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Download The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments Audiobook, by George Johnson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (393 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: George Johnson Narrator: Dion Graham Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2008 ISBN: 9780739359235
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From the acclaimed New York Times science writer George Johnson, an irresistible book on the ten most fascinating experiments in the history of science—moments when a curious soul posed a particularly eloquent question to nature and received a crisp, unambiguous reply.

Johnson takes us to those times when the world seemed filled with mysterious forces, when scientists were dazzled by light, by electricity, and by the beating of the hearts they laid bare on the dissecting table.

We see Galileo singing to mark time as he measures the pull of gravity, and Newton carefully inserting a needle behind his eye to learn how light causes vibrations in the retina. William Harvey ties a tourniquet around his arm and watches his arteries throb above and his veins bulge below, proving that blood circulates. Luigi Galvani sparks electrical currents in dissected frog legs, wondering at the twitching muscle fibers, and Ivan Pavlov makes his now-famous dogs salivate at ascending chord progressions.

For all of them, diligence was rewarded. In an instant, confusion was swept aside and something new about nature leaped into view. In bringing us these stories, Johnson restores some of the romance to science, reminding us of the existential excitement of a single soul staring down the unknown. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “As a science journalist, Mr. Johnson is a seasoned translator of technical jargon. He also has a sharp eye for human plot, both in and out of the laboratory . . . a certain spirit of wonder breathes through Mr. Johnson’s chapters. The New York Sun
  • Johnson has a good feel for detail . . . and an easy touch with larger concepts . . . Johnson’s lively book nicely evokes the lost world of the tabletop experiment . . . appealing. The New York Times Book Review
  • Delightful, succinct, elegant. Roger Penrose
  • Absorbing . . . Discover
  • Johnson’s book is as elegant as the experiments he features . . . . The writing here is lively, mixing bits of biography with the experiments themselves, offering the human element that explains the scientists’ motivation as well as the science. Johnson shares personal anecdotes as well as theory in an engaging, compelling style. The result is a little gem of a book, enjoyable to read both as history and science. Bookpage
  • Johnson deftly relates the circumstances and eccentricities integral to the findings behind science’s most seminal experiments. Seed Magazine
  • Johnson engagingly dramatizes his stories with failure-crowned-by-success narratives, adding biographical sparks . . . Johnson exerts classic appeal to science readers: presenting the lone genius making a great discovery. Good to go in any library. Booklist
  • Concise, evocative . . . pays wonderful homage to the science and scientists that helped create the modern world. Publisher’s Weekly
  • “George Johnson knows his stuff, and his stuff is science. The Santa Fe New Mexican
  • “George Johnson’s The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments makes its point as elegantly as the experiments it describes. Wall Street Journal
  • “Unusual and engaging . . . unfussy, jargon-free . . . Johnson is an experienced science writer with a knack for making biology and physics clear, and for finding the humanizing details in this world. Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune
  • [An] entertaining physics text by a skilled science writer. Jeffrey Bairstow, In My View

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Josh | 2/13/2014

    " A few of these chapters are great. The experiment is clearly described and there are just enough personal details to keep things interesting without overwhelming the science. But I found many of these experiments to be unclear and/or overly focused on unimportant personal details. A recommended read for the interesting experiments, but could have been better. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela | 1/19/2014

    " The back story of famous experiments, complete with illustrations from the scientists. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tom | 1/11/2014

    " A fun, quick read, but not really written very well. I should have possibly given it a lower rating, but the experiments are well chosen and fun. The drawings/diagrams and explanations are somewhat tedious and ultimately not that informative, the historical background is randomly anecdotal (not germane) and sometimes irritatingly speculative. In the final experiment, the author includes information about his own attempt to recreate the Millikan oil drop experiment (mass and charge of the electron.) The digression is somewhat interesting (I would love to visit that store in New Mexico that sells all of the old Manhattan Project equipment,) but it is inconsistent with the rest of the book and therefore confusing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 12/28/2013

    " I liked this book-- it had a good balance of interesting experiments and odd stories about the scientists and the beliefs of the time. It is also weird to realize how a total non-scientist like me knows a whole lot about physics, for instance, compared to a scientist in the 1700s-- that the ideas that sprang from the experiments has made it to popular knowledge and has been absorbed into the general pool of human knowledge. No doubt we've got some ideas that are going to look pretty dumb 200 years from now and people are going to be amazed that we believed some of the things we do now. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carmen Zumot | 12/18/2013

    " From Galileo to Millikan, Johnson does a lovely job of summarizing some of the greatest minds of science. A quick read that even the less science-minded individual will find pleasurable. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sara | 11/24/2013

    " Eh, just OK. I enjoy history of science and I feel I might understand some basic concepts a little bit better now, but I expected to gain much more insight from the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joel | 11/18/2013

    " Fun, quick read through some of the most insightful discoveries of science. Cormac McCarthy helped proof it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Olin | 11/4/2013

    " Easy and fun - makes obvious the tumult and excitement that is very real in the history of science but what journalists have the hardest time getting across. A great teaching tool I suppose. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 10/1/2013

    " Experiments by famous scientists when they experienced the "ah-ha" of understanding. Much of the science is too densely written for my understanding, but there were enough side stories of families, friends and the times to hold my interest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leah | 12/29/2012

    " Great images: Galileo singing as he invented physics, dissected frog legs hopping when lightning stuck etc. Made me appreciate the genius of early scientists. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dinakar | 6/10/2012

    " Terrific book. Will make you nostalgic for science again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tim Pearson | 10/18/2011

    " Thoroughly enjoyed the science history lesson. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David Veneziano | 4/29/2011

    " Some of the later apparatuses could have used better descriptions with the visuals to help get the idea across. Other than that the book was a fun, quick read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lucas | 4/19/2011

    " Quite enjoyable if not terribly compelling. Much about the personalities and too little about the methods. Wish the audiobook had not been abridged. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrew | 4/17/2011

    " I like that it is accessible and a quick read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 11/11/2010

    " I loved it, but then I am a scientist. So happy to see that Michelson-Morley made the cut! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dad | 11/10/2010

    " Very interesting and informative. Each of these scientists is well known and most of the experiments are familiar, but this book brings out many details that helped me better understand just how brilliant these people were given the level of scientific knowledge at their respective time periods. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy | 4/16/2010

    " Very short vignettes of important discoveries in early science and the history behind the science. Written for the non-scientist, it is easy to read and a great piece of history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rick | 3/27/2010

    " Very easy read. I would have liked more detail. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dinakar | 1/26/2010

    " Terrific book. Will make you nostalgic for science again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beau | 9/30/2009

    " A pretty good popular science book; the author defines "beautiful" as elegant and/or displaying an admirably original train of scientific thought. Even thought I don't know a whole lot about science I was surprised by how few of the experiments he chose I'd heard of. "

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About the Author

George Johnson writes regularly about science for The New York Times. He has also written for National GeographicSlateDiscoverScientific AmericanWired, and The Atlantic, and his work has been included in The Best American Science Writing. A former Alicia Patterson fellow, he has received awards from PEN and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and his books were twice finalists for the Royal Society's book prize. He is a cohost of Science Faction on bloggingheads.tv and writes the blog Fire in the Mind for Discover. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

About the Narrator

Dion Graham, from HBO’s The Wire, also narrates The First 48 on A&E. Winner of more than a dozen Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award for best narration, he has performed on Broadway, off Broadway, internationally, in films, and in several hit television series. His performances have been praised as thoughtful and compelling, vivid and full of life.