Weighing the Soul by Len Fisher

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Good science and common sense often don't mix. In Weighing the Soul, Len Fisher shows the path to scientific discovery is frequently a bumpy one that follows Schopenhauer's famous maxim - 'All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.' Fisher tells the fascinating, human stories behind some of the great as well as some of the not-so-great scientific ideas of the past - those that were truly bizarre, peculiar or downright daft, and those that just seemed that way at the time. As he shows, it is often only with hindsight that the two can be told apart, and it is some of those who appeared most wrong - and who were variously ignored, persecuted and imprisoned as a result - that ultimately went on to be proved most right. Len's witty and engaging style takes us from Frankenstein's monster to pacemakers, from The Water Babies to the structure of DNA, from one American doctor's attempts to weigh the human soul through to the necessary (and truly weird) mysteries of modern science. Along the way he illuminates a wide variety of wonderful titbits - such as links between Newton and Polaroid sunglasses, and how Quantum Mechanics gave us CD players - and shows why, like Alice in Wonderland, modern scientists can often end up believing six impossible things before breakfast.

About Len Fisher

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Published October 28, 2004 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 224 pages
Genres: Science & Math.

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The author goes on to cover the careers of such familiar figures as Galileo and Newton, along with lesser lights like Robert Boyle, who laid much of the groundwork for chemistry while secretly attempting to perform alchemical experiments, and Volta and Galvani, whose scientific controversy about ...

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