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The Advance of Science in the Last Half-Century (Librivox Audiobook)

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Thomas H. Huxley, an English biologist and essayist, was an advocate of the theory of evolution and a self-proclaimed agnostic. A talented writer, his essays helped to popularize science in the 19th century, and he is credited with the quote, “Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” In The Advance of Science in the Last Half Century, he pre Thomas H. Huxley, an English biologist and essayist, was an advocate of the theory of evolution and a self-proclaimed agnostic. A talented writer, his essays helped to popularize science in the 19th century, and he is credited with the quote, “Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” In The Advance of Science in the Last Half Century, he presents a summary of the major developments in Physics, Chemistry and Biology during the period 1839-1889 and their impact on society, within the historical context of philosophical thought and scientific inquiry going back to Aristotle. Huxley’s clear and readable prose makes this subject equally enjoyable for both the student of scientific history and the casual listener alike. (Summary by J.M. Smallheer.)


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Thomas H. Huxley, an English biologist and essayist, was an advocate of the theory of evolution and a self-proclaimed agnostic. A talented writer, his essays helped to popularize science in the 19th century, and he is credited with the quote, “Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” In The Advance of Science in the Last Half Century, he pre Thomas H. Huxley, an English biologist and essayist, was an advocate of the theory of evolution and a self-proclaimed agnostic. A talented writer, his essays helped to popularize science in the 19th century, and he is credited with the quote, “Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” In The Advance of Science in the Last Half Century, he presents a summary of the major developments in Physics, Chemistry and Biology during the period 1839-1889 and their impact on society, within the historical context of philosophical thought and scientific inquiry going back to Aristotle. Huxley’s clear and readable prose makes this subject equally enjoyable for both the student of scientific history and the casual listener alike. (Summary by J.M. Smallheer.)

52 review for The Advance of Science in the Last Half-Century (Librivox Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Skyler Myers

    "The most obvious and the most distinctive features of the History of Civilisation, during the last fifty years, is the wonderful increase of industrial production by the application of machinery, the improvement of old technical processes and the invention of new ones, accompanied by an even more remarkable development of old and new means of locomotion and intercommunication. By this rapid and vast multiplication of the commodities and conveniences of existence, the general standard of comfort "The most obvious and the most distinctive features of the History of Civilisation, during the last fifty years, is the wonderful increase of industrial production by the application of machinery, the improvement of old technical processes and the invention of new ones, accompanied by an even more remarkable development of old and new means of locomotion and intercommunication. By this rapid and vast multiplication of the commodities and conveniences of existence, the general standard of comfort has been raised, the ravages of pestilence and famine have been checked, and the natural obstacles, which time and space offer to mutual intercourse, have been reduced in a manner, and to an extent, unknown to former ages. The diminution or removal of local ignorance and prejudice, the creation of common interests among the most widely separated peoples, and the strengthening of the forces of the organisation of the commonwealth against those of political or social anarchy, thus effected, have exerted an influence on the present and future fortunes of mankind the full significance of which may be divined, but cannot, as yet, be estimated at its full value." PROs: * Brief history of science * Detailed explanations of the scientific discoveries of the 19th century * Nearly every field of science covered * Tons of different scientists talked about with mini biographies * Many scientific theories explained * Interesting predictions made by Huxley and others CONs: * Extremely complicated * Can be boring if the terminology and explanations go over your head * Some slightly outdated concepts "Anyone who is practically acquainted with scientific work is aware that those who refuse to go beyond fact, rarely get as far as fact; and anyone who has studied the history of science knows that almost every great step therein has been made by the 'anticipation of Nature,' that is, by the invention of hypotheses, which, though verifiable, often had very little foundation to start with." It is singular how much T.H. Huxley knows about science. He is a vast storehouse of knowledge and he puts this storehouse on display here. His deep understanding of every field of science, including the history of science, is mind boggling. The problem is is that Huxley is *so* smart that he seems to forget that he is dealing with people who don't have near the understanding of science that he has. This can make his books hard to follow for the layman. To get an idea of his eloquence of explanation, take this piece of him explaining how Darwin came of with his theory of evolution as an example: "The careful observations and the acute reasonings of the Italian geologists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; the speculations of Leibnitz in the 'Protogaea' and of Buffon in his 'Théorie de la Terre;' the sober and profound reasonings of Hutton, in the latter part of the eighteenth century; all these tended to show that the fabric of the earth itself implied the continuance of processes of natural causation for a period of time as great, in relation to human history, as the distances of the heavenly bodies from us are, in relation to terrestrial standards of measurement. The abyss of time began to loom as large as the abyss of space. And this revelation to sight and touch, of a link here and a link there of a practically infinite chain of natural causes and effects, prepared the way, as perhaps nothing else has done, for the modern form of the ancient theory of evolution." Huxley's goal with this book is to demonstrate that the last half century (from the writing of the book) was subject to greater scientific achievements than in any other half century in the history of humanity. I think he easily succeeds in this task. The first thing he does is give a brief history of science, from the ancient Greeks up to the enlightenment. He explains that, although there were many great past discoveries, that none of them benefited the average person until his time. He explains that scientists must do their research for the love of knowledge, not for the promise of future benefits. Practical application will coke in time from our further understanding. Huxley then focuses on the discoveries of his time, which directly benefited all of mankind. He says that three recent principles are greater than any other scientific development in history. The principles are: atomic theory (or the molecular basis of matter), conservation of energy, and evolution. He then goes into detail about how these principles were formulated and how they are useful. He then gives a brief summary of the advances from the past half century in countless fields of science, from physiology to spectroscopy. It would be beneficial if the reader already has a pretty deep understanding of these concepts since Huxley does not make the effort to simplify things. This is much more complicated that books like Sagan's 'Cosmos'. "Historically, no branch of science has followed this order of growth; but, from the dawn of exact knowledge to the present day, observation, experiment, and speculation have gone hand in hand; and, whenever science has halted or strayed from the right path, it has been, either because its votaries have been content with mere unverified or unverifiable speculation (and this is the commonest case, because observation and experiment are hard work, while speculation is amusing); or it has been, because the accumulation of details of observation has for a time excluded speculation."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Langa Gugushe

    This is a book for adults however, it is not that difficult. From understanding the conception of man from a scientific point of view to understanding the complexities of geographical, climatic, morphological, biological and geological uniformity in correspondence with great discoveries - this book will make you understand that clearly. As a warning for readers, directly quoted from the book, "I must confess that I find the air of this region of speculation too rarefied for my constitution, and This is a book for adults however, it is not that difficult. From understanding the conception of man from a scientific point of view to understanding the complexities of geographical, climatic, morphological, biological and geological uniformity in correspondence with great discoveries - this book will make you understand that clearly. As a warning for readers, directly quoted from the book, "I must confess that I find the air of this region of speculation too rarefied for my constitution, and I am disposed to take refuge in 'ignoramus et ignorabimus'." (Huxley, 1887) Do not think it is limited to speculation because it is fact based. It's just that there isn't something absolutely conclusive except for death. It is indeed a 'goodread'.

  3. 5 out of 5

    jim copley

    A past look at the present progress It was interesting to read about the modern advances from a past view point. It gave me some insight into the history of what I have learned.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Donna Ferrara

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephan Köhler

  6. 5 out of 5

    Дарья

  7. 5 out of 5

    David

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lance Nielsen

  9. 5 out of 5

    Navjot

  10. 5 out of 5

    Khushbu

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sandhya

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gaspar

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jamespc

  15. 4 out of 5

    vanapalli naveen

  16. 5 out of 5

    Martha Nolkemper

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aashna Manoj

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jessie Mekus

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matu_wambugu

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anthony D. Padgett

  21. 4 out of 5

    Denise Toepel

  22. 4 out of 5

    Francisco Fuentes

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karim Khan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amecylia Mycelium

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jammin Jenny

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cian Kelly

  27. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Blaisdell

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gulo

  29. 5 out of 5

    Terry Elkins

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Russo

  31. 4 out of 5

    Yogen

  32. 4 out of 5

    Devon

  33. 5 out of 5

    Joshua New

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    Ernie Cave

  35. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  36. 4 out of 5

    Katrine Vestaberg

  37. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Mas

  38. 4 out of 5

    Allison

  39. 4 out of 5

    David Grimaud

  40. 5 out of 5

    Marko Mehner

  41. 5 out of 5

    Bayan Assaf

  42. 5 out of 5

    Mick Guzman

  43. 4 out of 5

    Jovany Agathe

  44. 5 out of 5

    Dalia

  45. 5 out of 5

    Melisa

  46. 5 out of 5

    Angela Zin

  47. 4 out of 5

    Cameron Mozee-Baum

  48. 4 out of 5

    Em

  49. 4 out of 5

    Carol

  50. 4 out of 5

    Mae K. Miles

  51. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Hewitt

  52. 5 out of 5

    Gemma Franks

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