Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers: Tales of Bitter Rivalry That Fueled the Advancement of Science and Technology (1st edition hardback)
AbeBooks Verkäufer seit 17. Mai 2006Anzahl: 1
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AbeBooks Verkäufer seit 17. Mai 2006Anzahl: 1
Titel: Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers: Tales of...
Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Very Good
Auflage: First Edition.
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When we consider the Herculean figures on the long road to reason and the contributions they have made to our modern worldview, it is only natural to wonder what drove them, what led them to discover. Indeed, it makes us question the very meaning of discovery itself. In so many ways scientists and the natural philosophers who preceded them have much in common with artists, musicians, writers -- creators, forward thinkers and, often, rivals.
Rivalry is a reflection of humanity and as human culture has changed, so too has the guise of rivalry. In simpler times, scientists pitted their wits to reveal nature and sometimes also to expose what they believe to be falsity in their competitors. As science became public property it was used by the governments who represented entire nations. Beyond the tales of personal bitterness of some scientific rivalry we must consider what comes from these battlefields. And it seems the overwhelming effect has been to propel science forward. Be it a priority race, nationalistic fervor, personal hatred, or any combination of these, competition has done much to advance our understanding of the universe.
Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers covers a long history of scientific rivalry, and encompasses a diverse collection of disciplines and rivalries (personal, national, and industrial). Whatever form it takes and however it may be transmogrified, rivalry exists in every lab, in every corner of the world, and in every age. It has spurred great minds on to world-altering breakthroughs in science and technology; in Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers, Michael White illuminates the bitterness and the beauty, the genius and the humanity behind eight such breakthroughs.Review:
Scientific discovery, observes popular science writer Michael White, hinges on argument: at the root of all investigation lies a scientist's argument with the world, conducted in order to coax out information and secrets "until ideas and observation coalesce."
White's interest, however, is on a less elevated plane. In this entertaining book, he recounts personal and professional feuds that have driven scientists to reach new heights--for, as the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, himself no stranger to rivalry, once optimistically observed, "the longer two intelligent people argue, the better their arguments become." Among the arguments that rage through White's book are Isaac Newton's hatred for Gottfried Leibniz, whose formulation of the calculus was independent of Newton's own but, Newton insisted, was a second-rate plagiarism; Richard Owen's fierce refutations of his onetime friend Charles Darwin's theories of speciation and natural selection; the personal squabbles that engulfed Francis Crick and James Watson's discovery of DNA; and a whole complex of rivalries and nasty politics that surrounded the development of the atomic bomb ("perhaps more than any other scientific endeavor in history," White writes, "the making of the atomic bomb exemplifies how pure intellect, corrupted by greed and fear, and supercharged by vast material resources, is capable of transforming the course of society"). White closes with another transforming episode, the development of the personal computer through a battle of "cyber-kings": Microsoft versus NOISE ("Netscape, Oracle, IBM, Sun ... and Everyone Else"). His book is an entertaining sidelong glance at the history of science, full of sound--and plenty of fury. --Gregory McNamee
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