Seeing Further: Ideas, Endeavours, Discoveries and Disputes — The Story of Science Through 350 Years of the Royal Society

Seeing Further: Ideas, Endeavours, Discoveries and Disputes — The Story of Science Through 350 Years of the Royal SocietyFrom The Royal Society, A Peerless Collection Of All New Science WritingBill Bryson, Who Explored All Or At Least A Great Deal Of Current Scientific Knowledge In A Short History Of Nearly Everything, Now Turns His Attention To The History Of That Knowledge As Editor Of Seeing Further, He Has Rounded Up An Extraordinary Roster Of Scientists Who Write And Writers Who Know Science In Order To Celebrate 350 Years Of The Royal Society, Britain S Scientific National Academy The Result Is An Encyclopedic Survey Of The History, Philosophy And Current State Of Science, Written In An Accessible And Inspiring Style By Some Of Today S Most Important Writers.The Contributors Include Margaret Atwood, Steve Jones, Richard Dawkins, James Gleick, Richard Holmes, And Neal Stephenson, Among Many Others, On Subjects Ranging From Metaphysics To Nuclear Physics, From The Threatened Endtimes Of Flu And Climate Change To Our Evolving Ideas About The Nature Of Time Itself, From The Hidden Mathematics That Rule The Universe To The Cosmological Principle That Guides Star Trek.The Collection Begins With A Brilliant Introduction From Bryson Himself, Who Says It Is Impossible To List All The Ways That The Royal Society Has Influenced The World, But You Can Get Some Idea By Typing In Royal Society As A Word Search In The Electronic Version Of The Dictionary Of National Biography That Produces 218 Pages Of Results 4,355 Entries, Nearly As Many As For The Church Of England At 4,500 And Considerably Than For The House Of Commons 3,124 Or House Of Lords 2,503 As This Book Shows, The Royal Society Not Only Produces The Best Scientists And Science, It Also Produces And Inspires The Very Best Science Writing From The Hardcover Edition.

William McGuire Bill Bryson, OBE, FRS was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951 He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.In The Lost Continent, Bil

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  • 413 pages
  • Seeing Further: Ideas, Endeavours, Discoveries and Disputes — The Story of Science Through 350 Years of the Royal Society
  • Bill Bryson
  • 19 October 2018

10 thoughts on “Seeing Further: Ideas, Endeavours, Discoveries and Disputes — The Story of Science Through 350 Years of the Royal Society

  1. says:

    I confess I only decided to check this book out of the library because I ve loved all of the other Bryson books I ve read Imagine my disappointment, then, when this is not a book by Bill Bryson, but one edited by him and he wrote the introduction.Writing about science is hard It s a delicate balance between providing enough information for the reader to follow along and providing too much information and either boring or confusing the reader Unfortunately, a lot of the essays did not hit that balance There s no good way to review this book except chapter by chapter Some were great, some were OK, some were forgettable, and some were so boring I wanted to claw my eyes out Bryson s introduction is blink and you ll miss it short and lacks the vibrancy of his normal writing.Chapter 1 At the beginning things in heaven and earthForgettable It s not the worst chapter, but without going back and skimming the chapter again, I found it had been utterly displaced in my mind by the good and bad from the rest of the book Summarizing some of the topics of conversation at Royal Society meetings, you learn that a a lot of what they talked about was boring, and b science has come a long way since then although I m sure they ll say the same thing about us in 500 years He does get bonus points for actually talking about the Royal Society, since most of the other chapters are o...

  2. says:

    I loved the opening by Bill Bryson, which as usual is at his best when he gets you excited about science and the people who brave it Like many other readers, I never realized though that this book is not actually by Bryson, and that he has only a small part in it The rest are essays of different levels of interest and quality I would have loved to learn about the Royal Society and its achievements through the last few centuries, but this is not what this book is about Feel a little cheated, actually I didn t like Margaret Atwood s essay and its message very much It may be intellectually bright, but it is an alarmist take on the dangers of science, with literature being drafted to strengthen the point I m not sure that the authors of the books mentioned in it would agree with this point, or others that Atwood makes As always, she takes it to the extremes It is true that science should be closely monitored by society to decide how best to use it, but to attack...

  3. says:

    This is a collection of essays written to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society of London, edited and curated by the omnipresent Bill Bryson The main attraction for me was that the essays, each focusing on a member of the Society, or a discovery, or on some aspect of its innumerable contributions to human knowledge, were written by a large cast authors like James Gleick, Margret Atwood, and Neal Stephenson rub shoulders with actual scientists and mathematicians like Richard Dawkins, Ian Stewart, and Gregory Benford This means there s a variety of perspectives, which is both good and bad My favorite was Stephenson s explanation of how superstar philosopher mathematician inventor general scientific badass Gottfried Leibniz s bizarre monad philosophy compared not only with archrival Isaac Newton s discoveries, but also with contemporary work into the nature of reality It s a perfect example of a talented author tackling a difficult subject I m not sure anyone knows exactly what Leibniz was thinking, but he s been ridiculed by everyone from Voltaire on down with style and thoughtfulness My other favorite was Dawkins essay on Darwin, which is a similarly good example of how to clearly explain exactly why a complicated idea not only makes sense, but explains the world better than its alternati...

  4. says:

    Rating 6 10This 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 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 th...

  5. says:

    This is a wonderful book and in my opinion we would all benefit from reading it Ostensibly it is the history of science and the Royal Society, an organisation started by scientists in 1660 becoming royal in 1662 after the granting of the royal charter to promote learning and understanding of the world and how that learning can benefit Mankind.The wonderful thing about the Royal Society is that it is about just that learning, understanding and, thankfully, advising those in power what might be the consequences of following certain paths this is particularly important now, with climate change very much on the agenda though much lower down the list of priorities than it should be The Royal Society does not care what racial background you enjoy, where you live or what religion or politics you favour, it is all about intelligence, learning, growing, developing, understanding and applying knowledge for the public good This means that it is independent than many organisations and tries hard not to represent any special interest groups unless you count ordinary human beings, so is an excellent example of the benign face of science practised for good, as opposed to our often held view nowadays of science as the reason we have nuclear weapons and are ruining our planet ...

  6. says:

    In 350 years, the Royal Society has had a mere 8,200 members, but what a roll call of names In 2010, the Royal Society celebrated its 350th birthday Its official foundation date is 28 November 1660, when a group of twelve men met at Gresham College after a lecture by Christopher Wren, then the Gresham Professor of Astronomy This group of men, who included Robert Boyle, John Wilkins, Sir Robert Moray, and William, Viscount Brouncker, decided to found a Colledge for the Promoting of Physico Mathematicall Experimentall Learning.The Society was to meet weekly to witness experiments and discuss scientific topics The first Curator of Experiments was Robert Hooke Sir Robert Moray told Charles II of this venture, and the Society obtained its first Royal Charter in 1662 In the second Royal Charter of 1663 the Society is referred to as The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge Science is an unending quest as its frontiers advance, new mysteries come into focus just beyond those frontiers This collection of essays celebrates the existence and achievements of the Royal Society More than 80 Nobel Laureates have been members of the Royal Society, and its members have included Isaac Newton, Benjamin Fr...

  7. says:

    Cambridge, Seeing Further , Royal Society , , , , , , 19 Global Warming , , , .

  8. says:

    Physically, this is a magnificent book, beautifully produced on high quality paper, well illustrated, and a fitting celebration of the Royal Society s 350th year of existence Intellectually, though, it is hard to know quite what to make of it In 22 short contributions, science popularisers rub shoulders with authors of science fiction and Fellows of the Royal Society, covering topics that range from fanciful speculation to serious science, with than a smattering of history All of the contributors write well, and the result is an enjoyable light read The only equations appear in the contribution from John Barrow The book is, in short, just what you would expect from a volume edited by Bill Bryson But I yearned for scientific meat, as would surely have been appropriate to the occasion Even on its own terms, there is one glaring omission in the book Seeing Further begins with the first formal meeting of what became the Royal Society, on 28 November 1660 But it offers no explanation of how or why the particular group of gentleman gathered at Gresham College in London that day, after a time of profound turmoil in British Society, decided to form a Colledge for the Promoting of Physico Mat...

  9. says:

    This is a series of essays tied in some cases loosely to the Royal Society I found several of the essays fascinating In the first half I was particularly interested in those that discussed the development of scientific thinking and the impact that thinking had on the rest of the world Unfortunately some were less fascinating e.g the rise npi of ballooning There were also quite a few on the theme of current problems of global warming and its impact on the oceans life etc Whi...

  10. says:

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