Like the creation myths they supersede, the revelations of science are seared into our collective imagination through storytelling. From Archimedes’ bath to Newton’s apple, vivid accounts of scientific discovery help us understand the principles behind each theory, and add to the larger narrative of how the universe works, and how we came to be here.
This anthology draws out and distills science’s love of narrative from a wide range of scientific disciplines, weaving theory into very human stories, and delving into the humanity of theorists and experimenters as they stood on the brink of momentous discoveries: from Joseph Swan’s original light-bulb moment to the uncovering of ‘mirror neurons’ lighting up empathy zones in the human brain; from Einstein’s revelation on a Bern tram, to Pavlov’s identification of personality types thanks to a freak flood in his St Petersburg lab.
Each story has been written in close consultation with scientists and historians and is accompanied by a specially written afterword, expanding on the science for the general reader.
Together, they bring vividly to life the stories behind the ‘eureka!’ moments that changed the way we live, forever.
‘Exquisite… delectable’ – New Scientist.
BOOK OF THE WEEK: ‘The pairings work brilliantly, giving stereoscopic vision… ingenious… unfailingly interesting.’ – The Independent.
‘A very alive, illuminating and good-natured collection’ – The Observer.
‘An inspiring tribute to inquiring minds.’ – The Guardian.
‘The tale of Henrietta Leavitt, by Sara Maitland, is particularly luminous, and inexplicably moving.’ – Richard P. Grant, LabLit.com.
‘I plunged into Litmus… then I couldn’t put it down. I wept…I laughed…I shuddered…I was fascinated.’ – Sue Haigh, The Short Review.
Listen to author Sarah Hall and editor Ra Page discuss the Litmus project generally on Radio Four’s Front Row.
Selected for The Observer’s Best Books of the 2011 list.
Edited by Ra Page
Featuring Kate Clanchy, Annie Clarkson, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Stella Duffy, Maggie Gee,Sarah Hall, Tania Hershman, Trevor Hoyle, Michael Jecks, Zoe Lambert, Alison MacLeod,Sara Maitland, Adam Marek, Sean O’Brien, Christine Poulson, Jane Rogers & Emma Unsworth
Featuring scientific contributions from:
Prof Jim Al-Khalili, Dr Martyn Amos, Dr Robert Appleby, John Clayson, Prof. Matthew Cobb, Sarah Fox, Kathryn Harris, James Higgerson, Dr Nick R. Love, Dr Tim O’Brien, Prof. Denis Noble, Prof. Giacomo Rizzolatti, Dr Zoe Schnepp, Dr James Sumner, Dr Angharad Watson & Dr John Wearden .