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Is science beautiful? Yes, argues acclaimed philosopher and historian of science Robert P. Crease in this engaging exploration of history’s most beautiful experiments. The result is an engrossing journey through nearly 2,500 years of scientific innovation. Along the way, he encounters the personalities and creative thinking of some of the field’s most interesting figures.
Crease explores the first measurement of the earth’s circumference, accomplished in the third century B.C. by Eratosthenes using sticks, shadows, and simple geometry. He visits Foucault’s mesmerizing pendulum, a cannonball suspended from the dome of the Panthéon in Paris that allows us to see the rotation of the earth on its axis. He looks at 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 he travels to the quantum world, in the most beautiful experiment of all.
Crease explains 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 man out of confusion and revealing nature’s elegance. The Prism and the Pendulum explores, head on, the beauty and wonder of 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.”