The Newton Awards: A History of Genius in Science and Technology


Michael H. Hart & Claire L. Parkinson

Michael Hart and Claire Parkinson present a series of awards to individuals who have been indispensable in the development of knowledge and its practical applications—The Newton Awards, named after the greatest of all scientists. In so doing, the authors craft a concise and lively history of science and technology since 1600, offering insights into the lives and accomplishments of the men and women who revolutionized society and human thought.

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MICHAEL H. HART earned a Ph.D. in astronomy from Princeton University; he also holds advanced degrees in physics and in computer science, as well as a law degree. He is best known as the author of The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, which has been translated into 15 foreign languages. He has also the author of A View from the Year 3000 and Understanding Human HistoryCLAIRE L. PARKINSON received a bachelor s degree from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University. For the past 34 years, she has been a climate scientist at NASA s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She has written books on satellite imagery, climate change, and the history of science, including Breakthroughs: A Chronology of Great Achievements in Science and Mathematics.

Washington Summit Publishers





 The Newton Awards should be widely read and liked by high school and college students wanting a taste of past great moments in science and math.

—James D. Watson

 Awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for the co-discovery of the structure of DNA

 This book consists of a series of 140 awards honoring major achievements in the natural sciences, mathematics, or technology across the period A.D. 1600-2000.  For the century 1876-1976, there is one award per year; in other periods there is one award per decade or half-decade.  Each award is given to the one person who made the greatest contribution in that year (or decade, etc.).  Each article describes the advance made and gives a brief biography of the award winner.

The chronological format gives readers a concise history of modern science, while the details humanize the topics, supplying many interesting anecdotes and striking quotations.  The whole project is very well thought out and skillfully executed.  Hart and Parkinson give clear and straightforward explanations for difficult points of theory.

Both authors have backgrounds as researchers in the physical sciences, but their book does not ignore advances in biology and medicine.  Technology is covered, as well as pure science:  Many of the awards go to inventors who have used science to create the practical devices that have revolutionized the modern world.  The book’s selections range from the introduction of anesthesia to the development of the internet.

The book is designed for intelligent laymen with very little knowledge of mathematics, but working scientists will also enjoy it.  It will find a place, I am sure, in the reference section of libraries, where it would be a worthy successor to Isaac Asimov’s Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, a fine book which unfortunately is now becoming dated.

—John Derbyshire

Former Contributing Editor and columnist for National Review;  Author of We Are DoomedPrime Obsession,Unknown Quantity, and the novel Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream .

“In The Newton Awards, Hart and Parkinson have achieved a global insight into the 400 years of science and technology that have revolutionized human existence.  Particularly riveting is the authors’ “List of Newton Awards” that succinctly chronicles the entirety of science and technology.  Commencing from the birth of the scientific experiment 400 years ago, together with the mathematical innovations that created the universality of those experiments, The Newton Awards achieves an appreciation of the contribution that science and technology have made to mankind’s endurance that is not available elsewhere.

The resulting 140 Newton Awards, together with their technological analysis of each breakthrough achievement and of the personal forces driving the individuals responsible for them, provide a concise yet comprehensive summation of the whole of scientific history since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Exemplary, for instance, was Hart and Parkinson’s scientific conclusion that a single invention, namely Robert Watson-Watt’s radar, was the pivotal innovation that altered the outcome of the aerial “Battle of Britain”, changed the final outcome of the Second World War and altered the course of human history.

Enabled by the “cosmic” insights of Professor Michael Hart (PhD, Astronomy, Princeton, 1972) and Claire Parkinson (Ph.D., Climatology, Ohio State University), The Newton Awards produce a unique understanding of the most stunning scientific and technological achievements of mankind’s history, as well as promising inspiration to the upcoming future generation of young scientists that can see firsthand the thrill of discovery the The Newton Awardsmake explicit.”

—Raymond Damadian

Inventor of the first Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine; Recipient of the National Medal of Technology (1988) and the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award (2001)