In this collection of forty vignettes, biologist Harold Morowitz delights in discovering scientific principles behind such everyday phenomena as doing laundry or registering a car with the DMV. The title essay reflects on the circumstances that caused the name of Joseph Ignace Guillotin to become connected to a mechanical contraption he neither invented, built, nor used. While he relies on the disciplines of science to illuminate life on earth, Morowitz celebrateswith wonder and witthe worlds unfathomable mysteries. Biologist Harold Morowitz delights in discovering scientific principles behind everyday phenomena, from doing laundry to registering a car with the department of motor vehicles.Now the author of The Thermodynamics of Pizza and Mayonnaise and the Origin of Life gives us The Kindly Dr. Guillotin , a charmingly idiosyncratic collection of forty vignettes reflecting the observations of a deeply inquisitive thinker. Who else but Morowitz could explain exactly what takes place every time we put a load of dirty laundry into the washer? In the essay Thermal Underthoughts he ponders the scientific foundations of laundry day: thermal physics, centrifugal force, and vaporization. His detailed analysis describes the way detergent is dissolved in water, the processes involved in removing soil, and the inefficiencies inherent in the conversion of water to vapor in the dryer. Not even the lint trap escapes his keen eye. Yet these pieces range far beyond the laboratory. It is not possible to reduce all of experience to the logic of science, he says, and much of his writing engages his thoughts on philosophy, history, language, and people.The title essay reflects on the circumstances that caused the name of Joseph Ignace Guillotin to become connected to a mechanical contraption he neither invented, built, nor used. A distinguished physician and humanitarian, Dr. Guillotin proposed mechanical decapitation in 1789 as a more humane alternative to the ax and the noose. The technology had been used in other countries since the thirteenth century, and the device that came to bear the kindly doctors name--la guillotine--was fabricated by someone else in Germany.Irony of this sort is a common ingredient in The Kindly Dr. Guillotin. While he relies on the disciplines of science to illuminate life on earth, Morowitz celebrates--with wonder and wit--the worlds unfathomable mysteries.