I'm looking for a good scientific encyclopedia.
March 17, 2004 10:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a good scientific encyclopedia. [More Inside]

I grew up with a book called the Little & Ives Illustrated Encyclopedia of Science. It was already dated when I was born since it was published in 1958 but it had nice summary articles on a huge number of scientific principles. It's what kindled my fascination with science and my eventual career path.

It was a single volume maybe 9 inches thick. It had information on biology, mechanics, nuclear energy, chemistry, rocketry etc. It did not shy away from equations and included graphs of interesting functions.

I beat up my poor old Commodore 64 making it graph a lot of the functions. I learned how to make rocket fuel. I learned about friction and inertia. I learned about radioactive decay.

I haven't seen a modern book like this but maybe I just don't know how to look. For the time being I'd like to buy one for myself and get back into the habit of learning something new every day.
posted by substrate to Science & Nature (5 answers total)
Best answer: Online resources aren't that bad in this area.

The classic site is Eric Weissten's Treasure Troves, excellent for math, good for physics, not so good (incomplete) for other disciplines.

The Wikipedia often has surprisingly good articles in it.

Bookwize, the one we use at work is Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia. It's really excellent and out of print, but used copies aren't that hard to find.
posted by bonehead at 11:48 AM on March 17, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks bonehead, I'll take a look. I knew about Weissten's sites (and have spent many a lunch hour on them) but hadn't seen the Van Nostrand book.

Hmm, on checking out ebay for the book I found out something neat. The Van Nostrand book is actually also the Little & Ive's book! The ebay listing had a picture of one of the plates which had been burned into my mind: A model of an earth satellite exhibited at Hayden Planetarium.

Pulling open my Little & Ive's encyclopedia sure enough, there it was. I look at the fine print and find it's copyrighted by the D. Van Nostrand company.
posted by substrate at 4:56 PM on March 17, 2004

Van Nostrand is still in print.
posted by zsazsa at 8:25 PM on March 17, 2004

Response by poster: Cool, thanks! I've ordered the last revision for about 1/10th the cost.
I figure I'll replace it with the new old revision when a new one comes out.
posted by substrate at 8:44 AM on March 18, 2004

Another online resource I enjoy from time-to-time is Howstuffworks. Usually pretty good, but when I wrote them to make a correction, they neither responded nor made the correction.
posted by Goofyy at 9:51 AM on March 18, 2004

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