Eurekas and Euphorias: The Oxford Book Of Scientific Anecdotes

Paperback | May 27, 2004

byWalter Gratzer

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The march of science has never proceeded smoothly. It has been marked through the years by episodes of drama and comedy, of failure as well as triumph, by outrageous strokes of luck, deserved and undeserved, and sometimes by human tragedy. It has seen deep intellectual friendships, as well asferocious animosities, and once in a while acts of theft and malice, deceit, and even a hoax or two. Scientists come in all shapes: the obsessive and the dilettantish, the genial, the envious, the preternaturally brilliant and the slow-witted who sometimes see further in the end, the open-minded andthe intolerant, recluses and arrivistes. From the death of Archimedes at the hands of an irritated Roman soldier to the concoction of a superconducting witches' brew at the very close of the twentieth century, the stories in Eurekas and Euphorias pour out, told with wit and relish by Walter Gratzer.Open this book at random and you may chance on the clumsy chemist who breaks a thermometer in a reaction vat and finds mercury to be the catalyst that starts the modern dyestuff industry; or a famous physicist dissolving his gold Nobel Prize medal in acid to prevent it from falling into the hands ofthe Nazis, recovering it when the war ends; mathematicians and physicists diverting themselves in prison cells, and even in a madhouse, by creating startling advances in their subject. We witness the careers, sometimes tragic, sometimes carefree, of the great women mathematicians, from Hypatia ofAlexandria to Sophie Germain in France and Sonia Kovalevskaya in Russia and Sweden, and then Marie Curie's relentless battle with the French Academy. Here, then, a glorious parade unfolds to delight the reader, with stories to astonish, to instruct, and most especially, to entertain.

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The march of science has never proceeded smoothly. It has been marked through the years by episodes of drama and comedy, of failure as well as triumph, by outrageous strokes of luck, deserved and undeserved, and sometimes by human tragedy. It has seen deep intellectual friendships, as well asferocious animosities, and once in a while a...

Walter Gratzer is a biophysicist at the Randall Centre for Molecular Mechanisms of Cell Function, King's College London. He is known to a wide readership through his book reviews, which are invariably models of clarity and elegance. He edited The Longman Literary Companion to Science (published in the USA as The Literary Companion to ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:366 pages, 7.72 × 5.08 × 0.8 inPublished:May 27, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019860940X

ISBN - 13:9780198609407

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

A selection of anecdotes...Cats and dogmasA mathematical deathThe Bucklands deflate a miracleFarmyard thermodynamicsChemistry in the kitchen: the discovery of nitrocelluloseFortune favours the ham fistRutherford finds a solutionThe unbreakable cypherMathematical perilThe Pauli principleThe first EurekaBaccy and quantaHewn in marbleKoch on cookingBen Franklin stills the wavesLoving an enzymeThe poltergeist next doorTug-of-war on the thread of lifeThe living fossilSmoking for the Fuhrerand many more (some 200 entries)

Editorial Reviews

`wonderfully entertaining'Sunday Telegraph