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Scientists and Swindlers: Consulting on Coal and Oil in America, 1820-1890

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Overview

In this impressively researched and highly original work, Paul Lucier explains how science became an integral part of American technology and industry in the nineteenth century. Scientists and Swindlers introduces us to a new service of professionals: the consulting scientists. Lucier follows these entrepreneurial men of science on their wide-ranging commercial engagements from the shores of Nova Scotia to the coast of California and shows how their innovative work fueled the rapid growth of the American coal and oil industries and the rise of American geology and chemistry. Along the way, he explores the decisive battles over expertise and authority, the high-stakes court cases over patenting research, the intriguing and often humorous exploits of swindlers, and the profound ethical challenges of doing science for money.

Starting with the small surveying businesses of the 1830s and reaching to the origins of applied science in the 1880s, Lucier recounts the complex and curious relations that evolved as geologists, chemists, capitalists, and politicians worked to establish scientific research as a legitimate, regularly compensated, and respected enterprise. This sweeping narrative enriches our understanding of how the rocks beneath our feet became invaluable resources for science, technology, and industry.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

This will be an especially appropriate library resource for history of science and technology and history of geology collections. Highly recommended.

Journal of American History
Scientists and Swindlers is a valuable addition to our understanding of the evolution of scientific practice in America. Lucier's work answers much and raises interesting questions. That makes it a worthy read.

— James C. Williams

Ambix
This is a well-written study, and covers a lot of ground.

— Gregory Tweedale

Civil Engineering - Ray Bert
Extensively researched and replete with bibliographical citations, Scientists and Swindlers is a significant reference work for historians and will also be of interest to geologists, chemists, and other scientists interested in the history of their professions.
Canadian Journal of History - James B. McSwain
Gracefully written and well-researched study.
Technology and Culture - Christopher J. Castaneda
An insightful study of scientific consulting practices that integrates business, geology, and environmental issues with the larger context of the early history of the American 'fossil fuel' industry.
Journal of American History - James C. Williams
Scientists and Swindlers is a valuable addition to our understanding of the evolution of scientific practice in America. Lucier's work answers much and raises interesting questions. That makes it a worthy read.
Ambix - Gregory Tweedale
This is a well-written study, and covers a lot of ground.
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences - Dan Bouk
Required reading for anyone interested in American science or in the interplay of science and industrial society.
Choice
This will be an especially appropriate library resource for history of science and technology and history of geology collections. Highly recommended.
Choice

This will be an especially appropriate library resource for history of science and technology and history of geology collections. Highly recommended.

Technology and Culture - Christopher J. Castaneda

An insightful study of scientific consulting practices that integrates business, geology, and environmental issues with the larger context of the early history of the American 'fossil fuel' industry.

Civil Engineering - Ray Bert

Extensively researched and replete with bibliographical citations, Scientists and Swindlers is a significant reference work for historians and will also be of interest to geologists, chemists, and other scientists interested in the history of their professions.

Canadian Journal of History - James B. McSwain

Gracefully written and well-researched study.

Journal of American History - James C. Williams

Scientists and Swindlers is a valuable addition to our understanding of the evolution of scientific practice in America. Lucier's work answers much and raises interesting questions. That makes it a worthy read.

Ambix - Gregory Tweedale

This is a well-written study, and covers a lot of ground.

Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences - Dan Bouk

Required reading for anyone interested in American science or in the interplay of science and industrial society.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Trained as a geophysicist, Paul Lucier holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. His work as a historian of science and technology specializing in the earth and environmental sciences and the mining industries has received numerous prizes and has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction Money for science 1

Ch. 1 Geological enterprise 11

Ch. 2 The strange case of the Albert mineral 41

Ch. 3 The American sciences of coal 69

Ch. 4 Mining science 108

Ch. 5 The technological science of kerosene 143

Ch. 6 The kerosene cases 162

Ch. 7 The rock oil report 189

Ch. 8 The elusive nature of oil and its markets 208

Ch. 9 The search for oil and oil-finding experts 244

Ch. 10 California crude 273

Epilogue Americanization of science 313

Notes 325

Essay on sources 397

Index 411

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