Defining Moments in Science

By Ed Yong | September 22, 2008 11:00 am

Well this is exciting… A year ago, I was asked to contribute to a book that would detail 1000 awesome scientific thinkers, discoveries and events over the last century, to be called the Little Black Book of Science. And after a long silence, it’s finally out, albeit under the much less good title of “Defining Moments in Science”.

I wrote 20 of the 1000 articles (2%, for the percentage-inclined) and in total, the book represents the combined efforts of 60 or so of the UK’s finest science writers, including one of my co-bloggers at Cancer Research UK, Kat Arney. Many thanks to Hayley Birch and the good people at Null Hypothesis for editing the not-insubstantial undertaking. It was a great chance to delve into some historical aspects of scientific discovery that I don’t usually get to do.

The ones I did include:

  • Biographies of Richard Dawkins, Niko Tinbergen and Robert Winston. 
  • Elizabeth Blackburn’s discovery of telomeres.
  • The creation of chemotherapy
  • Raup and Sepkoski’s work on mass extinctions
  • The classic study on predator-prey relationships with lynxes and hares
  • The discovery of anaphylaxis (poor, poor dog…)
  • The discovery of paracetamol
  • And the international success of Viagra.

Which marks the only time in my life that I have ever deliberately done a Google search for Viagra. Therein lies a world of horror and torment.

Unlike this book. Which you should get. Because it will be brill.



Comments (4)

  1. Kat

    Yay! Can’t wait to see this finally in print!

  2. google searched viagra?
    did no-one try to stop you? warn you of the dangers? :)
    in any case, congratz!

  3. hey! I did some of these, but not all that many as I had a PhD thesis to write at the time.
    Cool to see that it’s out in the wild.

  4. Jon D

    Good timing on the post there – Just as I was putting together my monthly payday book shopping list! So me being a hopeless impulse buyer, I ordered myself a copy. Looking forward to checking it out!


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