Did you know that the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space; or that Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3) came from India; or that Descartes thought up letters (a, b, c, and x) for use in algebra; or that William Bateson coined the word ‘genetics’? Did you know that there are five million trillion trillion bacteria on earth – give or take a few?Every few pages William Bynum gives you a choice factoid that’s Quite Interesting – as long as you remember to write it down straight away before it fades. Reading this Little History right through is like sitting in a Chinese restaurant with one of those long menus and ordering a portion of everything listed. Quite soon discrimination fades and the march of history seems relentless.
An indiscriminate but interesting view of history
A Little History of Science
by William Bynum
Yale University Press (Inbooks), $32.95 hb, 269 pp, 9780300136593
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Robyn Williams has presented The Science Show on ABC Radio National since 1975. His last book was Future Perfect (2007) and, before that, Unintelligent Design (2006). He is a visiting professor at several universities.
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