Every school child has delighted at the shimmering rainbow formed by sunlight passing through a glass prism. Yet few students or scientists have read Isaac Newton’s original text explaining how prisms work and why rainbows form in the sky. The Scientific Literature: A Guided Tour includes an extended excerpt from Newton’s ground-breaking article, along with extended excerpts from over 100 articles representing the broad sweep of discoveries in the modern sciences from their beginnings to the present day. It also includes 60 tables and illustrations—so vital to scientific communication as supplements and complements to text. Accompanying these excerpts, tables, and illustrations are commentaries explaining their scientific and historical context and analyzing their communicative strategies. This book permits the general reader both to read about and to re-experience the development of modern science.
You can read this book in two ways. You can consult the detailed table of contents and zero in on only those discoveries or scientists that strike your fancy. In this reading, The Scientific Literature acts as an anthology of scientific literature meant to be comprehensible to non-specialists. Or you can read it in the traditional way, front to back. In that reading, you will learn the story behind what the very first scientific articles and journals were like, and how they have changed over the centuries. Appended you will find not only the usual bibliographic information, especially world wide web sources to whole articles we have excerpted, but also an extensive listing of key books relevant to science studies.
This book aims at the general reader interested in science, at scientists interested in their literary legacy, and at students and teachers of science studies who are looking for an accessible treatment of the sweep and depth of scientific thinking and writing over the last four centuries.