Cathedrals of Science

The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry

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Author: Patrick Coffey

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780199717460

Category: Science

Page: 400

View: 652

In Cathedrals of Science, Patrick Coffey describes how chemistry got its modern footing-how thirteen brilliant men and one woman struggled with the laws of the universe and with each other. They wanted to discover how the world worked, but they also wanted credit for making those discoveries, and their personalities often affected how that credit was assigned. Gilbert Lewis, for example, could be reclusive and resentful, and his enmity with Walther Nernst may have cost him the Nobel Prize; Irving Langmuir, gregarious and charming, "rediscovered" Lewis's theory of the chemical bond and received much of the credit for it. Langmuir's personality smoothed his path to the Nobel Prize over Lewis. Coffey deals with moral and societal issues as well. These same scientists were the first to be seen by their countries as military assets. Fritz Haber, dubbed the "father of chemical warfare," pioneered the use of poison gas in World War I-vividly described-and Glenn Seaborg and Harold Urey were leaders in World War II's Manhattan Project; Urey and Linus Pauling worked for nuclear disarmament after the war. Science was not always fair, and many were excluded. The Nazis pushed Jewish scientists like Haber from their posts in the 1930s. Anti-Semitism was also a force in American chemistry, and few women were allowed in; Pauling, for example, used his influence to cut off the funding and block the publications of his rival, Dorothy Wrinch. Cathedrals of Science paints a colorful portrait of the building of modern chemistry from the late 19th to the mid-20th century.

Masters of the Universe

Conversations with Cosmologists of the Past

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Author: Helge Kragh

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191034428

Category: Science

Page: 304

View: 5481

How did our modern picture of the universe come into being? Masters of the Universe tells this fascinating story in an unusual format that blends factual and fictional elements. It is based on a series of interviews that a fictional person conducted with leading astronomers and physicists between 1913 and 1965. Among the interviewed scientists are giants such as Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble, and George Gamow, but also scientists who are less well known today or not primarily known as cosmologists such as Karl Schwarzschild, Paul Dirac, and Svante Arrhenius. By following the interviews the reader gets a lively and "almost authentic" impression of the problems that faced this early generation of cosmologists. Although the interviews are purely fictional, a product of the author's imagination, they could have taken place in just the way that is described. They are solidly based on historical facts and, moreover, supplemented with careful annotations and references to the literature. In this way the book bridges the gap between scholarly and popular history of science.

I Died for Beauty

Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science

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Author: Marjorie Senechal

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199910839

Category: Science

Page: 312

View: 8461

In the vein of A Beautiful Mind, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, and Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA, this volume tells the poignant story of the brilliant, colorful, controversial mathematician named Dorothy Wrinch. Drawing on her own personal and professional relationship with Wrinch and archives in the United States, Canada, and England, Marjorie Senechal explores the life and work of this provocative, scintillating mind. Senechal portrays a woman who was learned, restless, imperious, exacting, critical, witty, and kind. A young disciple of Bertrand Russell while at Cambridge, the first women to receive a doctor of science degree from Oxford University, Wrinch's contributions to mathematical physics, philosophy, probability theory, genetics, protein structure, and crystallography were anything but inconsequential. But Wrinch, a complicated and ultimately tragic figure, is remembered today for her much publicized feud with Linus Pauling over the molecular architecture of proteins. Pauling ultimately won that bitter battle. Yet, Senechal reminds us, some of the giants of mid-century science--including Niels Bohr, Irving Langmuir, D'Arcy Thompson, Harold Urey, and David Harker--took Wrinch's side in the feud. What accounts for her vast if now-forgotten influence? What did these renowned thinkers, in such different fields, hope her model might explain? Senechal presents a sympathetic portrait of the life and work of a luminous but tragically flawed character. At the same time, she illuminates the subtler prejudices Wrinch faced as a feisty woman, profound culture clashes between scientific disciplines, ever-changing notions of symmetry and pattern in science, and the puzzling roles of beauty and truth.

The Anatomy Museum

Death and the Body Displayed

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Author: Elizabeth Hallam

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1861893752

Category: History

Page: 256

View: 7069

Anatomy museums around the world showcase preserved corpses in service of education and medical advancement, but they are little-known and have been largely hidden from the public eye. Elizabeth Hallam here investigates the anatomy museum and how it reveals the fascination and fears that surround the dead body in Western societies. Hallam explores the history of these museums and how they operate in the current cultural environment. Their regulated access increasingly clashes with evolving public mores toward the exposed body, as demonstrated by the international popularity of the Body Worlds exhibition. The book examines such related topics as artistic works that employ the images of dead bodies and the larger ongoing debate over the disposal of corpses. Issues such as aesthetics and science, organ and body donations, and the dead body in Western religion and ritual are also discussed here in fascinating depth. The Anatomy Museum unearths a strange and compelling cultural history that investigates the ideas of preservation, human rituals of death, and the spaces that our bodies occupy in this life and beyond.

The Lost Elements

The Periodic Table's Shadow Side

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Author: Marco Fontani,Mariagrazia Costa,Mary Virginia Orna

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199383367

Category: Science

Page: 576

View: 4713

The Periodic Table of Elements hasn't always looked like it does now, a well-organized chart arranged by atomic number. In the mid-nineteenth century, chemists were of the belief that the elements should be sorted by atomic weight. However, the weights of many elements were calculated incorrectly, and over time it became clear that not only did the elements need rearranging, but that the periodic table contained many gaps and omissions: there were elements yet to be discovered, and the allure of finding one had scientists rushing to fill in the blanks. Supposed "discoveries" flooded laboratories, and the debate over what did and did not belong on the periodic table reached a fever pitch. With the discovery of radioactivity, the discourse only intensified. Throughout its formation, the Periodic Table of Elements has seen false entries, good-faith errors, retractions, and dead ends. In fact, there have been more falsely proclaimed elemental discoveries throughout history than there are elements on the table as we know it today. The Lost Elements: The Periodic Table's Shadow Side collects the most notable of these instances, stretching from the nineteenth century to the present. The book tells the story of how scientists have come to understand elements, by discussing the failed theories and false discoveries that shaped the path of scientific progress. We learn of early chemists' stubborn refusal to disregard alchemy as a legitimate practice, and of one German's supposed discovery of an elemental metal that breathed. As elements began to be created artificially in the twentieth century, we watch the discovery climate shift to favor the physicists, rather than the chemists. Along the way, Fontani, Costa, and Orna introduce us to the key figures in the development of today's periodic table, including Lavoisier and Mendeleev. Featuring a preface from Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffmann, The Lost Elements is an expansive history of the wrong side of chemical discovery-and reveals how these errors and gaffes have helped shape the table as much as any other form of scientific progress.

New Eyes on the Universe

Twelve Cosmic Mysteries and the Tools We Need to Solve Them

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Author: Stephen Webb

Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media

ISBN: 1461421942

Category: Science

Page: 371

View: 5941

“New Eyes on the Universe – Twelve Cosmic Mysteries and the Tools We Need to Solve Them” gives an up-to-date broad overview of some of the key issues in modern astronomy and cosmology. It describes the vast amount of observational data that the new generation of observatories and telescopes are currently producing, and how that data might solve some of the outstanding puzzles inherent in our emerging world view. Included are questions such as: What is causing the Universe to blow itself apart? What could be powering the luminous gamma-ray bursters? Where is all the matter in the Universe? Do other Earths exist? Is there intelligent life out there? The renowned author explains clearly, without recourse to mathematics, why each question is puzzling and worthy of research. Included in the study of the wide range of sensitive and powerful instruments used by scientists to try and solve these problems are ones which capture electromagnetic radiation and ‘telescopes’ for cosmic rays, neutrinos, gravitational waves, and dark matter. This book discusses twelve areas of active astronomical research, ranging from the nature of dark energy to the existence or otherwise of extraterrestrial civilizations, and devotes one chapter to each topic. Although astronomers tackle each of these questions using information gleaned from all possible wavelengths and sources (and this is emphasized throughout the book), in this work the author dedicates each chapter to a particular observational method. One chapter covers X-ray telescopes for investigating black holes, while another uses infrared telescopes to learn more about planetary information.

The Last Blank Spaces

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Author: Dane Kennedy

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN: 0674075013

Category: History

Page: 365

View: 2448

The challenge of opening Africa and Australia to British imperial influence fell to a coterie of proto-professional explorers who sought knowledge, adventure, and fame but often experienced confusion, fear, and failure. The Last Blank Spaces follows the arc of these explorations, from idea to practice, intention to outcome, myth to reality.

Need to Know

Vocation as the Heart of Christian Epistemology

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Author: John G. Stackhouse Jr.

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199376972

Category: Religion

Page: 320

View: 2067

How should a Christian think? If a serious Christian wants to think seriously about a serious subject--from considering how to vote in the next election to choosing a career; from deciding among scientific theories to selecting a mate; from weighing competing marketing proposals to discerning the best fitness plan--what does he or she do? This basic question is at the heart of a complex discourse: epistemology. A bold new statement of Christian epistemology, Need to Know presents a comprehensive, coherent, and clear model of responsible Christian thinking. Grounded in the best of the Christian theological tradition while being attentive to a surprising range of thinkers in the history of philosophy, natural science, social science, and culture, the book offers a scheme for drawing together experience, tradition, scholarship, art, and the Bible into a practical yet theoretically profound system of thinking about thinking. John Stackhouse's fundamental idea is as simple as it is startling: Since God calls human beings to do certain things in the world, God can be relied upon to supply the knowledge necessary for human beings to do those things. The classic Christian concept of vocation, then, supplies both the impetus and the assurance that faithful Christians can trust God to guide their thinking--on a "need to know" basis.

The Science of Harry Potter

How Magic Really Works

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Author: Roger Highfield

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 9781440650994

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 368

View: 2723

Behind the magic of Harry Potter—a witty and illuminating look at the scientific principles, theories, and assumptions of the boy wizard's world, newly come to life again in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Can Fluffy the three-headed dog be explained by advances in molecular biology? Could the discovery of cosmic "gravity-shielding effects" unlock the secret to the Nimbus 2000 broomstick's ability to fly? Is the griffin really none other than the dinosaur Protoceratops? Roger Highfield, author of the critically acclaimed The Physics of Christmas, explores the fascinating links between magic and science to reveal that much of what strikes us as supremely strange in the Potter books can actually be explained by the conjurings of the scientific mind. This is the perfect guide for parents who want to teach their children science through their favorite adventures as well as for the millions of adult fans of the series intrigued by its marvels and mysteries. • An ALA Booklist Editors' Choice • From the Trade Paperback edition.

Annals of Bryozoology

Aspects of the History of Research on Bryozoans

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Author: International Bryozoology Association. Conference

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: N.A

Category: Bryozoa

Page: 382

View: 5533