What was impossible a few years ago is merely difficult now. Tomorrow, it may be commonplace," writes Ian Graham in Radio and Television, one of four illuminating books in a new Evans series. How right he is.
Meant for pupils at key stages 3 and 4, Graham's books are clearly written and will appeal even to those normally deterred by technical topics and obscure language. All four have excellent graphics, an informative timeline and a useful glossary, adding up to a spellbinding look at the world ofscience and invention.
In Film and Photography, Graham analyses the biology of the eye before outlining the construction and purpose of digital cameras, electron microscopes, computer-generated images and laser pictures. The other three books take the same approach, with accessible and absorbing sections on such matters as the invention andoperation of radar, satellite television, the workings and effects of computerised printing systems and the growing influence of the Internet.
The cultural background to scientific advance is also included in this series. Indeed, some might find the History Link especially interesting, with handy snippets on the origins of terms such as penknife (a pen originally used to sharpen writing quills) or a note on the 17th-century law passed to prevent people being buried in shrouds that might otherwise be used to make paper.
It's a good mix of the quirky and the conventionally interesting, in no way seriously spoiled by some missed photo-opportunities: occasionally, an uninspiring picture could easily have been replaced with one of dramatic incidents or taken by characters mentioned in the text - the 1937 Hindenburg disaster, say, or the work of Weegee, the celebrated New York photographer of the 1940s. If every picture tells a story, some good yarns go begging here.