Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the 18th Century

Overview

The 18th century saw the emergence of the industrial and chemical revolutions and witnessed the near-universal acceptance of applied science. It was a time of revolutionary, lasting transformation for the practice of science and mathematics. Most procedures and precepts of modern science took hold during the 18th century, when scientists first paired scientific research with practical application to astonishing results. In over 60 alphabetical entries, Shectman examines at the tremendous scientific discoveries, ...

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Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the 18th Century

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Overview

The 18th century saw the emergence of the industrial and chemical revolutions and witnessed the near-universal acceptance of applied science. It was a time of revolutionary, lasting transformation for the practice of science and mathematics. Most procedures and precepts of modern science took hold during the 18th century, when scientists first paired scientific research with practical application to astonishing results. In over 60 alphabetical entries, Shectman examines at the tremendous scientific discoveries, inventions, and inquiries of the period. Familiar topics such as the steam engine and hot air balloon are covered, along with lesser-known topics such as the Watt copy press and Newton's experimentum crucis.

A thorough discussion of each entry's scientific impact provides readers with an understanding of the lasting social and political importance of these advancements. Narratives enrich the entries by adding context and perspective to the century's fascinating scientific history. Students and researchers will find this reference book easy to use. Included are an appendix of entries listed by scientific field, a glossary of terms, indexes by name and subject.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Shectman, previously editor of a series of science education books, writes about 18th-century science in the latest title of the publisher's five-volume series. Series adviser Robert E. Krebs opposes postmodern narratives in science studies, and in his 60-plus entries, Shectman follows suit by largely ignoring issues of social context and social meaning. He does, however, attempt to situate each experiment, invention, or discovery in the context of other scientific work. Regrettably, Shectman often resorts to anachronistic language, as when he describes Evangelista Torricelli's work in the 1600s with reference to hydrodynamics, a term derived from Daniel Bernoulli's 1738 essay. The figures included are helpful but, again, sometimes anachronistic. While Shectman's diagram showing the application of Bernoulli's principle to airplane-wing design is useful, his discussion of Thomas Wright's findings on the shape of the Milky Way might have benefited from the inclusion of one of Wright's engravings rather than, or in addition to, the more modern graphics that he does use. The articles are arranged alphabetically by title, which is often useless; for example, the essay on primary colors is titled "Three `Primary' Colors Are Sufficient To Produce All Others." Poor indexing similarly minimizes the volume's value as a reference tool: neither "primary" nor "color" appears in the index. The series is aimed at middle school and high school students, undergraduates who are not science majors, and the general public-an audience that would probably find the ignored social and cultural aspects valuable and interesting. Since few history of science texts are written for these readers, it is disappointing that this volume cannot boast a more balanced coverage.-Barbarly Korper McConnell, California State Univ. Lib., Fullerton Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

JONATHAN SHECTMAN is former editor of a series of science education books written by the National Science Resources Center, an arm of the Smithsonian Institution.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Entries

Appendix: Entries by Scientific Field

Glossary of Technical Terms

Bibliography

Names and Subject Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2003

    Informed and Appealing Text

    As a teacher and lover of both history and science, I am quite impressed with this volume. This text is unique in grounding scientific breakthroughs in the social/political climate of the time. The writing is crisp and infomed, the illustrations elegant and the integration of science and society make this a deceptively appealing educational text.

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