Cathedrals of Science The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry

ISBN-10: 0195321340
ISBN-13: 9780195321340
Edition: 2008
Authors: Patrick Coffey
List price: $31.95
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Description: In Cathedrals of Science, Patrick Coffey combines clear explanations of technical issues with riveting personal portraits as he explores the work of some of the leading chemists of modern times. Coffey's tale is one of great minds and petty  More...

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Book details

List price: $31.95
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 8/29/2008
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 416
Size: 9.30" wide x 6.00" long x 0.70" tall
Weight: 1.826

In Cathedrals of Science, Patrick Coffey combines clear explanations of technical issues with riveting personal portraits as he explores the work of some of the leading chemists of modern times. Coffey's tale is one of great minds and petty squabbles, of ego, greed, and ambition, of patriotic fervor and idealistic pacifism. He shows great scientists fighting over credit for discoveries, and taking revenge on those they found distasteful. Gilbert Lewis, for example, was reclusive, touchy, and disliked making public presentations; but his rival Irving Languir was gregarious, charming, and forged friendships with Neils Bohr and other key figures. As a result of these traits, Coffey argues, Langmuir received the Nobel Prize, but Lewis never did. In World War I, Fritz Haber pioneered the use of chlorine gas (whose lethality Coffey vividly describes) and was considered a war criminal for a time; yet the politics of the Nobel committee led to his receiving the 1918 prize. Here, too, are the personal dilemmas brought by the rise of Nazism and the development of nuclear weapons, as well as many instances of discrimination against women and minorities.

Prologue
The Ionists: Arrhenius and Nernst
Physical Chemistry in America: Lewis and Langmuir
The Third Law and Nitrogen: Haber and Nernst
Chemists at War: Haber, Nernst, Langmuir, and Lewis
The Lewis-Langmuir Theory: Lewis, Langmuir, and Harkins
Science and the Nazis: Nernst and Haber
Nobel Prizes: Lewis and Langmuir
Nuclear Chemistry: Lewis, Urey, and Seaborg
The Secret of Life: Pauling, Wrinch, and Langmuir
Pathological Science: Langmuir
Lewis's Last Days
Epilogue
Sources and Acknowledgments
Suggested Reading
Endnotes
Index

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