I’m halfway through Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
However, his sanctimonious commentary is pissing me off, and there is also a lack of detail in the book.
A too detailed book would obviously be 10,000 pages long, if not longer, but I would like a bit more detail on each discovery (how it was done etc).
Basically, I’ve always liked the idea of creating a library of all human knowledge, so that if something atastrophic happened to humans, we could rebuild (I don’t think it will, but I think it would be nice).
The other idea I have always liked is of going back in time, to about the 1200’s, and teaching people all I know, enlightening them. The idea of a book that would let you not only enunciate the basic starting points of science, but also how they might be demonstrated is one that appeals to me (also Asimov’s stops in the 1980’s:p).
So is there a book which is:
[li]Up-to-date[/li][li]Lacking so much subjective commentary[/li][li]Contains enough detail to allow the basic experiments to be recreated[/li][li]Explains the basic (very basic obviousl) principles of science.[/li][/ul]
Sounds like you are advocating an Encyclopedia Galactica. Great idea! Dr. A would be proud.
The closest we’ve got to that now is Wikipedia. For all its flaws, I doubt a governmental agency or a single corporate entity could do better…TRM
You are hardly likely to manage with a single book. A good sized bookcase might get you a beginning. Might get you up to 101 level in the main sciences. Most sciences do have well know reference works, often written almost as a labour of love by an expert in the field. Sometimes they are favoured text books, manytimes just books that everyone has on their shelves. However often they are intended as modern references, so you do miss out on the historical context. In a fast moving field you actually want to keep the older editions when you update.
The usual problem is that popular science books are written with a wide audience in mind, and they almost all avoid even the simplest mathematics. For all intents and purposes, if you can’t allow calculus, linear algebra, formal logic, and statistics in the work you may as well pack up and go home. There is no way you can meet the goal “Contains enough detail to allow the basic experiments to be recreated”. And that goes for any science of up to about 100 years ago. Most of what there is in the last 100 years is going to need a whole slew more mathematics.
When you first go to school you get books like “All about science” and “Everything you ever wanted to know about science”. In high school you got books like “A complete guide to …”, in first year undergraduate university you got “Basic …”, later you got “Fundamentals of …” and in grad school you see “Introductory principles of …”
Sadly, most people want “All about …”
They want to know about ellipses?
*The Discoverers *by Daniel Boorstin and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson are two to consider.