The Human Side of Science: Edison and Tesla, Watson and Crick, and Other Personal Stories behind Science's Big Ideas

The Human Side of Science: Edison and Tesla, Watson and Crick, and Other Personal Stories behind Science's Big Ideas

Arthur W. Wiggins, Sidney Harris, Charles M. Wynn Sr.

Language: English

Pages: 281

ISBN: 2:00361424

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This lively and humorous book focuses attention on the fact that science is a human enterprise. The reader learns about the foibles and quirks as well as the admirable ingenuity and impressive accomplishments of famous scientists who made some of the greatest discoveries of the past and present.

Examples abound: James Watson and Francis Crick formed a legendary partnership that led to the discovery of DNA, but they essentially ignored the contribution of female colleague Rosalind Franklin. Later, in the race to sequence the human genome, Watson criticized J. Craig Venter's technique as a process that "could be run by monkeys." Nikola Tesla once worked for Thomas Edison, but then quit after a dispute about a bonus. Robert Hooke accused Isaac Newton of stealing his ideas about optics. Plato declared that the works of Democritus should be burned.

With tongue-in-cheek illustrations by renowned science cartoonist Sidney Harris, this book takes the reader behind the scenes of scientific research to shine new light on the all-too-human people who "do" science.

From the Hardcover edition.

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espionage, commitment, jealousy, sexism, impatience, obsession, animosity, envy, racism, and audacity as this parade of people pursue the puzzle of the natural world. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Ideas change, but human interactions remain quite similar. The same atoms that Aristotle and Democritus argued about comprise the human genome that Venter and Collins raced to analyze. In most chapters we've included a reference to “bonus” materials on a particular topic, in the

Nikola Tesla (1856–1943). Used with permission from Sidney Harris. Tesla attended the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, and spent many twenty-hour sessions studying electrical engineering. He irritated some of his professors by advancing beyond their knowledge. In an electric motor, a piece of equipment called a commutator was used to force the current to flow only one way and keep the motor turning in one direction. The commutator required contact between rotating parts, leading to frictional

begin our story at about 3000 BCE with a look at the world of the Minoan sailors from Crete. The Minoans dominated trade in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. They had sturdy ships that used both oars and sails. Their ships were so good that some speculate that they could have sailed on the ocean, and possibly even ventured as far as the New World. The Minoans had a fabulous civilization for a while, but their culture was cut short by the eruption of the volcano Thea on the island of Santorini

DNA (called complementary DNA, cDNA) and attached to a bacterial chromosome for storage, using the cut-and-paste techniques available through special molecules that severed DNA at known locations. These are called restriction enzymes. Complementary DNA was a standard resource in molecular biology labs all around the world, so its availability was ensured. Next, the cDNA would be sequenced and compared to other sequenced genes. This idea, called expressed sequence tags (EST), was not new to

to review Venter's data before publication. His scientific colleagues were decidedly less enthusiastic. Some even referred to him as “Darth Venter.”11 Meanwhile, back at the public consortium, a new director for the National Center for Human Genome Research was announced. The well-respected University of Michigan medical geneticist Francis Collins became the center's second director. As work continued, the consortium posted some impressive results. In 1996, the complete genome of brewer's yeast

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