The Folio Book of Science

Selected and introduced by Alice Roberts

The Folio Book of Science is the first anthology of science writing equally weighted between male and female authors, selected by scientist, author and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts.

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Discover some of the greatest and most influential science writing of all time with this wonderful collection of 24 illuminating articles. Selected by leading scientist, author and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts, it is the first anthology ever to be equally weighted between male and female authors, from Charles Darwin and Mary Somerville to Rachel Carson and Richard Feynman.

Production Details

Bound in cloth blocked with a design by Neil Gower

Set in Sirba

440 pages

Illustrated title-page and 24 black & white integrated illustrations

Printed endpapers

Blocked cloth slipcase

˝ x 6¼˝

Two dozen scientific giants and their genius

Coverage begins in antiquity, with Aristotle’s insights into animal anatomy and the Roman naturalist Pliny’s first-century musings on amber. In later eras, Leonardo da Vinci considers the courses of rivers, while Robert Hooke and Maria Sibylla Merian give contrasting perspectives on dead and living insects.  

Voices from the 18th century include French mathematician Emilie du Châtelet on the nature of fire, and Caroline Herschel, who describes her sightings of new comets. Renowned British scientist Mary Somerville examines the connections between the sciences, and we enjoy the pedagogic brilliance of Michael Faraday’s celebrated ‘Chemical History of a Candle’ (one of the earliest Royal Institution Christmas lectures for children). Charles Darwin succinctly presents his conclusion to his theory of evolution by natural selection, and ornithologist Florence Merriam Bailey gives her loving observations on ‘Birds Through an Opera Glass’.

Examples from more recent times include J. B. S. Haldane on being the right size; Rachel Carson on humanity’s obligation to the environment; Richard Dawkins considering the biology of selfishness and altruism; Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman eulogising the pleasures of intellectual and scientific discovery; and Carolyn Porco on NASA and the depths of space exploration.

Women of science overlooked by history

While including some of the most illustrious names from 24 centuries of scientific research and exploration, this book also casts a spotlight on the role and contribution of female scientists. It demonstrates that even if they were renowned during their lifetimes for their ground-breaking scholarship, history has often subsequently pushed them into the shadows of their male counterparts. Thought-provoking in their content and beautiful in their eloquence, the articles are drawn from every scientific discipline, ranging from the biological and physical sciences to geology and palaeontology. An unprecedented, eminently accessible tribute to the great scientists (of both sexes) throughout the ages.

The book is blocked with a pewter foiling, and its beautiful binding and attractive endpapers are adorned with a design by popular illustrator Neil Gower. The text is enhanced by black-and-white line diagrams and illustrations reproduced from the original essays, with the volume being housed in a magnificent blocked slipcase.

About Alice Roberts

Alice Roberts (born 1973) is a British anthropologist and anatomist, author and broadcaster, and Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham. She has written and presented numerous science and archaeology programmes on the BBC and Channel 4. Her popular science writing includes pieces for the Observer, Scientific American and The Conversation UK. She has written several popular science books, spanning biological and historical themes, often synthesising emerging discoveries in genetics and archaeology, including The Incredible Human Journey (2009), The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being (shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize; 2014) and Tamed: Ten Species that Changed our World (2017).


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