Eurekas and Euphorias

Eurekas and Euphorias : The Oxford Book of Scientific Anecdotes

3.94 (76 ratings by Goodreads)
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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, and by outrageous strokes of luck, deserved and undeserved, and sometimes by human tragedy. It has seen deep intellectual friendships, as well as ferocious 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 and the 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 of the 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 of Alexandria 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 more

Product details

  • Hardback | 312 pages
  • 154 x 234 x 34mm | 639.56g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New.
  • 0192804030
  • 9780192804037

About Walter Gratzer

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, most of which have appeared regularly in Nature: they are invariably models of clarity and elegance. He edited The Longman Literary Companion to Science (published in the USA as The Literary Companion to Science) and The Bedside Nature, and he is author of The Undergrowth of Science: Delusion, Self-Deception and Human Frailty (OUP, 2000).show more

Review quote

It's hilarious, baffling, surreal, dry, shocking, and almost always enthralling [...] You'll want this book just for the delight of reading it. You'll also want it if you ever do any public speaking - it's a treasure house of suitable stories * Focus magazine * He is a good writer and holds the reader's attention well . . . What will be the next example of pathological science?...I would recommend Gratzer's book as a tool to help us recognize it sooner and fight it effectively. * Review of Walter Gratzer's "The Undergrowth of Science" in Nature, Vol 408, 2nd November 2000 * ...not only a fascinating read, it is a lesson about doing good science that may prove more valuable than a shelf of advanced text books. I strongly recommend this book to every scientist. * Review of Walter Gratzer's "The Undergrowth of Science" in EMBO reports, vol 2, no. 9 2001 * hilarious compilation of scientific history, gossip and eccentricity * Sunday Times * a "wonderfully entertaining collection of scientific anecdotes * The Sunday Telegraph * Review from other book by this author The crisp yet limpid style throughout is unusually attractive, the sources are impressively diverse and the level of writing makes the book suitable for non-scientists as well as for scientists in their own and disparate fields. This is a tour de force. * Pre-publication endorsement of "Eurekas and Euphorias" from Bernard Dixon, former Editor of New Scientist *show more

Table of contents

A SELECTION OF ANECDOTES... ; Cats and dogmas ; A mathematical death ; The Bucklands deflate a miracle ; Farmyard thermodynamics ; Chemistry in the kitchen: the discovery of nitrocellulose ; Fortune favours the ham fist ; Rutherford finds a solution ; The unbreakable cypher ; Mathematical peril ; The Pauli principle ; The first Eureka ; Baccy and quanta ; Hewn in marble ; Koch on cooking ; Ben Franklin stills the waves ; Loving an enzyme ; The poltergeist next door ; Tug-of-war on the thread of life ; The living fossil ; Smoking for the Fuhrer ; AND MANY MORE (SOME 200 ENTRIES)show more

Rating details

76 ratings
3.94 out of 5 stars
5 32% (24)
4 37% (28)
3 26% (20)
2 5% (4)
1 0% (0)
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