Historical encyclopedia of natural and mathematical sciences. In 6 volumes. (English) Zbl 1175.01001

Springer Reference. Berlin: Springer (ISBN 978-3-540-68831-0/hbk; 978-3-540-68832-7/ebook). xxvii, 5986 p. (2009).
This is probably the most comprehensive encyclopedia of natural and mathematical sciences one has ever seen. Published in six large and thick volumes the whole work spans the time from the big bang to our days, having the history of sciences in its focus. Volume I starts (after discussing events millions of years ago) 4200 bc and ends in 1583. The sixth and last volume concerns developments from 1950 to 2008. It is a unique feature of all of the six books that several important ingredients are interwoven: While inventions and discoveries in mathematics and natural sciences are in the centre of focus there is always much of the historical context coming in form of essays interlaced in the text. ‘Science Progress Reports’ are given throughout the books. The history of philosophy and religion is also touched upon and the interactions between cultural developments, humanities, and the developments in the sciences and technology are discussed. Even worldviews of the scientists of the day are included as are hundreds of pronouncements of important researchers, philosophers, and other important figures in the history of mankind. Numerous tables of the lifespan of researcher or tables to describe symbols are included as well as many appendices including additional material. Each chapter is accompanied by a bibliography, a name index, and a subject index. The point of view taken ranges from a bird’s eye view to quite detailed descriptions. The six volumes are paginated throughout resulting in a sum of 5986 pages.
This encyclopedia definitely sets high standards not only from the point of view of its content but also from its appearance. The books are printed on high quality paper and the text is superbly readable.


01-00 General reference works (handbooks, dictionaries, bibliographies, etc.) pertaining to history and biography
00A20 Dictionaries and other general reference works
00-XX General and overarching topics; collections
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