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The Ten Most Beautiful Experimentsby George Johnson
Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed New York Times science writer George Johnson, an irresistible book on the ten most fascinating experiments in the history of science—moments when a curious soul posed a particularly eloquent question to nature and received a crisp, unambiguous reply.
Johnson takes us to those times when the world seemed filled with mysterious forces, when scientists were dazzled by light, by electricity, and by the beating of the hearts they laid bare on the dissecting table.
We see Galileo singing to mark time as he measures the pull of gravity, and Newton carefully inserting a needle behind his eye to learn how light causes vibrations in the retina. William Harvey ties a tourniquet around his arm and watches his arteries throb above and his veins bulge below, proving that blood circulates. Luigi Galvani sparks electrical currents in dissected frog legs, wondering at the twitching muscle fibers, and Ivan Pavlov makes his now-famous dogs salivate at ascending chord progressions.
For all of them, diligence was rewarded. In an instant, confusion was swept aside and something new about nature leaped into view. In bringing us these stories, Johnson restores some of the romance to science, reminding us of the existential excitement of a single soul staring down the unknown.
A distinguished science writer and author of Fire in the Mind critically analyzes ten key experiments in the history of science and their implications for human knowledge, raging from Galileo's measurement of the pull of gravity, to William Harvey's study of blood circulations, to Isaac Newton's examination of how light causes vibrations in the retina. 50,000 first printing.
A dazzling, irresistible collection of the ten most ground-breaking and beautiful experiments in scientific history.
With the attention to detail of a historian and the story-telling ability of a novelist, New York Times science writer George Johnson celebrates these groundbreaking experiments and re-creates a time when the world seemed filled with mysterious forces and scientists were in awe of light, electricity, and the human body. Here, we see Galileo staring down gravity, Newton breaking apart light, and Pavlov studying his now famous dogs. This is science in its most creative, hands-on form, when ingenuity of the mind is the most useful tool in the lab and the rewards of a well-considered experiment are on elegant display.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
George Johnson writes regularly about science for The New York Times. He has also written for Scientific American, The Atlantic Monthly, Time, Slate, and Wired, and his work has been included in The Best American Science Writing. He has received awards from PEN and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and his books were twice finalists for the Rhone-Poulenc Prize. He is a co-director of the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop, and he lives in Santa Fe.
Table of Contents
Galileo : the way things really move — William Harvey : mysteries of the heart — Isaac Newton : what a color is — Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier : the farmer's daughter — Luigi Galvani : animal electricity — Michael Faraday : something deeply hidden — James Joule : how the world works — A.A. Michelson : lost in space — Ivan Pavlov : measuring the immeasurable — Robert Millikan : in the borderland — Epilogue : the eleventh most beautiful experiment.
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