I just enjoyed reading the Alchemy of US by Ainissa Ramirez, a good choice if you are interested in science communication. In my view this is a great mix of science, history and an understanding of culture and how it effects discovery. A great piece of science communication from the heart. It struck me yet again on how ideas and understanding are often far older than they appear to be. I have written about Eratosthenes accurately calculating the circumference of the Earth way before Galileo or Columbus. I am sure that in a similar way, gravity was well understood by archers for many thousands of years.
I like to write about ancient civilisations and how, for example they had a standard brick size in the Indus Valley Culture times, extending across hundreds of cities. These were of the 4x2x1 variety still common today. In recent times they were standardized again as part of the idea of standardizing paper sizes by Ernst Neufert. The printing of books led to the A0 paper sizes and the standardisation of architecture. I always find interesting the number of mathematical concepts that could have been then considered by ancient bricklayers as they played with ideas on how to stack bricks.
In my field I was intrigued by the timing of oil generation as that substance is cooked up in the subsurface. In the Cooper Basin area of South Australia there was (or probably still is) an argument over Permian aged sourcing versus Jurassic. In the end, the pattern of discoveries favoured the older rocks with subsequent migration into the younger formation. Geochemists suggest that the predominance of Jurassic biomarkers is simply because there are more of them. So, what about the possibility of Cambrian or Devonian sourcing instead? For those in the know, the Inland field suggests this possibility.
As we go back in time, it is more difficult to find the relevant data and hence we go for the younger or better defined option. In recent times we have discovered that Australian indigenous culture is much older than previously thought and indeed the whole concept of modern humans is now also postulated to be much older. A stone tool discovered in northern India is thought to be 2.6 million years old and may force a revision of our understanding of early humans.
Science historians find evidence of modern concepts in ancient writings on a regular basis. Paul Halpern in Synchronicity discusses these at length. I like Empedocles concept that Love is the universal attractant, bringing all the substances together and strife being its opposite forcing things apart.
The writing down of a concept, especially with an associated proof is essentially the realm of science, but a concept does not start this way. Concepts are the ideas that spread amongst the initiated until they can be proved or disproved and then written about. Ainissa does a great job of showing that a lot of effort by multiple people goes into bringing a concept up to a useful stage. I loved the opening story about Ruth and Arnold bringing accurate time to the burgeoning industries of the age.
Many ideas for future study can be found by researching the past and many of our older folk are worth listening to about those ideas. My suggestion is to talk to an oldie during April about how they see the world and how we might improve it. It might give you some new ideas.
Or you might just enjoy a novel like the Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home by local author Johanna Nell. My reviews of these books and many others are available on Goodreads.