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Showing posts from February, 2005

The Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations – W. F. Bynum & Roy Porter *****

This is a wonderful book. My immediate reaction to my enthusiasm is concern. How sad is that, to be excited by a dictionary? But to be fair, this reviewer is a science writer, so in getting excited about the ODSQ I’m merely praising a superb tool of the trade. The fact remains, this is one of the few dictionaries I’ve felt a strong urge to sit down and read through from cover to cover. Of course, dictionaries of quotations are much more fun than the boring old definition variety, but somehow there’s something very special about a collection of science quotes. The sources are the expected ones, a mix of scientists and less obvious people talking about science (John Donne’s in there, for instance). The purist might argue that the chunks given to the ancient Greeks and the like are stretching a point, because they were talking about philosophy rather than science – but that’s a silly and unnecessary distinction. The book falls into the usual Oxford quotations format, arranged by author i…