Search Loading suggestions...


UK Publisher: Penguin

From our first realization that Earth was not the centre of the cosmos and that human beings are just one species of animal among many, to the Big Bang theory and the sub-microscopic study of the molecules that make us human, the incredible discoveries and inventions of scientists over the past 450 years have changed the way we see the universe – and ourselves.

In this book, John Gribbin tells the story of the people who made science and the turbulent times they lived in. As well as famous figures such as Copernicus, Darwin and Einstein, there are also the obscure, the eccentric, even the mad. This diverse cast includes, among others, Andreas Vesalius, landmark 16th-century anatomist and secret grave-robber; the flamboyant Galileo, accused of heresy for his ideas; the obsessive, competitive Newton, who wrote his rivals out of the history books; Gregor Mendel, the Moravian monk who founded modern genetics; and Louis Agassiz, so determined to prove the existence of ice ages that he marched his colleagues up a mountain to show them the evidence.

Although we tend to think of science in terms of unique geniuses, here John Gribbin shows that more often it involves ordinary people building step by step on the progress of previous generations – not out of lust for glory, but to satisfy their own intense curiosity about how the world works.