https://www.chemistryworld.com/review/the-life-scientific-inventors/4010782.article

Do you ever wonder how insects and aeroplanes stay in the air, how your kettle knows when it’s time to stop heating, or how tunnels in our subway systems stay up under the weight of an entire city? In The Life Scientific: Inventors, Anna Buckley summarises interviews between Jim Al-Khalili and eighteen pioneering inventors; discussing their greatest achievements from silent planes to regenerating bones, and many things in between. The interviews formed part of an award-winning BBC Radio 4 show and podcast produced by Buckley that attract more than 2 million listeners a week – and it’s easy to see why. What’s more, despite the often male-dominated culture of science and engineering, The Life Scientific has maintained a commitment to gender balance both on the show and within this book, so it really is a celebration of the achievements of both men and women inventors working in Britain today. In the 1960s, Stephanie Shirley wrote code for the first civilian computers; in the 1990s, Ian Wilmut helped clone Dolly the sheep, and in the 2007, Clare Grey created a battery in a bag, making research into lithium-ion batteries much simpler and more environmentally friendly. The interviews with these inventors, and many others, range from childhood dreams and ambitions all the way to their inventions hitting national and international news. They give great insight into what it takes to truly be a pioneer in your field. With Al-Khalili’s thoughtful questions, and Buckley’s clear and concise explanations, I really learned a lot from this book. The chapters were short enough to hold my interest and keep me turning the pages. One thing that jumps out a few times is the perception of engineers in Britain in comparison with the rest of the world. While in in the US inventors like Elon Musk have glamourised engineering, and in Germany engineers are revered like medical doctors, in the UK, engineering is often associated with fixing things rather than innovation. Through Jim Al-Khalili’s interviews, The Life Scientific hopes to change that perception. Despite simply summarising radio interviews, the book succeeds both in challenging public perception of science, and in helping to engage lay readers with the important issues our society faces. It was an insightful and interesting read. I’ll certainly be tuning into the podcast in the near future, and I recommend you do so too, as well as reading this book. TopicsArtsBooksCulture and people Related articlesNewsResearchers love their jobs but toxic competition and publishing pressures take their toll2020-01-23T09:30:00ZLargest survey of its kind finds research culture is struggling – results that surprise fewOpinionScience can’t fix Whitehall on its own2020-01-21T14:30:00ZThere seems to be a genuine effort to put science at the heart of the UK’s government but this comes with risks as well as rewardsOpinionReviewing performance reviews2020-01-21T14:27:00ZAssessing the value of researchers’ work is hard, but there are some easy ideas to avoid More ReviewReviewScience in Moscow: Memorials of a Research Empire2020-01-10T09:30:00ZA book cataloguing the monuments to Russia’s scientific pastReviewAntimony, Gold, and Jupiter’s Wolf: How the Elements Were Named2020-01-08T09:30:00ZAccessible to chemists and non-chemists alike, this book traces the evolution of our understanding of the nature of matter itselfReviewCook, Taste, Learn: How the Evolution of Science Transformed the Art of Cooking2019-12-16T14:29:00Z A tour of the history and science behind the art of cooking, and treasure trove of of interesting facts for chefs and chemists alike SubscribeAdvertiseTopicsIssuesContributors Our mission News and events Campaigns Awards and funding Global challenges Support our work © Royal Society of Chemistry Registered charity number: 207890 Site powered by Webvision Cloud Validate Accessibility