physical Chemistry textbooks (if that's a hint). He writes well, but it can be dry. I'd suggest the Bill Bryson instead.
Brian Pinnock
Oct 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Good layman's guide
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not sure how he decided these were the ten, but mostly clear and interesting.
Michael Teague
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Not light reading.
Feb 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Peter Atkins is a very good writer. This book is about the Ten Great Ideas of Science. Atkins treatment of chemistry was particularly enjoyable - although quantum theory continues to evade.
Raymond Schiller
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
What is important in the science world. A scholarly tome and a thoughtful must read for science seekers.
Dec 17, 2008 marked it as to-read
My father got me this book and as soon as I'm done with some schoolwork I will read it. It looks good from what it says in the first pages, a review of the greatest ideas in science.
Luis Fernández
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Good book of scientific divulgation. It's about different subjects which, depending on your likes, may be hard to read.
Apr 29, 2009 is currently reading it
Life the Universe and Everthing, well sort of. Good all-round reminder about different areas of science, and not too heavy going.
Michael Windsor
rated it really liked it
Nov 25, 2020
Ewen Bailey
rated it really liked it
Feb 24, 2019
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Peter Atkins is a fellow of Lincoln College, University of Oxford and the author of about 70 books for students and a general audience. His texts are market leaders around the globe. A frequent lecturer in the United States and throughout the world, he has held visiting professor­ships in France, Israel, Japan, China, and New Zealand. He was the founding chairman of the Committee on Chemistry Educ ...more

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