Rated of 5
by Daniel A. (Naugatuck, CT) The Philosophical Breakfast Club
After reading this book, I find myself wanting to know more about these four scientists and their experiments. Although the book was written similarly to a textbook, it is loaded with facts, even though the writing is a little bit on the tedious side. I highly recommend this book to whomever wants to read about these four scientists who changed how we look at modern science today. The experiments they performed were fascinating, and the meetings at the Breakfast Club were interesting.
Rated of 5
by Chet Y. (Las Vegas, NV) Who are these guys?
"The Philosophical Breakfast Club" memorialises how young "science" is in the history of humankind.
Ms. Snyder's scholarly research colloquially recounts the broad expansion of science in the early 19th century with a personal history of 4 men, Whewell, Herschal, Babbage, and Jones and their refinement and redirection of science. These 4 men literally and figuratively defined the word "scientist"; i.e., a pursuer of accurate facts that can be synthesized into a theory that is reproducible when the same facts are in evidence.
A good read for anyone interested in the history of science.
Rated of 5
by Susan B. (Rutledge, MO) Interesting times, confusing timeline
Obviously a lot of research went into this book, and much of the history was fascinating, but overall the book wasn't cohesive or interesting enough for my taste. A full list of characters and their relationships would have been helpful (all the wives and daughters and college friends got confusing after the first few chapters), as well as a detailed timeline of wider culture events and important dates in the main characters' lives.
Had this been written in chronological order rather than thematically, I might have been able to read it more easily and thus like it more, but the amount of skipping back and forth between time periods didn't work for me. More than once an event was recounted and I found myself scratching my head ("Isn't he already dead?"), and then realized that we'd gone back a number of decades and I hadn't processed the dates correctly.
If you can manage to keep a lot of dates clear in your head the book might work better for you, and if you are at all interested in the history of science and/or England in the mid to late 1800's, I think it is worth reading.
Rated of 5
by Priscilla M. (Houston, TX) Renassaince Men of Science
I have always been fascinated by men like Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson because their interest in the world around them knew no bounds. They were scholars, writers, inventors, and artists. Early in the 1800s, four such men met while at Cambridge and formed a friendship that was to change the definition of the pursuit of science. Charles Babbage, John Herschel, Richard Jones, and William Whewell formed the Philosophical Breakfast Club based on their shared admiration of Francis Bacon and his writings on inductive reasoning and on his belief that "knowledge is power." Prior to this time, science was not practiced with other scientists. It was a solitary pursuit with little recognition or rewards. There was no agreed upon scientific method, and science was not thought of as something that could be used to improve the lives of ordinary people.
The term "scientist" was actually coined by Whewell. Up until his use of the word, anyone who pursued a scientific interest was known as a man of science or natural philosopher. Men of science experimented in a wide variety of disciplines, including art, poetry, theology, and photography.
Babbage, Herschel, Jones, and Hewell devoted their lives to transforming science and scientists. The author has presented a fascinating look at four giants of their time whose varied interests enabled them to map the stars, seas and land.
Rated of 5
by Vicky S. (Torrance, CA) Interesting HIstory of Science
I found this book to be hard going. It wasn't difficult to understand but rather dense. I did enjoy the mixture of personal information about the men as well as the scientific history. I don't agree that the book would appeal to a wide variety of readers. I could see my dad, a retired aerospace engineer, appreciating this book and finding numerous sections on which to comment and discuss.
Rated of 5
by Anna S. (Auburn, AL) The Philosophical Breakfast Club
First, let me say that I love this book and second, let me say that I don't think everyone will. Anyone with an interest in the history of science and technology will find it fascinating. One of the things I really liked about it was the fact that these four incredibly brilliant men were presented, warts and all, and not merely as plaster saints. What was almost incredible, though, was the breadth of their knowledge. In addition to being scientists (a term coined by one of them), they were poets and linguists and artists and other things as well. In today's world of hyper-specialization, it's hard to imagine any scientist being fluent in so many different areas. What a lesson for us all!
Judge rules unused Borders gift cards to be worthless(May 23 2013) Borders owes nothing to holders of roughly $210.5 million of gift cards that had not been used by the time the bookstore chain shut down, a Manhattan federal...