Thumbnail summaries of 30 watershed concepts and discoveries in the history of science, most with simple demonstrations of related principles or processes.
Alas, Goldsmith concocts a midden of misinformation, beginning with absurd opening claims that no one thought “in a scientific way” before the ancient Greeks and that no one used science to create technology until the 19th century. A series of similarly simplistic one-page disquisitions on diverse topics ensues, from the inventions of logic and math to string theory. Along the way, unwary readers will learn, to their cost, that “almost all of Aristotle’s discoveries were wrong,” that a floating kite is kept in place by gravity, that light travels only in straight lines (a canard that the author himself contradicts on the next page), and that it was Darwin who first demolished the “Christian” Creation story. The barrage of baloney doesn’t let up in either the overlapping lists of vocabulary words that preface each section (a compass’ needle “always lines up so that its ends point to the North and South poles of Earth”) or the accompanying activities, which include trying to measure the speed of sound with a stopwatch and making a loaf of raisin bread to evoke the aftermath of the Big Bang. No visible effort has been made to update information from the original 2014 edition, either, so Element 118 is still labeled ununoctium rather than its current, official name, oganesson. Evans uses several shades of olive for the skin of his stylized human figures in the schematic color illustrations.
A slapdash survey that perhaps demonstrates that science ideas need longer than 30 seconds apiece. (glossaries, resource lists, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)