The daughter of invention
Bad ideas? An arresting history of our inventions
London, UK: Bantam 2011 | 398pp | £9.99 (PB)
Reviewed by Emma Smythe
The book covers several core topics, including language (both written and spoken), communications and the media, farming and food technology, commodities and medicine. Each topic is similarly structured, beginning with an insightful history, an introduction to key people, plus anecdotes and evidence. The book then brings the reader up to the present day and provides an informed opinion.
Ultimately, what is a good idea or not largely comes down to public perception of both the idea and its evolution. The last chapter deals eloquently with the often uneasy relationship between scientists and the public, the role of the media, and how all parties could possibly come to view each other with less suspicion for the greater good.
Written almost in the voice with which Robert Winston narrates his TV programmes, it is easy to spend a lot of time really thinking about the concepts presented. The book is thought-provoking and should prove enjoyable and informative, both for the scientist (of any discipline) and the lay reader.
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