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18th-Century Writers Created the Genre of Popular Science (smithsonianmag.com)
27 points by pseudolus 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 4 comments



I was surprised that the Encyclop├ędie merited only a brief passing mention. It was a foundational effort and the contributors were a veritable who's who of French Enlightenment thought who risked, and actually incurred, imprisonment [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclop%C3%A9die


Nice article but I think the trend of popular science writing can be traced to 17th century to Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems published in 1632. He wrote it in Italian not in Latin to reach the interested laymen. I think to this day it reads as a great popularization of science. It is a true scientific treatise but written in a fun way. One of my all time favorite books. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialogue_Concerning_the_Two_...


I read The Origin of Species - it is a surprisingly readable book and I like the English it uses, words like incipient etc. that you don't hear often.

That said, the chapters on pigeon fancying were rather dull.


The article strangely seems focused on works written in French, but I think English perhaps have an even richer popular science or 'Natural History' literature from the 19th century. I have heard good things about "Treatise on Natural Philosophy" by William Thompson(Lord Kelvin) and Peter Guthrie Tait.

Another one, Charles Lyell "Principles of Geology".

Gilbert White "Natural History of Selborne" and Izzak Walton "The Compleat Angler" also.




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