The Discoveries: Great Breakthroughs in 20th-Century Science, Including the Original Papers

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9780375713453: The Discoveries: Great Breakthroughs in 20th-Century Science, Including the Original Papers

In this captivating and lucid book, novelist and science writer Alan Lightman chronicles twenty-four great discoveries of twentieth-century science--everything from the theory of relativity to mapping the structure of DNA.These discoveries radically changed our notions of the world and our place in it. Here are Einstein, Fleming, Bohr, McClintock, Paul ing, Watson and Crick, Heisenberg and many others. With remarkable insight, Lightman charts the intellectual and emotional landscape of the time, portrays the human drama of discovery, and explains the significance and impact of the work. Finally he includes a fascinating and unique guided tour through the original papers in which the discoveries were revealed. Here is science writing at its best–beautiful, lyrical and completely accessible. It brings the process of discovery to life before our very eyes.

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From the Inside Flap:

An extraordinarily accessible, illuminating chronicle of the great moments of scientific discovery in the 20th century, and an exploration into the minds of the remarkable men and women behind them.
We know and read the literary masterpieces; how many of us have had the opportunity not only to read but understand the masterpieces of science that describe the very moment of discovery? The last century has seen an explosion of creativity and insight that led to breakthroughs in every field of science: from the theory of relativity to the first quantum model of the atom to the mapping of the structure of DNA, these discoveries profoundly changed how we understand the world and our place in it.
Alan Lightman tells the stories of two dozen breakthroughs made by such brilliant scientists as Einstein, Bohr, McClintock and Pauling, among others, drawing on his unique background as a scientist and novelist to reveal the process of scientific discovery at its greatest. He outlines the intellectual and emotional landscape of each discovery, portrays the personalities and human drama of the scientists involved, and explains the significance and impact of the work. Finally, he gives an unprecedented and exhilarating guided tour through each of the original papers.

About the Author:

Alan Lightman was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and educated at Princeton and at the California Institute of Technology, where he received a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. An active research scientist in astronomy and physics for two decades, he has also taught both subjects on the faculties of Harvard and MIT. Lightman’s novels include Einstein’s Dreams, which was an international best seller; Good Benito; The Diagnosis, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; and Reunion. His essays have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Nature, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker, among other publications. He lives in Massachusetts, where he is adjunct professor of humanities at MIT.

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