In the twelve years since the publication of the last edition of Asimov’s Guide to Science, the pace of scientific discovery has accelerated at a bewildering rate. New discoveries in physics have dramatically altered our view of the universe, while recent biological research has brought us new insights into the place of living things in it. Recent developments in artificial intelligence and robotics, in high-energy physics, and in cancer research—to name but a few—have spawned exciting new technologies (and businesses) that are revolutionizing our lives.
To keep the modern reader abreast of these new advances, the inimitable Isaac Asimov has completely revised and updated his classic work in science for the general reader, bringing this edition to the very frontiers of the latest research. He has written an entirely new chapter on the solar system, and there are new sections on everything from quasars and black holes to the latest developments in biological research and computer technology, as well as four sections of photographs and many line drawings.
But the aim of this magnificent book, acclaimed in its earlier editions as “the most exciting general account of modern science,” remains the same: to present the general reader with an authoritative, comprehensive account of modern science which is actually fun to read. For the alert mind seeking the key to technicalities in today’s science headlines, for the student eager to understand individual subjects in a meaningful context, and for the professional scientist wanting to keep abreast of advances in neighboring fields, Asimov’s Guide to Science remains the virtual bible of science.
Actually, I have a slight prejudice against rereading this book. The fact is that since I’ve also got The Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science, The New Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science and Asimov’s Guide to Science all in my collection, I’ve read this same basic text a lot more than I'd really care to. Familiarity has had the unfortunate effect of breeding a little contempt.
Having said this, of course, I have to reiterate that this is one of Asimov’s best and most influential works, a general survey of all of modern science which includes information on astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry, biology, and even a goodly dose of math at the end. Of course there’s a lot left out; Asimov was a polymath, but not that much of a polymath, and the book’s organization continues to leave me bewildered in places—but it’s a top-notch job.
Moreover, given its relative importance in the Asimov canon, I'd go so far as to say that it’s definitely a “must read” for any Asimov fan interested in Asimov’s non-fiction. This is the Good Doctor’s definitive work on the various sciences, and a useful and important view into his views on science and the breadth of knowledge that he brought to his craft.