Fotografía de autor
2 Obras 150 Miembros 4 Reseñas

Sobre El Autor

James Poskett is associate professor in the history of science and technology at the University of Warwick.

Obras de James Poskett


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United Kingdom



James Poskett (no Wikipedia entry as of March 2023) is a historian, on faculty at the University of Warwick in the U.K., and a writer. His academic area of interest includes “the global history of science and technology from the early modern period to the present day”. Horizons is about developments in several fields of science during the period when Europeans explored the Americas and South and East Asia, colonized those areas and Africa, and during the late 19th century and the 20th century.
The book has stories about cosmology, physics, geograpy, history, genetics, race, politics and economics. The stories are varied, and the context varies. The Spanish explorers learned from the indigenous peoples of Central and South America. Asian people participated in 19th and 20th science. Several countries that emerged from colonialism in 19th and 20th centuries valued science for nationalist reasons. The methods for training and supporting scientist varied greatly.
Prof. Poskett mentions a few instances in which state ideology oppressed scientists – e.g. the Russian Lysenko’s theories were adopted as policy in genetics research and teaching in the U.S.S.R. in the Stalinist area and in the People’s Republic of China. The ideology harmed science in China during Cultural Revolution, as scientists were seized by the Red Guards.
Prof. Poskett delivered a fairly short book, by confining his interest to a subject that fascinates some readers. He claims in promotional material including his academic web site, that the book tells “the story of the scientists who have been written out of history”. He does not try to prove that anyone has attempted to conceal the work of non-European scientists. Prof. Poskett does not explain how scientific value is assessed, or how individuals are recognized by scientists, institutions and governments. Prof. Poskett mentions government investment in funding universities but not discuss the economics and governance of scientific teaching and research.
His book deals with important assumptions superficially.
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1 vota
BraveKelso | 3 reseñas más. | Apr 3, 2023 |
New setting. Same good plot. Gave up halfway
Tutaref | 3 reseñas más. | Nov 3, 2022 |
This book will change how you view the evolution of science. We have, over the years, been taught that most scientific developments have been the almost exclusive privilege of Europeans. In this book, James Poskett turns that tale on its head and demonstrates how scientists have learned from each other and have done so across geography.

James Posket divided the book into neat sections - astrology, physics, genetics, natural sciences - making the tale easy to follow.

For us who live in Asia/Africa and the Americas, I hope this renews our faith in our own people.

I recommend this book.
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RajivC | 3 reseñas más. | Sep 20, 2022 |
One never reads only one history, whether it be of the world, a country or region or an event (eg a war or a scientific discovery) or whatever, and 'it's done'. Instead, all histories are but an author's perspective, as of a point in time as to their subject matter, meaning that one has to continue to read new histories over time so as to synthesise the reader's own perspectives.

In this case, Poskett offers a revised view as to the development of science, which highlights the notion that its development is not, as sometimes thought, a function of Western individuals working alone, but rather much more a world wide collaboration, with inputs and insights as likely to come from the Middle East, India, South America, Africa, Russia: indeed almost everywhere and not only Western Europe.

Many examples are given including Copernicus, who is often credited to have devised and proposed in 1543 the heliocentric model of the universe (ie that the Earth moves around our Sun, rather than verse versa). Whilst I have read other commentary to the effect that Copernicus utilised mathematical tools devised previously by Persian and Arabic mathematicians, and described in books that found there way to Western Europe, Poskett describes how the Persian and Arabic contributions were much more significant in leading Copernicus to his proposal.

This is but only one of very many examples throughout the book. Some examples are new to me. One is the science that sub-Saharan Africa from as early as the 16th century, particularly astronomy and the associated mathematical technics used in undertaking astronomical studies (and I emphasise' astronomy', not 'astrological').

Thus Timbuktu had a large collection of hundreds of Arabic manuscripts, purchased in Cairo and Istanbul by traders who brought them to the sub-Sahara, where they were studied, resulting in the preparation of commentaries and new work, including keeping track of the Sun, Moon and stars throughout the year, which was particularly important for planning the agricultural year, where such planning was not by individual farmers or groups but by the (political) rulers of the day.

I believe the story of Charles Darwin's thinking as to evolution being not the work of a single person, but rather that of many working independently and collectively is relatively well known eg the work of Wallace cumulating in his Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection. But Poskett also points to many other contributions, including from South America (Francisco Moreno) and China (Yan Fu) and Russia ( Nikolai Severtzov and Sofia Pereiaslavtseva), Japan (Chiyomatsu Ishikawa) amongst others.

Another major theme of the book is the influence of politics (particularly world impacts) on the direction of science investigations and pursuits. A case in point is the boom in genetics in the 1960s and following years (particularly as to food production). Poskett posits that the then Malthusian predictions of world famine (remember the Club of Rome publications and Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb?), as well as the then Cold War and the USA's concern as to the spread of Communism, led to the US (in particular) pushed to find answers as to how to feed East Asia in particular, for fear that the USSR would move into East Asia (remember the Vietnam war?).

Not being either a scientist nor an historian, I cannot comment on the scholarship involved in this book (not that anything immediately stands out to me as 'odd'), but it is nevertheless a fascinating read.

Big Ship

15 August 2022
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bigship | 3 reseñas más. | Aug 14, 2022 |



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