The Big Idea

How Breakthroughs of the Past Shape the Future

By National Geographic; Timothy Ferris (Foreword by)
National Geographic Society, Hardcover, 9781426208102, 319pp.

Publication Date: September 6, 2011

List Price: $35.00*
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Description

From the Pythagorean theorem to DNA's double helix, from the discovery of microscopic life-forms to the theory of relativity—the big ideas of science and technology shape an era's worldview. Open this book, grasp the newest ideas from thought leaders of today, then spring off from them to move back through the past, one big idea at a time. Meet the people who gave birth to these ideas—and those who fought against them. Meet the MIT electrical engineer currently developing a way to turn on the lights cordlessly, then move back through Nikola Tesla's visionary concept of the wireless transfer of energy, Thomas Edison's groundbreaking work in developing a nationwide electrical grid, Ben Franklin's experiments to capture electricity, all the way back to ancient Greece, where Thales of Miletus described static electricity as a property of naturally occurring amber.
 
Ingeniously organized and eminently browsable, this richly visual volume is divided into six big sections—medicine, transportation, communication, biology, chemistry, and the environment. Words and images that work together to explain such fascinating and elusive subjects as cloud computing, sunshields to cool the Earth, and self-driving cars. What did it take to get to these futuristic realities? Then, turn the page and follow a reverse-chronological illustrated time line of science and technology. This remarkable illustrated history tells the story of every Big Idea in our history, seen through the lens of where science is taking us today - and tomorrow.
 
With an irresistibly cutting-edge look and original illustrations created by award-winning Ashby Design, paired with the reliable authority and comprehensiveness that National Geographic's world history books always offer, this is a one-of-a-kind trip to the future and back through all time all in one.




About the Author
National Geographic is a renowned authority in cartographic excellence. For 119 years the Society's maps have helped spread geographic knowledge around the globe. A vast database allows National Geographic to combine the latest data gained by space-age technology with innovative digital mapping techniques to create state-of-the-art political, physical, and thematic maps. The Society's meticulous research and attention to detail have established a standard of achievement that is unparalleled.

Timothy Ferris's works include Seeing in the Dark, The Mind's Sky (both New York Times best books of the year), and The Whole Shebang (listed by American Scientist as one of the one hundred most influential books of the twentieth century). A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Ferris has taught in five disciplines at four universities. He is an emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a former editor of Rolling Stone. His articles and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, National Geographic, Scientific American, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, and many other publications. A contributor to CNN and National Public Radio, Ferris has made three prime-time PBS television specials: The Creation of the Universe, Life Beyond Earth, and Seeing in the Dark. He lives in San Francisco.



Praise For The Big Idea

"A fun read for anyone interested in how ideas connect together over time." --whatever.scalzi.com

"A big, pretty, information-dense book [to get] geeked out about." –Whatever.scalzi.com

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