Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 196

Breakthroughs in Science was a product of its era. The project was conceived at a time when the United States was reeling from the accomplishments of the Soviet space program and that country’s apparent scientific superiority. This book was intended to serve as an inspiration for young people thinking about entering the world of science. Consequently, the tone is upbeat and celebratory. Asimov presented sci-entists and inventors as part of a process of “continuous, inevitable progress, made possible by dedicated researchers working as a group or individually, to enlarge man’s horizon.” He showed scientists as having the power to change the world for the better. Some had to overcome severe obstacles and others were not honored until after their deaths, but whatever the obstacles, truth and science triumphed at the end. The individuals described in Breakthroughs in Science were on Asimov’s honor roll of human beings.

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Whatever flaws scholars discerned in the book, young adults found the stories, written by a master storyteller, to be interesting. Breakthroughs in Science painted a picture of science that was in sharp contrast to the dull memorization of facts that was the normal mode in science classes.

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