The Prism and the Pendulum: The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments in Science (Paperback)
The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments in Science
Random House Trade, 9780812970623, 272pp.
Publication Date: October 12, 2004
We see the first measurement of the earth's circumference, accomplished in the third century B.C. by Eratosthenes using sticks, shadows, and simple geometry. We visit Foucault's mesmerizing pendulum, a cannonball suspended from the dome of the Pantheon in Paris that allows us to see the rotation of the earth on its axis. We meet Galileo--the only scientist with two experiments in the top ten--brilliantly drawing on his musical training to measure the speed of falling bodies. And we travel to the quantum world, in the most beautiful experiment of all.
We also learn why these ten experiments exert such a powerful hold on our imaginations. From the ancient world to cutting-edge physics, these ten exhilarating moments reveal something fundamental about the world, pulling us out of confusion and revealing nature's elegance. The Prism and the Pendulum brings us face-to-face with the wonder of science.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Praise For The Prism and the Pendulum: The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments in Science…
“Science and scientists are so often seen as cold and emotionless, but they are passionately drawn to beauty and truth, no less intensely than artists or poets. One can open this book anywhere and get a sense of this special passion—each chapter has its own special feel and delectations, and all of them bring out that beauty, for scientists, is no less important than truth, and that one can be ravished by an experiment no less than by a work of art.”
“In an era in which the public perceives science as a string of ethereal ideas conjured up by cute men in tweed jackets sitting in overstuffed leather chairs in the faculty lounge, The Prism and the Pendulum creates a refreshing portrait of beauty in science: of men with rough hands polishing inclined planes, peering into wells, climbing towers, or sitting in the dark looking for the one spark in eight thousand that would ignite the nuclear age. In this readable, narrative-driven book, we meet scientists wresting the truth from nature by confronting her on a physical, visceral level. Robert Crease, with this volume, destroys and corrects the ‘damn good stories’ commonly used to teach science, and places himself among our most important science historians and philosophers.”
—Dick Teresi, author of Lost Discoveries, coauthor of The God Particle, cofounder of Omni