Start by marking 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 as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read. Robinson did answer the primary question I had before reading the book: If Thomas Young was so brilliant, than why wasn't he as famous as Einstein or Leonardo Di Vinci? The answer seems to have been: Because Young had a naive belief that his fellow scholars held the same moral codes as himself (ie: that one should be more interested in advancing knowledge for all rather than personal glory), he had a tendency to be easily distracted from subject to subject (Young admitted that his own ambition lay always more in the direction.
The Last Man Who Knew Everything (2006), written by Andrew Robinson, is a biography of the British polymath, Thomas Young (1773–1829). This biography is subtitled 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, which gives a very brief idea of Young's polymathic career.
The title of this book, The Last Man Who Knew Everything, should hardly be taken literally. However, my prevailing sympathies will be obvious to readers. 10:57 AM. Page 16. The Last Man Who Knew Everything. While it certainly cannot be said of his immediate forebears that they were wholly without distinction and wholly without learning -as has been said of Newton’s family by his biographer Richard Westfall-they do resemble Einstein’s merchant ancestors in combining considerable material prosperity with little obvious distinction.
As a biographer, Andrew Robinson has always been fascinated by "versatile people" such as Einstein, Michael Ventris (the architect who also deciphered the first European writing system) and the Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore. But Thomas Young "beats them all". In physics, he had the temerity to contradict Newton and propose a wave theory of light. Whoever would arrive at excellence must be self-taught," he once said. A wonderful anecdote, told by Robinson, captures perfectly Young's analytical mind. But Robinson measures up well. The Last Man Who Knew Everything is an excellent introduction to one of the most versatile minds of the 19th century. PD Smith is writing a cultural history of science and superweapons for Penguin.
Andrew Robinson has a fluent style that is always easy to follow; it is the kind of book that is hard to put down for anyone interested in history or biography. His self-reflections are rare in history for someone with his talents. Robinson paints a sympathetic yet honest portrait of the last of the great polymaths. This is quite simply a thoroughly enjoyable read. For anyone interested in the history of science, I highly recommend the book.
The Last Man Who Knew Everything' may seem like hyperbole, but Thomas Young came pretty close to living up to the title.
The Last Man Who Knew Everything by Andrew Robinson. A great blog post about that book. There's quite a bit on Young in Simon Singh's brilliant The Code Book, which I highly recommend.
Young has been described as "The Last Man Who Knew Everything". The Spectator is a weekly British magazine on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first published in July 1828. It is owned by David and Frederick Barclay who also own The Daily Telegraph newspaper, via Press Holdings. Its principal subject areas are politics and culture.
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