The second “Discovery in Comics” to be published by NBM, Margreet de Heer’s Science follows the format of her earlier edu-comic Philosophy. Drawn in a lightheartedly cartoonish style, the book presents the artist and her colorist husband Yiri as they examine and debate the history of scientific thought and exploration.
As with the first volume, their overview begins with the ancient Greeks (Thales of Miletus, Euclid, Archimedes, Pythagoras, et al). Though Yiri points out that previous civilizations had their own sciences, Margreet chooses to focus on the Greeks as the first to mold “a system of objective inquiry and logical thinking,” initially around mathematics. One of heroes from Philosophy, Aristotle, also shows up in the early chapters: as a “natural philosopher,” Yiri explains, he was heavily involved in the study of natural phenomena.
This focus on the observable and measurable bumps up against those who are primarily devoted to the spiritual, of course, and de Heer devotes pages mid-book to the rift between science and religion – which she amusingly dramatizes as a cartoon couples counseling session. “In reality, science and religion can co-exist just fine,” she asserts, though as her recreation of the arrest of Galileo Galilei depicts, that hasn’t always been the case.
Science follows the development of all the major disciplines – math, chemistry, astronomy, physics, geology, genetics, quantum theory – while also taking time to examine its role in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, lesser known women scientists, disregarded scientists and more. The breadth of her subject area may keep her from engaging in as many biographies of leading figures as she depicted in Philosophy though she does manage to capture such luminaries as da Vinci and Darwin. She also charts the history of Earth and of man as determined through radiometry and paleontology, while acknowledging with the latter how much of it is theoretical.
The book opens with our duo at a party telling the attendees about their plans to create Science, which leads into a loud series of proclamations from everyone in the room. (“Science is the pinnacle of human abilities!” “Science is nothing but a monkey with a stick poking around in places it doesn’t know anything about!”) “Oh boy!” our cartoonist wonders. “What are we getting ourselves into this time?”
Another witty look at human history through a sharply inquisitive and visually inventive mind: can’t wait to see what de Heer does in her discovery of Religion.