Ben Franklin Stilled the Waves

Ben Franklin Stilled the Waves : An Informal History of Pouring Oil on Water with Reflections on the Ups and Downs of Scientific Life in General

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Description

When Benjamin Franklin, the 18th-century American statesman and scientist, watched the calming effect of a drop of oil on the waves and ripples of a London pond, he was observing what Pliny the Elder and generations of seafarers had done before him. Franklin, though, was the first to wonder exactly what was happening to the oil, and to investigate this strange phenomenon. Following Franklin's lead, a motley crowd of scientists over the next two centuries and more chose to investigate the nature of atoms and molecules through the interaction of fluid membranes. They included Lord Rayleigh, an altruistic English Lord, Agnes Pockels, who conducted experiments in her kitchen and became one of the earliest women to make lasting contributions to science, the renowned Dutch pediatrician Evert Gorter, and Irving Langmuir, one of America's greatest industrial scientists. Building on Franklin's original experiments, their work has culminated in the discovery of the structure of cell membranes, research that continues to bear fruit today. Ben Franklin Stilled the Waves is far more than the story of oil on water; it is a voyage into the very nature of science and its place in our history.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 286 pages
  • 128 x 190 x 20mm | 181.44g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • numerous halftones and line drawings
  • 0192804944
  • 9780192804945
  • 2,018,687

About Charles Tanford

Charles Tanford is Emeritus Professor at Duke University, Durham, NC, USA and a former Guggenheim Fellow. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and lives in Easingwold, UK.show more

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ; 1. Introduction ; 2. Benjamin Franklin ; 3. Friends and Influences ; 4. The French Connection ; 5. Pliny the Elder ; 6. Eighteenth-Century Science ; 7. Franklin's Experiment: The Observation ; 8. How Small is a Molecule? The Calculation Franklin Did Not Make ; 9. One Hundred Years Later: Science Comes of Age ; 10. Lord Rayleigh ; 11. Meticulous Miss Pockels ; 12. Comrades in the Search: The Flavor of Late Nineteenth-Century Physics ; 13. Ben Franklin Wonders Why (Molecular Interpretation) ; 14. In Praise of Water ; 15. Irving Langmuir - Cells and Membranes ; 16. Biology - Cells and Membranes ; 17. Ernest Overton: Gentle Genius ; 18. Gorter and Grendel: A Factor of Two ; 19. Epilogue - The Biological Frontier ; Bibliography ; Indexshow more

Rating details

6 ratings
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