The Last Man who Knew Everything: Thomas Young, the Anonymous Polymath who Proved Newton Wrong, Explained how We See, Cured the Sick, and Deciphered the Rosetta Stone, Among Other Feats of Genius

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Pi Press, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages
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Born in 1773, Thomas Young lived in a pivotal time. The explosion of knowledge that was soon to come made it impossible to be a true polymath?a master of multiple disciplines. Young was the last of the polymaths, and his contributions to science are truly staggering. Challenging the theories of Isaac Newton, he was the first to prove that light is a wave; his work on the Rosetta Stone was instrumental in deciphering the language of the ancient Egyptians; and his study of the human eye led him to formulate the three-color theory of vision, more than a century before it could be proved. And yet, Young was ridiculed and rejected by the scientific establishment throughout his lifetime. In "The Last Man Who Knew Everything," Andrew Robinson returns this forgotten genius to his proper position in the pantheon of great scientific thinkers. Thoroughly researched and elegantly executed, Robinson reveals the humble brilliance of a man whose eclectic genius ostracized him from his peers, but whose extraordinary breakthroughs were indispensable in forming the foundation of modern knowledge.

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User Review  - JBD1 - LibraryThing

An unremarkable biography of a remarkable man. The subject is fascinating, but Robinson's writing isn't strong and the repeated cross references to topics covered elsewhere in the book got very annoying. Read full review

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User Review  - MarieAlt - LibraryThing

I actually finished this book. At least, I remember moving the bookmark further and further and then not needing it anymore. This actually happened at least a year ago, and all I remember about "what ... Read full review


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About the author (2006)

Andrew Robinson is a King's Scholar of Eton College and holds degrees from Oxford University (in science) and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He is the author of more than a dozen books including four biographies: Einstein: A Hundred Years of Relativity; The Man Who Deciphered Linear B: The Story of Michael Ventris; Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye; and Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded Man (written with Krishna Dutta). Since 1994, he has been the literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement in London.

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