When Lucretius pondered the “ceaseless motion” of atoms, he inscribed ancient science in lapidary poetry. But Bauer identifies Lucretius as but one link in a long chain of gifted writers who have explored scientific horizons, even if they have not themselves done science. Beginning with Hippocrates’ distillation of Thales’ theorizing about water, Bauer introduces readers to the early Greek writers—including Aristotle and Archimedes—who first ventured rational accounts of natural phenomena. She then turns to the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century writers (including Bacon, Galileo, and Newton) who laid out their revolutionary investigative methodology. Finally, readers visit writers who have invited readers into the modern science explaining geology, biology, and the cosmos. To be sure, a world where scientists such as Lyell and Darwin could write for their colleagues in a language understood by a broader audience is gone. But so long as writers such as Hoyle, Weinberg, and even Einstein can still translate their work into the vernacular, general readers will share the intellectual adventure of science. An engaging compendium for serious science students.
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