1,000 Inventions & Discoveries Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-05-07 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 7 user ratings

" Timeline of inventions and discoveries " said.

" Very useful and interesting book! With a lot of illustrations. " said.

" Few things are miscalculated on the time-line, or the information is out of date. (some by hundred years) " said.

"This is a book similar to "1001 Inventions That Changed The World" and "Defining Moments in Science". While the first book goes through 1001 inventions from the dawn of man just like this one, the second one concentrates on around 1000 inventions and discoveries from just the past 100 years or so. How does this book compare to both of them?

The large font of this book seems to suggest that it is geared towards the younger reader. The entries are indeed shorter than in either of the above books and the pictures are bigger, but the overall experience is quite good. Since the book is shorter, the details given are of course much more sparse. Even though it does mention and date 1000 inventions and discoveries, most entries provide just a minimum of descriptions. Most of the time, you will not really learn the working principles of an invention (but to be honest, this was often also a problem with the above books). You will learn the date of the invention, the most likely inventor and a few tidbits about the invention, but not much extra information beyond that. Fortunately the book provides separate expanded two page entries for more important discoveries, which go much more indepth than the above two books.

The beginning of the book lags a bit, but that is to be expected with entries not too thrilling like fire and the wheel, for which we cannot really ascertain any actual dates, inventors or even circumstances of the invention. Most of it is just conjecture and guesswork, which reads more like a history book for children than a popular science book. Fortunately the book picks up steam once it reaches historically verifiable inventions and retains its fascination up until the end.

The one problem with this book is that many stories are presented as the accepted wisdom, whereas in the above mentioned books you will often discover the surprising true stories behind many events. This probably stems from the fact, that whereas the above books were written by dozens of authors, each an expert in their field, this book is written by just one author who cannot be expected to have indepth knowledge of each of the 1000 entries in this book.

The other problem is the needlessly large font. By reducing the font, the author could have included either more details for the existing entries or added more pictures.

The third problem, and this is common to all books of this kind (be it about art, movies, videogames etc), is that the very latest entries are usually of questionable value. I understand that the authors need to include some of the very latest discoveries in their book as well, but these are often unproven to have lasting value. A glaring example is the WAP protocol for mobile browsing, which may have been hot in 2001 when this book was published, but is competely irrelevant these days and certainly not worthy of being included in the 1000 crowning achievements of mankind. There are other examples as well but like I said, the same can be said about other books of this kind and so it can be forgiven.

The book is peppered with high quality photos and good quality illustrations, even though the illustrations are usually superfluous and not very informative (like Newton holding an apple or Galileo peering through a telescope) and don't really add to the information in any meaningful way. They are just there to illustrate the subject matter but unlike in later DK books, where we get superb cutouts, all sorts of graphs and hugely informative illustrations and graphics, what we have here is just nice looking but fairly dull pictures you'd find in any story book. In fact, as such they really do have a somewhat dated look to them and seem like something out of the 70s or 80s. Luckily DK cleaned up its act in later books and almost all of its illustrations these days are also there to inform us, not simply to illustrate a story.

Overall the book provides a nice quick overview on most of the major achievements of science, but if you are an adult and are looking for more details, I suggest "1001 Inventions That Changed The World" instead. That book goes beyond the very minimum you'll find here and actually fleshes out the inventions with more background and better details. For another good book on a similar subject but with a narrower and more in-depth focus on the science and inventions of just the past 100+ years, I suggest "Defining Moments in Science". That book provides you with even more discoveries and backstories, omitting all those boring entries for things invented 5000 or more years ago and concentrating on the time where science and invention really took off.

If however you have kids or want a quicker, lighter read with nice large drawings and detailed photos, I can certainly recommend this book.
" said.

June 2018 New Book:

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