Boltzmann's Tomb by Bill Green
Travels in Search of Science

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A selection of the Scientific American book club

Recommended by MSNBC, Los Angeles Times, & American Association for the Advancement of Science’s SB&F magazine

“This wonderful scientific memoir captures the romance and beauty of research in precise poetic prose that is as gorgeous and evocative as anything written by Rilke, painted by Seurat, or played by Casals.” —Mary Doria Russell, author of Doc and The Sparrow

“A radiant love letter to science from a scientist with a poet’s soul . . . Green is an exquisite writer, and his fierce focus and mastery of style are reminiscent of the biologist and essayist Lewis Thomas.” —Kirkus Reviews

In Boltzmann’s Tomb, Bill Green interweaves the story of his own lifelong evolution as a scientist, and his work in the Antarctic, with a travelogue that is a personal and universal history of science. Like Richard Holmes’ The Age of Wonder—this book serves as a marvelous introduction to the great figures of science. Along with lyrical meditations on the tragic life of Galileo, the wildly eccentric Tycho Brahe, and the visionary Sir Isaac Newton, Green’s ruminations return throughout to the lesser-known figure of Ludwig Boltzmann. Using Boltzmann’s theories of randomness and entropy as a larger metaphor for the unpredictable paths that our lives take, Green shows us that science, like art, is a lived adventure.

Bill Green is a geochemist and professor emeritus at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is also the author of Water, Ice & Stone: Science and Memory on the Antarctic Lakes which received the American Museum of Natural History’s John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing, was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, and was excerpted in The Ends of the Earth: An Anthology of the Finest Writing on the Arctic and the Antarctic, edited by Elizabeth Kolbert.

 

About Bill Green

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Bill Green is a geochemist and professor emeritus at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He first went to Antarctica in 1968 and began doing his own research there in 1980. To date he has been there nine times and has published many articles on biogeochemical processes in the pristine lakes and meltwater streams of the McMurdo Dry Valleys. In addition to Boltzmann's Tomb, he is also the author of Water, Ice & Stone: Science and Memory on the Antarctic Lakes, which received the American Museum of Natural History's John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing, was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, and was excerpted in The Ends of the Earth: An Anthology of the Finest Writing on the Arctic and the Antarctic, edited by Elizabeth Kolbert.
 
Published June 14, 2011 by Bellevue Literary Press. 210 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Science & Math, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Boltzmann's Tomb

Kirkus Reviews

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Boltzmann, who devised the formula for entropy, is a recurring character, a sort of angel of death, but the main character is Green, who was inspired to write this book by a question his daughter posed him while they were collecting samples from the Dry Lakes of Antarctica: “Why did you decide to...

Apr 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Boltzmann's Tomb: Travels in ...

Publishers Weekly

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Readers who prefer skimming a topic to immersion should enjoy Green's (Water, Ice & Stone) slim and thoughtful journeys to key places in the history of science.

Apr 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Boltzmann's Tomb: Travels in ...

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

What this book does is illuminate the spark that drives scientists, and it makes clear that science comes from the work of real people who are so moved by the mystery and magic of their experience that they will walk through the fire of scorn, self-doubt and in the case of Galileo, the very real ...

Dec 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Boltzmann's Tomb: Travels in ...

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