Treat this "natural history of ideas" as a lucky-dip, a vitamin shot or a course of study.
Hamblyn's scintillating mosaic is taken from millennia of scientific writings - Babylonian maths to the Large Hadron Collider.
It does more than prove that great scientists - and their expositors - can write with clarity and verve. This tapestry of extracts serves as a mind-sharpening invitation to dig deeper, from astrophysics to zoology.
Even byways charm: such as cryptographer Sarah Flannery's account of how a book ISBN number works.