A Brief History of Science

As Seen Through the Development of Scientific Instruments

By Thomas Crump
(Running Press, Hardcover, 9780786709076, 384pp.)

Publication Date: November 2001

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Description

From the gnomons and sundials of ancient times to the 26-kilometer underground particle accelerator of the twenty-first century, this fascinating and enlightening volume by mathematician and anthropologist Thomas Crump shows how science has continually redefined the world’s horizons, extended the frontiers of knowledge, and advanced human civilization. With sixteen pages of photographs, and vivid vignettes of scientists and their inventions, Crump guides readers through early attempts to measure time and space—from astronomical charts and calendars to Arabic numerals and algebraic notation—before he examines the birth of an essentially modern technology in the 1600s. With Galileo’s telescopic exploration of the skies at the beginning of the seventeenth century and Newton’s experiments with the prism and light at its end, the optical instruments fundamental to all scientific research had been invented. Crump then proceeds to electromagnets, cathode tubes, thermometers, vacuum pumps, X rays, accelerators, semiconductors, microprocessors, and instruments currently being designed to operate in subzero temperatures. Here, then, in an accessible, succinctly narrated volume, is the enduring human quest for knowledge through technology. Here, too, is the proof that what is knowable is, and has always been, far more compelling than what is known. “[Crump] provides lively summaries of the progress in different fields, and succeeds in breathing new life into familiar stories.”—The Economist “Fascinating reading.”—Publishers Weekly

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