True Tales of Ingenuity and Error from Physics and Astronomy
Topper, David R
2007, XIII, 210 p.
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Enlightens the reader to the quirkiness of the scientific mind
Clearly demonstrates that the greatest scientific minds throughout history arrived at their famous theories in very unorganized ways
Details how researchers often did not fully grasp the significance and implications of their own work
Tells little-known, yet fascinating stories in a clear and engaging style to captivate the scientific-educated reader
Reveals that the popular image of the scientist is really a caricature of the way scientists think and do their work
These historical narratives of scientific behavior reveal the often irrational way scientists arrive at and assess their theories. There are stories of Einstein’s stubbornness leading him to reject a correct interpretation of an experiment and miss an important deduction from his own theory, and Newton missing the important deduction from one of his most celebrated discoveries. Copernicus and Galileo are found surpressing information. A theme running throughout the book is the notion that what is obvious today was not so in the past. Scientists seen in their historical context shatter myths and show them to be less modern than we often like to think of them.
Content Level »Popular/general
Keywords »Albert Einstein - Astronomy history - Experiment - Galileo Galilei - Isaac Newton - Nicolaus Copernicus - Physics history - Science history - Science methodology - Scientific Revolution - astronomy
Tenacity and Stubbornness: Einstein on Theory and Experiment.- Convergence or Coincidence: Ancient Measurements of the Sun and Moon—How Far?.- The Rationality of Simplicity: Copernicus on Planetary Motion.- The Silence of Scientists: Venus’s Brightness, Earth’s Precession, and the Nebula in Orion.- Progress Through Error: Stars and Quasars—How Big, How Far?.- The Data Fit the Model but the Model is Wrong: Kepler and the Structure of the Cosmos.- Art Illustrates Science: Galileo, a Blemished Moon, and a Parabola of Blood.- Ensnared in Circles: Galileo and the Law of Projectile Motion.- Aesthetics and Holism: Newton on Light, Color, and Music.- Missing One’s Own Discovery Newton and the First Idea of an Artificial Satellite.- A Change of Mind: Newton and the Comet(s?) of 1680 and 1681.- A Well-Nigh Discovery: Einstein and the Expanding Universe.