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June 25, 1982

Dictionary of the History of Science

JAMA. 1982;247(24):3361-3362. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320490057041

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This work will be a valuable reference for students of the history and philosophy of science. More than 700 entries discuss the development of concepts in science, as the editors "judged it more useful to have articles on the Atom, the Unconscious, or Mendelism, than on Dalton, Freud, or Mendel." This is a judicious approach, since the 16-volume Dictionary of Scientific Biography has recently been completed. Moreover, the present work includes an ample "index of scientists," and the articles themselves are replete with personal names.

Considerably more than a dictionary, the contributors, who are nearly all academics in the history of science or related fields, have in fact written highly condensed review articles, some running to several thousand words and many accompanied by suggestions for further reading. There is also a general bibliography. The "analytical table of contents" assigns all entries to ten categories: astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, historiography