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




Author: Charles Tanford
Type: eBook
Date Released: 2004
Format: pdf
Language: English
Page Count: 284
Isbn10 Code: 0192804944
Isbn13 Code: 9780192804945


Benjamin Franklin was the first to report the phenomenon of oil's power to still troubled waters and to speculate on why it happened. A century later Lord Rayleigh performed an identical experiment. Irving Langmuir did it with minor variations in 1917, and won a Nobel Prize for it. Then Langmuir's work was followed by a Dutch pediatrician's in 1925. p Each experimenter saw a little more in the result than his predecessor had seen, and the sciences of physics, chemistry and biology have all been illuminated by the work. p Charles Tanford reflects on the evolving nature of science and of individual scientists. Recounting innovations in each trial, he follows the classic experiment from Franklin's drawing room to our present-day institutionalized scientific establishments and speculates on the ensuing changes in our approach to scientific inquiry. About the Author 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.

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