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Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science-- from the Babylonians to the Maya [Library Binding]

Dick Teresi
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 25 2008 1435266765 978-1435266766 Reprint
Boldly challenging conventional wisdom, acclaimed science writer and Omni magazine cofounder Dick Teresi traces the origins of contemporary science back to their ancient roots in an eye-opening account and landmark work.
This innovative history proves once and for all that the roots of modern science were established centuries, and in some instances millennia, before the births of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. In this enlightening, entertaining, and important book, Teresi describes many discoveries from all over the non-Western world -- Sumeria, Babylon, Egypt, India, China, Africa, Arab nations, the Americas, and the Pacific islands -- that equaled and often surpassed Greek and European learning in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, cosmology, physics, geology, chemistry, and technology.
The first extensive and authoritative multicultural history of science written for a popular audience, Lost Discoveries fills a critical void in our scientific, cultural, and intellectual history and is destined to become a classic in its field.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Amazon

Did Nicolas Copernicus steal his notion that the earth orbited the sun from an Islamic astronomer who lived three centuries earlier? "The jury is still out," writes Dick Teresi, whose intriguing survey of the non-Western roots of modern science offers several worthy arguments that Copernicus in fact ripped off Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. Common belief is that Westerners have been the mainspring of most scientific and technical achievement, but in Lost Discoveries Teresi shows that other cultures had arrived at much of the same knowledge at earlier dates. The Babylonians were using the Pythagorean theorem at least 15 centuries before Pythagoras drew his first triangle, and in A.D. 200 a Chinese mathematician calculated an incredibly accurate value for pi. The Mayans and other Mesoamericans were outstanding sky watchers and stargazers. The greatest advances occurred in math and astronomy, though Teresi also devotes chapters to physics, geology, chemistry, technology, and even cosmology. Sometimes he is a bit overeager to ascribe great thoughts to long-dead people (he casually suggests that "many ancient cultures had inklings of quantum theory"), but on the whole his book is a reliable and fascinating guide to the unexplored field of multicultural science. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Science journalist Teresi (coauthor of The God Particle) has combed the literature to catalogue the scientific advances made by early non-Western societies and to determine their impact on Western science. His work spans millennia and encompasses the full extent of the globe. He points out, for example, that five millennia ago the Sumerians concluded that the earth was round. He also provides information on cultures of the Middle East, India, China, Africa and Oceania, as well as a host of New World cultures, predominately those of Mesoamerica. Throughout, readers learn that scientific knowledge of various sorts in diverse forms has been a part of all cultures. In chapters on mathematics, astronomy, cosmology, physics, geology, chemistry and technology, Teresi makes a convincing argument that Western science has often been indebted to advances made elsewhere (mineralogy was studied in Africa as early as 5000 B.C.). Teresi is at his strongest in the section on mathematics, where he discusses the evolution of Arabic numerals from the ancient Indians and the earliest conceptualizations of zero and infinity. Much less compelling are his assertions that early societies foreshadowed the ideas of quantum mechanics. Although a bit uneven, Teresi offers a great deal of fascinating material largely ignored by many histories of science.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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THE most important scientific achievement in Western history is commonly ascribed to Nicolaus Copernicus, who on his deathbed published Concerning the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fake History Cooked to Order Sept. 14 2003
Format:Hardcover
teachers and librarians deserve to be forewarned that this book provides hard evidence that complaints about "political correctness" are not mere right-wing fantasy. Teresi's understanding of mathematics and science is, despite apparent credentials, fatally shallow and distorted. His willingness to concoct historically insupportable myths that are pleasing to his political sensibilities is obvious on every page. His eagerness to insinuate himself into the good graces of the supposed educators who incessantly preach the virtues of "multiculturalism" and the vices of "eurocentrism" is palpable and pervasive. The book is, in short, a stew of junk science and fake history. But in these peculiar times, it will probably sell very briskly to certain people who mean well but think badly.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Lost Discoveries Jan. 29 2005
Format:Paperback
The re-discovery of the truth
This book is really a digest about the "THE ANCIENT ROOTS OF MODERN SCIENCE" since it gives synopsis of events with timelines of some Europeans and non-Europeans. It is the first book I read that focuses and attempts to highlight that there was an 'earlier civilization' prior to these "Modern Times".
Overall, it was a challenging book to read and it reminded me of the first time I took up Physics in university...daunting, intriguing and an excellent substitute for caffeine. I really enjoy reading Mathematics, Astronomy and Technology sections of the book. I was disappointed with the attempt in correlating the 'Ancients' curiosity in the Physics and Chemistry sections, I did not get it and I will not since I will not revisit that section. I was totally lost with the whole GEOLOGY bit and it best left as it is. The Mathematics, Astronomy and Technology sections were fantastic. Some areas I will revisit again and definitely use as a reference.
My best section was "Mathematics: The Language of Science" since it was wonderful reading and working my way through-it. I was around my desk, dinning table and coffee table trying out the 'little tricks'; which made me smile in the wee hours of the morning. I recall my mother using some of these tricks when she "did her arithmetic in her head" and friends who dazzle co-workers and cashiers with multiplications/additions of large numbers quicker than one enter them in a calculator.
Moreover, it is unfortunate that in these modern times one is lost when one cannot use an icons on a cash register or computer for simple arithmetic...it is a pity we have progressed so far around this ring of civilization.
I good book...I enjoy it and have recommended it to my friends and peers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Towards a more balanced world view March 1 2004
Format:Hardcover
Any book that attempts to revise the prevalent Western/White/Post-Industrial/European/American(?) weltanschauung by uncovering and suggesting the HUGE influences of Eastern/Hindu/Islamic/Chinese thought and technology, is bound to get flack.
So far, Teresi's book has not got as much flack...which is quite heartwarming.
This being the first book of its kind that I have read outside India, I have nothing to compare it with. There are any number of indian publications under the title "Vedic Mathematics", that illustrate the sophistication possible with non-mainstream mathematics. I remember reading a totally original vedic proof of "Pythagoras'" theorem that was elegant, complete and just 3 lines long!
However, the author covers so much ground, and attempts to pack tons of information in a moderately sized book (around 300 pages), that at times the facts come faster than the mind can process. And although he's taken the easy way out by classifying chapters with broad categories, that has lead to a lot of repetition of facts within the book. A more efficient categorization would be by actual elements of discussion - say 1) Algebra 2) Civic Amenities 3)Metallurgy . This way a discourse of the general aspects of a civilization could have been relegated to appendices, and the bok itself would have more of a "tabular" comparison approach. But that's just me.
Kudos to Teresi for the amount of research done for this book. The references list a staggering number of sources, and so much about my own culture (Indian) was revealed to me through this book. Sadly, the text books in India are lame reincarnations and faded copies of books instituted during the British rule.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Towards a more balanced world view March 1 2004
Format:Hardcover
Any book that attempts to revise the prevalent Western/White/Post-Industrial/European/American(?) weltanschauung by suggesting HUGE influences from Eastern/Hindu/Islamic/Chinese thought and technology, is bound to get flak.
So far, Teresi's book has not got as much flak...which is quite heartwarming.
This being the first book of its kind that I have read outside India, I have nothing to compare it with. There are any number of indian publications under the title "Vedic Mathematics", that illustrate the sophistication possible with non-mainstream mathematics. I remember reading a totally original vedic proof of "Pythagoras'" theorem that was elegant, complete and just 3 lines long!
However, the author covers so much ground, and attempts to pack tons of information in a moderately sized book (around 300 pages), that at times the facts come faster than the mind can process. And although he's taken the easy way out by classifying chapters with broad categories, that has lead to a lot of repetition of facts within the book. A more efficient categorization would be by actual elements of discussion - say 1) Algebra 2) Civic Amenities 3)Metallurgy . This way a discourse of the general aspects of a civilization could have been relegated to appendices, and the bok itself would have more of a "tabular" comparison approach. But that's just me.
Kudos to Teresi for the amount of research done for this book. The references list a staggering number of sources, and so much about my own culture (Indian) was revealed to me through this book. Sadly, the text books in India are lame reincarnations and faded copies of books instituted during the British rule.
Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Towards a more balanced world view
Any book that attempts to revise the prevalent Western/White/Post-Industrial/European/American(?) weltanschauung by uncovering and suggesting the HUGE influences of... Read more
Published on March 1 2004 by Prasanna Karmarkar
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and informative.
Most of this book is a great read. Many students of science are familiar with some of this material, but a lot of new stuff exists as well. Interesting and informative. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly, gripping book.
I love ancient history, mathematics and technology. This is a
book where all three meet. If you liked "Ancient Inventions"
by Peter James, Nick Thorpe, you will... Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2003 by R Vedam
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost in history
Teresi's book starts with a fascinating premise; the Eurocentric view of the world held by the west is the last reminants of our culturally biased world. Read more
Published on Oct. 3 2003 by Wayne Klein
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating ancient beliefs with tenuous modern connections
The author of "Lost Discoveries" claims he began to write "with the purpose of showing that the pursuit of evidence of nonwhite science is a fruitless... Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2003 by D. Cloyce Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Will be interesting to the lay person, will spark discussion
Lost Discoveries is a fascinating read, especially for the non-scientist like myself. The author does a good job of explaining broad scientific theories and area of study and then... Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2003 by D. H. Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book that is sure to be a classic
...I ran out and bought this book and couldn't stop reading it. It is amazing, revelatory, important, gracefully written and often extremely witty. Read more
Published on April 6 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncovering prejudices
The first prerequisite for doing good science is objectivity. Since unconscious prejudices are its worst enemy, any book that makes us aware of ours does science a terrific... Read more
Published on April 4 2003 by Robert Kaplan
3.0 out of 5 stars A Book That Had Great Potential
Lost Discoveries is an attempt to dissuade the reader from the opinion that the West (Post-Columbian North America, Europe, and Ancient Greece) was the sole founder and developer... Read more
Published on March 7 2003 by Edward Stephen Gross
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