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The Golem: What Everyone Should Know about Science

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Overview

Science, it would seem, is neither all good nor all bad. It gives us nuclear accidents and cures for disease, agricultural self-sufficiency and death in space flight. Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch liken science to the Golem, a creature from Jewish mythology, powerful yet potentially dangerous, a gentle, helpful creature that may yet run amok at any moment. Through a series of intriguing case studies of famous and not-so-famous scientific episodes, ranging from relativity and cold fusion to memory in worms and the sex lives of lizards, the authors debunk the idea that science is the straightforward result of competent theorisation, observation and experimentation. Closer to the truth, they suggest, is the realisation that scientific certainty comes from interpreting ambiguous results within an order imposed by scientists themselves. This thought-provoking account will give general readers a new perspective on the place of science in society. '… perverse but entertaining … the writing is deft, the stories are good and there is not a boring page.' Nature '… a must for every science student.' Science Reporter

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521477369
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/22/1994
  • Series: Canto Book Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 180
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgements
Introduction: the golem 1
1 Edible knowledge: the chemical transfer of memory 5
2 Two experiments that 'proved' the theory of relativity 27
3 The sun in a test tube: the story of cold fusion 57
4 The germs of dissent: Louis Pasteur and the origins of life 79
5 A new window on the universe: the non-detection of gravitational radiation 91
6 The sex life of the whiptail lizard 109
7 Set the controls for the heart of the sun: the strange story of the missing solar neutrinos 121
Conclusion: putting the golem to work 141
References and further reading 153
Index 157
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