Encyclopedia of Science & Technology - McGraw-Hill
For more than 40 years, the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology has been the first source readers around the world have turned to when starting research on any major scientific topic. With more than 7,000 articles written by leaders in their fields - including 30 Nobel Prize winners - the Encyclopedia is famed for the scope and quality of its content. Students, professionals researching areas outside their own specialties, “lifelong learners” - any reader with only modest background in the sciences - will benefit from the ease of access to information, the clarity of the text, and the 12,000 specially prepared illustrations. The new Ninth Edition carries on this tradition. Thoroughly updated, its 20 volumes contain 15,000+ pages and 7,100 articles, many new, rewritten, or revised. Using the 500 page analytical index, the topical index, or the Study Guides, readers will find the information they want on all the hottest areas of science and engineering: astronomy and space science; computational chemistry; environmental science; forensic science; information technology and communications; intelligent manufacturing; molecular biology and biotechnology; neuroscience; theoretical and applied physics, to name just a few. 61,000 cross references and 21,000 bibliography entries enable the reader to see the connections in the more than 90 disciplines covered and to continue their studies in greater depth.With the breathtaking pace at which science and technology are advancing, no science reference collection can afford to be without this latest edition of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology.
The only unfortunate aspect about this encyclopedia is its sheer cost. The list price is $3000. Which effectively limits the customer base to libraries. But perhaps you are fortunate to have a school, college or public library that has a recent edition.
The span of topics is impressive. All the sciences. Even if you are well trained in several sciences, chances are there will be entries here on matters completely new to you.
Take glaciology, for example. Now very topical in the general media, because of pervasive fears of global warming. The 10th edition of the encyclopedia came out this year, 2007. It has a lengthy section on glaciers and glaciation. Very carefully written. It explains global glaciation and the distribution of ice sheets. In a context of current knowledge of ancient climates. Taking a cautious view of the possibility of global warming. By warning the reader that current projections are based on models of imperfect knowledge. Overall, it does present qualified support for glaciers being affected by global warming. Without a shrill polemical style.
There is something almost comical about the thought of reviewing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. It is an amazing work, such a stunning compendium of erudition in such a wide array of difficult and rigorous subjects that the ordinary rules and reasons of writing a review don’t really apply to it.
Reviewing any other work would function with the assumption that you had actually read it; that you were familiar with it; and also that you were implicitly prepared to face intelligent rebuttal with regard to the opinion you offered and the comments you made. However, when it comes to The Encyclopedia, it would require more than ordinary intellectual stamina and range of interests to read it for review and the same notion applies to the possibility of rebuttal: if you are enough of an intellectual giant that you can talk intelligently about the sum of what is in The Encyclopedia, then who is there to rebutt you? Who is going to come out of the woodwork and dissaggree with what you have to say about it? No real ‘revue’ is possible or meaningful when talking about it, but some things can be said about it and nearly all those things are golden.
My experience with The Encyclopedia goes back to my days in highschool, more than twenty years ago, when I regularly went to the library between classes and used the encyclopedia to answer the questions that occured to me at random. Back then, The Encyclopedia was a godsend for me, something that had answers to questions to that my teachers didn’t have the time to answer. It was a browser’s book for me; the kind of text that offered the cross-referenced characteristics of intertwined questions leading to other questions leading to yet other questions that exactly foreshadow the hypertext concepts that run the web today. Article after article pointed toward things that I would later find out more about only in adulthood, long years after I left the library.
I can still clearly see the photo illustrating The Monroe Effect__where the forces generated by the shape of an explosive charge concentrate the force and direction of the explosive force. The illustration was a small gray photo showing the words ‘Monroe Effect’ stamped in reverse into a light-colored block of plastic explosive which lay next to a metal ingot which had had the words the same words imprinted into it by explosive force.
I remember this and many other things from other articles that awakened my curiosity with regard to things and that remain with me and enrich my life to this day. However, I think that There is one clear flaw in The Encyclopedia: I can find no electronic edition of it. I have never seen a CD- or DVD-ROM edition of it and, the commercial considerations of McGraw-Hill aside, that seems like a great failing. When the Oxford Dictionary exists both on CD-ROM and on paper, and when all of National Geographic back to 1888 can be found in a DVD-ROM collection, it seems silly to have this great repository of scientific and technical erudition limited to non-computer readable forms. I could be wrong, an electronic edition mightt actually exist for all I know, but if I am right, I think that the world would profit by having a portable edition of the work available for scientists, technicians, doctors, teachers and any of the other groups who might want the information it has to offer at their fingertips in a portable form. Aside from this single flaw, I can honestly say that I my experience with The Encyclopedia is something that glows in my memory and I frankly admit that I covet the high-quality electronic edition that I wish were available.
I suppose that this is less a review than it is a homage to the people and the will that worked to put The Encyclopedia together. All in all, I would like to say, ‘Thank you’ and that I can heartily recommend the encyclopedia not just to scientists and students in scientific fields but to anyone who is fascinated by things of the mind.