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Recommendation for a book on history of science

  1. May 12, 2015 #1
    I am looking for a book on the history of science. I do not want one that is targeted to 'general public', in the sense that I want it to be more towards the academic community, i.e. more deeply presented and cited, etc. Are there any recommendations?
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  3. May 12, 2015 #2


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  4. May 12, 2015 #3
    Does it have to be science, or are you also ok with mathematics?
  5. May 12, 2015 #4
    Both are fine. Apparently it is hard to separate them, for example Newton was both physicist and mathematician (at least from contribution point of view).
  6. May 13, 2015 #5


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    If that's the case, are you interested in the history of one particular science, or what? You should be as specific as possible here, not only because of the breadth of scientific inquiry, but because the history part covers a couple thousand years for some sciences.

    If you want to cover the whole of science with an academic reference, then you're not looking for a single book, but an encyclopedia.
  7. May 13, 2015 #6
    Right. I am looking for 'only' the past couple hundred years. As to what field, I am considering Physical Sciences mainly (i.e. excluding medicine). I would expect that, at least before the beginning of the last century, there was only 'physics' and 'math' to large extent.
  8. May 13, 2015 #7


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    I think you are overlooking quite a bit.

    Chemistry came on very strong during the 19th century, particularly with the development of organic chemistry, not to mention the discovery and isolation of various chemical elements. It's interesting how alchemy morphed gradually into scientific chemistry during the eighteenth century, and several important discoveries were made by earlier alchemists. (It's not generally realized, but Newton himself spent quite a bit of his free time dabbling with alchemy.)

    Astronomy and observation of the heavens are a couple of the oldest sciences, dating back to the Babylonians a couple thousand years ago.
  9. May 19, 2015 #8


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    when i have read histories of math say, they were much too condensed to follow well. so I prefer myself to read a historical scientific source work rather than a summary. so i enjoyed Einstein's papers, but often ones aimed at the general public as well as papers by other early 20th century physicists. I especially enjoyed the book A non mathematical survey of quanta, by Louis de Broglie. I also recommend Euclid, for the best possible historical source of much of modern mathematics, as well as Gauss's Disquisitiones Arithmeticae. and maybe Newton's Principia, also Euler's works on algebra and analysis. I also liked Georg Cantor's little book on transfinite numbers. I guess I am recommending you read the works that would be cited in a history of science, rather the history itself, since those earlier works are written by the masters.
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
  10. May 27, 2015 #9
    Philipp Frank, "Philosophy of Science".
  11. May 27, 2015 #10
  12. May 27, 2015 #11
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