The ten most beautiful experiments

George Johnson; ( Michael Brooks; )
500-519 Mathematics & Natural Sciences  [ Browse Items ]
Publication Year
The Folio Society, United Kingdom 
148 pages 
Science -- Experiments. Science -- History. Science. 
Series Name
Publisher Comments
From the acclaimed New York Times science writer George Johnson, an irresistible book on the ten most fascinating experiments in the history of science — moments when a curious soul posed a particularly eloquent question to nature and received a crisp, unambiguous reply.
Johnson takes us to those times when the world seemed filled with mysterious forces, when scientists were dazzled by light, by electricity, and by the beating of the hearts they laid bare on the dissecting table.

We see Galileo singing to mark time as he measures the pull of gravity, and Newton carefully inserting a needle behind his eye to learn how light causes vibrations in the retina. William Harvey ties a tourniquet around his arm and watches his arteries throb above and his veins bulge below, proving that blood circulates. Luigi Galvani sparks electrical currents in dissected frog legs, wondering at the twitching muscle fibers, and Ivan Pavlov makes his now-famous dogs salivate at ascending chord progressions.

For all of them, diligence was rewarded. In an instant, confusion was swept aside and something new about nature leaped into view. In bringing us these stories, Johnson restores some of the romance to science, reminding us of the existential excitement of a single soul staring down the unknown.

"Johnson exerts classic appeal to science readers: presenting the lone genius making a great discovery." Booklist
"Illustrated with the experimenters' own sketches, as well as portraits of each of the canonized 10, the narrative is accessible and a far cry from the aridity of a textbook." School Library Journal
"Johnson has a good feel for detail...and an easy touch with larger concepts...[his] lively book nicely evokes the lost world of the tabletop experiment." New York Times
"Johnson documents the creativity, rivalries, mistakes and despair that power great breakthroughs and explains each experiment in clear language that makes the book accessible to the lay reader." St. Petersburg Times
"Pays wonderful homage to the science and scientists that helped create the modern world." Kirkus Reviews

About the Author
George Johnson writes regularly about science for The New York Times. He has also written for Scientific American, The Atlantic Monthly, Time, Slate, and Wired, and his work has been included in The Best American Science Writing. He has received awards from PEN and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and his books were twice finalists for the Rhone-Poulenc Prize. He is a co-director of the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop, and he lives in Santa Fe.

Table of Contents
1. Galileo: The Way Things Really Move

2. William Harvey: Mysteries of the Heart

3. Isaac Newton: What a Color Is

4. Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier: The Farmers Daughter

5. Luigi Galvani: Animal Electricity

6. Michael Faraday: Something Deeply Hidden

7. James Joule: How the World Works

8. A. A. Michelson: Lost in Space

9. Ivan Pavlov: Measuring the Immeasurable

10. Robert Millikan: In the Borderland

Epilogue: The Eleventh Most Beautiful Experiment

Notes and Bibliography


Biblio Notes
Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: George Johnson; Michael Brooks
OCLC Number: 745132890
Notes: Originally published : New York : A.A. Knopf; London: The Bodley Head, 2008.
Description: xxi, 148 pages, [8 pages of plates : illustrations, plates (chiefly color) ; 23 cm
Contents: Galileo : the way things really move --
William Harvey : mysteries of the heart --
Isaac Newton : what a color is --
Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier : the farmer's daughter --
Luigi Galvani : animal electricity --
Michael Faraday : something deeply hidden --
James Joule : how the world works --
A.A. Michelson : lost in space --
Ivan Pavlov : measuring the immeasurable --
Robert Millikan : in the borderland --
The eleventh most beautiful experiment.
Other Titles: 10 most beautiful experiments
Responsibility: George Johnson, introduced by Michael Brooks.  
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