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History/Philosophy

Hal Harris's picture

The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments

Thu, 05/01/2008 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

Lists of "the best" movies, books, sports stars, American Idols, etc. etc. are often intriguing and controversial. Science has its own lists, be they Nobelists or most-cited publications. Just a little while ago (could it really have been November, 2005?) Philip Ball's list of "elegant" chemistry experiments was my choice of the month.

Hal Harris's picture

The Copernican Myths

Sun, 12/02/2007 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

When asked by one of our students about the significance of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) and his revolutionary (pun intended) theory of the solar system, most of us would recite the folkloric tale. A brilliant astronomer, dissatisfied with the inaccuracies of Ptolemy, devised a completely new model for the solar system.

Hal Harris's picture

Lavoisier in the Year One: The Birth of a New Science in an Age of Revolution

Mon, 10/01/2007 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

There is supposedly a Chinese curse, "May he live in interesting times". While the origin of this phrase is apparently not really in China, it certainly applies to the life of one of the first modern chemists. Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier was a French nobleman who lived from 1743 until he was beheaded in 1794.

Hal Harris's picture

Elegant Solutions: Ten Beautiful Experiments in Chemistry

Tue, 11/01/2005 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

Choose ten exemplary chemistry experiments. The synthesis of nylon? Bakelite, the first man-made polymer? The structure of DNA? The fixing of nitrogen? The discovery of buckyballs? Sorry, but none of those made the list of veteran science writer Philip Ball. Mr. Ball was looking for something other than mere importance.

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