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A major retelling of the history of science from 1450 to the present day that explodes the myth that science began in Europe – instead celebrating how scientists from Africa, America, Asia and the Pacific were integral to this very human story
We are told that modern science was invented in Europe, the product of great minds like Nicolaus Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. But this is wrong. Science is not, and has never been, a uniquely European endeavour.
Copernicus relied on mathematical techniques borrowed from Arabic and Persian texts. When Newton set out the laws of motion, he relied on astronomical observations made in Asia and Africa. When Darwin was writing On the Origin of Species, he consulted a sixteenth-century Chinese encyclopaedia. And when Einstein was studying quantum mechanics, he was inspired by the Bengali physicist, Satyendra Nath Bose. Horizons pushes beyond Europe, exploring the ways in which scientists from Africa, America, Asia and the Pacific fit into the history of science, and arguing that it is best understood as a story of global cultural exchange.
Challenging both the existing narrative and our perceptions of revered individuals, above all this is a celebration of the work of scientists neglected by history. Among many others, we meet Graman Kwasi, the seventeenth-century African botanist who discovered a new cure for malaria, Hantaro Nagaoka, the nineteenth-century Japanese scientist who first described the structure of the atom, and Zhao Zhongyao, the twentieth-century Chinese physicist who discovered antimatter (but whose American colleague received the Nobel prize).
Scientists today are quick to recognise the international nature of their work. In this ambitious and revisionist history, James Poskett reveals that this tradition goes back much further than we think.
‘This treasure trove of a book puts the case persuasively and compellingly that modern science did not develop solely in Europe. Hugely important’ Jim Al-Khalili
‘Brilliant. Revolutionary and revelatory’ Alice Roberts
‘Remarkable. Challenges almost everything we know about science in the West’ Jerry Brotton, author of A History of the World in 12 Maps
‘Perspective-shattering’ Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller, ‘Editor’s Choice’
This treasure trove of a book puts the case persuasively and compellingly that modern science did not develop solely in Europe. Hugely important -- Jim Al-Khalili, author of Paradox From palatial Aztec botanic gardens to Qing Dynasty evolutionary theories, Horizons upends traditional accounts of the history of science, showing how curiosity and intellectual exploration was, and is, a global phenomenon -- Rebecca Wragg Sykes, author of Kindred Remarkable. Challenges almost everything we know about science in the West -- Jerry Brotton, author of A History of the World in 12 Maps A useful corrective that brings us closer to a more accurate history of Western science - one which recognises Europe, not as exceptional, but as learning from the world -- Angela Saini, author of Superior The righting of the historical record makes Horizons a deeply satisfying read. We learn about a fascinating group of people engaged in scientific inquiry all over the world. Even more satisfyingly, Horizons demonstrates that the most famous scientists - Copernicus, Darwin and Einstein among them - couldn't have made their discoveries without the help of their global contacts -- Valerie Hansen, author of The Year 1000 A provocative examination of major contributions to science made outside Europe and the USA, from ancient to modern times, explained in relation to global historical events. I particularly enjoyed the stories of individuals whose work tends to be omitted from standard histories of science -- Ian Stewart, author of Significant Figures A wonderful, timely reminder that scientific advancement is, and has always been, a global endeavour -- Patrick Roberts, author of Jungle This is the kind of history we need: it opens our eyes to the ways in which what we know today has been uncovered thanks to a worldwide team effort -- Michael Scott, author of Ancient Worlds An important milestone * British Journal for the History of Science, on Materials of the Mind * The freshest history of the strangest science -- Alison Bashford, author of Global Population, on Materials of the Mind Ambitious, riveting, Poskett tracks the global in so many senses . . . vital reading on some of the most urgent concerns facing the world history of science -- Sujit Sivasundaram, University of Cambridge, on Materials of the Mind Terrific . . . [Makes] a substantial contribution to understanding the universalizing properties of science and technology in history -- Janet Browne, Harvard University, on Materials of the Mind
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