Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Living adventures in Science by Henry Thomas and Dana Lee Thomas

Note: I couldn't find the original cover picture, and my book has a green cover with nothing on it...

Book Summary (from of the book)

The story of men who struggled to add to the domain of scientific knowledge is a drama that surpasses the ordinary invention of fiction. Out of the efforts of these daring men has evolved our modern world –our freedom from disease, our ease of communication, the most powerful weapon against the forces of nature.

In these stories of twenty-five vital discoveries, the Thomases place their emphasis upon the great accomplishment, but never lose sight of the man whose spirit was the prime mover. There is the tale of Major John Wesley Powell, the one-armed scientist who shot rapids of the Grand Canyon in a rowboat; of John Lloyd Stephens, who searched the jungles of Central America for the buried grandeur of the ancient Mayan civilization; of Alfred Russel Wallace, who navigated the crocodile-ridden waters of the Orinoco; of the men who struggled to climb Mount Everest; and of the men in the laboratories –the Curies, Roentgen, Baekeland- whose experiments into other unknown worlds were no less exciting. 
The Thomases have chosen a representative band of scientist; there are astronomers, explorers, archaeologists, inventors, doctors and artists. Each chapter is a lesson in personal courage, a narrative of victory over great odds, an illustration of what man has accomplished in his quest for knowledge. 

My Review

I got this book on the Public Library sale. The premise was good, adventures in science. Plus the books was really old looking and I loved the old book smell (is tie for me between that and new book smell). But somehow it ended up in the library and I started other books. So the other day, when I finished Game of Thrones I saw the book again, and decided it was time to read it.

It started nicely, the introduction left me with a nice phrase to start my reading:

               Practically every scrap of knowledge has been bought with human agony

You see, as a scientist, I know what that agony is all about, is a bitter sweet pain when you spend the whole day in the lab, and at the end you only have one tiny result, but oh boy, you love that result. And then I kept reading, and started learning, I learned that James Watt learned German, only so he could learn subjects in the original language; I learned that Louis Pasteur was the type of kid teachers sometimes dislike because they make questions, questions they cannot answer; I learn that poor Dr Noguchi worked and partied hard…but I also learned that there was only one woman who made it into this book, and that was Madame Curie…although her chapter was dedicated both to her and her husband.

It started as a nice book, but then…it wasn’t so adventurous. So I started having trouble reading it. I was really looking forward the Curie chapter, thinking it would show more about Mme Curie…but no.

So this is a short review for a book that took me long to read. I didn’t dislike the book…I just had bigger expectations for it. I mean, it was a book from 1954, so I knew it wouldn’t have 24/25 female based chapters…but half? And then, let’s face it, it wasn’t very adventurous, except for a couple of them (archeologists, pfff crazy people). So…that’s why this book is not getting high marks in my review. 

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