Family Reference Books: Time-Life Books History and Trivia Part 1

About the Time-Life series of books, a look at the history and some facts and trivia culled from them.


There were, as of 1975, 15 different sets of reference books published by Time-Life Books, New York. Each set has numerous separate volumes issued periodically. Typically, one set of reference books entitled the Life Science Library has 25 volumes, with subjects ranging from The Body to Wheels. All the sets of Time-Life Books are, without exception, beautifully produced, attractively graphic, filled with lively and authoritative information. As learning tools, as well as interesting reading, all sets are highly recommended. If you wish to browse before you buy, we offer you some facts gleaned from various volumes of two sets.

From various volumes of Life Science Library

"Since the Renaissance, the world's population, overall, has doubled and redoubled. Over approximately the same period, the scientific community, by contrast, has multiplied a hundredfold each century: from a platoon counted in individuals in 1665, to a division counted in ten thousands in 1865, to an army estimated at 6 million today. This phenomenal rate of proliferation has meant that the number of scientists living at any one time has constituted 90% of the total number of scientists who lived before them. Thus we have 9 times as many scientists now as in all previous eras put together. As a corollary, it can be reasonably estimated that 9/10 of current scientific knowledge was yet to be created when our present elder statesmen of science graduated from college in the 1920s."

Except for identical twins, who come from one egg, the chances of 2 identical human beings' being born separately from 2 different eggs are so high that the number "doesn't even have a name," and the odds against it "would have to be written as 1 followed by 9,031 zeroes." After all, "there are more than 8 million ways the 23 chromosomes of a human mother and the 23 of a father can combine."

Less than 20% of the weight of an average adult male comes from his bones. The collected bones of a 160-lb. man weigh only 29 lbs. The same amount of steel bars would weigh 4 to 5 times more.

An infant can have 300 bones in its body. An adult body consists of 206 bones. In the maturing process, no bones have been lost--they have merely fused. One out of 20 persons has an extra rib, but among those with spare ribs men lead women 3 to 1.

About 65% of the average human body consists of water.

"When the Weather Bureau 1st began using computer technology in 1955, an improvement in accuracy, 'slight but significant,' was noted almost immediately. Today 12-to-18-hour forecasts are considered 85% accurate; forecasts up to 36 hours in advance are correct about 75% of the time. Though general weather conditions for about a week in advance can be forecast with some degree of usefulness, it is still beyond the capabilities of science to make detailed predictions for more than about 3 days in advance."

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