Elegance in Science: The beauty of simplicity

Paperback | January 29, 2013

byIan Glynn

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The idea of elegance in science is not necessarily a familiar one, but it is an important one. The use of the term is perhaps most clear-cut in mathematics - the elegant proof - and this is where Ian Glynn begins his exploration. Scientists often share a sense of admiration and excitement onhearing of an elegant solution to a problem, an elegant theory, or an elegant experiment. The idea of elegance may seem strange in a field of endeavour that prides itself in its objectivity, but only if science is regarded as a dull, dry activity of counting and measuring. It is, of course, far more than that, and elegance is a fundamental aspect of the beauty and imagination involved inscientific activity. Ian Glynn, a distinguished scientist, selects historical examples from a range of sciences to draw out the principles of science, including Kepler's Laws, the experiments that demonstrated the nature of heat, and the action of nerves, and of course the several extraordinary episodes that led toWatson and Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA. With a highly readable selection of inspiring episodes highlighting the role of beauty and simplicity in the sciences, the book also relates to important philosophical issues of inference, and Glynn ends by warning us not to rely on beauty and simplicity alone - even the most elegant explanation canbe wrong.

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From the Publisher

The idea of elegance in science is not necessarily a familiar one, but it is an important one. The use of the term is perhaps most clear-cut in mathematics - the elegant proof - and this is where Ian Glynn begins his exploration. Scientists often share a sense of admiration and excitement onhearing of an elegant solution to a problem, ...

Professor Ian Glynn is Emeritus Professor of Physiology, University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. His work on the 'sodium pump' (the molecular machine that quite literally keeps the brains batteries charged) led to his election to the Royal Society and to Honorary Foreign Membership of the American Academy of...

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Kobo ebook|Aug 12 2016

$168.99 online$219.41list price(save 22%)
Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pagesPublished:January 29, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199668817

ISBN - 13:9780199668816

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Table of Contents

1. The meaning of elegance2. Celestial mechanics3. Bringing the heavens down to Earth4. So what is heat?5. Elegance and electricity6. Throwing light on light7. How do nerves work?8. Information handling in the brain9. The genetic code: a hundred years of decoding10. Epilogue: a cautionary tale

Editorial Reviews

"An erudite book...Well illustrated and full of historical anecdote and background, this is an elegant volume indeed." --Serge Daan, Nature 29/07/2010