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Victorian Sensation : The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation by James A Secord (published by University of Chicago Press, 2003). A book about the perception of an anonymously written, predarwinian account on the origins of life. Reviews in the Telegraph and in the American Scientist.

Hier lang. (via kebo11)

Remember Hooks law? Robert Hook also was a hero of self-experiment:

Under the volume of work, Hooke began having headaches, dizzy spells and insomnia, all of which he treated in the same spirit as his other scientific work, experimenting with self-medication and diligently recording his results. Page after page of his diary records copious doses of sal ammoniac, purges, opiates. Sometimes the effects were great - clarity, freshness, revival, sharp thinking. Often the side effects were terrible — sickness, double vision, near-delusions. These too he treated as symptoms, upping the drugs continually.

From a review of a new biography in The Guardian ( The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man Who Measured London by Lisa Jardine, HarperCollins 2003) (via SciTech Daily)

From Natural Philosophy to the Sciences : Writing the History of Nineteenth-Century Science edited by David Cahan (The University of Chicago Press, 2003). See at the publisher's site.

The virtual center catalogues, annotates and reviews sites on the history of science, technology, and medicine.

Das Virtuelle Labor hat ein neues, lesenswertes Essay von Henning Schmidgen über Helmholtz ‘psychologische’ Zeit-Experimente. Es basiert auf einem früherem Beitrag in Endeavour (2002, 26:142). Ein großer Teil der Primärliteratur ist gleich im virtuellen Labor verfügbar. Schade nur, dass die Essays in zerstückelten HTML-Seiten daher kommen.

An Essay by George Johnson.

“The primary reason [Galileo] was hauled before the Inquisition, [Arthur] Koestler argued [The Sleepwalkers, 1959], was not for teaching Copernicus's view that Earth and the planets revolved around the Sun, but for offending so many of his sympathizers […]

Pushing this idea furthe two new books, ‘Galileo's Mistake,’ by Wade Rowland (Arcade Publishing [July 2003]), and ‘Galileo in Rome’ by William R. Shea and Mariano Artigas (Oxford University Press [September 2003]), almost seem to sympathize with the inquisitors, making Galileo look like the dogmatist.”

Also interisting: ”Centuries after Galileo's book was banned, the physicist J. M. Jauch resurrected Salviati, Sagredo and Simplicio to discuss whether a new theory called quantum mechanics provided a true picture of an underlying reality or was just a convenient mathematical tool. He called his book "Are Quanta Real? A Galilean Dialogue" (Indiana University Press, 1973).”

There's a new book “A Concise History of Ornithology” by Michael Walters and Christopher Helm (june 2003), reviewed by fatbirder, a site about bird watching.

Timothy Ferris reviews a new biography of Isaac Newton: Isaac Newton by James Gleick (Pantheon). “… an elegantly written, insightful work that brings Newton to life and does him justice.” (via Arts & Letters Daily)

p. s. Patricia Fara in Science: “In describing how Newton pursued the active agent lying at the heart of Dame Nature, Gleick seems to be searching for the secret source of Newton's own mind through exposing not only his mathematical quandaries but also his sexual fantasies as he spiraled downward into melancholic solitude.”

p. s. From a review by John Banville in the Guardian: “Yet throughout his long life Newton continued to experiment in alchemy; indeed, he was, as Gleick writes, ‘the peerless alchemist of Europe’. These studies in the dark art were conducted in deepest secrecy, and did not come to light until centuries after his death, when a large portion of his papers were reassembled. The economist John Maynard Keynes, the saviour of much of this documentation, was astonished by what he read. ‘Newton,’ Keynes told his students at Trinity, ‘was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians.’

p. s. Another review by Robin McKie in Guardian Unlimited.

[Picture of the bookcover]

Eine neues Buch von Giuliano Pancaldi über Alessandro Volta und die Wissenschaft und Kultur zur Zeit der Aufklärung: Volta: Science and Culture in the Age of Enlightenment.

[Portät von Volta]

[the electrophorus]

p. s.: A review by Fabio Bevilacqua in American Scientist online.