Reviewed by Marc Zucker
Fernando Espinoza takes an approach we do not often find in science literature. Combining both historical and philosophical perspectives, he takes us from Pythagoras through Bohr. Interestingly enough, it is not the historical aspects that makes this book stand out as different, but rather its philosophical approach.
To start, a global view is taken, with the likes of Pythagoras, Newton, Boyle, and Einstein all represented, also meaning that scientists whose works were less universal (in a sense) are not discussed. Naturally, topics such as quantum mechanics do play a large role. But equally as interesting is that the philosophical aspects discussed are not those one might at first expect. General or Special Relativity are not mentioned, although their role in an understanding of the nature of space and time cannot be denied. Rather it is the question of how to think about science that plays the foundational role in this book, with names such as Duhem, Popper, and Kuhn playing a more important role than we might at first expect.
There is a judicious use of pictures and drawings, many of which both supplement and assist the text. Each section also includes items for reflection and references, both of which should work as good points of departure for students looking to do further research or teachers looking for topics for writing assignments. Though the book appears to belong more in a philosophy department (perhaps under philosophy of science) than a standard science class, there is much here that teachers can grab onto and incorporate into their classes.
Review posted on 4/24/2012