The Lady Tasting Tea
How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century
Author: David Salsburg
An insightful, revealing history of the magical mathematics that transformed our world. The Lady Tasting Tea is not a book of dry facts and figures, but the history of great individuals who dared to look at the world in a new way.
At a summer tea party in Cambridge, England, a guest states that tea poured into milk tastes different from milk poured into tea. Her notion is shouted down by the scientific minds of the group. But one man, Ronald Fisher, proposes to scientifically test the hypothesis. There is no better person to conduct such an experiment, for Fisher is a pioneer in the field of statistics.
The Lady Tasting Tea spotlights not only Fisher's theories but also the revolutionary ideas of dozens of men and women which affect our modern everyday lives. Writing with verve and wit, David Salsburg traces breakthroughs ranging from the rise and fall of Karl Pearson's theories to the methods of quality control that rebuilt postwar Japan's economy, including a pivotal early study on the capacity of a small beer cask at the Guinness brewing factory. Brimming with intriguing tidbits and colorful characters, The Lady Tasting Tea salutes the spirit of those who dared to look at the world in a new way.
Henry Holt and Co.
In The News
“A fascinating description of the kinds of people who interacted, collaborated, disagreed, and were brilliant in the development of statistics.” —Barbara A. Bailar, Senior Vice-President, National Opinion Research Center
“Salsburg's book is the story of statistical theory in the 20th century, its time of triumph, and of the mathematical/scientific geniuses who made it happen. He writes with both experience and insight, and with a happy lack of technical barriers between the reader and his subject. Particularly well told is the story of Ronald Fisher, the double genius who founded both mathematical statistics and mathematical genetics. If scientists were judged by their influence on science then Fisher would rank with Einstein and Pauling at the top of the modern ladder.” —Brad Efron, Professor of Statistics, Stanford University