Why it’s not all rocket science (Robert Cave)

by Miriam Öttl

Have you ever wondered who invented vaccination or how we came to know how digestion works?

Did you know that experiments were once performed to test for the contraceptive effect of Coca-Cola?

Why it’s not all rocket science: scientific theories and experiments explained describes many interesting, partly forgotten… (or perhaps never even heard of) facts, theories and experiments that changed both our scientific world, as well as our modern society.

While some stories, like the accidental discovery of penicillin, might be well-known among science students, others could come as a complete surprise, even to the most well-read science history scholar.

Image Credits: Thames & Hudson

The book is built-up in five thematic chapters, such as The Human Body and Medicine, Psychology and Behaviour, or simply The Universe. A total of 100 experiments are explained in an understandable and funny manner. One double spread is devoted to each story including pictures. Hence, it does not give a detailed description of any one experiment, but rather a concise summary of the most interesting facts concerning their history. The stories are told in an entertaining manner and are sometimes accompanied by a quote from the respective scientist.

Image Credits: Thames & Hudson

Why should I read this book?

What I like especially about this book is that it reminds me of the fact that scientific discoveries can often be pure accidents, and that scientists often go to extremes to prove their point… sometimes irresponsibly endangering civilians or themselves in the process.

Why it’s not all Rocket Science provides you with a bunch of ‘did you know’-facts to tell at a boring party. Also, if the people you find yourself in company with don’t have a scientific background, these stories are a great entry point. Overall, I can recommend this book to anyone who is searching a light-hearted science read, to broaden their background of the important discoveries in scientific history.

How can I find this book?

Why it’s not all rocket science: scientific theories and experiments explained, written by Robert Cave is published by Thames & Hudson

About the writer

Miriam Öttl is an international student from Austria. This summer, she has completed the Neurosciences master at the VU and has now started her PhD in the lab of Matthijs Verhage. Her projects involve work on synaptic proteins that regulate neurotransmission.