The march of science has been marked through the years by episodes of drama and comedy, of failure as well as triumph, by outrageous strokes of luck, deserved and undeserved, and sometimes by human tragedy. From the death of Archimedes at the hands of an irritated Roman soldier to the concoction of a superconducting witches' brew at the 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 named Sapper who broke a thermometer in a reaction vat and made the discovery that launched the modern dyestuff industry. Or the physicist who dissolved his gold Nobel Prize medal in acid to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Nazis. We meet mathematicians and physicists in prison cells, and even in a madhouse, making important advances in their field. And we witness the careers, sometimes tragic, sometimes carefree, of the great women scientists, from Hypatia of Alexandria, to Sophie Germain and Sonia Kovalevskaya, to Marie Curie and her relentless battle with the French Academy. A glorious parade unfolds to delight the reader, with stories to astonish, to instruct, and most especially, to entertain.
`Walter Gratzer's tales are delightful...'
`Review from previous edition open the book at any point and be educated, thrilled, sobered or surprised, for there is astonishment and delight on every page . . . a banquet of epiphanies, a reference book which is also a work of art.'
Oliver Sacks, in Nature
`hilarious, baffling, surreal, dry, shocking, and almost always enthralling. You'll want this book just for the delight of reading it.'
`This romp through the best stories from the history of science--from the death of Archimedes to the explanation of superconductivity--will delight even those with just a passing interest in the subject.'
Good Book Guide
`[Gratzer] is the perfect author and editor for this hilarious compilation of scientific history, gossip and eccentricity.'
`Perfect bathroom reading for anyone who wants to get under the skin of science.'
A selection of anecdotes...
Cats and dogmas
A mathematical death
The Bucklands deflate a miracle
Chemistry in the kitchen: the discovery of nitrocellulose
Fortune favours the ham fist
Rutherford finds a solution
The unbreakable cypher
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 Führer
and many more (some 200 entries)