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Twenty-five stories, beginning with the search for an alchemist's secret, and ending with the re-imagination of a past world, each connected to a particular corner of north-east England, and each exploring the uncertain line where myth is dissolved into science, and belief gives way to knowledge. Different episodes show how the fall of Constantinople converted the common rock of the Yorkshire cliffs into a source of extraordinary wealth and power, and how this in turn uncovered the inhabitants of a succession of past worlds; how a stone falling from the sky near this same coast changed the minds of all the natural philosophers of Europe; and how a new science was born on the top of the tower of York Minster. We learn about the cloak-and-dagger world of fossil trading in the town of Whitby; and we see the entire life-work of a forgotten scientific genius who died from consumption at the age of twenty-five, having revolutionised his science. The stories move from documentary accounts to fictional recreations of history events, from contemporary writing and illustrations to present-day reflection. By using different ways to describing the world of scientific endeavour, the author
Roger Osborne's work has provided a range of innovative insights into our views of the past, and how they inform the present. His previous books include The Floating Egg: Episodes in the Making of Geology, The Deprat Affair: Ambition, Revenge and Deceit in French Indo-China, The Dreamer of the Calle San Salvador: Visions of Sedition and Sacrilege in Sixteenth-Century Spain, Civilization: A New History of the Western World and Of The People, By The People, A New History of Democracy. Roger Osborne is also a professional playwright. His plays include The Art Of Persuasion, first performed in 2011 and Laughton, staged in 2013 He lives in Scarborough.