100 Ideas that Changed the World

Rob Attar enjoys a lively compendium of some of mankind's greatest discoveries

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Reviewed by: Rob Attar
Author: Jheni Osman
Publisher: BBC Books
Price (RRP): £9.99

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Dolly the Sheep rubs shoulders with Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and Sigmund Freud in a diverting compendium of humanity’s 100 greatest discoveries.

Jheni Osman, former editor of our sister magazine Focus, has gathered nominations from leading scientists and other experts and then told the stories of these pivotal moments, in a brisk, lively style.

Many of these scientific breakthroughs came from unlikely sources, such as the 19th-century Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel who laid the foundations of genetics while studying his pea plants. Conversely, the ordinary world has at times threatened to impede important discoveries. In 1964, for example, crucial evidence for the Big Bang theory was almost dismissed as pigeon droppings on a telescope antenna.

A book of this nature is always subjective and the inclusions and omissions will doubtless cause debate. It’s hard to argue with many of the choices though; without the wheel, printing press, electricity and the computer, the world would undoubtedly be a markedly different place.
 
Rob Attar is the deputy editor of BBC History Magazine
 

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