Skip to main content

Cosmic Imagery: key images in the history of science – John D. Barrow *****

This lavishly illustrated book is a must-have, not just for the beautiful pictures within it, but for Barrow’s spectacular commentary on the significance of the diagrams, images, and illustrations it contains, and how they have helped to shape science and mathematics over the centuries.
As you may expect there are many pictures in the book from the field of astronomy, which have given us significant insights in to how our Universe works – such as the Hubble Deep Field image of some of the earliest known galaxies. But what is slightly less obvious is the link that Barrow makes between the Earl of Rosse’s famous drawings of the Whirlpool Galaxy, which he made with the famous Leviathan telescope, and the way these drawings probably inspired the swirling night sky in Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’. This is where Barrow succeeds in making this an engrossing read in drawing out the boarder significance of the scientific discoveries he looks at.
The book is a mixture of the things you may well expect in a title of this sort; Crick and Watson’s first sketch of the structure of DNA, the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram of stellar evolution, Hooke’s drawing of a flea as seen under his microscope, etc. and the unexpected – a picture showing quantum entanglement, the first ever graph, the symbol for infinity and its religious connotations.
This is an extremely well written work. Barrow’s writing adds tremendously to the amazing images within the book making it eminently readable for expert and layman alike. I would say it is arguable that this is one of the best popular science books ever written.

Paperback:  
Using these links earns us commission at no cost to you
Review by Scotty_73

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The God Game (SF) - Danny Tobey *****

Wow. I'm not sure I've ever read a book that was quite such an adrenaline rush - certainly it has been a long time since I've read a science fiction title which has kept me wanting to get back to it and read more so fiercely. 

In some ways, what we have here is a cyber-SF equivalent of Stephen King's It. A bunch of misfit American high school students face a remarkably powerful evil adversary - though in this case, at the beginning, their foe appears to be able to transform their worlds for the better.

Rather than a supernatural evil, the students take on a rogue AI computer game that thinks it is a god - and has the powers to back its belief. Playing the game is a mix of a virtual reality adventure like Pokemon Go and a real world treasure hunt. Players can get rewards for carrying out tasks - delivering a parcel, for example, which can be used to buy favours, abilities in the game and real objects. But once you are in the game, it doesn't want to let you go and is …

Peter Wothers - Four Way Interview

Dr Peter Wothers is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow and Director of Studies in Chemistry at St Catharine's College. He is heavily involved in promoting chemistry to young students and members of the public, and, in 2010, created the popular Cambridge Chemistry Challenge competition for students in the UK. Peter is known nationally and internationally for his demonstration lectures and presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, titled The Modern Alchemist, in 2012. In 2014, he was awarded an M.B.E. for Services to Chemistry in the Queen's Birthday Honours.. His new book is Antimony, Gold and Jupiter's Wolf.

Why chemistry?

I’ve been pretty much obsessed with chemistry from about the age of 8.  I built up quite a substantial home laboratory with all sorts of things that are (quite rightly) banned now (such as white phosphorus) and also used to go to second-hand bookshops to find chemistry texts.  Eventually I boug…

Where are the chemistry popular science books?

by Brian Clegg
There has never been more emphasis on the importance of public engagement. We need both to encourage a deeper interest in science and to counter anti-scientific views that seem to go hand-in-hand with some types of politics. Getting the public interested in science both helps recruit new scientists of the future and spreads an understanding of why an area of scientific research deserves funding. Yet it is possible that chemistry lags behind the other sciences in outreach. As a science writer, and editor of this website, I believe that chemistry is under-represented in popular science. I'd like to establish if this is the case, if so why it is happening - and what can be done to change things. 


An easy straw poll is provided by the topic tags on the site. At the time of writing, there are 22 books under 'chemistry' as opposed to 97 maths, 126 biology and 182 physics. The distribution is inevitably influenced by editorial bias - but as the editor, I can confirm …