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Topper D.R. Quirky Sides of Scientists. True Tales of Ingenuity and Error From Physics and Astronomy

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Topper D.R. Quirky Sides of Scientists. True Tales of Ingenuity and Error From Physics and Astronomy
New York: Springer. - 2007. - 218 p. This is unabashedly an idiosyncratic look at science. Based heavily upon my research and publications—and hence personal interests—it expresses, perhaps, my quirky side. Ever since switching fields in graduate school, from physics to studying its history, I have come to recognize—and especially appreciate—what a thorny matter it is for the apparently simple laws of science to immerge out of the shadows of history. The book thusly is directed at the reader who is curious about science but whose exposure has been primarily from science courses and their accompanying textbooks—thus devoid of real history. This book is also intended for those who take pleasure in carefully studying pictures, illustrations, diagrams, of which there are scores in this book, and who are willing to spend the time required to compare and comprehend figure and text, so as to follow the historical narrative and scientific argument. A significant segment of what purports to be writings on science directed beyond the classroom and academy is done so under the stricture that the text should read rather like a novel—as if, God forbid, one might need to stop and ponder a picture or think about an idea. I expect that anyone reading this book "like a novel" is wasting one's time. The overall structure of the book is plain. Sandwiched between two chapters on the doggedness of Einstein are ten more in approximately chronological order, beginning with an ancient astronomical measurement followed by episodes from the Scientific Revolution (Copernicus through Newton), with accompanying background narratives from ancient science, telling tales revealing some quirky sides of scientists.
Contents
Acknowledgments
A Note on the Figures
Prelude
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
A 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
Postlude
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