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Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers: Eight Scientific Rivalries that Changed the World

Hal Harris's picture
Sat, 02/01/2003 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

Many people have difficulty understanding the motivation of scientists for precedence and the recognition it brings. While there are monetary incentives for some of the protagonists in "Acid Tongues", it is more often pride and the acceptance of one's ideas that drove the rivalries of Newton vs. Leibniz, Edison vs. Tesla, Crick and Watson vs. Pauling vs. Franklin and Wilkins. Sometimes these men (there is only one woman profiled, Rosalind Franklin) of great intellect acted in the most petty and immature fashion. Chemists will enjoy the Lavoisier-Priestly history, and the battle between Gates' Windows and Ellison's Oracle may not have seen its last skirmish. Michael White not only tells some of the most interesting history in science, but also reminds us that great science is done by human beings, with most of the same faults as the rest of us. My favorite quote from the book appears on the first page, and it is from Winston Churchill - "In science you don't need to be polite, you only have to be right".

Pick Attribution: 

Michael White

Publication Date: 
Monday, January 1, 2001
Price: 
$14.95