The Upright Thinkers

The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos

by Leonard Mlodinow

A few million years ago, our ancestors came down from the trees and began to stand upright, freeing our hands to create tools and our minds to grapple with the world around us.
 
Leonard Mlodinow takes us on a passionate and inspiring tour through the exciting history of human progress and the key events in the development of science. In the process, he presents a fascinating new look at the unique characteristics of our species and our society that helped propel us from stone tools to written language and through the birth of chemistry, biology, and modern physics to today’s technological world.
 
Along the way he explores the cultural conditions that influenced scientific thought through the ages and the colorful personalities of some of the great philosophers, scientists, and thinkers: Galileo, who preferred painting and poetry to medicine and dropped out of university; Isaac Newton, who stuck needlelike bodkins into his eyes to better understand changes in light and color; and Antoine Lavoisier, who drank nothing but milk for two weeks to examine its effects on his body. Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, and many lesser-known but equally brilliant minds also populate these pages, each of their stories showing how much of human achievement can be attributed to the stubborn pursuit of simple questions (why? how?), bravely asked.
 
The Upright Thinkers is a book for science lovers and for anyone interested in creative thinking and in our ongoing quest to understand our world. At once deeply informed, accessible, and infused with the author’s trademark wit, this insightful work is a stunning tribute to humanity’s intellectual curiosity.
 
(With black-and-white illustrations throughout.)
  • Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; May 2015
  • ISBN: 9780307908247
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: The Upright Thinkers
  • Author: Leonard Mlodinow
  • Imprint: Vintage

In The Press

“Mlodinow never fails to make science both accessible and entertaining.” —Stephen Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time

“An entrancing tale of scientific history. . . . Mlodinow provides many cultural touchstones and tells personal stories, both poignant and amusing, about his experiences as a theoretical physicist to draw us even closer to the history.” —Marcia Bartusiak, The Washington Post
 
“Mlodinow is an engaging narrator who leavens the proceedings with a mischievous wit.” —Alan Hirshfeld, The Wall Street Journal
 
“An inspiring, exciting exploration of how our very inquisitive species has attempted to comprehend the cosmos.” —Louise Fabiani, The American Scholar
 
“An audacious encapsulation of our species’ trek from savannah to city.” —Nature
 
The Upright Thinkers playfully tracks the evolution of man’s understanding of the world over millions of years. . . . An accessible and engaging read that brings science’s brilliant minds to life.” —Financial Times (London)

“Powerful. . . . Breath[es] new life into science history. [Mlodinow] frames narratives of great thinkers with serial scenes of his father’s great courage and curiosity.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[An] amazingly compact yet satisfying history. . . . [Mlodinow] is a whiz of a popular-science writer. . . . Amateur science mavens couldn’t ask for a better brief, introductory text.” —Ray Olson, Booklist

“How did we move so rapidly from caves to cars, from the Savannah to skyscrapers, from walking on two legs to bounding on the Moon?  Follow Mlodinow on an astonishing tour of our species’ journey; with each new stop, you'll discover how our unceasing progress is driven by something very special about human brains: our unslakable thirst for knowledge.” —David Eagleman, PhD, Neuroscientist, New York Times bestselling author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

“[A] bracing work of scientific history. . . . Don’t worry if quantum physics and the theory of relativity leave you quaking. . . . Mlodinow knows how to talk to the science-challenged.” —Library Journal
 
“Endlessly fascinating . . . consistently thought-provoking. . . . A selective, guided tour of the human accumulation of knowledge . . . [and] the striking characters who pioneered scientific discoveries. . . . A breathtaking survey.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Mlodinow vividly traces the revolutions in thought and culture that define our civilization and, as a bonus, presents a stimulating overview of the history and majestic sweep of modern science.” —V. S. Ramachandran, author of The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human
 
“An enjoyable and readable introduction to the history of western science, beginning with the first stone tools and ending in the era of quantum physics.  Mlodinow takes us on a tour of some of the high points of scientific discovery from Egyptian and Mesopotamian mathematics, to Pythagoras and Aristotle, to the classical era of Galileo and Newton, and finally to the strange worlds of Einsteinian relativity and the uncertainty principle, which taught us how to study worlds beyond the reach of our everyday senses.” —David Christian, co-author of Big History: Between Nothing and Everything, and professor, Macquarie University, Sydney

About The Author

LEONARD MLODINOW received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of California, Berkeley, was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute, and was on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology. His previous books include the best sellers Subliminal (winner of the PEN/E. O. Wilson Award), War of the Worldviews (with Deepak Chopra), The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking), and The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives (a New York Times Notable Book), as well as Feynman’s Rainbow and Euclid’s Window. He also wrote for the television series MacGyver and Star Trek: The Next Generation.