The march of science 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. In Eurekas and Euphorias , Walter Gratzer captures the human face of discovery as he relates many intriguing tales of scientific adventures spanning over two thousand years. Open this book at random and you may chance on the clumsy chemist named Sapper who broke a thermometer in a reaction vat and made the discovery that launched the modern dyestuff industry. Or the physicist who dissolved his gold Nobel Prize medal in acid to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Nazis. The book uncovers deep intellectual friendships, as well as ferocious animosities, and even acts of theft and malice, deceit, and a hoax or two. Indeed, we discover that scientists come in all shapes--the obsessive and the dilettantish, the genial, the envious, the preternaturally brilliant and the slow-witted who sometimes saw further in the end, the open-minded and the intolerant, recluses and arrivistes . We meet mathematicians and physicists in prison cells, and even in a madhouse, making important advances in their field. And we witness the careers, sometimes tragic, sometimes carefree, of the great women scientists, from Hypatia of Alexandria, to Sophie Germain and Sonia Kovalevskaya, to Marie Curie and her relentless battle with the French Academy. Told with wit and relish, here then is a glorious parade to delight the reader, with stories to astonish, to instruct, and most especially, to entertain.
Eurekas and Euphorias - The Oxford Book of Scientific Anecdotes
- Pub Date:
- November 2002