Ben Franklin Stilled the Waves: An Informal History Pouring Oil on Water with Reflections on the Ups and Downs of Scientific Life in General

Overview

Benjamin Franklin was the first to report the phenomenon of oil's power to still troubled waters and to speculate on why it happened. A century later Lord Rayleigh performed an identical experiment. Irving Langmuir did it with minor variations in 1917, and won a Nobel Prize for it. Then Langmuir's work was followed by a Dutch pediatrician's in 1925. p Each experimenter saw a little more in the result than his predecessor had seen, and the sciences of physics, chemistry and biology have all been illuminated by the...

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Overview

Benjamin Franklin was the first to report the phenomenon of oil's power to still troubled waters and to speculate on why it happened. A century later Lord Rayleigh performed an identical experiment. Irving Langmuir did it with minor variations in 1917, and won a Nobel Prize for it. Then Langmuir's work was followed by a Dutch pediatrician's in 1925. p Each experimenter saw a little more in the result than his predecessor had seen, and the sciences of physics, chemistry and biology have all been illuminated by the work. p Charles Tanford reflects on the evolving nature of science and of individual scientists. Recounting innovations in each trial, he follows the classic experiment from Franklin's drawing room to our present-day institutionalized scientific establishments and speculates on the ensuing changes in our approach to scientific inquiry.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780192804945
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/31/2003
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Tanford is Emeritus Professor at Duke University, Durham, NC, USA and a former Guggenheim Fellow. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and lives in Easingwold, UK.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
1. Introduction
2. Benjamin Franklin
3. Friends and Influences
4. The French Connection
5. Pliny the Elder
6. Eighteenth-Century Science
7. Franklin's Experiment: The Observation
8. How Small is a Molecule? The Calculation Franklin
Did Not Make
9. One Hundred Years Later: Science Comes of Age
10. Lord Rayleigh
11. Meticulous Miss Pockels
12. Comrades in the Search: The Flavor of Late
Nineteenth-Century Physics
13. Ben Franklin Wonders Why (Molecular Interpretation)

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