Eyewitness to Science: Scientists and Writers Illuminate Natural Phenomena from Fossils to Fractals

Overview

Plotting the development of modern science from Leonardo da Vinci to Chaos Theory, John Carey chooses accounts by scientists themselves that are both elegant and arrestingly written. The classic science-writers are here: Darwin, Huxley, Fabre. So, too, are the luminaries of the late-twentieth-century genre of popular science-writing which, Carey argues, challenges contemporary poetry and fiction in its imaginative power.

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Overview

Plotting the development of modern science from Leonardo da Vinci to Chaos Theory, John Carey chooses accounts by scientists themselves that are both elegant and arrestingly written. The classic science-writers are here: Darwin, Huxley, Fabre. So, too, are the luminaries of the late-twentieth-century genre of popular science-writing which, Carey argues, challenges contemporary poetry and fiction in its imaginative power.

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Editorial Reviews

Elle
A tantalizing cornucopia of essays, arguments, and investigations...Carey has combed the annals of science to gather pieces on radium, rust, wasps, nerves, tides, toads, gravity, light, spiders, sex, fractals, and flesh, by the likes of Sigmund Freud, Laura Fermi, Darwin, Rachel Carson, Richard Feynman, and Eve Curie...Immensely entertaining and surprisingly easy-to-read.
Nature
Entertaining, stimulating and occasionally startling. Carey's reading is prodigious, and...his choices are illuminated by commentaries that crackle with literary and indeed scientific insights.
— Walter Gratzer
Sunday Times [UK]
Carey has put together a wonderful collection...His introduction is a piece of science writing that should in its own right occupy a central place in any future anthology...[His] scholarship is enviable...The mixture is deliciously rich.
— Lewis Wolpert
The Dispatch [Columbus]
Carey's anthology of writing about science is both entertaining and instructive. George Orwell on the common toad: 'I mention the spawning of toads because it is one of the phenomena of spring which most deeply appeal to me, and because the toad, unlike the skylark and the primrose, has never had much of a boost from the poets.' Here also are Anton van Leeuwenhoek, said to be 'the first human being to see living protozoa and bacteria' on his discovery of '"little animals" in water'; Vladimir Nabokov on butterflies; and Angus McLaren on 'antigestatory appliances.'
— S.R.B. Iyer
The Observer
Carey is a man of letters, not one of equations. Yet his sympathy for science and his defense of the actions of its practitioners shines through every page. This has produced an enthralling anthology that illuminates the world of science and explains its wonders with lyrical clarity.
Times [UK]
Captures the flavor of modern science through many illustrious epochs. Starting with Galileo's discovery of Jupiter's four moons, it moves through Darwin's theory of evolution and ends with contemporary contributors such as the zoologist Richard Dawkins and the geneticist Steve Jones. Carey's collection crystallizes the essence of great science--the awe of discovery, the emotions stirred by breakthrough and...the intellectual brilliance of those who have shaped our understanding of the world.
— Anjana Ahuja
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674287556
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1997
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction

Prelude: The Misfit from Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

Going inside the Body
Andreas Vesalius

Galileo and the Telescope
Galileo Galilei

William Harvey and the Witches
Geoffrey Keynes

The Hunting Spider
Robert Hooke and John Evelyn

Early Blood Transfusion
Henry Oldenburg and Thomas Shadwell

Little Animals in Water
Antony van Leeuwenhoek

An Apple and Colours
Sir Isaac Newton and Others

The Little Red Mouse and the Field Cricket
Gilbert White

Two Mice Discover Oxygen
Joseph Priestley

Discovering Uranus
Alfred Noyes

The Big Bang and Vegetable Love
Erasmus Darwin

Taming the Speckled Monster
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Edward Jenner

The Menace of Population
Thomas Malthus

How the Giraffe Got its Neck
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, George Bernard Shaw and Richard Wilbur

Medical Studies, Paris 1821
Hector Berlioz

The Man with a Lid on his Stomach
William Beaumont

Those Dreadful Hammers: Lyell and the New Geology
Charles Lyell

The Discovery of Worrying
Adam Phillips

Pictures for the Million
Samuel F. B. Morse and Marc Antoine Gaudin

The Battle of the Ants
Henry David Thoreau

On a Candle
Michael Faraday

Heat Death
John Updike

Adam's Navel
Stephen Jay Gould

Submarine Gardens of Eden; Devon, 1858-9
Edmund Gosse

In Praise of Rust
John Ruskin

The Devil's Chaplain
Charles Darwin

The Discovery of Prehistory
Daniel J. Boorstin

Chains and Rings: Kekule's Dreams
August Kekule

On a Piece of Chalk
T. H. Huxley

Siberia Breeds a Prophet
Bernard Jaffe

Socialism and Bacteria
David Bodanis

God and Molecules
James Clerk Maxwell

Inventing Electric Light
Francis Jehl

Bird's Custard: The True Story
Nicholas Kurt

Birth Control: The Diaphragm
Angus McLaren

Headless Sex: The Praying Mantis
L. 0. Howard

The World as Sculpture
William James

The Discovery of X-Rays
Wilhelm Roentgen, H.J.W. Dam, and Others

No Sun in Paris
Henri Becquerel

The Colour of Radium
Eve Curie

The Innocence of Radium
Lavinia Greenlaw

The Secret of the Mosquito's Stomach
Ronald Ross

The Poet and the Scientist
Hugh MacDiarmid

Wasps, Moths and Fossils
Jean-Henri Fabre

The Massacre of the Males
Maurice Maeterlinck

Freud on Perversion
Sigmund Freud and W. H. Auden

Kitty Hawk
Orville Wright

A Cuckoo in a Robin's Nest
W. H. Hudson

Was the World Made for Man?
Mark Twain

Drawing the Nerves
Santiago Ramon y Cajal

Discovering the Nucleus
C. P. Snow

Death of a Naturalist
W. N. P. Barbellion

Relating Relativity
Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell,A. S. Eddington and Others

Uncertainty and Other Worlds
F. W. Bridgman and others

Quantum Mechanics: Mines and Machine-Guns
Max Born

Why Light Travels in Straight Lines
Peter Atkins

Puzzle Interest
William Empson

Submarine Blue
William Beebe

Sea-Cucumbers
John Steinbeck

Telling the Workers about Science
J. B. S. Haldane

The Making of the Eye
Sir Charles Sherrington

Green Mould in the Wind
Sarah R. Reidman and Elton T. Gustafson

In the Black Squash Court: The First Atomic Pile
Laura Fermi

A Death and the Bomb
Richard Feynman

The Story of a Carbon Atom
Primo Levi

Tides
Rachel Carson

The Hot, Mobile Earth
Charles officer and Jake Page

The Poet and the Surgeon
James Kirkup and Dannie Abse

Enter Love and Enter Death
Joseph Wood Krutch

In the Primeval Swamp
Jacquetta Hawkes

Krakatau: The Aftermath
Edward 0. Wilson

Gorillas
George Schaller

Toads
George Orwell

Russian Butterflies
Vladimir Nabokov

Discovering a Medieval Louse
John Steinbeck

The Gecko's Belly
Italo Calvino

On the Moon
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin

Gravity
John Frederick Nims

Otto Frisch Explains Atomic Particles
Otto Frisch, Murray Gell-Mann and John Updike

From Stardust to Flesh
Nigel Calder and Ted Hughes

Black Holes
Isaac Asimov

The Fall-Out Planet
J. E. Lovelock

Galactic Diary of an Edwardian Lady
Edward Larrissy

The Light of Common Day
Arthur C. Clarke

Can We Know the Universe? Reflections on a Grain of Salt
Carl Sagan

Brain Size
Anthony Smith

On Not DiscoveringRuth Benedict

Negative Predictions
Sir Peter Medawar

Clever Animals
Lewis Thomas

Great Fakes of Science
Martin Gardner

Unnatural Nature
Lewis Wolpert

Rags, Dolls and Teddy Bears
D. W. Winnicott

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
Oliver Sacks

Seeing the Atoms in Crystals
Lewis Wolpert and Dorothy Hodgkin

The Plan of Living Things
Francis Crick

Willow Seeds and the Encyclopaedia Britannica
Richard Dawkins

Shedding Life
Miroslav Holub

The Greenhouse Effect: An Alternative View

Freeman Dyson

Fractals, Chaos and Strange Attractors
Caroline Series and Paul Davies,Tom Stoppard and Robert May

The Language of the Genes
Steve Jones

The Good Earth is Dying Isaac Asimov

Acknowledgements

Index of Names

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