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The Nature of Science: An A-Z Guide to the Laws and Principles Governing Our Universe – Review by Kenneth Ellman

A handbook of Scientific Thought, Wells would have loved it.

I have found “The Nature of Science” to be a wonderful handbook of scientific history, thought and theories. The book is in actuality a miniature Encyclopedia of Scientific Thought of 464 pages, wherein a great variety of established theories and their creators are described and explained in detail. It is not a textbook but a handbook of established scientific ideas spanning Physics, Medicine, Astronomy, Mathematics, Computer Science, Optics, Biology and etc. The book contains hundreds of monographs on theories with background information of the creator of the ideas. Additionally there is a Glossary, Index, Table of Contents. For example the monograph entitled “Cell Theory” spans time from 1663 to 1995, with direct commentary on Schleiden, Schwann and Virchow. It refers you to a separate monograph entitled “Molecular Biology”, which also refers you to another monograph entitled “Mendel’s Laws” and on and on. It does “Cell Theory” in one straightforward page! So what this book gives you is a great variety of individual monographs and then it ties them into each other for more intensive reading and education, with time lines and biographical information. You will also find generalized/philosophical concepts such as the description of “Murphy’s Law” which in part reads:

“Of course Murphy’s “Law” is not a law in the sense in which that word is used elsewhere in this book. It has not, in other words, been put through the rigorous testing required by the scientific method. Nonetheless, it is a comforting bit of folk wisdom we can all use to help us get through those times when life just doesn’t want to cooperate with us.”

This little book is amply illustrated with photographs and charts and tables. It has a 24 page Introduction and Preface and then your launched into world after world of ideas. Use this book as an educational, testing and training aid in that you can ask page by page for an explanation of the ideas denominated/titled in this book and then compare your answers and knowledge with what is written within. Kind of a super flash card challenge. If you learn all the contents or even part of it, you will have a mind able to engage in discussions and have insights into a reality that escapes many people concerned with the noise and nonsense of the day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you walked into a room and found your children and their friends playing a game and keeping score of who can answer and explain the title of each monograph. ” OK, your turn, what is the Chandrasekhar Limit”?
Next Sally, what is the BCS Theory of Superconductivity? Now John, explain Kepler’s Laws. Each child gets points for how close their answer is to the explanation in the book. As a parent you could walk away thinking you just saw a scene from a science fiction movie. But it would be wonderful. In any case buy this book for your children and give them an incentive to read and learn it all. Better than a video game or tv program garbage.
By the way, Yes, there may be some small errata as described by other reviewers such as the chart of Leptons on page 372. But how interesting it would be if you heard your children debating such possible error and one of them said:
“I don’t think it is an error as associated with each charged Lepton is a neutral Lepton and so if the chart is thought of in that manner then it is correct. ”
You would wonder what happened to your children and walk out of the room in a daze. Make the competition interesting in that each child can total up their points and cash them in with you as the bank!! Better then the multitude of computers, television screens, movies and degradation surrounding your children. Thank you Mr. Trefil for this small, handy and interesting book . Kenneth Ellman,, Box 18, Newton, New Jersey 07860