Buy from Amazon
The articles follow a roughly chronological order from the origins of the Royal Society to the present day and beyond. Early on Rebecca Goldstein explains how the founders of the Society laid some of the ground rules for doing science and Margaret Atwood looks at the prototype mad scientists in the works of Jonathan Swift. Richard Holmes writes about the ballooning craze at the end of the 18th Century and Richard Fortey discusses the collection and classification of biological specimens. Georgina Ferry writes on how X-rays have been used to find the structure of biological molecules, and Gregory Benford discusses the nature of time. There are chapters on mathematics, cosmology, engineering, global warming and plenty more. The book concludes with Martin Rees looking ahead to the next 50 years.
The articles are well written, in a very readable way, and I would strongly recommend this book as a wide ranging tour of the sciences suitable for a wide readership.