Bill 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 more 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.
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The Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, and has been at the forefront of enquiry and discovery since its foundation in 1660.
The backbone of the Society is its Fellowship of the most eminent scientists of the day, elected by peer review for life and entitled to use FRS after their name. There are currently more than 60 Nobel Laureates amongst the Society’s approximately 1400 Fellows and Foreign Members.
The Royal Society’s website can be found at www.royalsociety.org.