By Aminuddin Baharudin
I’ve always thought of myself as a science nerd. Despite bad memories of organic chemistry and everything related to electrical circuits, science has always fascinated me. This fascination tends to grow to unhealthy levels, sometimes Stockholm syndrome unhealthy. Science has a way to make me feel so small in the universe, so ignorant, so insignificant, but it is, SO, COOL.
The Science Book is a compilation of key scientific discoveries across centuries that shaped our understanding of everything, from 585 BCE, when Thales of Miletus predicted the eclipse of the Sun that led to end of the Battle of Halys, to the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. For the purpose of this write-up, I’d like to highlight one of my favourite discoveries.
Over the past several decades, there has been some debate on the significance of life. Why are we brought here on the planet? Is it a miracle, or a result of complex and strict conditions, slowly taking place over the course of billions of years? Based on the number of words, you could probably guess it’s the latter. In 1953, Harold Urey and Stanly Miller replicated Earth’s early atmosphere in the laboratory, which generated compounds essential to life. Using better equipment than was available in 1953, scientists detected that Urey and Miller’s experiment had produced at least 25 amino acids, more than what is naturally found around us. Subsequent experiments have further expanded on this experiment and created richer cocktails of organic compounds. The fact that the building blocks of life can be consistently created from a lab experiment shows that life is not simply a miracle.
This book is full of such wonders, simplified for the masses. Complex theories and concepts are broken down to their core into a somewhat fun and casual read. Apart from Biology, there are other fields of science such as Computer science, Meteorology, Cosmology. Being 352 pages long, you can imagine the number of discoveries jam-packed into The Science Book. I definitely recommend picking this up at your nearby book shops. I got mine from MPH book store.
Colson, R., Hallinan, C. and John, D. (Eds) (2015). The Science Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained. London, UK: Dorling Kindersly Ltd.