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World History of Science

  1. Sep 3, 2012 #1
    Does anybody know of some good books on world history specific to science topics? I'm looking for a good overview from the dawn of civilization to today, though I'd be content with a history that merely goes to the beginning of the 20th century. Currently my best candidate is this: https://www.amazon.com/Science-Technology-World-History-ebook/dp/B00505RVIO/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1
    but I'm wondering if anybody knows of any other books that are particularly well known in the area of the history of the world specific to science doings, famous scientific figures, etc.

    I find the neglect of science history and famous science figures in traditional world/u.s. history classes disgusting. Honestly, this area of history is of such profound importance!.. It's such a tragedy that many laymen in the U.S. know Paul Revere but don't know who Leonhard Euler is..

    Edit** Also I've taken world history before, it doesn't have to be a complete view of world history with an emphasis on science, rather, I'm only interested in the history of science aspects for this purpose. The book I've included is what I'm looking for, I'm just interested if there's a better book out there that people know about along the same lines (though I'm not interested in nuance dynamics such as the interplay of science and technology like in this particular book.)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2012 #2


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    Hey dydxforsn.

    I have seen history books on 20th century mathematics and the associated mathematicians but not of any particular science.

    I'd imagine that a book even on 20th century science would be massive and fill many volumes. Did you want a specific sub-set of science or are you going all out?
  4. Sep 9, 2012 #3
    Hi Chiro, heh, well I'm wanting to go all out. It's true that the topic is actually QUITE robust, but they somehow found a way to shrink my world history textbook in college down to a manageable size, in a similar fashion I'm just looking for a book on world history of science reduced in detail such that it can be fit into a single textbook (or just a couple..)

    I'm trying to build up my scientific history repertoire such that I might better discuss arbitrary topics in life through this insightful lens. I know what one gathers about scientific history from standard undergraduate physics curriculum, but I would like a complete look at the subject in the same way that a world history textbook in college is a "complete" take on the subject of world history.

    The fact that this topic is not popular with responses tells me, interestingly, as much as many responses could have. It is a very neglected topic! Maybe I will be the one one day to write a respected and noteworthy treatment of this topic.

    Good, bridged treatments of 2 subjects in such a specialized world is always hard to track down :/

    And heh, a history of 20th century mathematics does sound interesting but I don't want to get distracted XD Though physics history would satisfy me.. Well really I guess I almost equate science and physics, especially historically, don't mean to be so semantically ambiguous in what I want, but I think people know that I'm just looking for a take on world history centered around the scientific peoples/ideas/events that are typically neglected in typical history texts.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012
  5. Sep 9, 2012 #4


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    I think I shied away from answering your question the other day because the two books I had in mind are fairly old, and I would consider them pop-science, and thought you might be looking for something more text-booky.

    Both books are based on extraordinary documentaries, IMHO:

    The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski
    Connections by James Burke
  6. Sep 9, 2012 #5


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    I would advise you to look for an encyclopedia that has an organized database specifically for science and its history.

    The electronic encyclopedias are absolutely huge nowadays (since we have enough storage space and bandwidth now) so if you can get an electronic encyclopedia with an index specifically outlining the history of science and its development, that would definitely be something to grab.
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