Bomb, Book & Compass by Simon Winchester Penguin HK$142 The title borrows from Francis Bacon's famous observation that gun powder, printing and the compass were inventions that most profoundly changed the world. '[Joseph] Needham found [they] had all been used in China long before they were supposedly 'invented' by westerners,' Simon Winchester writes. Needham, who in 1943 had been despatched from Cambridge to China to set up the Sino-British Co-operation Office in Chongqing, was supposed to cheer up the Chinese working in the country's remote scientific outposts. But he was also on a personal quest to investigate Chinese invention and technology. Winchester presents the story of a fascinating eccentric who travelled 48,000km across China and discovered that the Chinese, 'far from existing beyond the mainstream of human civilisation, had in fact created much of it'. The back of Bomb, Book & Compass includes a list from Needham's life work, the 24-volume Science and Civilisation in China. There, in alphabetical order, are Chinese inventions and discoveries, including everything from air conditioning fans (AD180) to toothbrushes (ninth century AD).