Eureka!: Scientific Breakthroughs that Changed the World / Edition 1by Leslie Alan Horvitz
Pub. Date: 01/09/2002
The common language of genius: Eureka!
While the roads that lead to breakthrough scientific discovery can be as varied and complex as the human mind, the moment of insight for all scientists is remarkably similar. The word "eureka!", attributed to the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes, has come to express that universal moment of joy, wonder-and even
The common language of genius: Eureka!
While the roads that lead to breakthrough scientific discovery can be as varied and complex as the human mind, the moment of insight for all scientists is remarkably similar. The word "eureka!", attributed to the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes, has come to express that universal moment of joy, wonder-and even shock-at discovering something entirely new. In this collection of twelve scientific stories, Leslie Alan Horvitz describes the drama of sudden insight as experienced by a dozen distinct personalities, detailing discoveries both well known and obscure. From Darwin, Einstein, and the team of Watson and Crick to such lesser known luminaries as fractal creator Mandelbrot and periodic table mastermind Dmitri Medellev, Eureka! perfectly illustrates Louis Pasteur's quip that chance favors the prepared mind. The book also describes how amateur scientist Joseph Priestley stumbled onto the existence of oxygen in the eighteenth century and how television pioneer Philo Farnsworth developed his idea for a TV screen while plowing his family's Idaho farm.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: A Sudden Flash of Light.
1. A Breath of Immoral Air: Joseph Priestley and the Discovery of Oxygen.
2. Epiphany at Clapham Road: Fredrich Kekule and the Discovery of the Structure of Carbon Compounds.
3. A Visionary from Siberia: Dmitry Mendeleyev and the Invention of the Periodic Table.
4. The Birth of Amazing Discoveries: Isaac Newton and the Theory of Gravity.
5. The Happiest Thought: Albert Einstein and the Theory of Gravity.
6. The Forgotten Inventor: Philo Farnsworth and the Development of Television.
7. A Faint Shadow of its Former Self: Alexander Fleming and the Discovery of Penicillin.
8. A Flash of Light in Franklin Park: Charles Townes and the Invention of the Laser.
9. The Pioneer of Pangaea: Alfred Wegener and the Theory of Continental Drift.
10. Solving the Mystery of Mysteries: Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species.
11. Unraveling the Secret of Life: James Watson and Francis Crick and the Descovery of the Double Helix.
12. Broken Teacups and Infinite Coastlines: Benoit Mendelbrot and the Invention of Fractal Geometry.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I found this book to be fairly interesting. A few of the stories were new to me and I really enjoyed learning about how the discoveries that impact our world today were made. Leslie Alan Horvitz includes the historical background to each scientist and each discovery, making it easier to appreciate the scientific work in full. Horvitz gives the reader a true sense of the person behind each discovery which makes the reader sympathize with their struggles and rejoice in their final accomplishments. On the other hand, the book is lacking in some areas. Horvitz never includes pictures or visuals which takes away significantly from chapters regarding the periodic table, the structure of carbon, and fractal geometry. While I had some previous knowledge of these concepts, I do think it would have been much easier to get the full picture and understanding if pictures had been included. Also, while the historical background is interesting and helpful, I did find it longwinded and extremely over-detailed. It’s clear that Horvitz put extensive research into this book, but after a few chapters it was hard to hold interest in her writing anymore. Not only does Horvitz put an excessive amount of details into the historical part of the story, she hardly puts any into the actual scientific discoveries other than merely explaining them. It appears to be a running theme throughout the chapters of misplaced focus. Horvitz tends to focus more on the history of the people than the actual discovery. I feel as though this book would have been far more interesting if the stories were shorter, and in greater number. Some important discoveries are missing which would have been beneficial to learn about as well. Of the stories were more focused it would be easier to read and there would have been room for more of the important discoveries that happened outside of the last 300 years. Overall, this book is interesting, but somewhat tiresome and lacking.