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  • Published: 5 January 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241205778
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $48.00

The Knowledge Machine

How an Unreasonable Idea Created Modern Science




Rich with tales of discovery from Galileo to general relativity, a stimulating and timely analysis of how science works and why we need it

It is only in the last three centuries that the formidable knowledge-making machine we call modern science has transformed our way of life and our vision of the universe - two thousand years after the invention of law, philosophy, drama and mathematics. Why did we take so long to invent science? And how has it proved to be so powerful?

The Knowledge Machine gives a radical answer, exploring how science calls on its practitioners to do something apparently irrational: strip away all previous knowledge - such as theological, metaphysical or political beliefs - and channel unprecedented energy into observation and experiment. In times of climate extremes, novel diseases and rapidly advancing technology, Strevens contends that we need more than ever to grasp the inner workings of our knowledge machine.

  • Published: 5 January 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241205778
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $48.00

Praise for The Knowledge Machine

Powerful, bracingly argued and important. There is something here for everyone -- for the expert, who will be challenged to rethink what science really is; for the layperson, who will rejoice in Strevens's deft and witty storytelling; and for the student, who will find a friendly and authoritative guide to Newton, Einstein, Popper, Kuhn, and all that.

Jim Holt, author of 'Why Does the World Exist?'

The best introduction to the scientific enterprise that I know. Its brevity and simplicity cannot conceal the boldness of its conception, the extraordinary scope of its ambition. A wonderful and important book.

David Wootton, author of The Invention of Science

A stylish and accessible investigation into the nature of the scientific method.

Nigel Warburton, Philosophy Bites

This elegant book takes us to the heart of the scientific enterprise.

David Papineau, King's College London, author of Knowing the Score

This book is a delight to read, richly illustrated with wonderfully told incidents from the history of natural science.

Nancy Cartwright, University of California San Diego

Beautifully lucid and accessible. A rare achievement, it is entertaining and edifying all at once.

Paul Boghassian, New York University

An engaging must-read.

Manjit Kumar, author of Quantum

The most stunningly illuminating book of the last several decades regarding the all-important scientific enterprise. Not only profoundly insightful but rollicking good fun.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex

As thrilling to read as it is important. Captivating.

Nathan Heller, New Yorker staff writer

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