The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World


by Laura J. Snyder


I'm usually not much on personal histories, but this book was more about the life and times than the men themselves. The group of four fundamentally changed the way we do science, view science and also were mired in the very beginnings of God vs. Reality debate. Four men who met as students at Cambridge University: Charles Babbage, John Herschel, William Whewell, and Richard Jones changed or created most of the sciences: Computers, tides, magnetism, cryptology, photography, geology, and the very business of the modern scientific method as a break from the armchair philosophers that had intellectualized but never strayed into the lab. We view the 20th century as being one of momentous change, but I think the 19th century would have been even more jarring with the advent of science, the industrial revolution, and the collapse of the colonial model of economic expansion.