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Lulox Books
Findings: Hidden Stories in First-hand Accounts of Scientific Discovery

Findings: Hidden Stories in First-hand Accounts of Scientific Discovery

by Hugh Aldersey-Williams


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Findings: Hidden Stories in First-hand Accounts of Scientific Discovery

1900: Max Planck communicates the first intimations of the quantum effect, a phenomenon that profoundly disturbs the conservative physicist. His discomfiture is apparent from the way he phrases his announcement.

1929: Given the cosmic magnitude of his discovery that the universe is expanding, Edwin Hubble is remarkably circumspect in his report-for good reason, as his data are patchy and he must not enrage jealous colleagues.

1953: James Watson and Francis Crick pretend a grand rivalry with Linus Pauling in order to distract attention from the dirtier struggle they are really engaged in. By weaving together descriptions of real DNA and their model of it, they cleverly persuade their readers.

1973: Passion and advocacy take the place of objectivity in papers on the ozone layer, biodiversity, animal behaviour and more when scientists become environmentalists.

1996: NASA scientists claim to have found evidence of fossil life on Mars, but their uneasy prose suggests they aren’t so sure, as they unintentionally recapitulate the century-old argument that Mars’s ‘canals’ were evidence of civilization.

In these and other examples, Hugh Aldersey-Williams shows that scientific papers are far from the dispassionate, objective accounts they are supposed to be. Their authors are human-often all too human-breaking into their narratives with unexpected emotions of joy or envy, trepidation or hubris. Just beneath the surface of their texts lie intriguing alternative stories of personal and national rivalry that reveal a refreshing alternative history of science in the 20th century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780954898007
Publisher: Lulox Books
Publication date: 01/20/2005
Edition description: REV
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.91(w) x 9.06(h) x (d)

Table of Contents


1900s: The Interpretation of Dreams
Planck and the predawn of quantum theory

1910s: Sons and Lovers
Thomas Morgan and sex-linked inheritance

1920s: A la Recherche du Temps Perdu
Edwin Hubble and the expanding universe

1930s: A Handful of Dust
Chadwick and the detection of the neutron

1940s: The Power and the Glory
Science in war from plutonium to penicillin

1950s: Lucky Jim
Watson and Crick and the structure of DNA

1960s: In the Heat of the Night
Penzias and Wilson’s evidence of the Big Bang

1970s: The Gulag Archipelago
Science in crisis: man and the environment

1980s: The Bonfire of the Vanities
Buckminsterfullerene: the third form of carbon

1990s: Pulp Fiction
Or why there (probably) isn’t life on Mars

References and select bibliography

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