The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments

George Johnson
The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments book


Published price: US$ 49.95

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Introduced by Michael Brooks.

Quarter-bound in buckram with Modigliani paper sides.

Set in Iowan Oldstyle.

184 pages with 15 integrated black & white illustrations and 16 pages of colour and black & white plates.

Book size: 9" × 5¾".


3/5 from 2 Reviews

The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments

‘Delightful, succinct and elegant’

'Until very recently the most earthshaking science came from individual pairs of hands. From a single mind confronting the unknown.’ George Johnson’s superb science book, first published in 2008, is an exploration less of the scientist who stands behind a discovery, than the method which led to it. Experiments are the crucial steps in the scientific method, enabling us to decide between competing hypotheses to prove our conjectures. Johnson selects ten experiments that posed questions to the universe and found answers. Each is designed with such elegant simplicity that it deserves the term ‘beautiful’.

Galileo is most famous for his astronomical observations, but his rigour in devising an experiment to determine the uniform acceleration of a falling body is, in some ways, the greater achievement. The myth reports him standing on top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to drop a cannonball and a musket ball, but the actual experiment was far more cleverly thought out, (although Johnson adds the delightful detail that he may have sung to keep time accurately). William Harvey devised a simple experiment that anyone could carry out to prove circulation of the blood – applying a tourniquet; while Isaac Newton was prepared to thrust needles into his own eye to test for effects on his perception of light. The names of Lavoisier, Joule, Faraday, Galvani and Pavlov are well known, but the details of their experiments are not. Few non-scientists know of Michelson and Millikan, but their experiments on the speed of light and electrons underpin modern physics.

‘Johnson’s mix of the personal, the erudite and crystalline prose is — like the pull of gravity (see beautiful experiment number one) — an irresistible force’

Albert Einstein insisted that popular science writing is essential because, ‘Restricting the body of knowledge to a small group deadens the philosophical spirit of a people and leads to spiritual poverty.’ Written with zest, clarity and a passion for the genius behind each discovery, Johnson’s book is a source of inspiration and pleasure for all readers. Lavishly illustrated and containing a new introduction from fellow science writer Michael Brooks, this book makes the perfect introduction to ten defining moments in human intellectual discovery.

‘In this homage to ten curious souls, George Johnson singles out efforts eloquent and profound’

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Review by falanke on 11th Aug 2013

Text: Illustrations: Binding: Rating:

"A brief but excellent introduction to the history of science, the book itself is another beautiful Folio production. Highlights include the bright yellow spine, the endpaper collage that spills over ..." [read more]

Review by johnbean9 on 18th Jun 2013

Text: Illustrations: Binding: Rating:

"What stands out the most is that this is a slender little chap. Don't let the "184 pages" listed above fool you - there are about 115 actual pages of text. That text is interesting, but each of the 10..." [read more]

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