The Floating Egg begins with the search for an alchemist's secret, and ends with the re-imagination of a past world. Each chapter is connected to a particular corner of north-east England, and each explores the uncertain line where myth is dissolved into science, and belief gives way to knowledge. Different episodes show how the fall of Constantinople converted the common rock of the Yorkshire cliffs into a source of extraordinary wealth and power, and how this in turn uncovered the inhabitants of a succession of past worlds; how a stone falling from the sky near this same coast changed the minds of all the natural philosophers of Europe; and how a new science was born on the top of the tower of York Minster. We learn about the cloak-and-dagger world of fossil trading in the town of Whitby; and we see the entire life-work of a forgotten scientific genius who died from consumption at the age of twenty-five, having revolutionised his science. The stories move from documentary accounts to fictional recreations of historic events, from contemporary writing and illustrations to present-day reflection.
By using different ways of describing the world of scientific endeavour, the author has produced a fascinating visually beautiful and highly entertaining book which allows us to witness the birth of a new science - the science of geology.
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(216mm x 153mm x 28mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
This is a strange and unclassifiable book which tells the story of the early days of geology by focusing on a series of events associated with the north east of England. The events themselves seem disjointed - discoveries of fossils, stones falling from the sky, alchemy, the voyages of James Cook. The style is also disjointed - an uneasy mixture of fact and fiction, anecdote and historical quotation. But the result is somehow greater than the sum of its parts, providing an eclectic and readable, if patchy, introduction to the geological sciences. And yes, there really is a floating egg in the story - but you'll have to read the book to find out its relevance to geology. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Roger Osborne
Roger Osborne's work has provided a range of innovative insights into our views of the past, and how they infect the present. His previous books include The Deprat Affair: Ambition, Revenge and Deceit in French Indo-China, The Dreamer of the Calle San Salvador: Visions of Sedition and Sacrilege in Sixteenth-Century Spain, Civilization: A New History of the Western World and Of the People, By the People: A New History of Democracy. He lives in Scarborough.