Weighing the Soul

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9780297645559: Weighing the Soul

Good science and common sense often don't mix. In Weighing the Soul, Len Fisher shows the path to scientific discovery is frequently a bumpy one that follows Schopenhauer's famous maxim - 'All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.' Fisher tells the fascinating, human stories behind some of the great as well as some of the not-so-great scientific ideas of the past - those that were truly bizarre, peculiar or downright daft, and those that just seemed that way at the time. As he shows, it is often only with hindsight that the two can be told apart, and it is some of those who appeared most wrong - and who were variously ignored, persecuted and imprisoned as a result - that ultimately went on to be proved most right. Len's witty and engaging style takes us from Frankenstein's monster to pacemakers, from The Water Babies to the structure of DNA, from one American doctor's attempts to weigh the human soul through to the necessary (and truly weird) mysteries of modern science. Along the way he illuminates a wide variety of wonderful titbits - such as links between Newton and Polaroid sunglasses, and how Quantum Mechanics gave us CD players - and shows why, like Alice in Wonderland, modern scientists can often end up believing six impossible things before breakfast.

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About the Author:

Born in 1942, Len Fisher received a PhD from the University of New South Wales. He has written around eighty scientific papers and book chapters on surface science, food science, chemical engineering, scientific instrumentation and the applications of physics to biology. He is currently Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Bristol.

Review:

'A witty insight into the impossible.' GOOD BOOK GUIDE (1/11/04) 'Len Fisher...takes us on a very accessible and entertaining tour of various historical moments where contemporary commonsense ideas about how the world worked clashed with scientific findings...WEIGHING THE SOUL is a mine of delightful oddities.' -- Jerome Burne FT MAGAZINE (4.12.04) 'On the surface this book is about quirky ideas, such as how to cure a headache by zapping yourself with an electric eel...Under the surface, it's about the evolution of scientific beliefs...While the tone is quite jolly, there's serious science among the slapstick. A good read for the curious.' -- Sylvia Rainsford FOCUS MAGAZINE (March 2005) '...entertaining and astute...An engaging and relaxed, personal style to the text make this book easy to read. No matter what your academic background it is a genuine pleasure to read.' -- Stuart Williams CHEMISTRY WORLD (February 2005)

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