Reviews: Science, inventions


Keeping pace with the surge of CSI-related television series and films, titles in the Forensic Science Investigated series stand out not only for their thorough overviews of how forensic science is practiced today but also for their fascinating historical perspectives. Each title begins with a basic “What Is Forensics?” chapter that includes similar examples: Julius Caesar’s 44 BCE death, the first recorded example of forensic medicine; a Chinese text from 1248, His duan Yu, recognized as the world’s first forensic manual. Subsequent chapters delve further into the history of each discipline before moving on to modern-day accounts. Forensic Anthropology starts off with a riveting account of scientists who cracked an 1849 Harvard murder case by finding clues among the victim’s remains. The modern-day details are just as gripping as the historical insights, and numerous color photos and digital illustrations, as well as appended lists of resources, add further interest. These strong series titles on a hot topic will find a wide readership among both students and recreational readers alike. Grades 6-9.



“Robots begins with a discursive look at robots in literature and popular culture. Greek myths tell how Hephaestus (Vulcan) created metal companions, and Daedalus made statues so realistic that they came to life. Ancient Chinese and Indian stories also told of lifelike mechanical creatures—clearly a deep-seated human fascination or fear. Later inventors and filmmakers began constructing simple and not so simple mechanical creatures. The history of these early robots or androids, the men who made them, and the amazement they evoked is fascinating. By the 1900s American ingenuity was applied to creating robotic weapons and industrial workers, and these applications are more important than ever. Intrinsic to the search is artificial intelligence. Nowadays robots can perform work, both domestic and industrial, “play,” amuse, and assist in surgery. Robotics is a growing and respected scientific field. Ethical questions are argued and provocative questions are raised. Students who have, or want to have the iPup or iDog, as well as Transformers and a host of other robots, will find much to interest them.”

VOYA, April 2008


“Many similar children’s books have been published; this new one is by far the best of its type. Stefoff uses a historical approach, but it doesn’t begin abruptly in 16th century Holland; she traces the beginnings of lenses from classical times, and explains the historical and optical relationships between telescopes and microscopes clearly.  The excitement that microscopes generated in17th century London when Hooke and Leeuwenhoek reported on their discoveries is described well, Zeiss, Abbe, Zernike, Knoll, Ruska and others are mentioned as the development of modern microscopes is traced, and the importance of microscopes in the study of disease by scientists such as Pasteur and Koch is woven into the story.  The basic optical principles of glass lenses get a clear two-page description, and there’s a good diagram that relates the electron lenses of transmission and scanning electron microscopes to their light microscope counterparts; that’s a weak point in most similar books. The vocabulary of this book is adult and it will be useful in high school.  The text is engaging, and even professional microscopists will learn from it.”

–Caroline Schooley, Project MICRO Coordinator, Microscopy Society of America, November 2007

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