Friday, February 26, 2010

The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester

A remarkable biographical adventure that follows the life of Joseph Needham with a focus on his creation of the masterwork Science and Civilization in China. A fascinating man with a stunning intellect and sexually progressive ideas, Needham was the primary driving force behind the creation of one of the largest written works every created. The goal was to demonstrate scientific developments in the context of both Chinese and scientific history, with an emphasis on describing those things that the Chinese had invented first. It is a truly staggering list, such as the compass, paper (money, wall, toiler), movable type, the abacus, toothbrush, kite, chess, playing cards...etc. (As for exactly why this output stopped around the 1500s, it is unknown.)
I had not heard of Needham nor the work so the book was very educational and Needham a character worthy of story telling. Some people achieve amazing things (the fact he was trained as a biochemist and just happened to learn Chinese and then compile perhaps the most comprehensive history of China’s scientific develops is all the more impressive).


Post a Comment

<< Home