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History of Science




Publication Date

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Antimony, Gold, and Jupiter's Wolf: How the elements were named


Peter Wothers

November 2019

How did the elements get their names? The origins of californium may be obvious, but what about oxygen? Investigating their origins takes Peter Wothers deep into history. Drawing on a wide variety of original sources, he brings to light the astonishing, the unusual, and the downright weird origins behind the element names we take for granted.

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The Spirit of Inquiry: How one extraordinary society shaped modern science


Susannah Gibson

February 2019

Despite its modest size the Cambridge Philosophical Society has played a monumental role in the history of science. To mark the bicentenary of its founding in 1819, Susannah Gibson gives a vivid account of the illustrious (and sometimes eccentric) members of the society, their breakthrough discoveries, and the forging of modern science.

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The Ascent of John Tyndall: Victorian Scientist, Mountaineer, and Public Intellectual


Roland Jackson

March 2018

John Tyndall was a leading scientific figure in Victorian Britain, who established the physical basis of the greenhouse effect, and why the sky is blue. This rich biography describes the colourful life and achievements of this brilliant communicator, physicist, and mountaineer, who ascended from humble beginnings to the heart of Victorian society.

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The History of Physics: A Very Short Introduction


J. L. Heilbron

January 2018

Very Short Introductions

How does the physics we know today - a highly professionalised enterprise, inextricably linked to government and industry - link back to its origins as a liberal art in Ancient Greece? John Heilbron's crisp and witty book tells the 2500-year story and highlights the implications for humankind's self-understanding.

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Jonas Salk: A Life


Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs

January 2018

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Heredity: A Very Short Introduction


John Waller

August 2017

Very Short Introductions

John Waller describes the changing ideas concerning heredity from antiquity to the modern biological understanding, considering both the efforts over the centuries to identify the physiological mechanisms involved and how views of heredity have been used to justify or condemn inequalities of class, gender, and race.

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Navigation: A Very Short Introduction


Jim Bennett

February 2017

Very Short Introductions

Looking at the long history of navigation at sea, Jim Bennett discusses the scientific and technological developments that have enabled the accurate measurement of position and setting of directions in the oceans.

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The Quantum Story: A history in 40 moments


Jim Baggott

April 2016

Utterly beautiful. Profoundly disconcerting. Quantum theory is quite simply the most successful account of the physical universe ever devised. The pursuit of its implications has been the driving motivation of physicists for 100 years. Jim Baggott traces the story, the personalities and the rivalries, through 40 turning-point moments.

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