Seeing Further: The Story of Science & the Royal Society, edited by Bill Bryson
By TIM RADFORD - GUARDIAN.CO.UK
Added: Sat, 09 Jan 2010 00:00:00 UTC
In November 1660, the world was a mysterious place. There was no explanation for the rise and ebb of the tides. Air was a puzzling, invisible fluid with unexplained properties. There was no known way to measure the height of a mountain. Minerals were produced by "certain subterranean juices through veins of the earth".
A small group of men who began meeting at Gresham College that month and formed a society to promote experimental knowledge (the royal charter came in 1662; the first women fellows were elected in 1945) listened to strange reports from Iceland of smoking lakes and fire in the sea. They wondered why winter was colder than summer, and they speculated on the spontaneous generation of life in the absence of "certain seminal principles".
They did more than wonder: they experimented. They choked chickens, gagged fish, strangled dogs and dissected living cats. They transfused blood from a sheep to a human. They tried to imprison a spider inside a circle of powdered unicorn's horn. They also suffocated mice; but according to their first chronicler, they themselves breathed "a freer air" and conversed quietly "without being ingag'd in the passions, and madness of that dismal Age". These men lived in a world of plague, fire, war, public execution, witchcraft, alchemy, religious hatred, political ferment and precarious patronage: but they made it a rule to discuss neither God nor politics, nor news "other than what concern'd our business of Philosophy".
Stephen Cave - Financial Times Comments
What we really know about our evolutionary past – and what we don’t
Stacy L. Memering,Viviana A.... Comments
Magic at Every Age
A review of Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True
Andy Liegl - CBR (Comic Book... Comments
In front of a packed crowd during his panel titled "My Two Years with Dawkins, Christ and a Small Crab Called Eric" at Comic-Con International in San Diego, artist, writer and indie filmmaker Dave McKean recounted two recent life events on radically opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum: an all-ages book he illustrated with scientist and Atheism proponent Richard Dawkins called "The Magic of Reality," and a film he shot starring Michael Sheen in Port Talbot, Wales called "The Gospel of Us," a modern day interpretation of "The Passion" story chronicling Jesus Christ's final days of life on Earth.
Doctor Science - Obsidian Wings Comments
Last weekend I noticed two religion blogs, one Jewish and one evangelical (though not fundamentalist) Christian, discussing the same passages in the Bible: the ones commanding the Israelites to fight, slaughter, enslave, and dispossess the Canaanite inhabitants of the Land of Israel. To commit genocide, in fact.
Oliver Kamm - The Times Comments
Review of The Magic of Reality
John Gray - The Globe and Mail Comments
A review of The Future of Blasphemy Speaking of the Sacred in an Age of Human Rights
by Austin Dacey
MORE BY TIM RADFORD
Tim Radford - The Guardian 44 Comments
A brilliant introduction to science for children