Ben Franklin Stilled the Waves: An Informal History of Pouring Oil on Water with Reflections on the…

Hardcover | April 22, 2004

byCharles Tanford

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When Benjamin Franklin, the 18th-century American statesman and scientist, watched the calming effect of a drop of oil on the waves and ripples of a London pond, he was observing what Pliny the Elder and generations of seafarers had done before him. Franklin, though, was the first to wonderexactly what was happening to the oil, and to investigate this strange phenomenon.Following Franklin's lead, a motley crowd of scientists over the next two centuries and more chose to investigate the nature of atoms and molecules through the interaction of fluid membranes. They included Lord Rayleigh, an altruistic English Lord, Agnes Pockels, who conducted experiments in herkitchen and became one of the earliest women to make lasting contributions to science, the renowned Dutch pediatrician Evert Gorter, and Irving Langmuir, one of America's greatest industrial scientists. Building on Franklin's original experiments, their work has culminated in the discovery of thestructure of cell membranes, research that continues to bear fruit today.Ben Franklin Stilled the Waves is far more than the story of oil on water; it is a voyage into the very nature of science and its place in our history.

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When Benjamin Franklin, the 18th-century American statesman and scientist, watched the calming effect of a drop of oil on the waves and ripples of a London pond, he was observing what Pliny the Elder and generations of seafarers had done before him. Franklin, though, was the first to wonderexactly what was happening to the oil, and to ...

Charles Tanford is Emeritus Professor at Duke University, Durham, NC, USA and a former Guggenheim Fellow. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and lives in Easingwold, UK.

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Kobo ebook|Nov 27 2003

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Format:HardcoverPublished:April 22, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0192804944

ISBN - 13:9780192804945

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements1. Introduction2. Benjamin Franklin3. Friends and Influences4. The French Connection5. Pliny the Elder6. Eighteenth-Century Science7. Franklin's Experiment: The Observation8. How Small is a Molecule? The Calculation Franklin Did Not Make9. One Hundred Years Later: Science Comes of Age10. Lord Rayleigh11. Meticulous Miss Pockels12. Comrades in the Search: The Flavor of Late Nineteenth-Century Physics13. Ben Franklin Wonders Why (Molecular Interpretation)14. In Praise of Water15. Irving Langmuir - Cells and Membranes16. Biology - Cells and Membranes17. Ernest Overton: Gentle Genius18. Gorter and Grendel: A Factor of Two19. Epilogue - The Biological FrontierBibliographyIndex